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The Best Dystopian Novels of the 20th Century

Thomas More wrote the book Utopia many centuries ago, and the term was coined to mean no place. It is a satirical book that features an island in the Atlantic Ocean. However, More uses this artistic prowess to depict England as the island. Later on, John Stuart Mill came up with the word Dystopia, which implies a bad place.

Stuart was an English philosopher who was very critical of the Irish land policy. The novels of More inspired him to coin the word. Therefore, dystopian fiction has its roots in the utopian literature, written by renowned authors such as William Morris and H.G Wells. Wells had the opinion that technology advancement was rapidly growing and would come to outdo poverty and war at some point. The list below describes some of the top twentieth-century dystopian novels.

books on a mantlepiece

Brave New World

The advent of the twentieth century could not convince most authors of this time about the characteristic changes in the political world and science. First, Aldous Huxley, through the novel Brave New World launched aggression against utopian concepts. He criticized the advancements of writers such as Wells and Morris, regarding the changes in political ideals and advancement in science. Huxley crafted this novel to project a society in the future. Although critical in some sense, he borrowed Well’s idea that science would form the basis for quality lifestyles for people in the future. Huxley held the vision that children would be formed within test tubes, and they would be bound to conform to all policies put across by their governing structure. Another projection was that learning would be based on intelligence, where ‘Alphas’ would take up duties that require brains while ‘Deltas’ were destined for more menial assignments. While writing a Brave New World literary analysis essay, students can establish that Huxley’s opinion on sex and crime was rather infamous because he denounced both of them, terming crime a non-existent and sex as a form of recreation with no consequences like sad true love. One of Huxley’s characters in the novel is John, who is used by the author to bring out a savage society in which he was born. The utopian society required that John should undergo guilt, shame, squalor and suffering to prove that he was a real man.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley - best dystopian novels of the 20th century

We

This is an earlier book that preceded Brave New World. In fact, Huxley was inspired by Yevgeny Zamyatin who published We in 1924. Zamyatin adopted a similar plot which is critical about the concept of futuristic utopia. He emphasizes the need for humans to rise up against the status quo that defines the utopian state that is very homogenized. In his review of We, George Orwell exhibits the amount of debt that Huxley owed Zamyatin. Both authors have focused on a similar society where humans rise against a rationalized world that is to come in more than six hundred years. However, there is a slight difference where Huxley is less concerned about political awareness. His ideas were more influenced by recent psychological and assumptions.

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

Nineteen Eighty-Four

The world of dystopias recognizes this novel as Orwell’s finest works of that time. In his presentation, he has classified the future of the world into Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia as the super-states engulfed in an unending war. In all these forms, Orwell defines the world as one with a unique language called ‘Newspeak’ which implies that war is peace. However, it is manipulative because it compels people to belief in non-true aspects, for example, ‘2+2=5.’ One of the leaders in the book is Big Brother, who is in charge of Britain. He is confronted by Winston Smith, who features as a protagonist that attempts to rebel against Big Brother, but he is finally captured and put under rehabilitation.

1984 by George Orwell

The Handmaid’s Tale

Margaret Atwood has managed to strike a chord with her audience through various themes like gender discrimination and human rights. Her mastery of art enabled her to allude to many biblical stories with a sense of grip. One of her brightest books was The Handmaid’s Tale , which described the handmaiden who was supposed to bear a child for a high-ranking commander instead of his barren wife.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Atlas Shrugged

Ayn Rand was full of objectivism, and one may be uncomfortable with his opinion. He highlights some of the regulations and policies that were instituted by prominent industrialists, leading to the collapse of the economy. The book presents a bigger challenge to those reading, invoking some thoughts that may be contrary to your own belief system.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

This novel was based on science fiction, and Philip K. Dick presents aspects in a classic way, not far from the reality that the future holds. He is more concerned about the value of humanity and life. Humanity in the book is defined by empathy, but a protagonist, in this case, is put to task when he is presented with some androids to kill, yet they are perceived to be mortal as well. This concept was used to create the movie Blade Runner in 1982, and some of the ideas are used in reality television shows.

Do androids dream of electric sheep

A Clockwork Orange and The Wanting Seed

These two works of Dystopia were developed by Anthony Burgess. A Clockwork Orange features a theme of brainwashing by the state, and this concept is perfectly brought forward through a teenager who is arrested because of his violent behaviour. He is deprived of his freedom. In The Wanting Seed, the aspect of overpopulation comes into play. This dystopian novel introduces a society of future London where individuals are policed by the state in matters reproduction. A character by the name Tristram Foxe experiences the turn of events, where civilization undergoes a form of dissolution, introducing war, chaos, famine and cannibalism.

