Big Brother is Watching: Notes from the Dystopia

The Diary of Pelly D, L.J. Adlington. Y Adlington.
When Toni V, a construction worker on a futuristic colony, finds the diary of a teenage girl whose life has been turned upside-down by holocaust-like events, he begins to question his own beliefs. (Sequel: Cherry Heaven)

Feed, M.T. Anderson. Y Anderson.
In a future where most people have computer implants in their heads to control their environment, a boy meets an unusual girl who is in serious trouble.

The Kindling, Jennifer Armstrong. Y Armstrong.
In 2007, a small band of children have joined together in a Florida town, trying to survive in a world where it seems that all the adults have been killed off by a catastrophic virus. (Others in the series: The Keepers of the Flame; The Kiln)

The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood. F Atwood.
“In the Republic of Gilead, formerly the United States . . . ideals have been carried to extremes in the monotheocratic government. The resulting society is a feminist’s nightmare: women are strictly controlled, unable to have jobs or money and assigned to various classes: the chaste, childless Wives; the housekeeping Marthas; and the reproductive Handmaids, who turn their offspring over to the ‘morally fit’ Wives. The tale is told by Offred (read: ‘of Fred’), a Handmaid who recalls the past and tells how the chilling society came to be.” (Excerpted from Library Journal review.)

Naughts and Crosses, Malorie Blackman. Y Blackman.
Sephy is a Cross — a member of the dark-skinned ruling class. Callum is a Naught — a “colorless” member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses. The two have been friends since early childhood, but that’s as far as it can go. In their world, Naughts and Crosses simply don’t mix.

Taken. Edward Bloor. Y Bloor.
In 2035, kidnapping rich children has become an industry, but when thirteen-year-old Charity Meyers is taken and held for ransom, she soon discovers that this particular kidnapping is not what it seems.

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury. YPB Bradbury.
In the classic novel of censorship and defiance, a totalitarian regime in the future has ordered all books to be destroyed, but one of the book burners suddenly realizes their merit.

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins. Y Collins.
In a future North America, where the rulers of Panem maintain control through an annual televised survival competition pitting young people from each of the twelve districts against one another, sixteen-year-old Katniss’s skills are put to the test when she voluntarily takes her younger sister’s place.

Little Brother, Cory Doctorow. Y Doctorow.
After being interrogated for days by the Department of Homeland Security in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco, California, seventeen-year-old Marcus, released into what is now a police state, decides to use his expertise in computer hacking to set things right.

The House of the Scorpian, Nancy Farmer. Y Farmer.
In a future where humans despise clones, Matt enjoys special status as the young clone of El Patrón, the 142-year-old leader of a corrupt drug empire nestled between Mexico and the United States.

Among the Hidden, Margaret Peterson Haddix. YPB Haddix.
In a future where the Population Police enforce the law limiting a family to only two children, Luke has lived all his twelve years in isolation and fear on his family’s farm, until another “third” convinces him that the government is wrong. (Others in the series: Among the Imposters; Among the Betrayed; and more)

Siberia, Ann Halam. Y Halam.
After spending two years at a prison school, thirteen-year-old Sloe sets off on a trek across frozen wastelands, tending to the secret “seeds” of wild animals her mother left in her care, trying to reach a new life for all of them.

Rash, Pete Hautman. Y Hautman.
In a future society that has decided it would “rather be safe than free,” sixteen-year-old Bo’s anger control problems land him in a tundra jail where he survives with the help of his running skills and an artificial intelligence program named Bork.

Brave New World, Aldous Huxley. YPB Huxley.
“Community, Identity, Stability” is the motto of Aldous Huxley’s utopian World State. Here everyone consumes daily grams of soma, to fight depression, babies are born in laboratories, and the most popular form of entertainment is a “Feelie,” a movie that stimulates the senses of sight, hearing, and touch. Though there is no violence and everyone is provided for, Bernard Marx feels something is missing and senses his relationship with a young women has the potential to be much more than the confines of their existence allow. (Excerpted from the review.)

Firestorm, David Klass. Y Klass.
After learning that he has been sent from the future for a special purpose, eighteen-year-old Jack receives help from an unusual dog and a shape-shifting female fighter. (Sequel: Whirlwind)

The Giver, Lois Lowry. Y Lowry.
Given his lifetime assignment at the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas becomes the receiver of memories shared by only one other in his community and discovers the terrible truth about the society in which he lives.

The Declaration, Gemma Malloy. Y Malloy.
In 2140 England, where drugs enable people to live forever and children are illegal, teenaged Anna, an obedient “Surplus” training to become a house servant, discovers that her birth parents are trying to find her. (Sequel: The Resistance)

Useful Idiots, Jan Mark. Y Mark.
In 2255, a graduate student named Merrick unwittingly finds himself thrown into an extraordinary adventure in the Reserve where the Aboriginals live after a violent storm across the North Sea reveals a human skull.

1984, George Orwell. Y Orwell.
In a grim city and a terrifying country, where Big Brother is always Watching You and the Thought Police can practically read your mind, Winston is a man in grave danger for the simple reason that his memory still functions. He knows the Party’s official image of the world is a fluid fiction. He knows the Party controls the people by feeding them lies and narrowing their imaginations through a process of bewilderment and brutalization that alienates each individual from his fellows and deprives him of every liberating human pursuit from reasoned inquiry to sexual passion. Drawn into a forbidden love affair, Winston finds the courage to join a secret revolutionary organization called The Brotherhood, dedicated to the destruction of the Party. Together with his beloved Julia, he hazards his life in a deadly match against the powers that be. (Excerpted from the review.)

The Adoration of Jenna Fox, Mary Pearson. Y Pearson.
In the not-too-distant future, when biotechnological advances have made synthetic bodies and brains possible but illegal, a seventeen-year-old girl, recovering from a serious accident and suffering from memory lapses, learns a startling secret about her existence.

The Last Book in the Universe, Rodman Philbrick. YPB Philbrick.
After an earthquake has destroyed much of the planet, an epileptic teenager nicknamed Spaz begins the heroic fight to bring human intelligence back to the Earth of a distant future.

Mortal Engines, Philip Reeve. Y Reeve.
In the distant future, when cities move about and consume smaller towns, a fifteen-year-old apprentice is pushed out of London by the man he most admires and must seek answers in the perilous Out-Country, aided by one girl and the memory of another. (Others in the series: Predator’s Gold; Infernal Devices; and A Darkling Plain)

Unwind, Neal Shusterman. Y Shusterman.
In a future world where those between the ages of thirteen and eighteen can have their lives “unwound” and their body parts harvested for use by others, three teens go to extreme lengths to uphold their beliefs–and, perhaps, save their own lives.

Truesight, David Stahler. Y Stahler.
In a distant frontier world, thirteen-year-old Jacob is uncertain of his future in a community that considers blindness a virtue and “Seers” as aberrations. (Others in the series: The Seer; and Otherspace)

So This is How it Ends, Tui Sutherland. Y Sutherland.
During an earthquake in the year 2012 five teens are transported seventy-five years into the future, where the end of the world is imminent, and are drawn together by a mysterious force.

Uglies, Scott Westerfeld. Y Westerfeld.
In Tally’s world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there. But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to be pretty. (Others in the series: Pretties; Specials; and Extras)

Tomorrowland: Ten Stories about the Future. Y Tomorrowland.
A collection of ten stories about the future, by such authors as Lois Lowry, Katherine Paterson, and Jon Scieszka.


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