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Commonly extrapolating elements of current society, dystopian fiction explores the darker side of possible worlds. Discover more than a Brave New World here.
Step into another world, just on the edge of existence, a fairy tale if you will, but somehow sharper, more vivid, and quite startling as it draws on folklore and oh so human qualities and reactions. On a remote island called Neverness exists a village, we hear the story of the villagers, separate, together, living with and alongside a spellbinding natural world. The author Zoe Gilbert was the winner of the 2014 Costa Short Story Award and this is her debut novel. Each chapter is a story in its own right, yet each leads to the next and the next to make one complete tale. This is a book that tested, pushed and pulled me, as it speared my attention and hurled it aloft. I felt, really felt so many emotions, from deep aching sadness, to bounding wonder, through to discovering warm love in unexpected places. Zoe Gilbert has created a place apart, simple, wild, and stunningly beautifully yet be warned, it has a ferocious bite. If you look, really focus straight ahead, then take your thoughts to the corner of your eye and feel there, just behind you, you may just see a glimpse of Neverness. Or you could settle down, and allow Zoe Gilbert to guide you into a breathtaking world. Folk is one of my picks of the month and I have fallen rather deeply in love with it!
One of the most renowned classics of all time was brought to us by George Orwell in 1949. A compelling, striking nightmarish vision of a dystopian world, this remains one of the most chilling yet favourite books I've ever read and one of the best openings of a book ever: "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen" So much of it has entered our language, becoming an integrated part of our common cultural inheritance, that I'm sure many people don't even realise their beginnings. It is the year 1984 and the world is divided into three superstates each at war with eachother. Britain is Airstrip One ruled by the Party and led by Big Brother, the symbolic face of totalitarianism. Even love is considered subversive and we follow the story of Winston Smith who works in the Ministry of Truth where his job is to rewrite the past to fit the present. Depicting everyman, Winston begins to subtlely rebel by writing a secret diary, a deadly thought crime in a society where the actions and thoughts of the people are strictly controlled through propaganda, secrecy, constant surveillance, and harsh punishment. Where will it end? This book will stay with you, and will never be forgotten. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
WITH A NEW INTRODUCTION FROM MARGARET ATWOOD. The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire - neither Offred's nor that of the two men on which her future hangs. Brilliantly conceived and executed, this powerful vision of the future gives full rein to Margaret Atwood's irony, wit and astute perception.
Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.
A fascinating and disturbing premise that has the ability to swing a profound sledgehammer into your consciousness. Set in what feels like a very possible future, Carl is isolated in a remote Scottish village and finds himself mentally as well as physically detached and confined. It takes a little while to settle in to this story, to get used to the writing style and understand the world you are in; it is worth the wait though. Chapters are grouped into a time period and at first zigzag back and forwards in time. The initial feeling of dislocation feels quite deliberate, it helps you empathise and feel a connection with the village community. There is a vulnerability to Carl, and while he isn't particularly likeable, he is an intriguing and captivating character. As time passes and Carl begins to understand his surroundings we start to hear from other villagers and they add a shot of positiveness to proceedings. This intense exploration of human instinct and glimpse into an imagined world, is ultimately an interesting and thought-provoking read.
When the downtrodden animals of Manor Farm overthrow their master Mr Jones and take over the farm themselves, they imagine it is the beginning of a life of freedom and equality. But gradually a cunning, ruthless elite among them, masterminded by the pigs Napoleon and Snowball, starts to take control. Soon the other animals discover that they are not all as equal as they thought, and find themselves hopelessly ensnared as one form of tyranny is replaced with another.
Shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2015. Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2015. An excellent book unlike any other. The life of bees is examined and fictionalised as never before. These bees are not anthropomorphised or overly sentimentalised into cute cartoon characters; the action and communication is kept as realistic as possible whilst still providing a novel with depth of emotion and excellent characterisation. Propelled by a set of strange coincidences and lucky accidents of time and place, the lowly worker bee, Flora, works her way through the whole hive; the nursery, the morgue, even the Queen’s chamber; and learns a few more secrets than she should. Her story is incredible, fast, gripping, delightfully easy to read and full of great ideas. This book is great for the teen market but really anyone could enjoy it and indeed should, for it is quite something. January 2015 Debut of the Month. One of our Books of the Year 2014.
