Tag Archives: Dystopia


Although Marie Lu began working at Disney on their video games, and then went on to making Facebook games she really always wanted to be a writer, and as a writer she is an inspiration for all beginners. She began writing seriously when she was 14, but it was only when she had submitted her manuscript for Legend five times that it was accepted by G.P. Putnam’s Sons publishers. 

One of her pieces of advice for aspiring writers is: “Read. Always. You don’t have to be capable of reading 250 novels every year like some amazing folks are. (I’ll admit that I’m a very slow reader and am probably only capable of really digesting about 25 books a year.) But you have to love to read. You have to constantly keep updated on what other authors are producing in your genre as well as outside of it. Know your industry. And most importantly, you have to read because you have a duty as a writer to support your fellow writers.”

Legend is the start of an exciting trilogy – the three books in the trilogy are:

·       Legend

·       Prodigy

·      Champion

There is no slow build up setting the scene, no explanation of how everything works, you start on page one and you are immediately  dropped into the thick of the action. A war is raging in America and events of life and death are taking place. Each chapter tells the story from the perspective of either June, or Day, two young people who are very similar but on opposite sides of the system.  Legend is a book about false loyalties and misunderstandings. It also about a rich political elite ruling a poor population who are struggling to survive in harsh conditions.  Sarah Rees Brennan, author of The Demon’s Lexicon Trilogy writes that Legend is “A compelling dystopic world, with diverse characters, high tension and political intrigue. It’s a cliche, but really: if you liked the Hunger Games, you’ll love this.” If you are the kind of person that likes to have a soundtrack playing for atmosphere as you read your books, then Marie Lu suggests this music.

Legend may also soon appear as a film. In July 2012 Marie Lu talked to MTV News about a screenplay being completed and passed on to CBS Films who hold the film rights so watch this space.

Mrs H.

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons



Photo by Natalie Ford

Chase Jennings was the boy next door. Ember Miller was the girl who “took care” of her mother – a bit of a rebel – and constantly being fined by the soldiers of the Federal Bureau of Reformation for breaking Moral Statutes.

Chase and Ember become very close but their relationship ends when Chase is drafted into the FBR. The next time they meet Chase has come to arrest her mother (for breaking Article 5) and Ember is being sent away to a Girls’ Reformatory and Rehabilitation Center.

Why does Ember feel so protective about her Mum? Can she ever trust Chase again? Is it ever right to kill another human being? What is the best way to live in a country full of rules where “compliance is mandatory” –  submission, or free spirit ?

Without giving away too much of the story, these are just some of the questions that arise. I found it a riveting read. This book is an exciting journey across a dangerous country where no one can be trusted.

Mrs H.

Student Picks: The City of Ember

Title: The City of Ember

Author: Jeanne DuPrau

What is it about?

It’s about a somewhat primitive future set underground where there is no light. The population of the city is trying to escape from their destiny. It is also a mystery, which has to be solved.

What did you think of it, and why did you pick it up?

I enjoyed this book because it got me thinking about the future and what it might be like.

Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (for the book), but only 3 out of 5 (for the film)

Who would enjoy reading this?

Years 9 and 10


Enclave by Ann Aguirre

Definition of enclave: A distinctly bounded area enclosed within a larger unit

If you enjoyed The Hunger Games series you may find this book is one for you. It starts with a group of young people living a hard life in an enclave underground. The enclave has its own rules for survival where everyone has a job to perform. Deuce and Fade are both trained hunters who provide food for everyone to eat and defend the enclave against the freaks; zombie-like monsters who roam underground. One day they find themselves expelled from their home and doomed to go Topside –  what will they find, what will they do, and will it be safe?

Ann Aguirre is an American author who, amongst many other things, loves action movies and Dr Who. She wrote this futuristic book following some research which included reading an article about science and zombie attacks if there was to be a battle between zombies and the living, who would win? and thinking back to what happened after Hurricane Katrina.

I found it very easy to read and now I can’t wait to read the next in the Razorland trilogy called Outpost. The third and final book Horde, will be published later this year.

Want to read more about Ann Aguirre and her writing? See her blog

Mrs H.

Wool, with no sheep!

