Book Reviews by Genre: Dystopian

Brave New World book jacket
Huxley, Aldous
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Brave New World presents a uniquely disturbing dystopia- but unfortunately, that is where its strengths end. The plot, aside from the setting, is so loosely strung together that a main character, main storyline, or even main theme is unclear. The story meanders from one under-developed character to the next and, without the support of a vivid setting, the novel would crumble. I admire the creativity behind the premise and the craft behind the writing style, but the plot simply lacks. The novel is only worth reading to delve into the vivid world that Aldous Huxley created.

Reviewer's Name: Samah
1984 book jacket
Orwell, George
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Although George Orwell crafted a rather interesting dystopia, the story he built around it largely fell flat. It was apparent throughout the novel that Orwell was more of an essayist than a storyteller; he was more interested in explaining the structure of his setting to his audience rather than showing them how that structure affects the story. 1984 suffers from hundreds of pages of blunt exposition-dumping that disconnects the reader from the characters and plot. While there is significant payoff at the end, the rising action was rather lacking in weight as the main character spends more time describing the logistics of the 1984 world rather than where he fits in it. Some aspects of Orwell's famous dystopian are intriguing, like the use of Newspeak or the new family dynamics, though it is overall disappointing.

Reviewer's Name: Samah
The Handmaid's Tale book jacket
Atwood, Margaret
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Warning: this book contains depictions of rape and violence. If either of these are sensitive topics for you, I would reccomend finding a different book.
"The Handmaid's Tale" is a story about a country that rises after the fall of America. In it, traditional gender roles are enforced by the government. Women are forced into the role of Wives, Marthas (women who clean the house), Aunts (women who are in charge of other women), and Handmaids (women who have sex with men to give them children). Offred has been taken from her husband and child, put into reducation, and forced to be a Handmaid for a commander. She makes her way through the new world while trying to keep fragments of her sanity, individuality, and happiness.

The descriptions in this book are incredible, almost poetic. The charcters in this book are all well defined, and feel like real people. Offred was a standout to me. Though she is the hero in the book, there's an inherent selfishness in her character. She has an affair with a married man. She decides not to help the resistance. She constantly mocks a woman who has been raped. Oftentimes stories will try to make a dystopia seem worse by making their protagonists innocent and pure. By making Offred so flawed, it draws attention to the fact that this treatment is unacceptable no matter who it's being done to.

The worldbuilding of Gilead is haunting. Margret Atwood has said that everything she put in "The Handmaid's Tale" has happened in history somewhere. That's probably part of why this book feels so real. Though it might seem unbelievable that a society could collapse and revert to such archaic values, looking into real life societal collapses makes it seem much more feasible.

I could talk about this book for far longer, but that would be unwise. In summary, "The Handmaid's Tale" is a wonderful, if not unsettling, read. I would reccomend it to fans of speculative fiction, anyone interested in learning about gender equality, and anyone who can handle a thought provoking read. As I said in the beginning though, this book can be upsetting at parts, so judge for yourself if you can handle that.

Reviewer's Name: Rose
Animal Farm book jacket
Orwell, George
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Animal Farm is a book where animals on a farm represent the Russian Revolution. The animals rebel against the farmers to try and escape cruelty and be free. But, it doesn't end up going as planned, and things start to go wrong on the farm. I thought that this book was very educational and it was interesting to see how people, who were represented by the animals, can change so fast. I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in history and the Russian Revolution.

Reviewer's Name: Ella
Snowpiercer - The Prequel: Part 1: Extinction
Matz
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

One of the best original sci-fi movies to come out in the last decade, in my opinion, was Snowpiercer (2013). The story originated as a 1982 French graphic novel under the name of Le Transperceneige. While I haven't read the original source material, I decided that a prequel graphic novel was probably pretty safe to read. I figured the events leading up to the world ending and a perpetual train being launched wouldn't spoil anything for me (I also haven't seen the TV show either).

While it's only a scant 90 pages, part 1 of this prequel trilogy, Extinction, had nothing I didn't already know in it. Most of the plotlines in this book were fairly generic end-of-the-world-type stories. Each one obviously would lead to the last of humanity boarding this infinitely running train, which was no surprise. It probably didn't help that there weren't that many distinct characters to latch onto in this book to make it more relatable. I understand that it's laying the groundwork for the next two books, but it almost felt that this part of the prequel series was unnecessary.

