Hunger Games Tributes prepare:what will they read when they are done? (Image courtesy Lionsgate.)
As a buyer at the Red Balloon Bookstore in St Paul Julie Poling was one of the people who received an advanced readers copy of Suzanne Collins "The Hunger Games." She says she knew immediately it was going to be a huge hit.
"I just knew," she said. "It was so well written."
It was late 2007, or early 2008 and she read it aloud with her daughters who were then 11 and 13.
"We just plowed through it," she told me the other day. "Loved it. Every minute of it. They were just blown away by it, And my daughter said at the end 'This is it. This is the kind of book I ant to read,' and she has been into that dystopian thing ever since."
She admits they did the same with "Catching Fire," and "Mockingjay," the other books in the Collins trilogy, but they had to swear in advance to the distributors that they would not reveal anything about the books till they were released to the public.
Poling says there is nothing new about young readers fascination with dystopian portrayals of our world could go horribly wrong. She points to how Orwell and Bradbury produced the stories which thrilled and chilled slightly older generations.
Which led to the inevitable question to someone sitting before a wall of books: given that many fans have already inhaled the Hunger Games trilogy, what does she recommend to readers with a dystopian appetite?
"The best book ever written, I say, or the best book written so far, and I have been reading books for a long long time, is "Knife of Never Letting Go." by Patrick Ness," Poling said.
It's the first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy. It's about a boy called Todd Hewitt growing up on a planet where due to a strange germ everyone can hear what everyone else is thinking. They can even hear and understand what the animals around them are thinking. Todd has to learn how to deal with what they call the Noise that is all around him, and as he does he begins to learn the dark secrets of his community.
"And then there is "Maze Runner," continued Poling. The James Dashner book about young people living in a maze filled with hideous monsters is a 2011-2012 Maud Hart Lovelace nominee in the Minnesota Youth Reading Awards. As a result Poling says it sells well on its own.
"There's a new one just out that's just fantastic called "Divergent"" Poling continued. The Veronica Roth book is set in a dystopic Chicago where young people are assigned to warring factions based on an aptitude test.
So gentle dystopian reader, what might you recommend? Please post your answers below!
The novel Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi, is excellent. Good for both teens and adults. Another book in that series is supposed to be coming soon.
I have to warn people off the Maze Runner series, however. The deeper into the books you get, the more incomprehensible the plot becomes. And there's none of the satire or political sophistication that you'll find in the Hunger Games books.
I'm so glad to read this article because after reading The Hunger Games trilogy, I was like, how could any other book follow it? It was just that good to me. I've read many books after HG's and some were very entertaining, but they just didn't have "it" whatever "it" may be. HG does grip you, takes you in. Admittedly, I almost wanted to be in the games, dare I say. Of course, in reality, no way. But it just does that to you. I likened the need for another excellent read post HG to a drug addict trying to get her fix. The first high is never as good as the rest that follow.
"Birthmarked," by Caragh O'Brien, writer who grew up in St. Paul. Infinitely better written than "Hunger Games." This is the first book of a planned trilogy; second volume, "Prized," now also available.
Angelfall by Susan Ee is absolutely awesome and its just 99 cents on amazon. Get it guys!
Thanks for all the responses. I don't know if this counts as dystopian, but Neil Gaiman's "Neverwhere" about a world beneath London is a great reqad too.
I'm going classic, and re-reading Lois Lowry's "The Giver."
i red the giver a while ago. it was good. i read maze runner and it is a bit hard to follow. My friend tried to get me to read the knife of never letting go, but i never did. Divergent and Insurgent were amazing. never heard of any of the others. sorry guys, but maybe I will look them up. I will reccomend Kristen Cashore, she wrote Graceling and Fire, both of which I loved.