The New Year is a natural time for looking at where we’ve been and where we’re going.
Many of us recall the dire predictions in late 1999 of a Y2K disaster. Although computers did not fail on January 1, 2000 as some had feared, an avalanche of dystopian novels seemed to follow. One recent book that explores the perils of technology is Dave Eggers’ The Circle, which satirizes an internet utopia created through social media.
In the novel, Mae Holland is devoted to her job at a giant internet company, where she joins the other employees in her obsession with constant communication, attention, and recognition. Eventually she abandons her family, friends, privacy – and in the end, her identity -- for professional success. At first, the world Eggers presents looks very familiar, but slowly it morphs into a nightmare in which “the brave new world of virtual sharing and caring breeds monsters” (Margaret Atwood). Can sharing and caring really become oppressive, even evil? Eggers' book has been compared to Brave New World (Aldous Huxley), 1984 (George Orwell), Fahrenheit451 (Ray Bradbury), and The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood).
So why do books like these appeal to readers? Maybe it’s a relief to close the book and think: At least it’s not that bad – yet! The Circle, with its many fans and critics, would be a good book for discussion.
Other recent dystopian books include:
California – Edan Lepucki
Spark: A Novel- John Twelve Hawks
Tomorrow and Tomorrow – Sweterlitsch, Thomas
The Bees – Laline Paull
Red Rising – Pierce Brown
Archetype: A Novel – M.D. Waters
Lighthouse Island – Paulette Jiles
The Dog Stars – Peter Heller
When She Woke – Hillary Jordan
Zazen – Vanessa Veselka