Perhaps I'm more inclined to cleaner art in graphic novels I like to read. This book had a rough, almost sketch-like style I found to be unpolished. Maybe that was the feeling the illustrator was going for, but some scenes were hard to parse visually because of how dark and thick the lines were. Granted, I still want to go back and read the original graphic novel to see if the style fits better for the actual post-apocalyptic story. However, for this "real world" setting, the art style feels too heavy even for a pre-apocalypse story.

A somewhat unnecessary story with a heavy visual style, I give Snowpiercer - The Prequel Part 1: Extinction 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes book jacket
Collins, Suzanne
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

If you have read the Hunger Games series, then you know that President Snow is the main villain and set a iron grip on the Districts of Panem. I you haven't read the trilogy, then might I highly suggest you do.
This book takes place decades before the trilogy starts and we read through Coriolanus Snow's eyes before he becomes the president and monster of Panem. Coriolanus has already set himself up to be in a position of power even as a young adult, and after his city was besieged, and his parents died, the Snow name and fortune left in ruins. Coriolanus Snow has decided that he will never be the weaker side again. The Hunger Games were not a new event for Panem during the time yet they were never popular, now though Coriolanus and his class are each assigned a tribute to make the Games finally noticed. Coriolanus has been assigned the girl of District 12, perhaps the worst choice available, or so he thinks.

Reviewer's Name: Xzavier
The Hunger Games book jacket
Collins, Suzanne
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The "Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins is a suspenseful novel about 16-year-old Katniss in the dystopian land of Panem. In this world, the 13 districts protested against the government. In punishment, they must provide two tributes (one boy and one girl) from each district. When Katniss's sister was chosen as tribute Katniss stepped up to protect her. Now she must fight to the death with the other 23 tributes for a chance to continue with her life.

Reviewer's Name: Cailyn
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes book jacket
Collins, Suzanne
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins is a masterful prequel to the wildly popular Hunger Games trilogy. Set 64 years before the events of the first book, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes explores the origins of the Hunger Games and the rise of the villainous President Snow. The main character, Coriolanus Snow, is a fascinating and nuanced character, with his motives and actions constantly shifting throughout the novel. His relationship with his fellow tribute, District 12's Lucy Gray Baird, is particularly compelling, with Collins exploring themes of loyalty, trust, and love in a way that is both nuanced and emotionally resonant. The plot of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is both gripping and thought-provoking. Collins deftly weaves together political intrigue, personal drama, and action-packed set pieces to create a narrative that is both thrilling and emotionally engaging. The Hunger Games themselves are particularly well-done, with Collins using them as a vehicle to explore the darker side of human nature and the impact of power and privilege on individuals and society. Collins's descriptions of the Capitol and the districts are vivid and immersive, offering a richly detailed portrait of the world of Panem. Her use of foreshadowing and symbolism, such as the mockingjay, adds depth and meaning to the story, inviting readers to reflect on the deeper themes of the novel. This book was a stellar prequel to the Hunger Games trilogy that adds a lot of perspective and background to the original story. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed the original novels and wishes to explore more of the Hunger Games world. Reviewer Grade: 11.

Reviewer's Name: Addison
Fahrenheit 451 book jacket
Bradbury, Ray
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury delves into the dangers of a society where books are banned and critical thinking is discouraged. The novel follows protagonist Guy Montag, a fireman whose job is to burn books, as he begins to question the oppressive society he lives in and seeks to uncover the truth about the value of literature. The plot of Fahrenheit 451 is both compelling and thought-provoking- Bradbury’s dystopian world is entirely possible, and his exploration of the consequences of censorship and intellectual suppression can be easily applied to modern times. The story is driven by Montag’s journey of self-discovery, which is filled with twists and turns that keep the reader engaged until the very end. Bradbury’s writing style is poetic and evocative, bringing the world of Fahrenheit 451 to life with vivid descriptions and metaphorical language. His use of symbolism is particularly effective, as he weaves in recurring motifs such as fire, the mechanical hound, and the phoenix to add depth and complexity to the story. The novel is also structured in a way that mirrors Montag’s journey, with the pace and tone shifting as he becomes more aware of the world around him. Overall, Fahrenheit 451 is a very thought-provoking and symbolic classic that really makes you rethink the value of intellectual freedom and education. Every time I read it, I recognize more symbols, hidden meanings, and references that really enrich my experience. I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it to anyone interested in dystopian, mind boggling novels.
Reviewer Grade: 11.