A clockwork orange and The wanting seed by Anthony Burgess

The Time Machine

The novel was written in 1895, featuring an anonymous character travelling through the 1890s into 802,701 A.D. It projects a civilization that would be divided between cavern dwelling Morlocks and hedonistic Eloi. Their relationship is somehow symbiotic because the Morlocks would provide for the Eloi and feed on them in return.

The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

The Stand

This is one of the books by Stephen King, who is known for presenting his ideas through horrific episodes. The Stand describes how civilization will come to an end and the decisions that brave it will take with the hope of rebuilding. King’s description of survivors is very chilling, and the super sad true narration of the losses is equally horrifying.

The Stand by Stephen King

Infinite Jest

David Foster Wallace is a renowned author, and his skill is depicted in this novel, where he adopts literary innovations to put up one of the perfect pieces of American dystopian fiction. He uses art to project the future where terrorists capture a certain territory with the ability to destroy lives through sponsorship from corporate. Infinite Jest is an ambitious and viciously unsettling novel.

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

Conclusion

The best dystopian novels of the twentieth century have rich literature, dating back to the ancient years when authors could only imagine what civilization implied. Many of the novels feature deep thoughts of the future, some giving an accurate account of what the world would look like. Each author is unique in their style, presenting a lot of variety in the way they speak to their audiences. Surprisingly, most of the books are comprehensive, appealing to both the young adults and the old.

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Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge – Failed!

I’m sad to say I failed my Goodreads 2019 reading challenge. The reason I failed is that I ran out of time to read because I was too busy making stock for the craft fair.
I’ve lowered my challenge to 30 books this year. I feel a bit of a cheat because I have 5 books on the go that I started last year but haven’t had time to finish them yet. Two of them are audiobooks and for some reason, 1 of the CDs isn’t working on my laptop so I haven’t been able to finish it yet.

Anyway, here are the books I did manage to read last year.

Goodreads 2019 reading challenge
Goodreads 2019 reading challenge
Goodreads 2019 reading challenge
Goodreads 2019 reading challenge
Books I read in 2019
Books I read in 2019
Books I read in 2019
Books I read in 2019

So that was my Goodreads 2019 reading challenge. I hope I do better in 2020 because I really do love reading and I have a huge ‘to be read’ pile!

Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge

The Town Of Griswold Book Review #32

The Town Of Griswold is the third book in the Berkely Street Series by Ron Ripley.

The Town Of Griswold By Ron Ripley

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

Taking a much-needed break, ghost hunter, Shane Ryan, spends a day exploring an old New England town. What starts as a hike, becomes a deadly game of cat and mouse with a malevolent ghost who preys upon unsuspecting visitors. Shane has seen his share of bad spirits, but nothing could have prepared him for the evil predator dogging his trail.

Abel Latham is the scourge of Griswold, a deathly quiet town populated by the undead. Abel stalks the hapless victims who stumble onto his unholy ground before torturing them to death. The police rarely notice who’s missing until two brothers disappear and the only clues are the boys’ abandoned trucks and blood. Lots of blood.

Though shaken by the gruesome details of Abel’s depraved life and dreadful crimes, Shane knows his new job is to end Latham’s reign of terror and his vengeance for blood. As Shane hunts his ghostly mark, he prays he won’t be the next grisly artifact found in Griswold Forest!

My Thoughts

This series of books seems to get a bit more gruesome with each new book! The evil ghost in Griswold is called Abel and he likes to torture his victims before finishing them off.

Shane didn’t start out ghost hunting, he was out for a hike with Courtney, who we met on Squirrel Island in book 2, but when he comes across Abel in the town of Griswold and only just manages to get away, he knows he has to go back and stop Abel from hurting anyone else.

The Town Of Griswold by Ron Ripley
Goodreads 2019 reading challenge 32 books read

MamaMummyMum

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The Lighthouse Book Review #31

The Lighthouse is the second book in the Berkley Street series by Ron Ripley.

The Lighthouse

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

Ex-marine Shane Ryan is a ghost hunter whose troubled past haunts him almost as much as the ghosts he encounters in the line of duty. He’s the best. And his reward for excellence? The punishment of being in high demand for jobs to eradicate the worst kind of ghosts – the kind that kill.

His latest assignment is an idyllic island setting with sunny skies, crystal blue ocean and a venerable old lighthouse that makes the scenery picture perfect … except for the malevolent, murderous ghosts marring the living portrait. If Amy, the owner, wasn’t Marie Lafontaine’s cousin, Shane would have steered clear of Squirrel Island and its diabolical dead. But Detective Lafontaine is his do-or-die friend. He’d do anything for her. Even face Dorothy, the undead Evilena who kills anyone invading her unholy domain. Add two shipwrecked couples to the mix and Shane has more trouble than he wants to handle.

