Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Privacy? Or Security? Which would you prefer? Little Brother takes place a few years into the future, in a San Francisco that’s already well-monitored. After a terrorist attack, the surveillance tightens to catch the terrorists, but also monitors everyone else without their permission. The Department of Homeland Security has decided that the Bill of Rights can be ignored in the name of “freedom”—a freedom that allows the DHS to monitor everyone without their consent.

Marcus Yallow skips school with his friends, but then his world forever changes after the terrorist attack—and getting picked up by the DHS. He determines to take revenge on them, and in doing so, raises questions about rights: the right to privacy, the right to liberty, the right to justice, the right to stand up for ourselves. Marcus’s technological prowess is admirable, but perhaps isn’t completely surprising considering that almost everything is under surveillance. However, his abilities with technology allow him to do what he does, and he does it well, eventually bringing others—many others—into his fold.

Although I didn’t always agree with everything Marcus did (mostly regarding his personal life), the book was a really good discussion about freedom and privacy and the lengths the government and citizens can go to—from trusting the government unconditionally, to taking issue with it when they’re doing wrong.

-Aliya A.

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow is available to download from Overdrive

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent was one of those books that everyone had read and I hadn’t and everyone loved when it came out. So I didn’t read it thinking that it was all talk and not a very good book. But, when I eventually got around to reading the book, I was pleasantly surprised.

This book is based in the future, in the city of Chicago.  It is divided up into five factions, the Abnegation who believe in selflessness, the Dauntless who believe in bravery, the Candor who believe in the truth, Erudite who believe in intelligence, and Amity who believe in peace.

Beatrice Prior, a 16-year-old that grew up in Abnegation transferred to Dauntless on the day of her choosing ceremony carrying a very dangerous secret. She is one of the divergent, she had an aptitude for more than one faction, something many of the factions leaders consider very dangerous.

Like most other dystopian society books, Divergent starts off as a utopia. Everything seems perfect. But it isn’t. The flaws in this perfect society show through and eventually chaos breaks out.

Overall, this book was great. It might not be as amazing as everyone has said it was when it first came out. But it is still a great read. So, if you haven’t read this book a would defiantly recommend it. It is fairly long though, but I would say it is worth it.

-Ava G.

The Divergent series by Veronica Roth is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available online from Overdrive

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

After discovering that The Hunger Games was my 7th-grade extra credit reading book and that I haven’t read it before yet ( say what?!), I decided now was a good time to pick it up and finally start on it.

Yeah, I know, how could you have not read the Hunger Games before? Face it, everyone’s probably pretty familiar with this book. You know of it, of course. It’s a famous book that almost everyone knows, just like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. 

Anyways, once I picked up this book, I found it impossible to put down. I read for two straight days and got it finished. And then I reread it. And reread it again.

I probably would recommend this book for older children, particularly because of a few violent scenes. But other than that, I would highly recommend this book for anyone who looks forward to action and thrillers.

Starting off with the famous Katniss Everdeen, the book takes place in District 12, her hometown. There are twelve districts, although there used to have been a 13th, which was destroyed because of their rebellion against the all-ruling Capitol, Panem. Because of this, the Capitol has ordered the event called the Hunger Games, where two tributes, a boy and a girl, are selected from each district (24 tributes total). They will be placed inside of an arena whose conditions can change with directions from the inventors of the Hunger Games, the Gamemakers. The whole point of the Hunger Games is for the twenty-four tributes to kill each other as a sport; the last tribute standing wins, leaving the arena with a life of luxury.

And the purpose of all of this? To prove how everyone is at the Capitol’s mercy, how they take the people’s children to watch them fight to the death.

From District 12, Katniss and the boy tribute, Peeta Mellark, are pitted against the other twenty-two tributes. They have no idea what the arena conditions will be like; the yearly Hunger Games change every year. All they know is that it will be difficult, and definitely lethal.

I have to say, Suzanne Collins, the author, was really suspenseful. Every fight scene, every page that she wrote, was filled with action from top to bottom. That’s what kept me hooked to the very last page. But even through all that, she also manages to weave in just the right amount of romance between Katniss and Peeta.

I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, Catching Fire! I’m sure it’s as good as the first one.

But first, who will win the intense, action-packed Hunger Games? Because the tributes will either get out of there alive…or dead.

-Katherine L.

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

1984 by George Orwell

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C’mon, admit it, you love dystopian novels. The Hunger Games, The 5th Wave, Divergent, all are popular teen novels that kids love reading these days. But how about older dystopian novels? Those ones that actually have the tragic end that they were promising from the beginning of a broken down world? Sure, I could be talking about Fahrenheit 451, another really great older dystopian novel, but I am talking about the one I enjoyed even more: 1984.

Although written in 1949, it talks about a world that has experienced wars ever since WWII, only to be pulled out of the dumpster by a totalitarian government that gave the people total war, slavery, and ignorance. The nation of Oceania controls this post war London, where there is never enough products, and everything already there, like houses, is over 50 years old. Winston, who works in the government, notices this but keeps on writing lies to public so that they would like the government more. After meeting a person he likes, O’Brien, and a person he hates, Julia, he starts to want to rebel.

I really liked the themes of the book. The government is always watching them, which is cool. We also sometimes take freedom for granted, but as Winston says, he doesn’t even have the freedom to say 2+2=4.

However, there is some adult things to be worried about, like a graphic torture scene or two, and a lot of themes of fertility. I also did not personally like the main character. Although he perfectly suited the themes of the novel, I kept screaming at him to not be stupid.

And, finally, this is a really great novel. Even if you don’t like old books, you’ll love the idea of corrupt governments, and a desire for freedom.

-Megan V

1984 by George Orwell is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

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

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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