Dystopian


Winter ShadowsWinter Shadows
Casey Bond
Tate Publishing

The day Claire’s father warned her about has finally arrived. Armed with few provisions, Claire and her father join friends and church members fleeing from government mandated confinement in quarantine camps. At first the camps may have been necessary to prevent a deadly pandemic from decimating the entire population, but surely the threat has passed, and the government may be using fear of this disease to round up the remaining citizens and control them. Determined to live free, Claire’s father has created a living space off the government grid, and he’s taking anyone willing to come along.

At first Claire isn’t too thrilled about leaving her life at home behind, but there seems to be little choice. Despite her apprehension, she throws herself into her new way of life, learning to fish and hunt along with the others. As a deep bond forms between her and Ethan, his feelings bloom into love, something Claire isn’t sure she’s ready to handle. Then, when a mysterious boy appears at the river, Claire feels her heart stirred in a new way. Can this be love? But the boy has secrets of his own, and they may destroy everything Claire’s family has worked to preserve.

In an interesting take on dystopian stories, Bond creates a story world in which characters choose to hide and be free rather than live within the constructs of a crippling government. As Claire learns what it means to be part of a community and contribute, she finds courage, loyalty and strength of heart. While some elements of the story seem a little disjointed, the development of the romance is gentle and sweet. Readers interested in Christian dystopian romance may find this one to their liking. Parents looking for a clean alternative to Dashner’s The Kill Order may be interested in giving this one a try.

Language Content
None.

Sexual Content
In a brief scene, a young man begins undressing an unconscious girl with the intent of taking advantage of her.

Spiritual Content
Since her mother’s death, Claire has been angry at God. As she learns to be a part of a close-knit community and forms deep bonds with its members, she begins to re-explore the foundations of her former faith and to reconnect with her spiritual life. She even finds a way to encourage others to do the same.

Violence
One young man hits another over the head, causing grave injury. Two teen boys engage in a fistfight. One boy is shot with an arrow.

Drug Content
A young man slips a sedative into a girl’s tea without her knowledge or consent.

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Divergent by Veronica RothDivergent

Veronica Roth

HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books

Sixteen-year-old Beatrice Prior lives in a world in which faction comes before family. Upon turning sixteen, each society member must choose to commit life to one of five factions. No turning back. Though Beatrice loves her family, she can’t imagine living out the rest of her life wholly committed to serving others selflessly as the Abegnation faction members do. But if she chooses to leave her faction, she will lose her family for good.

Beatrice discovers making her choice puts more at risk than her connection to family. Her mind carries within it a deadly secret, one she must keep at all costs. As she prepares to join the faction of her choice, she renames herself Tris and braces herself for the battle of her life.

Roth’s debut novel packs quite a punch, drawing readers into a world in which survival depends on securing one’s place within a group and virtue is everything. But while the virtues chosen by each faction may have started in purity, time has warped some so that instead of coming together to form a society that is a balanced whole, some factions have become twisted and parasitic.

Though the early chapters spend a lot of time setting up the story, the pace picks up quite a bit once Beatrice/Tris chooses her faction and the initiation rites begin. From that point on, the reader scarcely has a chance to pause for breath, and may need intervention from friends and family in order to put the book down for things like dinner and sleep.

Series fans are already eagerly anticipating the March 2014 release of the movie starring Shailene Woodley based on this first book in the Divergent Series. The series will conclude with the release of Allegiant on October 22, 2013.

Language Content
None.

Sexual Content
While romantic tensions run high between Tris and her boy, both seem committed to taking the relationship slowly. Lots of kissing scenes and one pretty intense make-out scene in a train, but nothing goes beyond that.

Spiritual Content
The Abegnation faction believe in God and serving others. Though she has always struggled to live up to the pure virtues of her faction, Tris returns to those beliefs in a moment when things go horribly wrong.

Violence
Some initiation rituals are a bit violent. Other initiates, motivated by jealousy, attack their rivals and even attempt to kill them. Divergent climaxes with an intense sequence of battles, but graphic details are limited.

Drug Content
To celebrate or mourn, Tris’s new faction members drink alcohol. Tris herself doesn’t participate. Faction leaders use a serum to create simulations in the minds of the initiates as part of the process of admittance into the faction.

DeliriumDelirium

Lauren Oliver

In a world with closely controlled borders, seventeen-year-old Lena counts down the days until she receives the cure for what her government labels, “the deadliest of all deadly things,” or Love. Lena can’t wait to finally be cured, to know she’s safe from this vile and unpredictable thing. Then she meets Alex, and everything goes sideways. She isn’t sure what to think about the disease or the rumored uncured people living outside the safe borders of the town or Portland. And Alex is different. Special. Before she can stop it, her attraction toward him blossoms into something deep and forbidden, and for once, dutiful Lena doesn’t care if she’s breaking all the rules. How could anyone not break rules when they feel so wonderful?

But her procedure date approaches, and once it arrives, her feelings for Alex will be gone. Alex knows how to live away from town, but leaving means walking away from her family and her best friend Hannah. How can Lena do that? With time quickly running out and enforcers so close to discovering her secret relationship, Lena must decide what to do and find a way to escape before it’s too late.

Since her stunning debut Before I Fall, Oliver has delivered sharply brilliant prose framed around powerful characters and themes. Her exploration of love rockets readers through a dangerous world in which love is a disease scientists are now able to cure. Lena’s roller coaster ride of emotions becomes a little difficult to believe at times, as she both carefully controls her stoic public face and privately reels from the wild emotional highs and lows of her infatuation with Alex. Her best friend’s perfect understanding and lack of jealousy at being ditched for the boyfriend also felt a little hollow. Despite this, the story is intense and its narrative finely honed. Lena’s recollections of her mother and the descriptions of the Wilds beyond Portland are deeply captivating.

