‘The Giver,’ ‘Uglies’ Among Author Elana Johnson’s Favorite Dystopian Novels

As we roll out reviews, interviews and recommendations here during Dystopian Week, it occurred to us that we’d be too much like Big Brother/the Society/the Capitol if we just gave you our own opinions. So, to show we aren’t afraid of a little free thinking around here, we invited author and blogger Elana Johnson, whose own dystopian novel “Possession” comes out next month, to give you her list of favorites. (Come back later today, when we’ll dissect “Possession” too!)

It’s no secret that I love me some dystopian novels. I believe post-apocalyptic/dystopian novels are getting a lot of attention because they make readers think. The possibilities for the future are endless, and it’s interesting to see how an author takes our society and shapes it into a (sometimes scary) world that could really exist.

Here are some of my dystopian faves, in no particular order:

“The Giver” by Lois Lowry: A lot of people don’t like how this novel ends, but to me, this is the reason why it’s so great. I like a novel that makes me think, and “The Giver” certainly does that.

“The Adoration of Jenna Fox” by Mary E. Pearson: I love this novel because of the lyrical style of writing. I thought it was a brilliant story, told brilliantly.

“Uglies” by Scott Westerfeld: This is actually the first dystopian novel I read. As soon as I finished it, I thought, “I want to write a book like this.” I love the idea of making the future into whatever I want. Mostly, I love the way Scott Westerfeld wove together such a perfect example of a dystopian novel, rich with conflict and character.

“Birthmarked” by Caragh M. O’Brien: The language in this dystopian novel is exquisite. I first fell in love with that, and then the main character, who does courageous things under extreme circumstances.

“Ship Breaker” by Paolo Bacigalupi: This novel won the Printz for a reason. While on the violent side, I didn’t find it violent for the sake of violence. Everything that happened fit with the society, and I appreciate good world-building like that.

The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins: The pacing of the story is pitch-perfect. Add in a hint of romance, a kick-butt character and high stakes, and you’ve got a winner.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth” by Carrie Ryan: I adore this entire series, and not because of the zombies. But because of the hope and romance that exist among the undead.

Matched” by Ally Condie: The pure emotional power in this novel earns it a spot on my list. It’s not poetic, but the story and characters carry the strength of poetry.

“The Maze Runner” by James Dashner: I liked the complete lack of adults in this novel. The kids organized their own society—and succeeded! I always like reading things that take unconventional to the next level, and “The Maze Runner” does that.

What I’m looking forward to in 2011:

“The Eleventh Plague” by Jeff Hirsch (September 2011)
“The Fox Inheritance” by Mary E. Pearson (August 2011)
“Shatter Me” by Tahereh Mafi (November 2011)
“Variant” by Robison Wells (October 2011)
“The Pledge” by Kimberly Derting (November 2011)

Have you read any of the books on Elana’s list? What do you think of her picks? Tell us in the comments and on Twitter!