Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Nothing new

Dystopian / post-apocalyptic fiction for teenagers

Looking around the shelves in libraries and bookshops the shelves in the teen areas are full of dystopian fantasy novels - many published (or republished) on the back of the successful Hunger Games series.

I've heard a few people say that this is a depressing trend for books but I don't think it is anything new.  I remember in the late 1980s and 1990s that many of the teen novels I picked up all had an end of the world/ rebuilding after a disaster theme.  Brother in the Land, Children of the Dust and also Z for Zachariah which was talked about in the Guardian recently - although for a different reason.

I've been tidying and cataloguing all of our books recently and I discovered one of these books so decided to re-read it.  I loved this book as a younger reader (although I do think that I originally chose it because I thought it was going to be about aquatic seals!) and as I was reading it last week pages were falling out on me to reinforce this point.

I was surprised how much I remembered from 20 or so years ago, and even now I found it had a slightly scary edge. I was also struck by how plausible the actions were even nearly 50 years after first publication - after a disaster there won't be working computers and mobile phones and so the lack of them in the book didn't jar!

What did surprise me was the lack of explanation in the book, for a children's book there are lots of loose ends and they did frustrate me slightly but I think that this because I am now an adult and want more depth.  The book is well written and as I was reading it I could visualise everything.

I do remember that as a teenager I looked for more books by this author and I did get a bit of a shock as the next Mary Wesley book I read was the Chamomile Lawn - quite a different book!

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