What better way to sum up this disaster of a year, than with a look at some dystopians? To be honest, I’m kind of glad the dystopian trend has died down a bit in YA. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy many of the series that did come out at that time, but I was definitely starting to look for a bit more variety. I was actually a bit late to the trend overall. I read The Hunger Games shortly after the first movie came out in 2012, and read Divergent a couple of years later. At the height of the YA dystopian trend, I wasn’t reading a ton because I was still in school. Once I started doing reading challenges in 2015, I decided to read some of the well-known series over the span of a few years, including Matched, Shatter Me (the first three books), Delirium, Red Queen, and probably a few more. I still have quite a few on my TBR, although I burnt myself out a bit on the genre for a while. I actually really wanted to reread the and finish the Shatter Me series this year, but I ran out of time for that. The books listed below are all dystopians that are still on my TBR. I don’t have any active plans to pick them up right now, but I’d love to try them all eventually.
1) Unwind by Neal Shusterman
This book has been vaguely on my radar for a few years now, but I haven’t had too much motivation to pick it up. I recently read the Scythe series by the same author and really enjoyed that, so it has kind of reignited my interest in this one. This book is set in a world where a Civil War had been fought over reproductive rights, resulting in a new policy which gives parents the right to choose for their teenagers to be “unwound,” a process by which their organs are all transplanted into different donors. The main characters are all teenagers who are all at risk of being unwound, but together they may have a chance to escape and survive. Like the Scythe series, this one has such an interesting and unusual premise, and it raises some very intriguing philosophical questions about the value of life and possibly even about the roles of parents and even of children in a society. The whole premise of this one seems so creepy! I think part of the reason I haven’t picked it up yet is because I’ve seen some very mixed reviews for it, although the Goodreads ratings seem to be quite high overall. I’ve left it on my TBR since I’d still like to give it a try at some point, but it’s not something I find myself gravitating toward very often.
2) The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
I keep meaning to read more of Patrick Ness’s books, but somehow never end up picking them up. I even have a copy of the first book in this series and had tentatively planned to prioritize it next year, but decided against it since I had too many other series that I wanted to read more. This series is about a boy named Todd who lives in a town that has been infected by the Noise germ which killed all women and gave all living creatures the ability to hear each other’s thoughts. Todd is just a month away from being considered an adult when he discovers an area of his town that is free of the endless Noise, the name given to the constant stream of images, words and sounds that come with being able to read others’ minds. Deciding that the town must be hiding something, Todd decides to flee with just his dog, and soon discover a girl who seems to be the only female to survive the germ. I think part of the reason I haven’t read this yet, aside from the fact that the books are quite lengthy, is because I found the synopsis a little confusing, but I love Patrick Ness’s writing and I would love to give this a chance at some point.
3) Red Rising by Pierce Brown
I’ve had this series on my TBR since 2016, but can’t remember exactly where I first heard of it. Even though I had it on my list first, it really came to my attention around the time I read Red Queen since I’d heard that the the two series were quite similar. It is about a man named Darrow who is a Red, part of the lowest caste in his society where he is forced to work to make the surface of Mars habitable, but believes his work is important for securing a good future for the next generations. However, when Darrow discovers that everything he has been told by the ruling Gold caste has been a lie, and sets out to infiltrate their ranks and overthrow them. To be fair, the only resemblance I really see to Red Queen is the colour-based system for the castes. I’m still very interested in reading this one, but at this point I think I may as well wait until the last book in the second trilogy is published, which is supposed to be due for some time in 2021. I may end up prioritizing this series for 2022, although it’s still much to early to really commit to that.
4) The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
This is another series that has been on my TBR since 2017, and I’m pretty sure I added it at the time mostly because of the hype, considering I know so little about the plot. This series is about a girl named Ruby, whose parents sent her to a government “rehabilitation camp” called Thurmond when she was only 10, after she develops strange and uncontrollable abilities as the result of surviving a mysterious disease that killed most children. At age 16, Ruby escapes from Thurmond and finds herself on the run to find a safe heaven for people like her, joining a group of other children who escaped from another camp. Upon their arrival at the safe haven, Ruby and her new friends soon find that it may not offer the freedom they expected. I had completely forgotten what this was about, but now that I’ve seen the synopsis again, it sounds so interesting! It reminds me a bit of the X-Men, which is one of my favourite superhero movies. I feel like I haven’t heard very much about the rest of this series, but it’s another one that seems to have great ratings on Goodreads so it’s another one that I may have to prioritize eventually.
5) The Young Elites by Marie Lu
I keep adding Marie Lu’s series to my TBR, but rarely end up picking them up. Just this week, I strongly considered adding her latest book Skyhunter to my list too. The only books of hers that I have read so far are the Warcross duology. I loved the first book, but didn’t like the second quite as much. The Young Elites series is about a girl named Adelina who is the survivor of a blood fever that killed many, and left strange markings on the children who survived. As a result, her father now considers her an abomination, but the survivors are also known as the Young Elites due to the rumours of the mysterious gifts they are thought to have developed. Adelina soon meets Teren, the Leader of the Inquisition whose goal is to destroy the Elites before they can destroy the nation, and Enzo, a member of a secret society who seems to find the Young Elites before the Inquisition can get to them. Adelina soon finds herself questioning which of them she can really trust. I feel like I haven’t heard as much about this series as I have about Warcross or Legend, but it also sounds very good. I’ve always been a bit worried that Marie Lu’s series might skew a bit too young for me by now, but the more I read about it, the more I think I’d like to try it.