Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dystopian Novels = Cold Hard Cash

In the last several years, one of the biggest trends in young adult literature is that of the dystopian novel. (If you're lost the definition is: "a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression,disease, and overcrowding." From When I talk with the students at my middle school, I say something like this, "Think the future and something horrible has happened and the human race is just trying to survive.  Add some teenagers.  Some romance.  Some good adventure or race to survive and that's the gist of the dystopian novel."  Oh, and they tend to be series books.  Or trilogies.  

The Hunger Games (and its subsequent books) is one of the most popular dystopian trilogies from the last several years.  The movie for the 1st book comes out March 23rd. (EEEE! Squeallll!--Yup, it really was that good.  And the author helped write the screenplay and approves, so I'm hopeful for the movie.)

 Another series that my students love is Matched by Ally Condie.  The second book just came out and is called Crossed.  It's on my to read list (I haven't read it because I wasn't sure if I wanted to buy it or just snag it from the library.)

The series I just completed that my students have also been crazed about this school year is The Maze Runner trilogy by James Dashner.  And it's this series that I want to talk about today.  You know how when you read a book (or in this case a series) and it just leave you sort of annoyed or unsatisfied?  That's my problem with this one and I need some others to read it so we can talk about it.  (Hint, hint dear readers.)   I just finished the last book and it's just got me irritated. 

Here's the low down on the plot:  Teenager Thomas wakes up in what is called The Glade. He has no memories of before he woke up. He is surrounded by other teenage boys.  Only boys.  They live in The Glade and it is surrounded by walls, and in turn a maze.  During the day, the doors to the maze open and certain boys (called Runners) go out and try to figure out a way out of the maze and thus, hopefully, out of The Glade.  At night the doors close.  If you are still in the maze at night, a creature called a Griever appears in the maze and comes after you.  The next day it's lather, rinse, repeat, except that the maze has changed.  The walls have moved.  This is the standard pattern of The Glade and the maze until a teenage girl appears.  Things are about to change. The only thing she remembers is that WICKED is good.

Long story short, without trying to spoil too many of the plot points of the trilogy, the maze is run by an organization called WICKED which stands for "World in catastrophe, killzone experiment department."  WICKED hopes that the teens hold the secret to a cure for a disease called The Flare that is killing humans around the world.

Ok, and if I talk about more than that right now, I will completely give away the plot. 

But here's the deal, Mr. Dashner.  I expected more.  I really did.  I expected a little more conclusion.  None of this "It's a trilogy, but it's probably not because my publisher thinks we can push a few more books out of it and make some dough." The Maze Runner leaves you hanging.  That was to be expected.  The Scorch Trials.  Yep, still left you hanging.  Again, to be expected and in a good way.  But seriously?  The Death Cure (what claims to be the conclusion) isn't much of one in my opinion.  Great story but did it really end?  It never really ties things up nice and neat and I'm thoroughly annoyed by that.  Suzanne Collins (author of The Hunger Games trilogy) took a lot of flack for tidying up the plot in the last book of the series, but it's what readers wanted.  But here....sheer annoyance. Someone read it, so we can talk about it ok? 

Epilogue:  After writing this blog post, I found Dashner's website and found that a PREQUEL to the series is out sometime this fall, called The Kill Order.  See!  I knew it!  There is soooo going to be another book in the series besides the prequel.  I smell a fourth book and I smell money.  There's also rumor of a movie deal...


Amy said...

I agree with your analysis of The Maze Runner & The Scorch Trials-- I read them both with high hopes of some sort of resolution.....just put The Death Cure on my list, so I'll let you know when I finish it! :-)
Here's to YA dystopian literature-- (oh-- have you read Scott Westerfeld's 'The Uglies' series? Basic premise is that everyone in that society is turned 'pretty' by plastic surgery when they turn 18)

Bloggin BB said...

Amy--LOVED the Uglies series. Josh and I both ate them up! And that one was a bit more tidied up at the end than some of the more recent science fiction dystopian novels of late.

Sarah AJ said...

I'm normally one to jump on the "read this so we can talk about it" bandwagon, but I can't say your description made it sound overly appealing. LOL Have you read the Gone series? My niece recommended them to me.

Bloggin BB said...

Sarah--the books are good, I think you'll be disappointed at the ending is all. Gone is the one where all of the adults disappear. My students are hot for this series, too, but I haven't read it. I can only handle so much science fiction and then I need a good historical fiction novel to make everything right. :)