The Best New(ish) Dystopian Books
Our resident bibliophile has some recommendations that dip into nightmares and hellscapes
While perusing the dystopian section of my personal library here on the 27th floor of Wondercade HQ in accordance with Neil’s request, there were a few titles that immediately caught my eye due to the well-worn nature of their bindings. The Road, The Handmaid’s Tale and Fahrenheit 451 — these have all, at various points in my long life, occupied space on my Shelf of Stories Worth Reading Again. I’ve heard they’ve all been adapted for those lesser artforms of the screen, not that I watch any of that drivel. But if you do find some pleasure in those adaptations, or more recent hits like The Last of Us or Station Eleven, I’ve got a treat for you. Today, I’ve hand-selected a stack of more recent un-put-down-able books, each of them providing a tour of engrossing dystopias, present and future.
For the youngest of our budding Bookstorians, I’d recommend diving into the wonderful world of Willa of Dark Hollow by Robert Beatty.
That means you’ll also need to acquire the best-selling first part in this tale, Willa of the Wood (the more books the better, in my opinion), when the world of the namesake night-spirit is in truth much more wonderful; in the second entry, encroaching humans come a-knocking.
If your reader has the mettle for a true post-apocalyptic adventure, The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold places a 12-year-old and an 18-year-old (a cue for the appropriate age range) in a world devastated by a deadly flu. Sound too close to home? Don’t worry, it also involves time travel. Who can say no to time travel? Not I.
As for the jaded adults, can I interest you in The End of Men? Yes, I see I’ve got your attention now. Especially you ladies. That would be Christina Sweeney-Baird’s equally harrowing and satisfying fictional account of a lethal virus that only affects men. Not for the faint of heart, that one.
To my mind, however, the scariest account here in my stack is Atlas of AI: Power, Politics, and the Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence by Kate Crawford. It’s not that her illuminating portrait of modern AI has me scared for my job, but that it’s more distressing than mere robots. Lest we forget, this is also the season for curling up in front of fires.
For those occasions, there’s Tom Galvin’s The Auction, a page-turner from a debut novelist that mixes together a bit of The Hunger Games with Galvin’s background as a political reporter and Silicon Valley strategist. You’ll want to put on a pot of tea for that one.
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