By Ayn Rand
Rated by Jackie M.
Feb 17, 2018

In Anthem, Ayn Rand illustrates how society and individuals suffer under extremist rule. The characters are bound to one another, and assigned specific duties, with the intention of benefiting the collective. After Equality 7-2521 makes a discovery from an ancient time, he begins to work on something that is outside of his designated vocation. In a different society, where innovation is valued, his work would be praised when he brings it to the authorities. But instead, he is punished for thinking for himself and not sacrificing his own will and desires for the collective. Even though what he

The Natural Way of Things

By Charlotte Wood
Rated by Amanda W.
Mar 31, 2017

The Natural Way of Things opens dramatically as Yolanda discovers she is being held captive in the Australian Outback. She is one of a small group of women who all have a curious, not immediately obvious, connection: they have all been part of public sex scandals. While the story leaves a lot unanswered and is incredibly dark in content and description, the beautiful writing was enough to keep me engaged until the end.

The story follows Yolanda and another captive, Verla, as they try to navigate survival in the extreme conditions they awoke to after being drugged and kidnapped. They sleep

Cloud Atlas

By Cloud Atlas (dvd)
Rated by Diane H.
Oct 15, 2016

Cloud Atlas is a movie that, for me, gets better with every watching. Fortunately, I had been forewarned that it is confusing; otherwise I might have turned it off after the first few minutes. While I got the gist of the plot with the first viewing – several lives interweaving and affecting each other through time – with each subsequent viewing I was able to catch more detail and see layers I had missed before.

A number of themes are explored: human nature, freedom, relationships and how they affect us, past lives, fate, the future. Perhaps the most compelling, and confusing, aspect of the

The Last Star

By Yancey, Richard
Rated by Kari E.
Aug 20, 2016

The Last Star is the final book of The Fifth Wave trilogy and picks up six weeks after the events of The Infinite Sea. After the Others, an alien race, sent four waves of death they killed seven billion people. The final wave of brainwashed humans will kill off the remaining survivors including Cassie, Sam, Ben, Megan, and Ringer. This installment is darker and more desperate than the preceding two books and unfolds from multiple perspectives which add dimension and depth to this portion of the story. Strong characters and a fast-paced plot drive this story making it impossible to put down

The Glittering Court

By Richelle Mead
Rated by Octavia V.
Jun 4, 2016

Richelle Mead, well-known for the Vampire Academy series has written a new book, The Glittering Court. While there are no vampires or werewolves in this new fantasy series, there is instead, Adelaide, Countess of Rothford.  Adelaide lives with her grandmother and has no source of income, leaving marriage her only choice. At least that's what her grandmother has told her.

The gentleman her grandmother has arranged for her to marry is the Barron of Ashby, Lionel Belshire. He owns two estates, farms barley and makes his house servants eat barley every morning to boost morale. He really hopes

The Affinities

By Robert Charles Wilson
Rated by Diane H.
May 29, 2016

Have you ever felt that you didn’t belong anywhere? Ever wanted to be with people who understand as much as you understand yourself? If so, the affinities are for you. Of course, you may not be a match for any of the twenty-two groups at the heart of Robert Wilson’s The Affinities.

Adam Fisk decides to undergo the battery of tests that will determine if he will fit into any of the Affinities – groups of people who are compatible beyond the normal societal classifications. Members of the affinities come from all backgrounds, races, social class, economic class, ethnicity, gender, age, etc


By M.T. Anderson
Rated by Diane H.
Mar 10, 2016

Feed reminded me of the people in WALL-E who spent their lives sitting on mobile chairs, having all their needs taken care of. Of course, the people in Feed do walk around, and they’re on earth (mostly) not on a spaceship. Still, the inability, or at least the disinclination, to think for oneself, is the same.

The feed is a computer implant, which both brings in information and keeps track of all ones thoughts, moods, feelings. It’s like a combination of having Google in your head and that scene from Minority Report where the protagonist walks into a store and holograms keep popping up

Perfect Ruin

By Lauren DeStefano
Rated by Chris K.
Dec 7, 2015

Sheltered and naive. That's the narrator of this book. She's always lived a protected, easy life, and doesn't have much to be anxious about. Of course, she lives in a world without poverty. Where there has never been a murder in her lifetime. Where crime, accidents, and disease are minimal, and almost everyone lives happily and safely to old age. (As far as she knows, anyway.) So life is good and there's no reason to question anything.

Except that she's a human. A human teen, at that. There might be no reason to question anything, but it's human nature and impossible to avoid. Morgan

5 to 1

By Holly Bodger
Rated by Peggy H.
Oct 28, 2015

The year is 2054 and India has a ratio of 5 boys to 1 girl. Girls have now become valuable assets. To combat the selling of daughters to the highest bidder, a group of women have founded a closed country they named Koyanagar. In Koyanagar, young men are chosen to compete for a chance to marry a girl. It is now Sudasa's turn to witness the testing of five young men and then choose one to become her future husband. Sudasa does not want a husband, she does not want to marry and bear children. She wants the opportunity to decide her own future, but that's not an option for her at this time. 