Language Content
Infrequent but severe.

Sexual Content
Whether or not Lena and Alex engage in sex is left pretty vague. Lena describes her feelings at allowing Alex to see her without a shirt, and how before that moment she felt awkwardly put together, but his opinion of her as beautiful changes Lena’s perception of herself. The couple frequently kiss one another.

Spiritual Content
Some biblical characters and references are altered, as if they’ve been rewritten by a government with an agenda against love. Deeper spiritual pursuits are not really explored.

Violence
Police with weapons and dogs surround a house filled with people listening to forbidden music. They attack the party-goers, attempting to punish and subdue them. Some details are intense and a little grisly. A girl infected with “the Deliria” is bound to her bed until she can receive surgery to cure her from the disease of love. Later, police chase down a young couple trying to escape and attempt to shoot them.

Drug Content
Lena’s sister gives her a tranquilizer pill to calm her. Lana believes it is ibuprofen.

julie_kagawa_the_immortal_rulesIn a world ruled by vampires, Allison Sekemoto survives by staying hidden and scavenging for food. When hunger forces her to venture outside the safety of home, she is attacked and offered a choice: to die or become what she hates most. A vampire.

Allie struggles to learn vampire ways and accept and what her new form means to the humans she has left behind. Another attack forces her to flee from the city and into the wild where she will be stalked by rabids, diseased and deadly creatures. But Allie isn’t the only one braving those wilds. In the night, she comes upon a group of humans on a quest to find a legendary city. A safe haven for humans. A city without vampires. Allie vows to protect them on their journey, but can she really succeed when the deadliest threat is her own hunger?

Kagawa sends her readers plummeting through a masterfully woven plot into a post-apocalyptic world in which humans are ruled by vampires and stalked by rabids. While heroine Allie seems cold-hearted and indifferent at the story’s opening, it is in her vampire form that she develops love for others, creating an intriguing paradox.

Language Content
No F-bombs, but other curses peppered throughout.

Sexual Content
Insinuations, but no graphic content.

Spiritual Content
Allison encounters a group who are people of faith. Precisely what they believe isn’t deeply explored, but faith is portrayed as a very admirable and positive thing, even if such optimism is hard for Allison to understand. In Kagawa’s world, vampires may be either good or evil, depending on their relationship with the living. They will either abuse and dominate or perhaps struggle to check their power and thirst and protect humans.

Violence
Lots of violence. Creatures called rabids, human and animal, viciously pursue and devour any they can capture. Some references to past torture.

Drug Content
Random guy drinks a beer.

MatchedCassia has looked forward to her Match Banquet for as long as she can remember, and nothing could be more wonderful than sharing that day with her best friend, Xander. She is elated when the Society choses Xander to be her very own match. He is right for her in every way, a confirmation to Cassia of the Society’s perfection.

So she believes until a rare malfunction occurs and another face flashes across Cassia’s screen. Ky Markham’s face. Confused, Cassia allows the Society leaders to reassure her that everything is fine. Her doubts resurface in the form of a gift from her grandfather: words from a forbidden poem. Cassia knows she must destroy them, but can’t help reading and savoring them again and again. She begins to fall in love with the mysterious poetry and the boy who shares them with her. Ky. And now she must choose between Xander, who knows her through and through and Ky, who knows things she can’t yet understand.

Matched is a romance set against a dystopian backdrop: a world carefully balanced and controlled by the elite members of the Society. Only select forms of artwork have been preserved and allowed. All others are outlawed. All actions and even sleep are monitored. For Cassia, it is a safe and perfect world until Ky enters it and awakens dreams she shouldn’t have, desires she can’t understand and a growing distrust of the world she thought protected her. It is difficult indeed even for the reader to choose between Cassia’s loves. Condie elegantly weaves a story of disillusionment and hope and propels her readers through the twists and turns of Cassia’s story.

Language Content
Mild.

Sexual Content
Very mild. Kissing. Some reference to adults having the option to stay single rather than being matched and choosing to have casual physical relationships, but no details given and no bearing on the story itself.

Spiritual Content
None.

Violence
Very limited violence.

Drug Content
Society members keep three tablets with them at all times, to be taken for specific purposes, with usage carefully monitored. One is a sleep aid.

kill_orderWith memories of the sun flares that destroyed major cities and much of the world’s technology still fresh in their minds, Mark, Trina and their friends find themselves face to face with another catastrophe, and this one may not leave any alive.

The plague’s first victims survive mere hours. But as the disease mutates and spreads, its victims survive longer, becoming mad long before the end takes them. Mark and Trina band together, determined to stay well, track down the source of the vicious illness, and do whatever it takes to stop it.

In this prequel to the Maze Runner series, James Dashner reveals the story of civilization’s fall and the mysterious disease that ravaged mankind in its wake. While providing answers to many of the questions Maze Runner fans have been asking, The Kill Order lacked the density of thrill and suspense that have rocketed readers through the bestselling series.

Language Content
Mild to moderate.

Sexual Content
Moderate to heavy. While much of the physical romance takes place off-scene, it is still known that the hero and his girlfriend are having sex.

Spiritual Content
Not much mentioned.

Violence
Lots of scenes depicting terrible illness and some insanity.

Drug Content
The characters are on a quest for a cure to the mysterious disease that is spreading like wildfire. No recreational drug use.