A few days ago, as I was watching the critically acclaimed show, The Walking Dead, I had a thought. Just as Andrea was about to stab a screwdriver into a zombie's eye socket, I wondered what exactly was wrong with me. Just an hour before I was listening to Justin Cronin's The Twelve, an equally brutal look at possible human annihilation by vampires. Prior to that I was on the treadmill reading Fuse, Julianna Baggot's new book about survivors of an atomic blast that left them fused to the objects, animals or people they were touching when it detonated. Looking back on my day, I realized there might be something really psychologically wrong with me. Why would I spend copious amounts of time amerced in human destruction? Why would I be draw to stories that start with the basis that everything we love and value has been destroyed? Conclusion: I need a good therapist.
Yet, I am not alone. I know that if you have picked up The Breeders and liked it, you might be a little sick in the head like me. The third season finale of The Walking Dead pulled in a whopping 12.8 million viewers. Hunger Games books were on the New York Times Best Seller list for over 100 consecutive weeks. That's a lot of us crazies walking around out there. So, humanity is fascinated with its own demise. But why? Folks, I have a theory.
In general many of us read for entertainment and escape, but those of us who read dystopian also read for a third purpose, to prepare. Do we all think we'll die soon by a North Korean missile and build bomb shelters in our basements? No. But, many of us might wonder, late at night, how we would act if society suddenly came to a halt. Would we be those that took up arms, marched to the aid of others and rallied those left to a new America? Or would we be zombie food? We read to ponder the multitude of ways it could go down. We read to quantify those qualities it takes to overcome. And when and if that bomb drops, we'll be the first to roll out our super secret Zombie survival plan. (Mine includes a visit to my local Outdoor World.)
There's one more reason I believe people read dystopian. There's something so magical about basic human survival. When all this commercial garbage is stripped bare, the human soul and its capacity to overcome is astounding. We know that about our race, that we never go down without a fight. There's a scene in episode two of season two of The Walking Dead where Hershel, the veterinarian turned surgeon, is speaking to Rick. Rick is distraught, wondering what's the point? Why go on in such a broken world? Hershel turns to him and says (I'm paraphrasing here, so don't get mad at me Walking Deadfans). "This is just a bump in the road. It's just nature's way of resetting itself. That's the beauty of humanity, we always overcome." Well said Hershel.
So, my lovely dystopian readers, if you need some recommendations here are some of my recent favorites. Happy reading.
Wool by Hugh Howey
A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Scourge by A.G. Henley
Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn
The World of Shell and Bone by Adriana Ryan
Katie French imagined herself an author when her poem caught the eye of her second grade teacher. In middle school she spent her free time locked in her room, writing her first young adult novel. Though her social life suffered, her love for literature thrived. She studied English at Eastern Michigan University, where she veered from writing and earned an education degree. She spent nine years teaching high school English. Currently she is a school counselor, doing a job that is both one of the hardest things she's ever done and the most rewarding. In her free time she writes, reads great books and takes care of her two beautiful and crazy children. She is a contributor and co-creator of Underground Book Reviews, a website dedicated to erasing the boundaries between traditional and non-traditional publishing. She lives in Michigan with her husband and two children. You can find her at www.katiefrenchbooks.com, at www.undergroundbookreviews.com or on Facebook.
More info on The Breeders-
More info on The Breeders-
Author: Katie French
Pub. Date: Aug. 1, 2012
Check it out on: Amazon
Sixteen-year-old Riley Meemick is one of the world's last free girls. When Riley was born, her mother escaped the Breeders, the group of doctors using cruel experiments to bolster the dwindling human race. Her parents do everything possible to keep her from their clutches-- moving from one desolate farm after another to escape the Breeders' long reach. The Breeders control everything- the local war lords, the remaining factories, the fuel. They have unchecked power in this lawless society. And they're hunting Riley.
When the local Sheriff abducts the adult members of her family and hands her mother over to the Breeders, Riley and her eight-year-old brother, Ethan, hiding in a shelter, are left to starve. Then Clay arrives, the handsome gunslinger who seems determined to help to make up for past sins. The problem is Clay thinks Riley is a bender-- a genderless mutation, neither male nor female. As Riley's affection for Clay grows she wonders can she trust Clay with her secret and risk her freedom?
The three embark on a journey across the scarred remains of New Mexico-- escaping the Riders who use human sacrifice to appease their Good Mother, various men scrambling for luck, and a deranged lone survivor of a plague. When Riley is shot and forced into the Breeder's hospital, she learns the horrible fate of her mother—a fate she'll share unless she can find a way out.
This totally makes sense! See, I'm NOT turning into a lunatic, I'm just unconsciously preparing for the end of the world. After reading so many dystopia/post-apocalyptic books, I was starting to question my sanity there. Reading this was actually very relieving. :)
So, do you read a lot of dystopian/post-apocalyptic books? What do you think of Katie French's theory? Relieved? Maybe not?