Jump to content
Goose

A Dystopian World - Ongoing Blog

Recommended Posts

Ecotopia – Ernest Callenbach

(speculative, environmental, political)

 

The book is based on a fictional place called Ecotopia which used to be an area in America but is now independent and separately governed. The main character William goes on a journalistic assignment to discover and report back all he can about this place that outsides know little about. Ecotopia has made drastic changes to their society and ways of life in order to live in a less environmentally damaging way.

 

The book is written part diary entries of William’s and part official columns. The columns are extremely informative and therefore we are given lots of insight into the country of Ecotopia and how they live. It did however make it feel a little like you were reading a report (which I guess it is really) rather than a fictional novel. These sections did become a bit of an information overload at times, particularly in areas that I have little knowledge and interest in, i.e., economics and therefore I did find these parts a bit of a drag. The diary entries were where the storyline was held and where we got to know the characters a bit more, these were the bits I enjoyed the most.

 

Overall, I did like this book although not as much as I first thought I would but this is mostly because I wasn’t aware of the style in which it was written and therefore, I wasn’t expecting there to be very little storyline. One thing that did frustrate me was that all the female characters where pretty sexualised, I don’t think there were any where comments about their attractiveness was not mentioned.

 

Opening line: The Times-Post is at last able to announce that William Weston, our top international affairs reporter, will spend six weeks in Ecotopia, beginning next week.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You Have Arrived at Your Destination (Forward Collection) – Amor Towles

(dystopian, short story, thought-provoking)

 

This is a short story set in a time when people can essentially choose what their child will be like. A fertility lab allows you to select certain traits to be more pronounced and others to be less so in order to determine aspects of the child's personality, temperament and intelligence. Parents can even view simulations of what different variations of their child may be like depending on what profile they chose.

 

I really love the concept of this story and felt that it was explained really well. It also raises the concept of ‘playing god’, and if this is something that can really be beneficial or not.

 

I would have loved to have read a whole novel based on this concept, one where we actually get to see the choice the character makes and how this effects the child as it grows up. I did find the second half of the book a little less intriguing, it kind of felt a bit separate from the first half however overall, I enjoyed it. Id like to read some more books from this collection at some point.

 

Opening line: It had been years since Sam had been this far out on the express way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tender is the Flesh – Agustina Bazterrica

(dystopian, disturbing, horror)

 

Tender is the Flesh is set in a time when a virus has eradicated all animals accept humans and therefore in order to satisfy peoples urge to eat meat they have began to farm and slaughter humans. The people that are eaten have been completely dehumanised to the point that they are no longer called humans, rather ‘heads’ in order to desensitise people from what they are actually eating.

 

We follow Marcos who works at a processing plant where the slaughtering takes place, he has recently lost his infant son and his wife has left because of this. I found Marcos a difficult character to work out however in my opinion the ending was very revealing as to his true character.

 

It was a very bleak and disturbing read with a lot of details of the farming and slaughtering process as well as how people have become animalistic in the way they view each other. I would recommend it if this sort of thing doesn’t bother you as it was definitely thought-provoking and I certainly haven’t come across any other books willing to lay a topic out like this so bluntly!

 

Opening line: Carcass.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 08/11/2021 at 3:11 PM, Goose said:

The Sad Ghost Club – Lize Meddings

(graphic novel, mental health, touching)

 

I just ordered this for myself on Sunday!

 

On 13/11/2021 at 8:14 PM, Goose said:

You Have Arrived at Your Destination (Forward Collection) – Amor Towles

(dystopian, short story, thought-provoking)

 

I'm glad you enjoyed this one! Muggle Not has been reading books in this series and he's been enjoying them too. I have them on my Kindle wishlist, I'll buy them at some point and read them, I think I will like them too :).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Athena said:

 

I just ordered this for myself on Sunday!

 

 

I'm glad you enjoyed this one! Muggle Not has been reading books in this series and he's been enjoying them too. I have them on my Kindle wishlist, I'll buy them at some point and read them, I think I will like them too :).