Reviewer's Name: Addison
Gone book jacket
Grant, Michael
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Gone, written by Michael Grant, is an action-packed dystopian novel that explores the struggle for survival in a world where all adults have vanished. The story takes place in a small California town, where everyone over the age of 15 has disappeared, leaving the children and teenagers to fend for themselves. The protagonist, Sam, is a relatable and sympathetic character who is thrust into a leadership role as he tries to keep the remaining kids safe and find out what has happened to their families. The world-building in Gone is impressive, with the small town and surrounding wilderness being vividly realized and full of danger. The supernatural elements of the story, such as the strange powers that some of the children possess, add an extra layer of intrigue and mystery to the plot that I very much enjoyed. Additionally, the novel explores a number of themes including moral and power struggles that the characters must face head on, and the shifting of the narration between several characters allows for some really good insight into how the characters' fight for survival has affected them each. Overall, Gone is a well-written and engaging novel that is sure to appeal to fans of dystopian and action-packed stories, and leaves off on a cliffhanger that encourages readers to read the remaining eight novels in the series. I personally enjoyed the plot and its many twists very much, and have read the rest of the series as a result. Reviewer Grade: 11.

Reviewer's Name: Addison
Divergent book jacket
Roth, Veronica
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Divergent is a book that really drew me in as I was reading. The story starts from Beatrice Prior’s (also known as Tris) point of view. Within the world that she lives in, there are five factions. These factions being dauntless, candor, erudite, abnegation, and amity. Tris ends up choosing to go into the dauntless (the fearless) faction. Among being placed into the dauntless faction, Tris Prior meets Four. Four and Tris “hit it off” after seeing each other and the fall in love quickly. The two have different personalities which seems to click. The novel follows Beatrice and Four as they laugh, love, keep secrets, butt heads, and much much more.
I really like the variety in genres of this book. The book does have romance, humor, fantasy, but it also has action and mysterious elements to it. The short chapters make this book really good at keep the reader’s attention span. The scenes described in vivid detail allow you to feel like part of the story and envision it in your mind. This book is the first of three books. The three books were turned into movies and the first one being Divergent. If you’re looking for a read that is compelling enough to keep your attention span, have a little of every genre, and describes scenes in extreme detail, this book is for you!
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Abigail
The Selection book jacket
Cass, Kiera
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Selection was a very fun book for me to read, because it was a quick read fantasy book. It incorporates all the elements a romance lover looks for in a book. It is a love triangle, enemies to lovers, and friends to lovers novel all in one. America is a very strong and independent character, but we see her become more open minded and willing to work with others instead of fighting them. It is cool to see her perspective on the life she wants change as she gets to know Maxon, but she never forgets the change she wants to make for the people of her past life. The book was not my all time favorite, because the plot can be a little more predictable at times, and some parts are slower. Although, it is definitely worth reading.

Reviewer's Name: Mackenzie
Monument 14 book jacket
Laybourne, Emmy
2 stars = Meh
Review:

This book is the perfect example of a great concept with poor execution. It is about a bunch of kids trapped in a grocery store amid an apocalypse, and trust me, it isn’t as good as it sounds. First of all, the worst thing in this book was the handling of 13 year old Sahalia, at least in the beginning. Her character in itself was creepy and unnecessary. Under no circumstances should a character who is only my age be described like that. She was handled well in the very end, but that’s about it. Besides that glaring issue, the rest of the book is flat at best. I will definitely not finish this series. (8th grade)

Reviewer's Name: Maya
The Last Cuentista
Higuera, Barba Donna,
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Donna Barba Higuera takes on a futuristic dystopian space adventure in her story The Last Cuentista. A young, curious girl named Petra lives in a distant timeline on Earth, where scientists are helplessly searching for a way to avoid certain doom. While in the face of death, Preta leans on her abuelita’s stories, which are rich and full of life. Yet, as the clock starts ticking and Petra is forced to leave it all behind, the one thing she keeps with her is the power of tales. The Last Cuentista is a brilliantly written novel depicting a world in space, where the connection and true heart of human-kind is severed. Petra shows the reader what true perseverance is, and reminds us all of what it means to truly be human.
(Reviewer Grade: 12)

