"If the doctor told me I had six minutes to live, I'd type a little faster." --Isaac Asimov

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A tale of three trilogies

In the past year or so, I've read three trilogies that have redefined the world of YA science fiction. They have, each in their own way, made me rethink the first (or actually zeroth) draft of my own YA work in progress. The trilogies are all dystopic, brutally so. I enjoyed them all, for different reasons.

The first, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, was a cold, hard look at the effect of violence on children. The basic premise of the books is that children are thrown together in an arena and have to fight to the death until one emerges victorious. As you might expect, these books are extremely, graphically violent.

The second is the Cold Awakening trilogy by Robin Wasserman. These books deal with a future in which those rich enough to afford the procedure can have their consciousness downloaded into an artificial body, in the event of their death. It addresses issues of human identity and self-perception with a light touch, so that the characters never come across as preachy.

I just finished reading the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness, and this is the one that made the greatest impression on me. The issues addressed are timeless: war and suffering, humanity's greed and cruelty to its own species and others. Like the Hunger Games, this trilogy is extremely violent, covering issues that range from the use of torture to interrogate prisoners to violent subjugation of women in a male-dominated society. Most importantly, it has realistic characters that are shaped by their choices--no-one is truly good or truly evil.

(I could add a fourth, the Gone trilogy by Michael Grant, but I only read the first book.)

Dystopic science fiction seems to be what's hot in the YA market at the moment. I wonder what that tells us about our present-day hopes and aspirations, and those of our children.


Terri said...

I have not read any of these, but I am thinking about the difference between reading violence in a book and watching it in a movie. For example I did read, and love, "The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo" and the other two books in the series. Violent but with a social justice perspective...and now I wonder what impact the movie will have, and what mY be lost in the portrayal of violnce against women...?

kdoyle said...

I read "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and liked the story, but not the writing. It should be interesting to see how the movie compares (I didn't realize there was one).

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