The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau is an intriguing, dystopian novel with action, mystery, and a little romance. The book takes place after a large scale conflict called the Seven Stages War leaves the world as a wasteland.

The novel features main character Cia and her good friend Tomas. They make up a small few that survived the war and are the world’s last hope to rebuild all that was lost. Not everyone is up for the task so only the chosen and elite who can pass the difficult Testing are allowed to further their education into college and get a career. The book has a bit of romance between Cia and her “boyfriend” Tomas who prepares for the testing with her.

I really enjoyed this book because of the suspense over whether or not Cia passes the Testing. Knowing her father’s advice, “trust no one,” made the story more intense. I also like how the book makes you want to talk to the characters because of how engrossing the mysteries become and the realization that there is more to the government than is to be believed. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did! 

-Amal A.

The Testing series by Joelle Charbonneau is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Library

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

As a rule, I don’t like dystopian fiction. 1984 was a slog, and The Hunger Games never felt real to me. So it was very strange to find myself picking up Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and being completely engrossed by it.

This novel is one read by practically every junior in high school for the last twenty years. Despite the amount of times it’s been run through the curriculum, the story holds up.

The society, called Gilead, through the eyes of the narrator is intense and fearful. It’s one of those stories that you have to pull yourself out of every once in awhile, just to stay sane. I would read through a particularly striking passage, only to realize that I had been holding my breath through the whole thing. That right there is something magical.

It’s not for the fainthearted, though. This book is a rough one to read, loaded with social commentary that feels just as relevant as it was at its publishing in 1985. Atwood manages to discuss up complex issues like abortion and freedom of religion without ever feeling heavy-handed.

This is one of the few books I’ve ever been assigned to read that I could honestly recommend to others, and the first dystopian literature I have enjoyed in a long time.

-Zoe K., 11th Grade

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive

Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama

Image result for attack on titan volume 1

We’ve had zombie apocalypses. We’ve had alien races kidnapping us. There have been so many dystopian stories, from Fahrenheit 451 and The Hunger Games to Divergent and The Walking Dead, in which human civilization is destroyed by some outside thing forcing humans to learn how to survive.

However, get prepared for giants eating humans.

In Attack on Titan, humanity has dwindled to an overall population of two thousand, kept safe behind three walls that separate themselves from the titans. However, Eren Jaeger’s life changes when the outer wall gets broken down by a muscle bound titan, a giant that eats humans. His mom gets eaten by one, in which he and his friends spend the next couple of years trying to get in the Survey Corps as a means of revenge against the almost impossible to beat titans.

Of course, he hates titans. So what happens when he becomes one himself?

Although this series is very popular in both the anime community and among non-anime lovers, I did not like it much. The artwork is not the best, but you can tell Isayama works really hard on each chapter. However, it is the plot that I enjoy. From the twists and turns to the corrupted politics being played in the background, it is easy to enjoy for someone who doesn’t like action. However, there is a lot of gore, as it is not just Eren’s mom who gets eaten. I will recommend it for any dystopia fan and for anyone interested in action.

-Megan V., 11th Grade

Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

hunger_games_coverThe Hunger Games contains very important characters by the names of Katniss, Peeta, Gale and Prim. Katniss in my opinion, was the most dynamic character in this novel. She transforms from a very obscure girl whose sole job is to simply take care of her mother and younger sister Prim to being a “hero” and a victor, alongside with fellow competitor Peeta. Katniss volunteers for the 74th Hunger Games in her sister Prim’s place.

The Hunger Games is focused primarily on action, but partially romance as well. The plot was very well thought out and written as it maintained suspense throughout the entire novel. There were many instances where Katniss and Peeta were almost murdered by other rivals during the games and whether or not they would survive long enough to win this horrific competition.

I really admired the fact that Collins put a ton of emotion into these characters for their willingness to survive and take care of their loved ones which would make the readers actually care about them. The ending was redemptive as Katniss and Peeta were both able to win the Hunger Games.

The style of this novel was rather easy to read. Adjectives I would use to describe Collins’ style would be distinct and understandable as this book didn’t use much complex, long words and did not use much of short, simple words as well. Overall, I would without a doubt, recommend The Hunger Games because it puts readers on the edge of their seat as the story becomes more intense and suspenseful and even makes the readers actually care about the characters.

