I've just recently (thanks largely to having a few chunks of unexpected downtime last week) finished reading Patrick Ness' Chaos Walking trilogy, which he wrapped up with the hugely satisfying Monsters of Men. I'm now about to launch into the second book of Suzanne Collins Hunger Games trilogy, having chewed through the first book in a single day on the weekend.*
I'm not going to post my reviews of them here. That's what Goodreads is for, but I am struck by something which I think I'll probably do a little thinking about in months to come:
During the 1980's and into the early 1990's in the late to-immediate-post cold war era, there was an explosion (for want of a better term) of Australian post-apocalyptic YA fiction, much of it speculative. I'm sure you can think of more than a few titles which threw their YA protagonists into 'end-of-the-world' type scenarios. Victor Kelleher's Taronga was one of my favourites.
Now I'm wondering if we're seeing the beginnings of a similar thing happening, but on a more global scale. The post-apocalyptic being very much used in YA as a social response to wider issues. But now the focus has moved, slightly; Patrick Ness' books deal with power, government and control. I'm only a little way into Suzanne Collin's trilogy, but can see similar concerns there which touch on ideas like the social contract and totalitarianism. A few weeks ago, at an artist's talk here at UC, I spoke about how the global political climate during the years following on from 9/11 had an enormous impact upon my Darklands books, and particularly Skyfall.
It's interesting, I think, to consider the possible forces that shape our written culture, and particularly to look at the sort of material our adolescent readers are engaging with, and in this terror-aware world in which we now live, I suspect there's some pretty strong influences just starting to reveal themselves.
Dunno. This is a little off-the-top-of-my-head, rather garbled and definately in need of some further consideration.
What about you? Do you have any suggestions for contemporary YA spec-fic that might be wrestling with some of this stuff?
*which is a good effort, but not as good as Imogen, who managed to get through the entire trilogy in a single day.