Nothing has changed. I still don’t believe in God and as far as I can see the scientific version of our future is likely to come to pass. It’s even possible that someone may press that button and hurry things up a bit. Glaringly dreadful as these facts are, you learn to turn away from them, to push them back behind the everyday business of living your life.
It seems to me that many teenagers feel as I did: a horror at their own insignificance in the greater scheme of things. They’re just starting to shake off the arrogance of childhood and the future is an uncertain place. So it’s obvious that they should turn to books about dystopias. Such books present futures or other worlds where the heroes have tangible struggles, definite foes, real battles. They’re fighting for survival against discrimination or authoritarian rule or a dying world. But no matter how impossible the task that faces these characters seems, they have the power to overcome it. And what is more, in almost every book, there is a haven that the characters will come to at the end, where all will be made right, where they will be understood. What better metaphor for the fears and hopes of teenagers?
10 Fabulous Dystopias
Offred is a Handmaid, a servant whose function is a bear a child for her Commander and his infertile wife. She remembers life before the authoritarian, patriarchal, religious present but can see no way to escape.
The Death of Grass by John Christopher
Ecological disaster leads to worldwide famine.
The Hunger Games sequence by Suzanne Collins
I don’t really need to say anything about these, do I?
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
A man and his son travel through a landscape devoid of plant and animal life, searching for food and shelter and hiding from other people who would kill and eat them.
Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O’Brien
A girl believes she may be the only person left alive in the world until a stranger arrives.
1984 by George Orwell
The ultimate authoritarian dystopia, but be warned – no happy ending here!
Mortal Engines sequence by Philip Reeve
The world operates on principles of ‘municipal Darwinism’ by which cities travelling on tracks attack and destroy each other.
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
When World War 3 breaks out, anorexic American Daisy and her English cousins learn to survive and adapt.
The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
In a world where being different can lead to being cast out or killed, a group of teenagers keep a terrible secret.
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
A struggle to survive and rebuild after disaster strikes the world