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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Messy vs Sterile- Why I like Post-Apocalyptic slightly better than Dystopian

Okay, let me begin by saying I quite enjoy a good Dystopian book. The Giver is the only Middle Grade book on my list of all time favorite books. I love that Book. I love Jonas, and Gabe, and Asher who gets a smack instead of a And the Handmaid's Tale is also on my list of top books. The first time I read The Handmaid's Tale, I was underwhelmed. I was in college, and taking a break from reading through the collected works of Robert Jordan, I think there were like 8 of them then, and I was sort of enthralled by epically epic fantasy. The second time I read the book I had a daughter, and I cried through a big part of the book. I LOVED it.

So, I do love that YA is embracing Dystopian Literature. In the last month I read both Matched and Delirium, and enjoyed both.

But at the end of Matched, the thing that stood out to me was that I prefer the messiness of Post-Apocalyptic fiction to the sterility of Dystopian.  That I wanted a book that takes place at that crossroads, at the point where things have gotten so bad that a Dystopian government would seem like a good thing! And then I realized that I sort of had. :) But I'd like to read a futuristic one. It's one of the reasons I love the first Hunger Games so much more than the sequels. Though Panem is, of course, Dystopian, the Seam, and the arena in the Hunger Games have that grim element that seems more Post-Apocalyptic...not so grim as say, The Road, which is the grimmest of the grim, and beautiful in a haunting (and grim) way. But definitely (I refuse to say grim again) dark.

Both types of literature embody my favorite motifs...being trapped, and the essence of what makes us human.

But Dystopian is just so much messier, and the messiness of humanity fascinates me. The highs and the lows. The atrocities and the acts of selflessness...the things that make life worthwhile, even when the status symbols that define worth in modern life have been stripped away. Like Larry in Stephen King's The Stand. Larry is a songwriter who has just released his first single...days before a superflu wipes out the population of the earth. So he has to figure out the new rules and how to survive like everyone else. Of course he also blew all of his money on partying and drugs, but, the thing is...he got the thing that every musician dreams of...and then the world ended. That Stephen King knows how to torture his characters. Another Stephen King example is the world of The Gunslinger in the Dark Tower series. The world has "moved on" and the old rules no longer apply. There are slow mutants who have been radiated, and machines that are running down...and a society that is likewise running down. Fascinating.

So, now I think I want to read some post-apocalyptic YA books...I recently read Life As We Knew It, and wasn't in love with it, but I ordered the sequel because it sounded more appealing to me. Anyone have any other post-apocalyptic YA titles to recommend to me? It seems I've seen quite a few on PM, but not so many are on least not mine!

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Blogger Lucy V Morgan said...

Not YA so possibly not your ballgame, but I loved I Am Legend.

Amanda Hocking's Hollowland is a YA set post-zombie apocalypse, I think (although I haven't read that one!).

Having just begun a dystopian novel myself -- a new genre for me -- it's really interesting to compare it to a post-apocalyptic setting. I'm a lot better at pyschological chaos than "action" chaos, so as a writer, dystopian definitely suits better.

March 28, 2011 at 9:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hollowland is a good example. I was gonna say that. :)

I'm working on a post-apocalyptic YA also. To me they're so much more fun. All that grime and grit.

Super congrats on the awesome deal!!!

March 29, 2011 at 8:29 AM  
Blogger Angie said...

The Tomorrow Series by John Marsden. So, it's not really post-apocolyptic, but it has the messiness (kids caught in the middle of a war) and acts of heroism I think you're looking for.

Also The Forest of Hands and Teeth is good if you haven't read that one yet. :)

April 6, 2011 at 2:08 PM  

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