For some reason, I found myself in a black hole of dystopia last week... and this is what I read:
The Gardener-- S.A. Bodeen (May 2010)
Mason is your average teenage boy growing up in a small town. His father is out of the picture, his mother struggles with alcoholism and works nights at the local nursing home, which is owned by TroDyn. Determined to make something of his life, Mason decides to apply to TroDyn, a local scientific corporation that will pay for his schooling if he agrees to work there afterward. But when Mason visits his mother at work one day, and sees that she is not watching over senior citizens but catatonic teenagers, Mason learns there is more to TroDyn than he originally thought. All at once, he is caught up in a whirlwind of science he never thought possible, and falls hard for a beautiful girl who needs someone to project her.
The Gardener is almost more sci-fi than dystopia, and as you can tell by the cover, the Gardener isn't growing flowers in the greenhouse. And though there are massive plot holes and the character development is poor, Bodeen does a good job of showing how an altruistic idea can have sinister results when science is more highly valued than human life. I didn't enjoy this book as much as some of the others in this post, but I think teens will like it if they are looking for a fast paced sci-fi/dystopia.
Matched-- Ally Condie (November 2010)
It's the not-so-distant future and Society rules. Literally. All personal choice has been removed, and because of that, there is no war, conflict, or confusion. There are 100 approved poems, 100 approved paintings, and no one knows how to write (only type). Your career is chosen for you by your aptitude and social standing. And most importantly, your spouse is chosen for you. It's like an arranged marriage, but instead of loving families deciding what's best for their children, Society uses logarithms to scientifically make matches. And somehow no one questions this.
Cassia cannot wait for her matching day. She is thrilled when she is matched with Xander, the boy who lives next door and is her best friend. This is extremely rare and she is grateful to already know her match. But when she pops in the data disc that has more information about her match, it's not Xander's face that she sees. Instead she sees Ky, the mysterious boy who is always on the fringes. Society acknowledged the glitch in the system and tried to smooth things over. Yet other bits and pieces of Society's rigorous hold are crumbling and Cassia finds that she can't just live a quiet subdued life anymore.
Nomansland-- Lesley Hauge (June 2010)
I'm a sucker for retold mythology and from the cover and synopsis of this book, I thought this would be a retelling of the story of the amazon women... you know, the women who cut off a breast so they could use their bows and arrows better, and spend their lives on the back of a horse. However, it's vaguely inspired by that myth and really focuses more on the post apocalyptic plot.
Something has happened and the world we currently know is gone. A group of women survive the apocalypse on an island and recreate society to survive this new reality. When we meet Keller, the world we live in now is a distant memory. She lives with other women in a strict, almost archaic feeling society and is training to be a tracker. When her friend Laing finds an old dwelling (most likely from the around our current time, so maybe 2020 or so?) buried under the earth, she and the other girls are introduced to a society they never knew. They try on lipstick, look at beauty magazines, and marvel over barbie dolls. But when the women governing their society discovers their secret hideaway, the results are nothing less than tragic.
This World We Live In--Susan Beth Pfeffer (April 2010)
This is book three in The Last Survivors series (the first being Life as We Knew It) and because of this, I won't spend too much time on it. Basically This World We Live In takes the characters we met in the first two books and places them in a situation where their worlds unite. I would think fans of the first two books will be happy to read this, to me it felt uninspired and kind of like an afterthought.