Shane’s mission is clear: rid the island of Dorothy and her band of undead while keeping his new charges alive. But how could he know that staying alive meant facing the worst evil ever imagined?

My Thoughts

Shane is now a ghost hunter. He agrees to help his friend’s cousin who has recently bought a lighthouse on Squirrel Island. The contractor she hired to do all the repair work commits suicide and that, coupled with the other strange deaths and events on the island leads her to bring in Shane to see if he can help.

This second book is a little more gruesome than the first but still very enjoyable.

The Lighthouse book cover

MamaMummyMum

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Berkley Street Book Review #30

I got this series of 9 books, the first being Berkley Street, using my last credit from my trial period on Audible. I thought it was excellent that I was getting 9 books, but it was also a bit of a gamble, I mean, what if I didn’t like them?!

Berkley Street – Book 1

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

Shane Ryan returns to Nashua and the childhood memories that drove him to join the Marines. After a prolonged legal battle with his aunt and uncle, Shane has possession of the family home where his parents disappeared over 20 years ago. The house, a monstrous castle filled with ghosts and secrets, is more alive than its inhabitants.

When his aunt and uncle come to town, then vanish, Shane’s life takes a turn for the worse. Detective Marie Lafontaine immediately labels Shane as the prime suspect. And in a race against time, Shane desperately searches for clues about his parents.

But there’s something lurking beyond the walls and beneath the surface. Something sinister that has haunted him ever since he saw its face in the pond behind the house. And it isn’t happy that Shane is back.

It isn’t happy at all.

My Thoughts

I enjoyed this first book in the Berkley Street series. Shane is a likeable character who you feel quite sorry for when you read what he had to deal with as a child living in this haunted house.

There are many different ghosts of all different temperaments and I grew to quite like some of them, as did Shane.
However, he left when as soon as he could to join the Marines and stayed away for 20 years, only returning when he won a legal battle brought on by his aunt and uncle who thought they had more rights to the house than Shane did when his mum and dad disappeared.

I can’t say the book really scared me, books rarely do but it was an enjoyable ghost story.

Berkley Street book cover

MamaMummyMum

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The Marvelous Land Of Oz Book Review #29

The Marvelous Land Of Oz

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

First issued in 1904, L. Frank Baum’s The Marvelous Land of Oz is the story of the wonderful adventures of the young boy named Tip as he travels throughout the many lands of Oz. Here he meets with our old friends the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman, as well as some new friends like Jack Pumpkinhead, the Wooden Sawhorse, the Highly Magnified Woggle-Bug, and the amazing Gump. How they thwart the wicked plans of the evil witch Mombi and overcome the rebellion of General Jinjur and her army of young women is a tale as exciting and endearing today as it was when first published over eighty years ago.

My Thoughts

I enjoyed this book as much as I did The Wizard Of Oz. I recognised some characters from the Return To Oz movie that I went to see on a rare visit to the cinema when I was younger.
I know the movie didn’t do very well and everyone criticises it now, but I have to say, I loved it when I watched it at the cinema!

The Marvelous Land Of Oz
Goodreads 2019 reading challenge 29 books read

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The Wizard Of Oz Book Review #28

The Wizard Of Oz is one of my favourite movies. This was a good thing a few years ago when Ella was a toddler because she got fixated on it and we ended up buying three copies of the DVD because she kept wearing them out!

For some reason, I’ve never thought about reading the books until I saw they were free audiobooks on Audio Book Treasury

The Wizard Of Oz

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

When Dorothy and her little dog Toto are caught in a tornado, they and their Kansas farmhouse are suddenly transported to Oz, where Munchkins live, monkeys fly and Wicked Witches rule. Desperate to return home, and with the Wicked Witch of the West on their trail, Dorothy and Toto – together with new friends the Tin Woodsman, Scarecrow and cowardly Lion – embark on a fantastic quest along the Yellow Brick Road in search of the Emerald City. There they hope to meet the legendary, all-powerful Wizard of Oz, who alone may hold the power to grant their every wish.

My Thoughts

This is a lovely book and I enjoyed it. I wish I’d read it when I was younger as it would probably have been one of my favourite stories.

The following part of the story made me laugh and I had to share it with Ella and Ant who both found it hilarious that the tin man thought it was wrong of the wildcat to kill the mouse but it was perfectly fine for him to decapitate the wildcat!

The Tin Woodman was about to reply when he heard a low growl, and turning his head (which worked beautifully on hinges) he saw a strange beast come bounding over the grass toward them. It was, indeed, a great yellow Wildcat, and the Woodman thought it must be chasing something, for its ears were lying close to its head and its mouth was wide open, showing two rows of ugly teeth, while its red eyes glowed like balls of fire. As it came nearer the Tin Woodman saw that running before the beast was a little gray field mouse, and although he had no heart he knew it was wrong for the Wildcat to try to kill such a pretty, harmless creature.
So the Woodman raised his axe, and as the Wildcat ran by he gave it a quick blow that cut the beast’s head clean off from its body, and it rolled over at his feet in two pieces.

