Dystopian Fiction

Commonly extrapolating elements of current society, dystopian fiction explores the darker side of possible worlds. Discover more than a Brave New World here.

May 2022 Featured Books

When Women Were Dragons

When Women Were Dragons

Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/05/2022

Otherworldly, yet rooted in patriarchal realities, Kelly Barnhill‘s When Women Were Dragons is a storytelling masterwork. Set from the 1950s, it presents a magnificent maelstrom of fire-breathing women who refuse to keep quiet, exposing the trauma of enforced silence, and shining a blazing light on how vital it is to transcend imposed shame and live your own way. “I was four years old when I first saw a dragon. I was four years old when I first learned to be silent about dragons. Perhaps this is how we learn silence — an absence of words, an absence of context, a hole in the universe where the truth should be”. So shares Alex, the narrator of this brilliant novel, who lives at a time when adults remember the “mass dragoning” of women that occurred on 25th April 1955, but never mention it. Alex’s aunt Marla was among those who rose up and transformed into a dragon, but it’s as if she never existed. Marla is never spoken of again - not by Alex’s sick mother, and not by Alex’s father, who leaves her to raise Marla’s daughter Beatrice. Before her transformation and vanishing, Marla told Alex that, “All women are magic. Literally all of us. It’s in our nature. It’s best you learn that now”. Fearing little Beatrice won’t be able to resist her powerful urges to dragon, Alex shuns any such notions, and silences Beatrice’s talk of dragons. But librarian Mrs Gyzinska, who supports Alex’s plan to become a mathematician, shares her learned insights, and frames the phenomenon of dragoning in the context of patriarchy: “There are people who have problems with women, and alas, many of them are also women. That is because of something called the patriarchy… an unnecessary and oppressive obstacle, and best disposed of as soon as possible.” As Alex grapples with tremendous conflicts and prejudice, we’re presented with a spectacular prom scene, a tense but glorious reunion, a beautiful love of a lifetime, and glorious sisterhood. What a story.

Star Books

April 2022 Featured Books

The Liberation's Child

The Liberation's Child

Author: Lucy Cruickshanks Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/04/2022

This is Britain – but not as we know it. The country is reeling in the aftermath of the Free and Equal Britain (FEB) movement, a political regime that dismantled the structures of society and brought about the unjust killing of millions of citizens. Dom and Thea, two survivors trying to move on with their lives, face a race against time to discover the truth behind a child trafficking ring somehow connected to FEB-era politicians. Their desperation is present at every turn of this haunting fiction. Every move they make is riddled with tension; who is watching over them? Who can really be trusted? Cruickshanks' prose is beautifully taut – not a word is wasted – and her short, punchy paragraphs add pace to the thriller when it’s most needed. The narrative shifts between Thea’s and Dom’s stories with ease, both characters and their tragic pasts treated with emotional sensitivity rather than pity. Their resilience and integrity shine in an otherwise corrupt world – it’s impossible to not get swept along with them and their cause. The Liberation’s Child is dystopian fiction at its finest…but don’t be fooled. Although this version of London may be far removed from any modern reality, the unnerving themes that lie at the heart of this harrowing story - human trafficking, political unrest and genocide – will undoubtedly strike a chord with many.

Fragmented Souls

Fragmented Souls

Author: Kasha Ross Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/03/2022

‘Fragmented Souls’ by Kasha Ross is a dystopian YA fantasy story set in a brutal world that almost mixes The Hunger Games and Fight Club. A natural disaster, the emittance of a gas only deadly to humans, decimates the population. Now, those who remain live in dark times, where the main leaders impose weekly fights between gangs of the poverty ridden populace. Told from the perspective of Harley, the main character and leader of her young gang, and Jimmy, her best friend, the reader sees the tyrannical “Big Three” threaten Harley and those she loves. As the plot escalates, Harley and Jimmy get closer and he and all of her friends may have to risk everything to save Harley’s younger brother. A motley crew of pick-pockets, fighters, healers and more, each of the characters have their own quirks and talents, with distinct personalities to get to know, to add lighter moments, and to help the gang as they try to track down Harley’s brother J. The prologue shows the start of this tyrannical and violent world, and intrigued me immediately. I was curious to figure out exactly how the characters in the prologue are connected to the teens in the rest of the story. The incorporation of the supernatural with Harley’s unique characteristics is subtle throughout the book, I enjoyed this additional element and found that it was interwoven in a way that complimented the rest of the plot.  As perhaps might be expected, there’s a love triangle theme that plays out as the gang work to find J. which I thought provided another facet to the story and allowed for softer moments amongst the violence of the setting and the action. ‘Fragmented Souls’ came to a dramatic conclusion and left me with a few questions and eager to know when I might be able to discover the answers.  Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love

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.