Friday, February 8, 2013

Three More Dystopias

While I respect Orwell's foresight, imagery, and poignant analogies, I never looked forward to reading more of this book.  What was initially mysterious and mildly suspenseful became slow and tiresome.  Given its rating on Goodreads and with some of my friends, it was disappointing to finally read this "classic."  It didn't help that I found so many of the key tenets of the attempted utopia so flawed (I am not convinced that abstinence and submissiveness are so intrinsically connected, quite the opposite, actually), and consequently felt the crux of the character's development and greater story would serve better as moot for a debate I was negating than a theme in speculative fiction.  In many other author dystopias, I can see how facets of our society, if allowed to thrive, could persuade us to initially welcome what would become an oppressive nightmare.  1984 had the potential to do this (the inception of "Big Brother" is utter brilliance), but failed to strike the chord I am so fond of in this sub-genre -- that moment that I shudder and think one of the following: "I can see how this would seem appealing," (Matched, Uglies, and The Giver) OR "I can imagine us ending up this way" (Fahrenheit 451, The Children of Men, Left Behind, The House of the Scorpion and Delirium) OR "This is so darn entertaining I will suspend my disbelief," (The Hunger Games, The Host, Pure and Divergent); 1984 didn't quite achieve any of these for me.
2.5 / 5
Fahrenheit 451
Fahrenheit 451, on the other hand, I found visionary whilst being more concise.  It was passionate, profound and poetic.  It felt real and was entertaining.  If I was recommending "classic" dystopian novels, I'd recommend this over 1984.
The emotional charge in Birthmarked made it engrossing from the opening, and I found myself reading it in any snatch of time I could because it was such a pleasure to read.  I think dystopia and YA literature are such a merry match, because often authors have censored the kinds of scenes I like least in similar mainstream dystopias.  While the writing didn't make me stop and catch my breath (e.g. Daughter of Smoke and Bone, The Book Thief, and The Poisonwood Bible), I loved how well I could picture everything.  The balance between physical description, dialogue and internal monologue was perfect.  There is a small chance this book seemed more refreshing because I read it immediately after 1984.
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