There are quite a few books in the series, which I also never knew until now. They’re all available as free audiobooks so I’ll certainly be listening to the others while I’m cleaning and working on my papercrafts 🙂

The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz

MamaMummyMum

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I Let You Go – Book Review #27

I Let You Go is the second Claire Mackintosh book that I’ve read and I’m looking forward to reading more.

I Let You Go

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

A tragic accident. It all happened so quickly. She couldn’t have prevented it. Could she?

In a split second, Jenna Gray’s world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever.

Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating 

My Thoughts

I put this book on my TBR list after I saw a review on MumOfThree World. That review was nearly 2 years ago so you can see how long my TBR list is seeing as it’s taken me so long to get round to reading it!

I read, I See You, a couple of weeks ago by the same author and I will certainly be on the lookout for more of her books.
I think the sign of a good book for me is when you’re hit with a twist that you totally didn’t see coming and this book had two of them.

MamaMummyMum

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I See You – Book Review #26

I bought I See You by Clare Mackintosh on Audible a couple of weeks ago when they were having a sale.
I’m getting used to listening to books now and I enjoy being able to work on my crafts while listening to a book 🙂

I’m still reading the 3rd Game Of Thrones book. I only get to read a few pages every night but I’m happy because I’m taking my time and enjoying the experience.

I See You by Clare Mackintosh

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it’s there. There’s no explanation: just a grainy image, a website address and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it’s just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.

Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make…

My Thoughts

I enjoyed this book. It’s the first I’ve read by Clare Mackintosh and it won’t be the last.

I liked the main female protagonists, Zoe, the victim and Kelly, the policewoman. We hear the story from these two and also from the ‘stalker’.
There were a couple of twists, one I saw coming and one which I totally didn’t!

To enjoy this book I do think you need to take it as is and not think how it would play out in reality. It wouldn’t really make sense for someone to set up the kind of website the criminal is running for a start and the perpetrator’s reasons for adding Zoe to the website are a bit poor.

I’m really looking forward to reading I Let You Go by the same author. I’ve just downloaded it on Audible and will be starting later today 🙂

I See You by Clare Mackintosh
Goodreads 2019 reading challenge 26 books read

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The Word-keeper Book Review #25

I received an email asking if I’d like to review The Word-keeper by Veronica del Valle. I read the blurb and really liked the sound of the book. It’s aimed at middle-grade children which I think is 8-12 (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong; we don’t use the term middle-grade here!) and I figured Ella, who is just shy of her 12th birthday, would enjoy it.

I had hoped we’d read it together but unfortunately, what with school, homework and family things going on, we’ve not had a chance to read it yet.
I decided I’d read it, do the review then pass it on to her to take with her when she goes on holiday in a few weeks.
I’ll add her thoughts on the book when she gets back 🙂

The Word-keeper

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

“Please was the first word to die and with it, good manners were gone and, out of the blue, everybody began to forget how to be polite. Then promise was killed and instantly people found it hard to remember the importance of commitments and pledges…”

Set in the whimsical town of Inkwell, a place with an ancient secret history, this fairytale-like adventure uncovers the key to the power hidden within words. ‘The Word-Keeper’ is the tale of a savvy bookmark named Ben that unwillingly becomes an evil imp with only one objective: destroy the words that live inside books.

Only one girl can stop him. Her name is Florence Ibbot. She is eleven years old, oddly eloquent and a quiet observer of the world. But above all, Florence is a keen logophile and is willing to sacrifice everything to protect the words.

She sets out to discover who is behind all this. The journey will take her to the origins of writing and inspiration. But she’ll also have to face the most treacherous adversary, Zyler, a ruthless sorceress whose sole mission is to ruin one of humankind’s most precious possessions: the gift of language. As the final battle approaches, Florence will have to learn how to wield words instead of the sword. Is Florence brave enough to become who she was born to be?

My Thoughts

My very first thought about this book was how lovely the cover felt. It doesn’t feel like a normal book, it has a softness to it that if I’m honest, distracted me from actually reading the text!
I just wanted to keep feeling the softness until I had to make myself concentrate on the words.

I liked the fairytale aspect of the story; magic and fantasy fiction was always a favourite of mine when I was younger.
I was an avid reader, like Florence, and my love of books has never died.
If I could wish one thing, it would be to be 12 again while reading this book. You just don’t get the same feelings of awe and wonder when reading about magical places as an adult the way you do as a child and I miss it!



MamaMummyMum

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