I love adding “once upon a time” in things. It adds a little bit of a fairy tale/story aspect to it. Once upon a time I was reading. Just kidding. OK, starting over. I love books. I am a book person. It is really hard for me to stop reading and participate in the real world when I find a good book. I also LOVE when people recommend books to me. I don’t always read them, but I feel what I get from the recommendation is an insight into that person. I get a detail about them. This is a world they like to visit, why?
I was talking to a friend (at the time a new person in my life) about books. She was telling me her favorite books were dystopian novels, especially 1984. I couldn’t help but perk up. I LOVED The Giver. I have it. I’ve ready it countless times since the first time back in fourth grade. As an adult I read the rest of the series and loved those too. The rest of the series really changes the first book. Anyway, we started talking dystopians and I found that I too LOVE dystopians. She recommended Allegiant to me when it first came out. I gobbled it up. I read The Maze Runner. LOVED IT! Oh and the book that I’ve had to buy four times on half.com (for $0.75) because I keep lending it out and not getting it back but I love it too much to not own it: The Host. Yeah I know, Stephanie Meyer, guilty as charged.
Hear me out: The Host, The Giver, and so many other dystopian novels that I love all have this central thing running through them, a lack of choice. It makes sense that I would enjoy Matched by Ally Condie. I started the series hesitantly because of the reviews on Goodreads kept claiming it to be a Giver knock off. Well here’s the thing. A lot of dystopian novels look at how society would change because of the lack of choice.
As I try again and again to imagine a world without choice, it’s hard to imagine unless we all become bioandroids and are programed every action we ever do. But then who is the programmer? Anyway, we cannot go a moment without choosing something. Even if we choose not to do anything, we still make a choice.
I love how in these choiceless society dystopians everything crumbles when people take back their ability to choose. (Oh another really good dystopian is The Knife of Never Letting Go). These powerful entities are destroyed when the main character rises above with others and shows that choosing and having freedom is much better than being restricted and having a designer life.
Matched is right along with this idea. The Society controls what you eat, what you learn, who you marry, when you marry, when you can have children, what you do for a living. The main character begins to question all that she knows when she believes she may have been matched with the wrong person. She was matched with her best friend, but she’s falling in love with someone else. Of course, like most cheesy romances in YA books, their love changes the course of everything and the revolution. Anyway, it’s worth a read.
Have you thought about how choice and the ability to make choices is decreasing more and more in our own society? I try not to get political on this blog, but it’s getting harder not to. There are new things that try to take away other people’s rights and choices. There are things that masquerade as freedom but actually restrict everyone else. There are lies that are being spread and taught as fact.
The thing is, if we really think about who we vote for, who we want in power, it should be the person who will continue to give us the most amount of freedom. It should be the person who will let us be in control of ourselves and family. It should never be the person who will force everyone to do certain things. It should never be the one who takes away from others to give away.
It also goes beyond politics. It is part of our business and personal relationships. It is part of our human and inanimate relationships as well. There have been times when I felt like my choices were extremely limited by the people I worked with because of the work culture. The same could be said about certain friends and old boyfriends. Beyond humans there is also our relationship with things that end up ultimately controlling us.
One thing that I found to be controlling to me was my need to check Facebook several times a day. I found myself putting my Facebook fix over time with others, time with myself, and things that I enjoy. Once I recognized that my need for social media was limiting my ability to make other choices, I knew I had to change. I decided that one day a week I would go without Facebook. That simple act reclaimed my life.
If dystopian novels have taught us anything, we must be cautious of willfully giving our personal power over to someone or something else. We must be vigilant in our ability to choose. It is unique and special to us.
What’s your favorite dystopian novel? What have you learned from dystopian novels?