Hugh Howey

Hugh Howey at Takapuna Library on Monday, 22 April 2013

The Wool series by Hugh Howey is a book with no sheep! The wool in the title refers to the saying “to pull the wool over somebody’s eyes” in other words, to deceive someone in order to prevent them from discovering something. It has a wide appeal for all sorts of readers and is an exciting mystery. It is also a thriller set in a dystopian, science fiction world about a group of people living underground.

“What would you do if the world outside was deadly, and the air you breathed could kill? And you lived in a place where every birth required a death, and the choices you made could save lives – or destroy them. This is Jules’ story. This is the world of Wool.”

The Wool Series consist of three books:


Shift (this is the prequel, but Hugh Howey recommends that you read Wool first, in the same way that you wouldn’t want to watch the Star Wars films in sequential order)

Dust (due in October 2013)

In publishing terms Wool is unusual because it evolved as a short story in eBook format published online in instalments on Amazon. It became popular with readers who sent emails asking for more, and so the story “took off” and eventually ended up as a single volume in print. In this way it is a mixture of the old and the new. Many years ago Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870) published his stories in weekly, or monthly instalments in journals, and then modified what he wrote according to the feedback he received. Would he have enjoyed the direct relationship with his readers that online publishing, twitter and blogs provide  authors like Hugh Howey today?

This weekend Hugh Howey blogged ” Bumpy landing in a massive rainstorm last night. Woke up looking over the harbour here in Auckland. A bevy of interviews today before the event tonight. So excited to be here. It’s been on my wish-list for so long; hard to believe I’m really on the other side of the globe from my home.”

On Monday evening I was lucky enough to hear him speak and he told us that amongst other things he has been a sailing captain and worked in construction. He described life on board a boat as Captain as not all glamorous quite often it involves living below deck fixing the engines and unblocking the head (toilet) in order to facilitate the good life for others enjoying life above deck. He has seen both sides – the life of billionaires and ordinary workers.

Even though Wool has been his greatest success so far, he has written many books, and says, “Finishing your first book is an incredible feeling; like climbing a mountain.” Wool took three months to write and was an enjoyable experience. The reaction you have to your writing he says is a good indication of how others may also enjoy the story. His writing day is usually 6 to 11 a.m. every day. He uses a computer to write, and with tongue in cheek he says that using your right hand to write with a pen makes you use the logical side of your brain, whereas two hands on the computer uses both sides of the brain and is more creative.

Some writers “follow” their stories as they write them not knowing where they will end, and others like to frame their writing within a plot. Hugh Howey says that he falls into the “plotter” camp and likes to start at the end, so that he knows where the story is going.

Authors that Hugh Howey admires and enjoys include Mark Twain (for his satire and humour), Peter F. Hamilton, Neil Gaiman and Neal Stephenson who wrote Cryptonomicon (about people in different time periods). Film rights to the Wool series have been sold to 20th Century Fox with English film director and producer Ridley Scott (Alien, Prometheus, Blade Runner, Gladiator), and a screenplay is currently being written, although Hugh Howey is not allowing himself to get too excited in case it never happens. Perhaps this trailer will have to do until then.

Mrs H.

Amazon Page



Publisher Random House 

Feed me, ’til I want no more.

My Brain
By Matthew Purday

Feed by M.T. Anderson was first written in 2001 and  I have just finished reading the 2012 paperback edition. It is a book set in a dystopian world of decay and consumerism where people “get their news, entertainment, and shopping tips from electronic transmitters implanted into their brains.”
This idea reminded me a little of Brainjack (published in 2009) by Brian Falkner with his neuro-headsets replacing computer keyboards. The atmosphere of the book also had the feel of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. Both these books are dystopian novels set in a society where individuals are rebelling against a government, which has imposed a repressive way of life on its citizens reinforced through constant propaganda. Feed, however, has no sinister “Big Brother”dictating behaviour, instead there is FeedTech and Weatherbee & Crotch with its sales, and lakes that light up with ” a picture of a smiling brain and broadcasted “Dynacom Inc” when you looked at it”.

In Feed Violet and Titus meet on the moon looking for fun. Titus has always had “the feed” in his brain, but Violet didn’t get hers installed until she was a little girl and this causes problems, both physiological and mental, as she tries to be a normal teen.
M.T. Anderson explains that the inspiration for his book came from being a teen driven crazy by “ads, TV shows, and movies nudging [him] with images of the high life, playing on [his] desire to belong”.
“If you just get this, and buy this, and order that, you’ll be cool, and you’ll be loved. See how much fun these kids are having? If you want to be wanted, then you need to want what other people want. And other people – what they want is this. Buy it. Buy it now”. Does this sound futuristic? How about Guardian Goggles delivering journalism to you straight between the eyes?