-Matt J.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive and Hoopla.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

delirium_laurenoliverWhat would happen if love were outlawed? If it were eradicated from society, with all teenagers given a “procedure” which prevented them from feeling strong emotions?

This is the basis around the life Lena lives. Her mom committed suicide after Lena’s father died because she loved him, unlike the other couples who learned to live with one another. Lena’s older sister was also in love and had to be dragged to her procedure. Now, everywhere Lena goes, the story follows her, words of suicide and diseased.

But everyone claims the procedure is the cure. After that, people can live normal lives, go to college, get paired and married, and have the exact number of children the government requires. All the “cureds” are protected from the Invalids, those who are diseased with amor deliria nervosa, by barbed wire fences and guards. Regulators within the city keep everyone in line, at home before curfew and safe from the sympathizers who might pose a threat to their fragile society.

Sounds perfect, right?

Not quite.

All this supposed safety comes with a price. No one can be seen in public expressing any sort of strong feelings. Even parental love, such as between Lena and her mom before the suicide, had to be hidden. No loud music can be played; the only music even allowed is on the government’s list of approved songs. The same goes for books.

Lena had been living a normal life, looking forward to her cure and the chance to forget the pain associated with her mother’s death. She spends every second with her best friend, Hana. Yet at her evaluation, which rates her to be paired with a suitable future husband, something happens. It is quickly covered up with a lie from the government, but knowing the truth changes her view of her life.

And then there’s the boy who was standing on the observation deck throughout the whole thing, laughing…

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. So many things which seemed predictable at first actually took me by surprise. I truly couldn’t put down this book and I finished it in less than two days, though I could have read it faster if I didn’t have an appointment. I recommend this book to anyone, though younger audiences might struggle with some of the content. Plus, like any good book, it also made me cry, but in a good way.

– Leila S., 10th grade

Delirium is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library

Solstice by P.J. Hoover

solstice_pjhooverDo you like dystopias or mythology books? What about books that are both?

Solstice combines a dystopian-end-of-the-world atmosphere with a core plot that connects to mythology. Meet Piper. She’s just your average teenage girl with an overprotective mother living in a world that hasn’t seen winter for as long as she’s been alive. The heat waves that threaten the world are getting worse, which makes Piper’s mom more protective causing Piper to rebel all the more. She gets a tattoo with her friend and plans on moving away as soon as she finishes high school.

When Piper’s mom goes out of town, Piper finds herself pulled towards freedom and romance. But will it be with Reece who breaks rules for fun or Shane who makes her heart beat faster when she sees him? As she learns more about gods and the battle for the underworld, it’s hard for Piper to know who to trust. But whoever she is with, Piper can tell everyone is keeping secrets. Will she find a way to stop the world from dying and even find out who she is?

The romance here is a bit cliche with the insta-love-triangle. It isn’t bad per say, just nothing that new or special. I think I enjoyed more of the idea of the plot, how the mythology and dystopia blended together more than the characters. If the premise seems interesting enough, give it a read because it’s an interesting take of gods dealing with the end of the world.

-Nicole G., 12th Grade

Solstice is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Library.

Fahrenheit 451

fahrenheit451_bradburyFahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury tells the tale of fireman Guy Montag. Read by many people since 1952, it is considered as a modern classic. Taking place in the future, society is obsessed with their television sets and radios. Nobody reads books anymore because of society’s obsession with technology. Firemen are sent to the houses of people who possess books in order to burn them. Guy Montag is a thirty-year-old man who burns books for a living. He does not think too much about this until one day he meets Clarisse McClellan. A seventeen-year-old girl, Clarisse starts up a conversation with Montag, and asks if he is happy.

This simple question causes Montag to rethink his life, and the righteousness of his job. He also wonders what the books he burns actually contain. Taking a book to his home, Montag tries to reason with his wife, but it does not work out. Eventually, his boss, the fire captain, discovers Montag’s secret and comes to arrest him. On the run, Montag is considered a fugitive.

A perplexing tale like this one is hard to forget after finishing. Bradbury’s way of writing is beautifully crafted. The ability to integrate so many different ideas at once was very interesting. I also enjoyed how Bradbury used imagery to convey some things instead of naming them directly. Also, the complex building of Guy’s character was really fascinating. Despite being written over fifty years ago, this book still resonates after turning the last page. I would recommend this to anybody looking for an interesting view on a technologically obsessed society.

-Anmol K.

Fahrenheit 451 is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available digitally through Overdrive