• By Lara Luck
  • Posted Thursday, May 11, 2017

Books We like

It’s that time of year - time to start preparing for your summer vacation (or staycation). Top of my to-do list? Figuring out what I will be reading by the pool this summer. For many their preferences lean toward light, fun romance selections (e.g. Mary Kay Andrews, who will be visiting the Clemmons Branch Library on May 16th) and for others it’s fast-paced action-adventure titles (think Lee Child or Clive Cussler). This is not a recommendation list for those type of books. What I offer this month are beach reads for the not-so-faint-of-heart. So, now is the time to dust off that copy of 1984 and figure out where the world may be headed, with or without our help. #DystopianBeachReads

My book club decided to read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, and this got me re-reading other favorite dystopian novels, hence the topic of this article. Another great dystopian book by Atwood is Oryx and Crake. Oryx and Crake is a complex, multi-layered story set in a future where the human race has mostly been wiped out but other genetically engineered animals and docile human-like “Crakers” still live. Snowman, a human survivor with knowledge of what ultimately happened to cause this apocalypse, tells the story of this strange new world in flashbacks starting with his privileged childhood in a corporation compound and his friendship with a boy genius who calls himself Crake. Atwood weaves a masterful tale of friendship, jealousy, and intrigue and puts it in a setting that feels very real and possible and very frightening.

One of my favorite authors, Octavia Butler, wrote a dystopian duology, the first of which was Parable of the Sower. This book is great for those who question their purpose in life and the world around them. A young girl, Lauren Olamina, who lives in a gated community with her family, grows up witnessing the breakdown of government and society. When the safety of her community is compromised and her family is killed, she joins together with a band of survivors in search of a new refuge. Her special skills and talents help form a new way of life that can rebuild a better world, but only if they survive the new perilous world to find a safe haven for their group.

The Passage by Justin Cronin is great for those who want to read about our world being destroyed and re-created by a simple virus. The novel begins in the present and spans the next ninety years as small pockets of humanity attempt to survive in a world that is overrun by vampire-like beings who are infected by a highly contagious virus. It starts out simply enough - a group goes into the South American jungle hunting for something that may lead to an immunity-boosting super-drug that can cure almost anything. However, they end up being infected by a highly contagious bat-carried virus that is lethal to some and mutates others into superhuman creatures who feed on blood and are almost impossible to kill. Will the human race survive?

My final recommendation is Robert McCammon’s , Swan Song, a combination of science fiction, horror, and apocalyptic fantasy that will keep you reading long after you develop a sunburn. A nuclear war has broken out all over the world, and in America the survivors try to rebuild, or takeover. The ultimate war between good and evil is about to unfold and a young girl, Sue Wanda (Swan), is the key to human survival. It has been compared to Stephen King’s The Stand, and I found it just as compelling and a bit easier to read. Enjoy.

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