Though it might be a bit unsettling, there are undoubtedly teens who see all the hurt and disruption in the world today and turn to dystopian futures or post-apocalyptic tales as the remedy. With those readers in mind, here is a list of titles that dive into the dark realities of an uncertain future.
A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C. A. Fletcher
This 2020 Alex Award winner holds more than a few surprises, and it is a great title to suggest to the reader who has already worked through the more common dystopian titles. Griz is a finely-drawn and fully-complex character who teens will connect with, and the hunt for loyal dog Jess will keep them turning pages until the unexpected and remarkable ending.
Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
This book. It haunts me. Set in the early 2020s, but written in the early 1990s, it is a prescient and terrifying look at the kind of chaos and social disorder that could descend upon us. Climate change has led to massive water outages, and safety is dependent upon avoiding the mobs bent upon destruction. 15-year-old Lauren is wise beyond her years, but she is an ideal guide through this world and into a possible future.
As a reader, I’m not sure if I went to the movies because I wanted to watch The Giver or because I wanted to hatewatch it.
I did a little of each. I’ll try to explain my reaction to the film, while also leaving out enough information to keep the movie surprising if you’d like to be surprised. That may leave this post incomprehensible until after you’ve seen the movie. I’m not sure. You’ll have to let me know. But be forewarned: this post either has spoilers or is impossible to understand.
I think your liking of this film will depend on how passionate you are about the book. I’m not someone who thinks movies have to stick to the book word-for-word; different media require different approaches. But I’m also not someone who likes it when a movie slaps a book title on its poster and does nothing else to base it on the novel. The Giver is somewhere in between, and it’s not really a bad movie so much as a film that suffers from the glut of dystopian movies, TV, and books and designed itself to be attractive to people just catching on to that genre, not people curious to see Lois Lowry’s beloved book come to life.
That’s not to say that readers won’t enjoy this film. The creators did a brilliant job of dealing with the colorless world. The slow transitions and back-and-forth from plain to color and back again, as Jonas learns new colors and as he goes back and forth between the colorful world of the Giver’s home to his own bland dwelling, is just perfect. The set design is spot-on, and the costumes and props are stylized but not too corny. This film has excellent trappings, but it didn’t do much to translate the power of the book to the screen. Continue reading The Giver Movie: A Reader’s Perspective
In 2008, Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight hit the big time with the release of movie version. Millions flocked to the theaters, then to bookstores and libraries to finish Stephenie Meyers’ saga. Suddenly, everywhere we looked, there were vampires: scary, sexy, sparkly, fangsâ€¦ you could take your pick. More books hit the shelves (or were discovered) like PC Cast’s House of Night series, Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy, and Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series. Not to mention the many TV shows cropping up everywhere, such as HBO’s True Blood and CW’s Vampire Diaries. It was vampire frenzy. Then the inevitable backlash hitâ€”hard. Folks had clearly hit a saturation point with vampires (particularly Twilight.) It became cool to loudly proclaim ones’ hatred of Twilightâ€”and all things vampire. Twilight spoofs were being produced, such as Nightlight: a Parody by the Harvard Lampoon and the Vampires Suck movie.
Fast forward to 2013 when Holly Black (author of both children’s and young adult gold like The Spiderwick Chronicles and the overlooked but spectacular Curse Workers trilogy) offers The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. This book has everything a lover of gothic reads could want: creepy cool cover art, a terrifying opening scene, scary and dangerously hot romance, flawed narrator, realistic intriguing side characters, and a vividly described falling apart Las Vegas-like town under constant camera surveillance (showing another frightening side of reality TV like that depicted in the Hunger Games trilogy.) In fact, in this librarian’s humble opinion, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown has nary a flaw to be foundâ€”except that it’s about vampires. As Karyn Silverman of the Someday My Printz Will Come blog writes, â€œâ€¦I think the anti-vampire bias runs so deep in most librarians these days that Coldtown risks a cold shoulder as a result.â€ I fear Silverman might be correct in her assessment, as I haven’t heard much buzz from other readers about Coldtownâ€”unless of course, I’m the one who brought it up (which I do, often and loudly). On a bright note, Coldtown‘s appearance on YALSA’s 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults list offers hope for this overlooked gem. Continue reading The Rise and Fall of YA Lit Trends: Timing is Everything