Most kids have to read Brave New World or 1984 at some point before they graduate from high school, but lately the success of Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games (soon-to-be) trilogy has blown open the market for dystopian fiction written specifically for young adults. This week’s New Yorker features a thoughtful article by Laura Miller on this genre’s appeal to younger readers, and how these books differ from their adult counterparts. After reading the New Yorker article, you might be inspired to explore the genre yourself. Below are are couple of our favorite we recommend your start with.
Hunger Games and its sequels are at the center of Miller’s analysis and probably the most popular books in the genre right now. Miller’s discussion of the games as high school allegory is apt and a satisfying perspective from which to approach the books, but many readers devour them simply because the plot moves breath-takingly quickly and Collins has created the epitome of a book that you can’t put down. The second installment, Catching Fire is currently available, and the final book, Mockingjay, will be available August 24th. Recommended for ages 13 and up.
The Giver is wildly popular with teachers and taught in countless 5th and 6th grade classrooms across the country, and with good reason. At turns a classic coming-of-age story and an indictment of over-regulation and conformity, it’s a 1984 for the 10-year-old set. The Giver is widely enjoyed by adults as well. At the bookstore we’ve encountered several parents who rain praises on the book, even though they never read it as children. The story of Jonah’s society actually continues in the books Gathering Blue and The Messenger, Neither quite lived up to the poignancy and urgency of the first book, but are an interesting exploration of future utopia/dystopia and the genre. Recommended for ages 10 and up.