Sunday, July 11, 2010

Book Talk: It's the End of the World As We Know It . . . (Part Two)

In the last blog post, I talked about the rising popularity of post-apocolyptic and dystopian books. Some of the books I talked about included The Hunger Games and Tomorrow When the War Began. In this post I'm going to look at some of the other traditional books from this genre, as well as some books which have similar qualities.

Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld
It's been a while since I read this series, and it's one I haven't yet introduced to my students. However, some of my older students would probably be interested in reading them, so I'll probably talk them up this term. Uglies tells the story of a world where everyone goes through a procedure at 16 to make them 'pretty' - basically identical. These pretties are kept separate from younger teenagers who have not yet had the procedure. Tally, the main character, begins the story looking forward to being a pretty, but soon discovers that there's another option. The books follow Tally's attempts to negotiate the strict regulations of the government.

Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody
This book moves out in a different direction from others which tend to be pretty action based. Obernewtyn on the other hand is more fantasy based, with a main character, Elspeth, who can talk with animals, and magic present throughout the whole book. Obernewtyn is set in a world which has been destroyed by a nuclear holocaust, with a controlling council which condemns those with mental powers of any kind. I've only read the first book and part of the second, but the world building in the book is just brilliant.

Chasers by James Phelan
This is a new series, and I've only read the first one (Alone) but there's a really interesting premise behind it. Jesse is an Australian boy on a UN camp in New York, when there's what seems like a terrorist attack while Jesse's in the subway with some friends. Strangely, the survivors who were outside when it happened seem to have a virus of some sort, also making them dangerous to Jesse and his friends. It's not the best of books, but the twist at the end is pretty amazing.

When I was thinking about these books, I realised that there's a lot of other books that share similarities. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is one that jumps to mind, as Harry, Ron and Hermione deal with a world where a authoritarian government have changed the rules. Time Riders by Alex Scarrow is a time-travel book, but some of the possible time zones are scarily post-apocalyptic.

One of the things I really like about the books I've looked at, are the number of female main characters. Tally, Katniss, Ellie, Elspeth are all incredibly strong characters, with flaws and problems, but who go out and get things done. Better still is how many of these books, with strong female characters, are popular with boys.

What are your favourite post-apocalyptic / dystopian books?


A Reader's Community

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Queensland, Australia
A Reader's Community is a place to find ideas, information, resources and recommendations about Reader's Workshop.

This Blog has five main types of posts.

About Reader's Workshop - information about Reader's Workshop in my classroom and how it works

Reader's Workshop Tools - resources you can access and use to help you with reader's workshop

Book talks - Book recommendations of two or three books centred around a particular theme

Book letters - in-depth reviews of one particular book

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