Top 5 Tuesday: Dystopian

So I missed the first August Top 5 Tuesday because life was sucking and blogging was hard, but I’m back now for Dystopian week!

I thought this would be waaaaay easier, but I seem to have not read very many dystopians?! And I didn’t want to choose the more obvious ones like THG or Handmaid’s Tale, so there may be one or two debatable choices on this list – but I consider them dystopian so here they are!

The Fever King by Victoria Lee

What a shock, The Fever King is the book I want to talk about first on dystopian week. This isn’t just the best dystopian novel ever, I currently consider it my favourite book EVER, and I cannot keep recommending it to everyone. The Fever King is set in a future US, where a virus (magic) has wiped out most of the population. Several hubs of survivors have risen out of the wreckage, including Carolinia, where Noam, our MC lives. The son of an immigrant, Noam survives the virus and wakes up with technopathy, an ability to control technology. He is recruited by one of the most powerful men in Carolinia, Calix Leher, and goes to train at a special school for magic-wielding survivors. There he meets Dara, Ames and the rest of a crew, tries to take down the government, and falls in love.

This book is just everything. It is such an amazing story, with lots of action and drama, and characters I would die for. What it does not have: the SEQUEL which isn’t out until MARCH. C’mon time, please hurry up. You can read my full review of this book here!

I Still Dream by James Smythe

I Still Dream is probably more sci-fi than dystopian, but I think the topics discussed in the book do make it dystopian, hence it’s appearing on this list. I Still Dream tells the story of Laura, who at 17 created an artificial intelligence called Organon. Laura uses it almost like a diary, inputting her thoughts and desires into Organon who supports her as she grows. Meanwhile, the world advances, technology changes, and corportations develop their own AI. But their AI is very different to Laura’s. Laura’s was only ever designed for her; and as Organon has developed, it has done so with Laura’s humanity and her morals. The mega-corps? Of course they didn’t care about putting controls in their AI! Why would they do that?!

This is probably my absolute favourite AI book I’ve read. Despite the plot revolving around Organon, the book really focuses on Laura which I love. We follow Laura throughout her life as she and Organon grow and develop together, from her 17 year old self, to when she’s old. I Still Dream discusses what it means to be human, and shows how we can destroy ourselves for power. It’s such a brilliant tale, with incredible character development in Laura, and a brilliant look at how technology and humanity might interact in the future.

Sealed by Naomi Booth

Sealed is a very creepy, horror-esque dystopian novel set in a future where pollution has damaged the enviornment. Cities are covered in smog; food is grown only in sterile labs, and now a virus which causes skin to grow over any openings on your body is infecting everyone. To escape, pregnant Alice and her partner escape to the mountains, where she hopes the cool, fresh air will protect her from the epidemic. Of course, things aren’t quite as expected in the mountains. Something is very wrong.

Sealed is such a fantastic book – it had me on the edge of my seat the whole way through, and is one of the most terrifying books I’ve read. I actually found the ending a little disappointing, but a lot of people LOVED the ending so it’s probably just me… I wanted a bit more resolution of the virus, which is why I picked up the book (because I have a really weird obsession with media about virus epidemics), but we didn’t. Otherwise, this was a super suspenseful and chilling book.

The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

The Natural Way of Things is a very Handmaid’s Tale-esque, feminist dystopian. Yolanda and Verla wake up drugged in an abandoned property in the middle of the Australian desert. Along with 8 other girls, they’ve been kidnapped from their lives and left there, forced to do hard labour each day. Two jailors and a nurse accompany them, watching over their every move. As they begin to bond with each other, we discover that each girl has a secret, a history of a sexual scandal with a powerful man – and this is what led to their kidnapping.

This is an extremely dark and uncomfortable novel discussing gender, the patriarchy, and misogyny. You can see the Margaret Atwood inspiration, but it’s such a modern look at the issues Atwood wrote about 35 years ago.

It’s pretty depressing this shit never seems to change.

The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

I just finished this book last week, a book I have been looking forward to read for months, and it didn’t disappoint! The Kingdom is new theme park, one where wishes come true; where happy ever after isn’t just a hope, it’s enforced. Ana is one of seven fantasists, extremely human-like robots who are employed by The Kingdom to make wishes come true. Ana is also standing trial for murder. The Kingdom is split between Ana’s POV in the years before the trial; and in snippets of interviews and videos from the trial.

What a brilliant concept and great mystery! This book was pretty dark and gritty, despite how it first seems. Ana is very naive and unaware of The Kingdom’s seedier side, and so we discover along with her. This book has such brilliant discussions about what makes someone human, about how choices make humanity, and how dark and awful we really can be. I did wish the ending had been a bit darker – it felt a little too hopeful for me for the concept, but as it’s setting up a sequel, I’m interested to see what happens next. I have a full review of this book coming soon!

And that’s it for this week’s Top 5 Tuesday Dystopians! Let me know what you think of these books – and if you haven’t added The Fever King to your TBR yet, DO!

Paws out,
Rach + Draco

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