Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cheerful Reading

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.

4 comments:

  1. It's what I'm hoping to look into for my Phd - although I'm looking more at realistic fiction which deals with teenagers and politics.

    It's interesting to look at Australia, where I can't find any realistic political YA. There was a lot of dystopic spec fic in the 80s and 90s - Victor Kelleher, Isobelle Carmody, John Marsden - and of course your Darklands books a bit more recently. But on the whole I think Australian books are really bucking the International trend and are still primarily realistic teen "issues" books - and dead girls in country towns.

    Have you read Cory Doctorow's Little Brother?

    (I'll be very interested to see what you think about the third Hunger Games book)

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  2. Haven't read Cory Doctorow's book, but have just added it to my list. I agree that there doesn't seem to be a great deal of realistic political YA fiction around at the moment (in as much as I can't think of any off the top of my head...)

    I'm onto the third HG book tonight, having stayed up until 1.00 last night chewing through the second, despite my best intentions....

    Thanks for the recommendation.

    t.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The Unindenitified by Rae Mariz (US)
    Matched by Ally Condie
    Ship Breaker by Paolo Baciqalupi (US - shortlisted for the National Book Award 2010)

    Australian ones? hmm - No recent ones spring to mind.

    (make sure you let us know about mockingjay

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks heaps Trish. Will defiantly keep you posted on Mockingjay. I've had to put it on hold for a day or two, owing to workload and lack of sleep.

    Cheers
    T

    ReplyDelete

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