(Guest blog from Alice Finnie)

FFirstly, on behalf of all of us at Burning Chair, may I offer my hopes that all of you out there are as safe and healthy as you can be.

These are dark and uncertain times, and if you’re like me then you’ve probably taken refuge in a good book. Given everything that’s going on, I’ve been reading (and re-reading) lots of dystopian fiction and it’s so great that I thought I’d offer up five absolute treats that you may not have heard of…

1. Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Scythe came out in 2016 and is already becoming a classic dystopian novel. On the surface it is a book set around the question of how we cope with death, but it is so much more. When the advancement of medicine has gone much further than we could dream of today, it means that no-one can die. Naturally, people expect this to be a good thing, but without death, the population would expand massively and spell the end of humanity. To deal with this, society creates the role of Scythes who are people who can legally administer death to whoever they deem unworthy of living. The novel follows two teenagers training to be Scythes, and how they cope with this, especially when they are told that only one of them will be successful…

Scythe is a fast-paced book that contains tension, romance, excitement and lots of subtle commentary about organised religion. It is a must read for all young adult audiences and is a perfect example of a dystopian fantasy.

2. Legend by Marie Lu

Legend is the first in a series of books that came out in 2011. It offers a futuristic view of what life could evolve into, where cities are based on technology and where everyone’s fate is based on your intelligence, and where two teenagers meet despite everything that is pulling them apart. The first teenager is a young prodigy with no one to look after her; the second is a criminal mastermind, and (gulp!) her brother’s killer. Both are in danger and neither know the other’s true identity.

Legend is about human nature and it’s faults. It is full of creativity and imagination, and the plot is gripping. It keeps the reader interested and on their toes the whole way through and I’ve now reread this several times.

3. The Extinction Trials by S.M. Wilson

The Extinction Trials, which only came out in 2018, shows how our instincts as humans can often be incredibly wrong. When 100 people get picked for the Trials, which involves sailing over to Piloria, a continent full of dinosaurs, we see that our perceptions of good and evil can often be wrong. With both people and dinosaurs, we often see the worst in people and draw the wrong conclusions.

This book could be seen as cross between the Hunger Games and Jurassic Park, but it is even better than that description implies. It is jammed with action and adventure that makes you hold your breath through every chapter. This is the perfect read for anyone that loves a great dystopian yarn.

4. The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

We all fear disease, especially right now, but what if there was nothing anyone could do. No cure, no vaccine: just death. The Darkest Minds (2012) uncovers the lengths people will go to protect those they love and care for. Forced out by their families, any child that displays symptoms is put into brutal labour camps. When a 10 year old girl is taken from the people she claims are her parents, she doesn’t realise that she won’t see the real world for six years locked away in a camp that is said to rid her of who she is.

This is an emotional book that shows the value of family and friends and gives a wide audience a view of what could happen in our future.

5. Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

This book is SOOOO good, I have told everyone about it! Nyxia is about a competition run by the shadowy Babel corporation offering the poorest children in society the first prize of untold riches. When Emmett enters out of desperation from the poverty he is living in, he meets teenagers from around the world in his situation. Friendship develops between the competitors, dangerous because of the consequences of losing and the attachment between them.
This sci-fi/dystopian adventure is a perfect example of a heart-stopping novel that kept me on the edge of my chair; a truly wonderful book. Read it and you’ll thank me!

So, there you go. That’s my list – did I miss any, or do you agree/disagree? Let us know!

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