Heart-pounding and thrilling urban dystopian fiction from an exciting young author. A No. 1 New York Times bestseller debut, Divergent is now available in this special collector's hardback edition, boasting 72 pages of bonus content. A novel of non-stop suspense and twists and turns that you least expect. There's romance too and a heroine who is determined to fulfill her plans even when conflict seems the only course of action. A debut novel that will leave you breathless. ***The Divergent Series Box Set - The bestselling Divergent series - including the trilogy Divergent, Insurgent and Allegiant plus Four - A Divergent Collection and the companion guide, World of Divergent, are now available as a boxed set for the first time!
As mankind strives to rebuild society in the wake of climate change, over-population and global food shortages, every day is a struggle for people like Sid and his younger sister Lo. They are 'runners'- people whose very survival the government has outlawed. As they move west, trying to find family or somewhere they can call home, they must work out which of the people they meet on the way can be trusted, and which want to cut their adventure short. Encountering people on both sides of the law, as well as those who seem to exist outside it, Sid and Lo make and lose friends as they fight for their lives and each other.
Winner of the Arthur C Clarke Award for Science Fiction 2015. Longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2015. Following four wonderful literary crime novels (to be issued in the UK later), Canadian author Mandel breaks through with a beautifully modulated post-apocalypse tale, where a virus has decimated the world and a troupe of musicians and Shakespearean actors tour the Great Lakes area and hold up the flame of culture and civilisation. Through the prism of a variety of interlinked characters before and after the fall of society, Mandel offers a melancholy and poetic lullaby for the power of art and the succour of relationships. Full of striking images and strands: the rise and fall of a Falstaffian actor, the coming of age of a young girl in a brand new world, an airport that becomes a museum for humanity, the stark realities of a land now at war with itself and full of feral survivors, a comic strip whose provenance is prophetic, Mandel weaves a clever and moving web that will stay with you for a very long time. Chair of the Arthur C. Clarke Award judges, Andrew M Butler, said: “While many post-apocalypse novels focus on the survival of humanity, Station Eleven focuses instead on the survival of our culture, with the novel becoming an elegy for the hyper-globalised present.” Maxim Jakubowski October 2014 Highly Recommended. Sarah Broadhurst's view.. Not another plague apocalyptic book you cry! Oh yes, only this one is a bit special. It describes the ‘end of civilisation as we know it’ and the accompanying death of most of the world’s population in a highly effective, gentle way. Short snippets tell of gigantic events. We get lives before and after the ‘Georgia flu’ concentrating on an actor, a comic graphic artist and a group of travelling performers. The comic, starring one Dr Eleven, links both sections in a poignant manner. This is a very impressive work, a thrilling tale, a must read.
A cracking sci-fi post-apocalyptic adventure thriller for teens. When Thomas wakes up, walks out of the lift he’s in he finds himself in a walled encampment – the Glade - surrounded by a maze alongside lots of boys. He wonders how he got there but no one knows. All they all know is that every 30 days a new boy arrives and every morning the big wall comes down between the Glade and the world inhabited by the terrifying Grievers, part-animal, part machine, and the boys will risk everything, to find out why they’re there and every evening the wall goes up again. This really is adrenalin pumping reading that fans of Michael Grant’s Gone series, The Hunger Games and Lord of the Flies will love.
‘The Book of the Crowman' the second and last volume of ‘The Black Dawn’, is stirring, provocative and compelling. You most definitely need to start this journey with ‘Black Feathers’, this story needs to be told, to be heard from beginning to end. As the broken land fights back, Gordon and Megan are growing in their skills, gifts and abilities. Megan is the light to Gordon’s darkness, yet both are inextricably linked and both are fascinating. I felt as though I was bearing witness, as though I needed to remember this tale as a terrifying and terrible reckoning was thundering towards me. There is a subtle weave to the writing, paths link, join, and connect, yet this isn't neat and tidy, in fact, you may still have some questions whipping around your mind as you finish, however that feels right. Joseph D’Lacey doesn't hold back, I felt pain, I felt anger, I felt sorrow, but most importantly, when I thought I was emotionally exhausted, I also felt hope. ~ Liz Robinson
Dystopia - The opposite of Utopia.
ORIGIN late 18th cent.: from dys-‘bad’ + Utopia. An imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.
H.G. Wells was the first popular dystopian writer with the Time Machine (1895) in which the future doesn’t bring continuous improvements in human kind, rather its demise to the baser darker side of our nature. Through Metamorphosis (1915) by Franz Kafka, Brave New World (1932) by Aldous Huxley Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) by George Orwell and on to The Handmaid's Tale (1985) by Margaret Atwood dystopian fiction continues to probe the darker areas of the human condition.
Perhaps all the end of world prophecies have fueled the demand, never the less the contemporary dystopian offerings are proving popular reading – especially among a younger audience. We hope you enjoy the selection.