Posts Tagged ‘dystopian fiction’

Unworthy by Joanne Armstrong

July 3, 2015 Comments off

unworthyUnworthy by Joanne Armstrong. Self published, 2014.

This is one of the best dystopian fiction novels by a New Zealand author that I have read. It demands a sequel and I expect one is already underway.

Arcadia is 17 years old and deemed “unworthy” by the ruthless and controlling Polis who rule the island population that is remarkably like the South island of New Zealand.

On Arcadia’s arm is a cross that signifies her unworthiness. At birth she was weak and sickly and like all similar babies is left outside at night in a ritualistic circle and is expected to die. She doesn’t and is brought up by a man she knows as grandfather, in a hub where she has no rights and is treated as a pariah. Her life is about to change big time.

The Polis who are strictly regimented took control of the island after an illness swept the World and anarchy reigned over their island reducing the population  from 4 million to just over 1 million. Now the Polis rule from a big City and the population live in small hubs that are strictly controlled. The Polis say they want to strengthen the human species by looking after the strong and whittling out the weak. Every child is subjected to the same test.

Captain Alexander Hayes is a young soldier who is summoned by the General to locate and escort Arcadia from her hub of Greytown  to the Polis City.  This undercover, action packed and tense journey is stunning but you will have to read the novel to find out all about it.

In line with the subject matter this novel is clinically written with not a word out of place. The novel is narrated by Arcadia and her shifting relationship with Captain Hayes is a highlight, as is the landscape through which they travel.

The journey and the city will provide the stunning answers to Arcadia’s identity, past, survival and family and of the true nature of the Polis.

If you miss this one you will kick yourself. For high school students and Young adults.

This novel can be purchased in digital format at  or in print and kindle format at

The Jewel by Amy Ewing

September 6, 2014 Comments off

jewelThe Jewel by Amy Ewing. Pub. Walker Books, 2014.

This novel totally fascinated me from beginning to end. It is a sort of dystopian fantasy creating a world that is futuristic, fantastic and totally believable. Like the court of Louis XIV only modern.

Set on an island protected by a sea wall the society created is in five concentric circles at the heart of which is the Jewel or the Royal Palace and all the ruling Aristocratic families. The life here is totally extravagant. Status is their occupation and gossip their currency.

Outside the Jewel is an area called The Bank. The professional, banking district whose residents fawn on the Jewel and conduct the business of the island. The current Empress of the island is from the Bank and this causes a great deal of resentment amongst the ruling families. Murder is common.

Next layer out is the Smoke. Factories that drive the economy with harsh Dickensian working conditions. outside this layer is the Farm lands. Again harsh working conditions and poverty.

The lowest of the low is the Marsh lands. The heroine of this novel Violet is from this poverty stricken land. The irony of it all is that the families from the Jewel cannot produce babies that live long and the girls from the Marsh are used as surrogate mothers to produce royal heirs.

The girls are tested at age 12 to see if they are suitable, then trained in holding facilities and tested for three qualities called Auguries until they are 16  related to Colour, shape and growth and only special girls can do the business. The girls are known as Surrogates and are auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Violet  is highly  ranked at 197 out of 200 surrogates and  she is expected to carry a child who will inherit all that is royal. She  is bought by The Duchess of the Lake, a vicious bitch who ruthlessly deals to anyone who is in the way. Can Violet survive?

Then she meets Ash.

You have got to get into this one. The detail of the society is impressive as Amy Ewing sets up the the trilogy that this is to become. The clothes, the Balls, the extravagant living, the intrigue and the ritual of testing the Auguries and conceiving a child are just breath taking.

High school and young adult in appeal. You have never read anything like this before. Compulsive.

When We Awake by Karen Healey.

May 15, 2014 Comments off

when we wakeWhen We Awake by Karen Healey. Pub. Allen & Unwin, 2013.

Some things never change. This was what hit me at the end of this novel which is another finalist in the NZ Post Children and Young Adults Book Awards.

Tegan Oglietti is a teenage girl living in the year 2027 who cares about the planet and global warming. She attends a protest meeting at which the Prime Minister attends and  mistakenly catches the snipers bullet meant for the PM.

That same day she was basking in her newly found love for Muslim boy Dalmar and the last thing she remembers is his lips on her earlobe.

She awakes  in the year 2128 and discovers she has been cryogenically preserved and brought back to life. She is the only successful revival and is a celebrity although not everyone thinks so. The fanatical Christians  say she has given her soul to God and is a soulless person who should give her life back to god.

The experiment was conducted by the Army and they want to use her in the best possible way to promote their own goals and this leads to conflict that  the rebellious Tegan cannot turn away from.

Karen Healey prersents a future world that is the same old same old except much worse than it is now. Muslims still hate Christians and vice versa and the climatic changes brought on by global warming are devastating. Australians still hate boat people and corruption and drugs still pervade the general population.

I will leave it to you to find out the rest. Good action and nice girlie talk with a new slang. There is a bonus for Beatles fans, each chapter is named after a Beatles song or album. It’s good to know they are still around in 2128. I wonder if they find MH370?