So glad the hear you've order Sad Ghost Club, its such a sweet and simple story but manages to get it just right. The illustrations are lovely too 😊 

 

I like that they are all individual stories that you can dip into whenever you feel like it :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet – Becky Chambers

(Sci-fi, found family, space opera)

 

I adored this book; I would even be so bold as to say that I think it is a new favourite of mine!

 

The story follows a motley crew aboard a space ship called the Wayfarer as they travel through space to complete a job. The group is made up of multiple species from different planets all over the universe. My favourite aspect of the book was learning about all the different species and planets. Chambers has done a fantastic job at creating a detailed world, every species feels important and all their histories, politics and cultures are so well thought out. I really think that movies could be made based in this universe.

 

There is a plot running through the book however it is more of character driven as opposed to plot driven. Every character is important to the storyline and we really get to know and love each one. I have steered away from more character driven books in the past as I always thought I’d find them too slow paced, however I was so pleasantly surprised with this one. The space opera side of it blew me away and it has left me wanting to read more stories based in this universe. Luckily there are more books in the series, as far as I have gathered, they are all individual stories set in the same universe and I will definitely be reading more soon!

 

Opening line: As she woke up in the pod, she remembered three things.

Edited by Goose

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I loved The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet too, I'm glad you adored it as well! Yes, it is more character driven, very different from most of the science-fiction I had read prior to reading this book. I have read the first 3 books in the series and so far enjoyed the first one the most. I'm waiting for a medium size paperback release of the 4th book, which I'm really looking forward to read once I can (pre)order the medium paperback with the same cover as to match my other 3 books.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 30/11/2021 at 9:17 AM, Athena said:

I loved The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet too, I'm glad you adored it as well! Yes, it is more character driven, very different from most of the science-fiction I had read prior to reading this book. I have read the first 3 books in the series and so far enjoyed the first one the most. I'm waiting for a medium size paperback release of the 4th book, which I'm really looking forward to read once I can (pre)order the medium paperback with the same cover as to match my other 3 books.

So glad to hear somone shares in my appreciation for the book! I'm looking forward to reading the rest but am holding off purchasing any until after Christmas incase I receive any of them as a gift. If not then I know what I'll be spending my money on next year! I also have Chambers' other series, Monk & Robot on my TBR which sounds interesting. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Emergency Skin (Forward Collection) – N. K. Jemisin

(speculative, short-story, political)

 

This is the second short story I have read from this collection. Emergency Skin follows a soldier who returns to an abandoned Earth on a mission to recover something. The soldier is guided by an AI implanted in their mind. The perspective that the story is written from is interesting, the reader is positioned as the solider and therefore we are only communicated to by the AI, we are not given the response of the soldier.

 

The story touches on subjects surrounding greed and the desire for perfection. A government that only values people for what they can offer to society and rejects and disposes of those that take up resources.

 

Over all I enjoyed this short story, I would say equally as much as the first book I read from the collection (You Have Arrived at your Destination).

 

Opening line: You are our instrument.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Roxy – Neal Shusterman

(YA, mental health, touching)

 

Roxy follows a brother and sister as they both struggle with addiction to prescription medications. The unusual element of the story is that all drugs are personified as ‘Gods’ and they each have the characteristics of the drug they represent. Only the people under the influence of the drug can see and interact with them and we observe how their influence leads our protagonists into dark and dangerous places. This aspect was cleverly done and it depicted well how when someone becomes addicted its almost as if the addiction speaks to them and pushes them to become dependent.

 

This book was under the sci-fi genre on good reads however it did not really feel like a sci-fi, it felt mostly contemporary with a mythological edge what with the drugs being God-like, presiding over humankind and inflicting their will upon them.

 

The two main drugs being discussed in this book are Adderall, used to treat and manage ADHD and OxyContin, a pain relief drug. It is a difficult topic to tackle as these drugs can often be villainised in our society even though they can be life saving for sufferers, however I do think Shusterman presented the topic sensitively and respectfully, whilst highlighting the very real problem of people unfortunately becoming addicted to their medications. In no way are the two characters in the story made out to be delinquents who were looking to abuse drugs.

