When I read a blurb for Dayna Lorentz’s No Safety In Numbers I misunderstood. It mentioned something strange being discovered at a suburban shopping mall causing teens to battle to survive. So I instantly assumed there would be monsters, probably zombies, involved as haven’t there been a number of films where survivors take refuge in a mall where there is access to food, clothes and potential weapons?
Well without giving too much away I will say that the mall part was accurate, but instead of monsters, there is a device discovered that has deadly consequences. Have I become too hooked on monsters as an element in dystopian fiction?
Not all YA dystopian fiction has to have monsters to be good reads. In books like The Hunger Games, Tomorrow When the War Began, Delirium and plenty of others, the monsters are really just us, humans. Even in the Rot & Ruin series which does have zombies, the bounty hunters and cult fanatics are the bigger monsters than the actual monsters, which is why I am loving that series so much. Maybe that’s the problem, maybe I find it actually more comforting when I read about a dystopian world where the ‘bad guys’ are someone other than us. It’s easier to blame the woes of a post-apocalyptic situation on monstrous creatures, than to look to ourselves and our flaws that create disastrous events or worlds. It hits to close too close to home when we are our own worst enemies.
It’s funny that I got to a point where I had to reduce time spent reading and watching news reports because I felt like I was drowning in a sea of bad news….dictators and authoritarian governments who control their citizens, environmental crises, violence and a loss of civility, and the greed of the rich and powerful. I reduced my news absorption a few years ago, then a couple of years ago I got completely hooked on YA dystopian fiction! It’s so ironic.
I am asking myself do I find it more palatable to face these issues in a work of fiction rather than real life? At least in books, there are heroes; sometimes I am not sure whether there are many heroes or good leaders left in real life. However, that’s the thing I guess about apocalyptic or dystopian events, until one happens you never know how people will react, sometimes it’s the most ordinary or unassuming people who arise to meet the challenges at hand and emerge as heroes.
Sometimes it feels safer to read about a disaster between the pages of a book than to observe one in real life or to wonder who I would become in a crisis…