Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"Dystopian Girl" Books

I picked up A Girl Called Fearless, by Catherine Linka, at the Pasadena Teen Book Festival back in April, and just got around to reading it. This is yet another in the dystopian-girls-lose-their-rights-and-freedoms batch of YA fiction. You know, in which there's a plague or a revolution or a political shift that shines the spotlight on women as the bearers of the future generation and uses that excuse to take away their civil rights and turn them back into property?

I liked this one pretty well--the characters and situations were interesting, the main character was fresh, and the story arc was well done--I felt like it actually could have happened, in most respects. I didn't care for the insta-love aspect--I would rather the focus had stayed on Aveline solving her own problems instead of her spending so much time mooning over Yates. I wanted to know more about the underground organization. I also felt the author was short-sighted about how profoundly the economy would be affected by the United States losing half of its work force in a period of a year or two!

The thing I did like about this book, though, is that Catherline Linka wrote this (I think!) as a stand-alone, so I don't have to (wait for and) read two or three (or four) more books to get the whole story! There is potentially more to it--if she wanted to write a sequel, she could--but if not, it's satisfying as a single book.

This book made me think about, and compare it to, all the others in this subgenre of dystopian fiction for teens (I made you a list, below). The main character was less naive than the girl in Matched, and more realistic than the ones in Wither. I also thought of the classic dystopian novel, The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood, because the patriarchal nature of the government echoed that for me.

Here is a list of dystopian books that specifically reference marriage, relationships, and child-bearing, and venture onto the ground of women as property:
Birthmarked, Prized, Promised, by Caragh M. O'Brien
Bumped, Thumped, by Megan McCafferty (although in these, even though "anatomy is destiny," the girls are in charge--sort of)
The Crossing, by Mandy Hager
Matched, Crossed, Reached, by Ally Condie
Delirium, Pandemonium, Requiem, by Lauren Oliver
Eve, Once, by Anna Carey
Wither, Fever, Sever, by Lauren de Stefano
The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
and finally, here is a book I would recommend if you are interested to see a surprising and innovative solution to the problem:

The Gate to Women's Country, by Sheri S. Tepper

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