Reviewer's Name: Hanna
Matched book jacket
Condie, Allie
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This is a wonderful, amazing, trilling book! I love the descriptive language and the way its laid out, you never want to stop reading it. it makes you want more. if you read this book, which you should, you need to read the other books as well. It’s a thought-provoking, engaging dystopian novel with the stereotypical love triangle at the center. Condie does a good job setting the scene and the overall vibe. However, I was very disappointed when Cassia burned her grandfather's poems. If she doesn't have the courage to keep a piece of paper, that has been in her family for generations, how will she have the strength to do anything? This is a great book, the characters are developed well and the story is intriguing. (Spoiler) The only thing I would change is Xander at the end, where he lets Cassia go. I know that he is understanding and all, but I think it would be more appropriate for him to want Cassia to stay with him forever, and ever since the pill incident with Ky, he'd like to follow the rules. I really like the storyline and the fact that Cassia is different and doesn’t fit into what people expect of her. Also, I think she used too much show not tell as I don’t see why Cassia likes Ky or how on earth Xander would be a perfect match. I feel like she left the important bits out and kept what wasn’t interesting Other than the few complaints I have, Matched is a book that I would recommend to any Romance or Dystopian fans.
Reviewer's Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Anushka
Unwind book jacket
Shusterman, Neal
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Unwind has a fresh, fascinating, and frankly genius premise: after a war is fought on abortion, the U.S. government passes legislature allowing parents to sign an order to "unwind" their teenagers. The teen is then taken apart, and each body part is used for transplants. Like any good dystopia, the concept poses a number of thought-provoking questions that the book tries to address, like "do we have souls?" or "what makes a person themself?" or "how scary is it to be unwound, really?", and it answers them with varying degrees of success. Unwind is an excellent conversation starter; it is riddled with nuanced philosophical ideas which are, at times, uniquely terrifying. However, that's where the problems with Unwind lie: the intrigue doesn't stretch much farther than the initial concepts. Shusterman is talented at worldbuilding, and every new detail of Unwind's dystopia is interesting, inspired, absurd, and simultaneously realistic. Unfortunately, the story fails to make use of this inherent intrigue. Much of the reader's time is spent spectating characters as they shuttle from one location to another. They have minimal development, or, when they do have development, it is sudden and drastic. Shusterman builds a vivid universe only to guide readers through the dullest corners. Unwind is worth a read for the conversation, not the story. If a reader expects the average teenage dystopia, they should pick another book; but if they want fresh perspectives, creative horror, and possibly a hint of existential dread, Unwind is the perfect read.

Reviewer's Name: Samah
The Girl Who Dared To Think book jacket
Forrest, Bella
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The first book in this dystopian series, The Girl Who Dared To Think takes readers on an adventure to a post apocalyptic world where one girl struggles to fit in. Liana Castell has never fit in with her parents or instructors expectations. Living in the Tower, a large glass home for all those left, requires citizens to wear a band displaying a ranking. The most loyal to the tower receive number close to a 10, while those at 3 or lower receive treatment and many disappear. When Liana meets a man who has a ranking of a ten, though obviously is not deserving of it, she fights to find him and uncover the deep secrets of the Tower.
The book will keep you guessing the whole way through and leave you wanting to read the next.

Reviewer's Name: McKenna
The Maze Runner book jacket
Dashner, James
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I started reading this book in 2012, just a few years before the movie was released. This book is a personal favorite of mine that I have read over and over again. This dystopian story follows a boy who was placed in the center of a maze with several other boys and follows his journey as he uncovers dark truths and attempts to escape the maze. Personally, I love the attention to detail in this book and how it keeps you on your seat throughout the story all the way to the end. In no way was this book predictable. When I first read this book I wasn't aware that it was of a series, so I was delighted to find out there were more books because of how great of a story it was. I would recommend this book to tweens and up since there is some mature material such as fighting and dying (it doesn't go into gory detail). Overall, this is a great read that I would personally highly recommend!

Reviewer's Name: Ashley
Fahrenheit 451 book jacket
Bradbury, Ray
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is a dystopian novel written in 1953. Although some of the concepts and references are harder to understand due to when the story is written, it still holds many good messages relevant today. In this novel, books are banned, and firefighters burn houses with books inside instead of saving them. They are the protectors of happiness because books make people unhappy. Fahrenheit 451 follows a fireman, Guy Montag, as he starts asking questions about his job and society. This novel has many hidden meanings and is worth the time to read. The author does a beautiful job of keeping the writing and concepts simple enough for younger audiences. Overall, I would give it a five out of five stars.

Reviewer's Name: Lucia
Animal Farm
Orwell, George
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This book was pretty good. It was a little harder to get into than I thought it would be. The plot of the story was all about these animals on a farm, and how they wanted to have equality with the farmer. It is an old book that was written in 1945, but I thought it was really crazy how it is similar to some of the modern day issues the world is facing. My big sister has read it and we talked about it a lot, I think it is a better book for adults than for teen agers (I'm 14). The ending was not what I expected.
- almost 9th grader

Reviewer's Name: Sophia