Guardian Goggles: because life’s too short to think for yourself!

At least you can take Goggles off, unlike a chip in the brain! By the way, just in case you didn’t notice the story about the Goggles was published on April Fools Day.

Mrs H.

Ready Player One by Cline Ernest

Ready Player One

Ready Player One

When I heard someone saying that Ready Player One by Ernest Cline was probably the best book he had ever read, I was intrigued. A while later I couldn’t find it on my desk, so I went out into the library and was astonished to find a copy still sitting on the shelves (good news we have two).  I opened the book and the first thing I found was three pages of recommendations by fellow authors.

Just listen to these :

“This non-gamer loved every page of Ready Player One” Charlaine Harris, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse series.

” Completely fricking awesome …This book pleased every geeky bone in my geeky body” Patrick Rothfuss, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of The Wise Man’s Fear.

” I was blown away by this book…because Ernie Cline has pulled the raddest of all magic tricks…A book of ideas, a potboiler, a game-within-a-novel, a serious science-fiction epic, a comic pop culture mash-up – call this novel what you will, but Ready Player One will defy every label you try to put on it. Here, finally, is this generation’s Neuromancer“. Will Lavender, New York Times bestselling author of Obedience.

Ready Player One is a fantastic adventure set in a futuristic world with a retro heart. Once I started reading, I didn’t want to put it down and I couldn’t wait to pick it back up”. S.G. Browne, author of Breathers and Fated.

So next time you are passing the library, head straight for the shelves around C for Cline, and if you can’t find Ready Player One be sure to add your name to the reservations list.

Visit Ernie’s Blog here

Follow Ernie on Twitter here

Mrs H.

Divergent a must read for Hunger Games fans

The first book in the series

The first book in the series

If you really enjoyed The Hunger Games series and you are at a bit of a loss to know what to read next, then have a look at the excellent  Must Reads for Hunger Games Fans list. This has been put together by two American sisters, Leslie and Julia, on their blog “Twobusybrunettes”. You can download the list which includes a Hunger Games similarity rating and a book description for 25 books; this should certainly keep you going.

In fact we have many of the books on this list in our library including Divergent by Veronica Roth. The “Twobusybrunettes” give it an 8 out of 8 star rating for similarity. It takes a few chapters to set the scene and then the pace really steps up. The second book in the series, Insurgent is equally exciting and the third book is due to be published later this year. It should be no surprise to learn that a film is planned directed by Neil Burger with Shailene Woodley cast as Tris, and Kate Winslet possibly about to join the cast.

If you can’t wait for the film due to be released in 2014, then I recommend you read the book and have a look at this trailer.

Mrs H.

The Killables by Gemma Malley

Reading in the library

Remember Delirium by Lauren Oliver? It starts: “It has been sixty-four years since the president and the Consortium identified love as a disease, and forty-three since the scientists perfected a cure”. It’s the story about Lena who has always looked forward to the day (as close as possible to her eighteenth birthday) when she will have the procedure to remove love [also known as Amor deliria nervosa] and live life without pain, safe, measured, predictable and happy. Then, one day she meets Alex and guess what happens…..?
It’s a dangerous escape story, involving a community that prevents it’s inhabitants from escaping into “the wilds” beyond the city by feeding them lies and controlling them with guards.

I’ve just read The Killables by Gemma Malley. Evil has been eradicated in the city. “ The City was where Evie lived, where everyone lived – everyone who was good, anyway. Its high walls protected them from the Evils who scavenged outside, who wanted to kill them all and fill the world with terror, just as they had before”.  Citizens from the outside may only enter after having the ‘evil’ part of their brain [the amygdala] removed. The Brother controls the city and everyone is given a label A, B, C, D or K.  Raffy has always been Evie’s friend, but is he “ a K just waiting to happen”? And if he leaves the city, should she go with him? What about the Evils?

These are two great stories with many elements in common. Perhaps Delirium is an easier read, but only because Gemma Malley takes time to explain the “system”, and how it works, rather than rushing, breathlessly into the story.

See what you think?

Mrs H.