I was perusing NetGalley the other day, looking for my next read. Was I looking for a nice romance?, something with a hunky fireman with a tortured past who learns to love again with his widowed neighbour next door or possibly some raunchy tome with a billionaire businessman with some weird stuff going on in his head and bedroom, no I was looking for something where our planet is blown to hell, like totally the s**t hitting the fan.
It occurred to me I read a lot of dystopia, I must several variations of it a month, just now I am reading Justin Cronin's The Passage, an epic novel of crazy vampire virus infected humans and all manner of crazy stuff, it is wonderful and I will be reviewing soon.
So where and when did my love of this genre start and why do I love it? Well I can start with when and where. Lets go back to the nineties, some of my younger readers may not remember this era but it featured some of this (cue wiggly flashback lines)
Did you want to be Cher?
Did you want the "Rachel"?
Or did you "Wannabe" one of the Spice Girls?
But quite possibly you where too busy watching this
Anyway now that I have been nostalgic and had a good laugh at searching for things related to the nineties on the net, I am going back to my years in high school - the early nineties.
In our English class we had read The Hobbit which was fantastic and led to my love of the Lord of the Rings but then we moved on to a unit all about nuclear war. Now exactly what this had to do with English, I don't know but what I do remember is watching a film that scared me to death.
Threads is a British film, it is a fair age now, I think it was made back in the 80's and if you want to know more about it read this post that The Guardian have on their website. The gist of the film was a nuclear warhead was dropped outside the city of Sheffield in England, this film was so grey, so British and so freaking realistic I had nightmares for weeks. If you watch the trailer above it is obviously not up there with say Independence Day or Armageddon and their world blowing up antics but it did convey a horrible stark image of what could happen.
It also intrigued me, something clicked, I became curious about what happens after a nuclear bomb goes off, in class we began to read a book by Louise Lawrence called Children of the Dust which told us all about it from a girls point of view, it was bleak and scared me but still I loved it.
From then on my reading material grew to include novels that made me see the world differently, I read Orwell's 1984, Huxley's Brave New World, I discovered Z for Zachariah (which I believe is now being made in to film) and I saw for the first time Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange. These books (and film) where not necessarily post-apoc but they enthralled me especially 1984 so much of that book seems to be a reality now.
As I grew up I veered away a little from the genre, I discovered some great female authors such as Marian Keyes and her wonderfully funny books this led to me reading nothing but chick lit for a couple of years till it occurred to me that these books where all the same.
I can't remember what book or film or tv show reignited my love, could it have been Jericho the tv show set after bombs go off, was it Lost with it's weird island thing going on, maybe Firefly with its view of our future set on planets hounded by freaky flesh eating people? I can't pinpoint what it was that did it but once I started I just kept going.
I read The Stand, World War Z, The Hunger Games, books with zombies, books with viruses, books with bombs, books with aliens, books with all four. If the world was going to shit I wanted to read all about it. I've read countless pages about corrupt new world ruled by crazy governments, hundreds of words about zombies shambling about and I also tried to read Cormac McCarthy's The Road, that really scared me but I was pregnant at the time so my hormones where all over the shop.
One thing I have came to realise is that to survive the apocalypse potentially being a pretty girl with a male companion who is naturally hot but a little complicated will increase your survival chances. A lot of dystopians do follow the same plot don't they?, but I don't care even the fluffiest ones can give a horrific view of what the future holds but there are several problems I have with these books, things I never see written about (or maybe I have not read that book yet).
- Does nobody have periods out there?
- Contact lens wearers, how do they cope, you know with the lack of being able to see once they run out?
- Why do a lot of people not go mad in the shops, I'd be straight to nearest River Island (like Forever 21, North American readers) to get my survival wardrobe.
- How is everybody so fit and can manage on so little sleep, I'd be dead within days.
- Why has nobody headed for Florida and built a doomsday fort at Walt Disney World, I'd take the castle!
Despite these little niggles I am just fascinated with these books especially ones that go to great lengths to re-imagine a world that we know and knock it on its head. I am sure watchers and readers of The Walking Dead get chills when the group comes across deserted towns or cities that look all to familiar to us.
I just can help myself, Am I reading these books because I secretly want to live in a world without necessities such as food or WiFi? I can think of nothing worse but I do enjoy reading a novel where the author makes you feel scared and transports you to that landscape.
I do occasionally wonder if I would survive an event such as zombies (nope, not unless I had a big ass castle in the middle of the sea surrounded by great white sharks with laser beams), nuclear war ( not unless I buy one of these fancy schmancy posh prepper bunkers with its own pool), sea levels rising (fear of water, can't swim), solar flare (I wouldn't survive a week without access to an iPhone).
The only one I think I could survive would be a virus outbreak (not the zombie kind) due to my massive collection of Bath and Bodyworks antibac bottles, I am ready for that.
It does kind of make you look at you life though, do you ever look in your cupboards and think "hey if the s**t hits the fan tomorrow I have plenty of food", unless you are an uber prepper then probably not but I do find that now I have kids I do consider the future more. Not the future where I have a cupboard with a thousand toilet rolls but like the far, far future, my great-grandchildren future, will the world they live in be like 1984 or more like Blade Runner or will it be exactly the same as now?
I have really rambled on this post but hey that is how I roll, but to sum up I think I love dystopia because it is that fear of the unknown, it is curiosity. We can't live it, I hope we never live it but we can be transported to that world by talented authors who immerse us in the incredible imaginations.
And now for no other reason than he can be my right hand man if it all goes pear-shaped - Dean Winchester!
Thank you for reading if you got this far and would you survive an apocalypse, do you like or loathe dystopia? I'd love to know!