 

Coincidently, I ended up watching a drama on Disney+ called ‘Dopesick’ which follows the release and marketing of OxyContin (which was controversial) and the following opioid epidemic in parts of America. It was really interesting to watch this alongside reading Roxy as it gave me some historical context of the issue (I am not American and therefore didn’t have much knowledge on the topic).

 

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it but with some warnings attached. The book openly talks about subjects including: addiction, drug use and mis-use, self-harm, overdose, mental illness, injury, and other related topics.

 

Opening line: I am no superhero.

Edited by Goose

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rabbits – Terry Miles

(conspiracies, mystery, mind-bending)

 

Rabbits is the unofficial name of a potentially dangerous game where you find clues by following the connections. The connections can be seen in every day life but only those looking for them are likely to spot them. No one openly talks about the game and there is a lot of mystery surrounding who is controlling it. K and his friends are deeply involved in the game and the story follows them as they become more and more immersed into the world of Rabbits.

 

The book went in directions that I was not expecting which meant that I found myself not wanting to put it down, I couldn’t predict what was going to happen. There did at times seem to be events/discoveries in the story that I felt kind of lost relevance by the end of the book however I didn’t feel like this detracted from the story over all. There is a part of me that would have liked the story to have gone in a different direction, however the conclusion that we do get I still felt was a satisfying one.

 

I don’t want to say too much as I think the experience is better if you go into it with little knowledge, but I would liken it to Donnie Darko, so if you like that film then you will probably enjoy this book.

 

Opening line: “What do you know about the game?”

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Wicker King – K. Ancrum

(YA, mental health, friendship)

 

I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand I love that this book is about two young people who try their best to get through a difficult situation when they are let down by all the people in their lives who are supposed to care for them and guide them. However, on the other hand the undying devotion between the two main characters, August and Jack I just found too much and would even go so far as to say I found it cringy! I also found that the teenagers depicted in the book were a bit unrealistic, I didn’t really feel that they were accurate as the what real teenagers are like.

 

Jack begins to see vivid hallucinations of a magical world all around him and August decides to go along with these visions and to help Jack fulfil a quest to save this fantasy world. To be honest, not a lot really happens, I was a bit disappointed as I felt that that the book was presented as a fantasy however this is definitely not the case. Jack’s world is described occasionally however the story is from August’s point of view and therefore we don’t actually get to experience the fantasy world.

 

I was uneasy with the depictions of mental illness, how someone should support a loved one going through mental illness, the romanticisation of co-dependent relationships and psychiatric hospitals within the book, and although it may have been a reflection of how the characters were feeling, I think it can be harmful to refer to and depict these topics in some of the ways that they were in this book.

 

Having said all that, I would recommend this book as I feel that everyone will have a different take away from it. I think I had too high expectations and was therefore disappointed. One thing that was really nice was that the book contains documents, drawings and unusual pages and so I would recommend reading a hard copy rather than an e-book/audio book as you are unlikely to get the full effect of it in these formats.

 

Opening line: They were thirteen the first time they broke into the toy factory.

Edited by Goose

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Coraline – Neil Gaiman

(creepy, middle-grade, fantasy)

 

I really, really enjoyed this book. It is quick and straight to the point, and although I usually prefer books with lots of description, I think the action focussed style of the story really worked. Coraline is a story about a young girl who discovers a door in her families new flat, through the door is a replication of her home along with an ‘other mother’. There is something definitely off about this ‘other’ place and Coraline must stay brave and determined in order to escape from it.

 

Gaiman does a fantastic job a creating a disturbing and dark atmosphere without being too in your face horror. There are subtle elements and details to the story, like the descriptions of the other mothers’ hands, or the unnerving rats that are just so creepy and stick with you after you finish the book.

 

Although it is written like a middle-grade, there are definitely themes that, as an adult you pick up on. Therefore I would encourage all ages to read it, however it is pretty dark and so may not be appropriate for young readers to read without an adult.

