It seems like everybody is gearing up for the release of The Hunger Games movie. And, since I’ve been begging everyone I know to read the series for the past two years, I definitely get the allure. I wanted to go for a post-apocalyptic pick this week. It seems, however, that it’s rather hard to find good sci-fi without diving into a huge novel, or a long series. So, I’ve picked two Hunger Games-like books that are satisfying but won’t require the time commitment of a series. Keep in mind that both of these choices are books initially intended for a younger audience. Perhaps I’ll do another review on some more mature dystopian fiction later on.
The Always War by Mary Peterson Haddix
Tessa, an inhabitant of an America that is constantly at battle within its borders, has always felt out of place. She works cleaning a hospital to help her family get by. Her parents seem to have given up on everything. But her life changes when she attends an awards ceremony honoring a local hero. Yet, when the soldier publicly refuses a metal by claiming that he was a coward and running out off the stage, Tessa can’t help but follow him. This starts Tessa on a journey to discover the truth about the war.
I really couldn’t put this book down. It has the same pacing and cliff-hanger chapters that you enjoyed from The Hunger Games, but with a totally different story line. I’m also not the biggest fan of love triangles, so I appreciated that this book didn’t go there. The book has some interesting plot surprises, and the author does a great job of describing the world the characters see.
Quote: “It had never been anything but another illusion. It had been so beautiful—and yet the spider had built it solely to trap and kill.”
You’ll like this if: You want something short, interesting, and fast-paced for a car trip, plane ride, or an afternoon, and you enjoyed The Hunger Games and 1984.
The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch
In The Eleventh Plague , Stephen and his father are struggling to survive in a post-WW III world. The two of them have been surviving by roaming the world in search of items to salvage and trade. Because of this nomadic life, Stephen has spent his entire life very much alone. While coming to the aid of fellow survivors, tragedy strikes, and Stephen must take charge and seek out help. What Stephen finds is a group of people that have managed to create a settlement that feels like a paradise to Stephen who has never known a home or community. But, this may not be the paradise that Stephen imagined it was.
In this book, I enjoyed the emphasis on history and literature in the midst of survival. Stephen’s mother teaches him to read and encourages him to study literature despite the fact that it has very little survival value in the eyes of his grandfather. I also appreciated the feel of danger without the blood, guts and gore that many dystopian novels have. The story definitely has potential to go further, and some parts of it reminded me of Firefly. In fact, I think there could be a wealth of material in the back story and the world beyond.
Bonus! You can read the first few chapters online courtesy of the author here http://www.scribd.com/doc/62326036/The-Eleventh-Plague-Sample
Quote: “Maybe if we never built anything, then nothing would ever collapse”
You’ll like this if: you’re a fan of dystopian literature, you liked The Hunger Games, and you want something interesting but not overwhelming.