Meant for high school students and much to contemplate for them.


The Only Boy by Jordan Locke

January 27, 2014 Comments off

only boyThe Only Boy by Jordan Locke. Self published, 2013. 

This book had me spellbound. My immediate thoughts were that it should have been picked up by a Publisher because it is so good. No Publisher would turn this book down. Those readers who are interested can contact 

Or try web site

It is set in a dystopian world where all the men and males of any species have been wiped out. Two majorly different groups have set themselves up and regard the other as an enemy.

Mary lives in Section one which is ruled in ruthless style by the Matriarch. The rules she says are made to keep everybody safe, but is this the truth? One rule that upsets Mary the most is the rule that no touching is allowed. (the consequences of this rule are discussed throughout the novel).

One day a new girl comes called Taylor. She has existed outside growing her own vegetables and living a more relaxed life where the no touching rule does not apply. Mary senses something different about Taylor and she wants to be near her. The reason is Taylor is a boy. The only boy. How did he survive?

Outside Section one is another group called the Earthers. They have primitive technology, wear furs, grow their own food and try to stay away from Section one. There are a few other surprises about them too but you will have to read the novel to find out what they are.

Mary and Taylor are the only two voices in this novel. They tell the story from their own perspectives in short chapters which keeps the reader involved.

The book is very tense. You want to keep reading, you want to know about Mary and Taylor. Will they get together?

I hope this book becomes easy to purchase because it says a lot about the nature of the human condition. Are we destined for extinction? What can save us?

High school students and young adults will devour this and it is so easy to read.

The Farm by Emily McKay

November 22, 2012 Comments off

The Farm by Emily McKay. Pub. Penguin Group, 2012. 

This is a thriller horror story of a Dystopian World that has been invaded by blood sucking Ticks who love humans. Where they come from, what they look like is one of the secrets of the novel. It is revealed to the reader in stages to keep you in the book and believe me you will want to stay there.

Lily and Mel are twin sisters. Lily  looks after her sister who is autistic and assesses people from the music that she hears  emitting from them. The sisters live on a Farm which is like a University Campus surrounded by a seriously guarded fence. Is it to keep the Ticks out or the teenage population that inhabit it, inside?

Life inside the Farm is disturbing. Some girls are designated as Breeders to have children for the next generation, they are up for grabs to the Collabs. who control the Farm. Punishment is to be left outside the fence for the Ticks.

Lily and Mel plan to escape. Then Carter a boy from the Before World, whom Lily had a deep crush on, arrives and the action begins. Carter knows things the girls don’t and what he knows is frightening.

The novel is narrated by Lily, Mel and Carter and the action is over a week. The ending is as gory as it gets and the action is always tense.

High teenage appeal for vampire lovers. Not unlike The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda reviewed elsewhere in this blog.

The Tribe book 1: The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina

July 11, 2012 Comments off

Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina. Pub. Walker Books 2012.

I found this novel for tenagers fascinating to read but difficult to hold in my head. I was never sure where I was in the story as nothing that happens is what it seems. It is like that old Patrick McGoohan TV series of the 1960’s called The Prisoner. I never knew what was happening in that either.

In a dystopian world where the Reckoning has occurred people are under strict control by a Government that does not tolerate difference. Chief Administrator and total monster Neville Rose would have that it is for the common good but all dictators say this.

Ashala leads a group of children mostly who are well different. They are The Tribe and they live in harmony with the animals in Firstwood.  Ember can change memories, Georgie can predict the future and Ashala can be menacing when she sleepwalks in dreamtime.

Ashala escapes the city with a boy called Jazz who flees into the grasslands which are ruled by mind talking Saurs. Ashala is betrayed by an old Tribe member Justin Connor and taken in for interrogation by Neville Rose.

From this point on nothing is as it seems. It is a little like Aboriginal Dreamtime and legend and the mind control of Orwell’s 1984.

Give it a try. Sophisticated readers of fiction will get a lot out of this novel.

The Nature of Ash by Mandy Hager

May 28, 2012 Comments off

The Nature of Ash by mandy hager. Pub. Random House, 2012.

Very powerful novel of a dystopian New Zealand in which many of the social, political, economic and family concerns of today’s world are extrapolated into the future. One of the themes  is “freedom has a very thin veneer if you look too closely at it”.

Teenager Ash loves his father and his down syndrome brother Mikey. When his outspoken Trade Union father is assassinated by a bomb all truth flies out the window. Who can he trust to find the truth?

It is world in which two big alliances are playing games with each other and New Zealand is but a pawn in the game. Our economy is controlled by the Asian United Peoples Republic and the Western Alliance of USA and Australia. The Prime Minister is corrupt, the police and army are controlled so that no-one knows the truth. Everybody is lying. Bread is 12 bucks a loaf.

When Ash’s father dies he discovers his mother is still alive and working for a terrorist group called Muru. Ash, Mikey and Asian girl Jiao go looking for answers in this action packed thriller. The ending will amaze you.

Senior secondary and young adult in appeal.