 

Opening line: Coraline discovered the door a little wile after they moved into the house.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Summer Frost (Forward Collection) – Blake Crouch

(futuristic, technology, human connection)

 

This book is about a video game developer Riley who discovers that Max, an NCP (non-playable character) in a video game has become intelligent and begins to veer off her coded path. They extract the character and begin running tests to examine and discover more about Max. The story follows Riley and Max as their relationship develops.

 

Summer Frost examines what it means to be a human being and how that distinction can easily become blurred when emotions and passion are involved. I really enjoyed the character development in this book, there are very few characters which allows for the few that are to be fuller and more vibrant. Even though this is a short story we still get a good sense of who Riley is and what is important to her.

 

This is the third book I have read from the forward collection and I would definitely say that it is my favourite so far. I thoroughly enjoy stories about futuristic times but that also have a meaningful message attached. I think it would make an excellent Black Mirror episode!

 

Opening line: I watched her steal the Maserati twenty minutes ago in broad daylight from the Fairmont Hotel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A Closed and Common Orbit (The Wayfarers Series) – Becky Chambers

(space-opera, sci-fi, found family)

 

Its very exciting for me to feel like I may have found a favourite author, this is only the second book of Chambers that I have read but I think there is a high possibility she is going to turn into an auto-buy author for me!

 

A Closed and Common Orbit (ACCO) is the second book in the Wayfarer series. Although this is a series the books don’t follow on from each other in the way a series typically would. This book is set directly after A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and although some of the characters feature in the first book, we are following a completely different story line. This story follows Sidra, a spacecraft AI who has recently been uploaded into an illegal body kit. We accompany Sidra as she tries to navigate the world and get used to opportunities, as well as the limitations this new body gives her. We also get to learn about her companion Pepper and the difficult start she had in life.

 

As with the first book in the series, ACCO is not particularly plot driven however I feel that enough happens to keep it interesting. The character development is the main focus as well as discovering the alien world the story is set in. I really enjoyed further learning about the universe Chambers has created and getting to explore a new part of it with Sidra. A lot of the world building is done trough conversations between characters which I really liked.

 

If it wasn’t obvious, I would highly recommend this series, particularly if you are looking for a character driven space opera story. I can wait to read the next one!

 

Opening line: Lovelace had been in a body for twenty-eight minutes, and it still felt every bit as wrong as it had the second she woke up inside it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/17/2022 at 4:52 PM, Goose said:

 

A Closed and Common Orbit (The Wayfarers Series) – Becky Chambers

(space-opera, sci-fi, found family)

 

Its very exciting for me to feel like I may have found a favourite author, this is only the second book of Chambers that I have read but I think there is a high possibility she is going to turn into an auto-buy author for me!

 

A Closed and Common Orbit (ACCO) is the second book in the Wayfarer series. Although this is a series the books don’t follow on from each other in the way a series typically would. This book is set directly after A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and although some of the characters feature in the first book, we are following a completely different story line. This story follows Sidra, a spacecraft AI who has recently been uploaded into an illegal body kit. We accompany Sidra as she tries to navigate the world and get used to opportunities, as well as the limitations this new body gives her. We also get to learn about her companion Pepper and the difficult start she had in life.

 

As with the first book in the series, ACCO is not particularly plot driven however I feel that enough happens to keep it interesting. The character development is the main focus as well as discovering the alien world the story is set in. I really enjoyed further learning about the universe Chambers has created and getting to explore a new part of it with Sidra. A lot of the world building is done trough conversations between characters which I really liked.

 

If it wasn’t obvious, I would highly recommend this series, particularly if you are looking for a character driven space opera story. I can wait to read the next one!

 

Opening line: Lovelace had been in a body for twenty-eight minutes, and it still felt every bit as wrong as it had the second she woke up inside it.

 

 

Interesting review!

 

I've been skirting around Becky Chambers for a while now (her books, not the author - I don't need another restraining order...)

 

I read her novella To Be Taught, if Fortunate at the beginning of last year - review here:

 

http://www.bookclubforum.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/3119-ravens-reads/&do=findComment&comment=507248

 

I enjoyed it enough to have another go at some point, but I'm still waiting for A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet to pop up on Kindle for 99p (annoyingly, all her other novels have in the last 12 months!).

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×