The Heart Goes Last

By Margaret Atwood
Rated by Heather B.
Oct 28, 2015

The Heart Goes Last takes place somewhere in the near future, after a catastrophic economic crash. Most people are unemployed. Many are homeless. Young married couple Stan and Charmaine are reduced to living in their car, barely surviving on the money Charmaine makes at her waitressing job. Things are desperately bleak and seem unlikely to improve at any point in the future, which is why Stan and Charmaine sign up without much hesitation for a new social experiment: The Positron Project offers the guarantee of a job and a place to live; the catch, however, is that all residents must spend


By Scott Sigler
Rated by Diane H.
Oct 4, 2015

What’s going on? Where am I? Who am I? Both the characters in the story and the reader wonder. Sigler has achieved an interesting balance between a thriller-like atmosphere and a slowly unfolding reality.

A group of twelve-year-olds wake up in older bodies, in coffins, with no memory of who they are and how they got there. Thus begins what is slated to be a trilogy.

There’s a somewhat Lord of the Flies flavor to the behavior of these “young adults.” With more questions than answers, and anxiety levels rising, the need for a leader quickly arises. While most of the small group are happy

Ready Player One

By Ernest Cline
Rated by Nancy D.M.
Jul 3, 2015

I used to read dystopian novels regularly believing they gave insight into the problems of our current world as well as hints of a difficult future if we didn’t pay attention.  Ready Player One also fills this role but makes it all so much more fun than the average tale of dystopian hardships.  Ernest Cline’s novel is set in a dismal future that has turned the global population toward a virtual computer-generated OASIS to escape the filth, crowding and poverty of reality.  When the creator of this online universe dies, his will offers his entire fortune to the online player who can solve his


By Margaret Atwood
Rated by Heather B.
May 23, 2015

This volume completes Atwood's trilogy that began with Oryx and Crake and continued in The Year of the Flood. In the not-too-distant future, most of humanity has been wiped out by a man-made global pandemic, known by God's Gardeners, a new environmental religious sect, as the waterless flood. But as the trilogy's main characters have discovered, there are more survivors than they originally imagined, and they're not all friendly and supportive. In this installment, the main characters of the previous two novels have converged together with other human survivors and the Crakers (the new human

Red Queen

By Victoria Aveyard
Rated by Kate M.
Apr 17, 2015

Mare Barrow's fate is sealed. She is a lowly red, born to work hard and serve the ruling silvers. With her birthday approaching and no job prospects, Mare will be conscripted in to the army like her older brothers. Fighting in an endless war, Mare will surely die on the battlefield. Desperate and out of options, Mare takes a big risk to sneak into the castle for a chance to pick pocket from the rich and powerful silvers that hold her fate in their hands. Stealing from silvers isn't as easy as it sounds as each is gifted with an ability due to their silver blood. Some can read minds, some

The Last of Us

By Naughty Dog Inc.
Rated by Rachel C.
Feb 4, 2015

The Last of Us won well over 200 awards for very good reasons.  Both the original, and the PS4 remake, are stunning examples of the power of immersive storytelling.  The game is visually breathtaking, the atmospheric sound effects are perfectly suited, the acting is top-notch, the gameplay is reasonably responsive, and the world-building is fantastic.

Twenty years after the world went mad, you play as Joel, a smuggler in a dystopian future where a fungal infection can render anyone into a zombie-like creature.  Joel and his partner Tess are hired to smuggle a girl out of the military

Station Eleven

By Emily St. John Mandel
Rated by Josh N.
Oct 18, 2014

Confession: post-apocalyptic stories are not my favorite genre and can be really hit or miss with me. Despite the overall rave reviews, I've never read Cormac McCarthy's The Road because it sounds too grim and bleak for me. I watched the first season of The Walking Dead and gave up when I found it too depressing. (And I'm a fan of the Cure and Joy Division, so it's not like I only like things bright and cheerful.) Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, however, is very definitely not a miss.

Beautiful, heartfelt writing and strong, complex, sympathetic characters keep this story from

Ready Player One

By Ernest Cline
Rated by Debbie L.
Aug 4, 2014

The year: 2044. Wade Watts is among the millions across the globe searching for an Easter egg hidden within a massive multiplayer online game known as the OASIS. The game's deceased creator has left 240 billion dollars to be awarded to the first person who can find it. Players must have an extensive knowledge of 80s pop culture to have a chance at winning. Wade competes against opponents willing to kill in order to obtain the lucrative prize.

I do not generally read science fiction novels, but I stepped outside of my genre comfort zone to read Ready Player One and am glad I did. The

Red Rising

By Pierce Brown
Rated by Kate M.
Jun 24, 2014

Darrow has the most dangerous job on Mars. He is the helldiver of Lycos, running the drill deep underground that mines Mars for valuable natural resources. Helldivers to not generally live long lives, like his father who died when he was a child. But Darrow has other plans, he is going to make something of himself, and his clan. But he can only rise so far, the caste system of society keeps his people down. They are Reds, deemed to be good at nothing but hard labor. They are ruled over by the Blues, Greys, and at the top...the Golds, the apex of human evolution. 


To celebrate a

The Bone Season

By Samantha Shannon
Rated by Diane H.
Apr 22, 2014

When I first started reading The Bone Season I wasn’t sure I would like it. There was a fair amount of slang and the tone was dark. Even after finishing it, I can’t say it’ll be on my favorites list. And yet, it was compelling, drawing me in so I had to know how it would end. 

Of course, being the first book in a series it doesn’t really “end." Nevertheless, I was intrigued by the plot and felt for the characters. The Bone Season is a kind of alternate history/science fiction/urban fiction tale with a bit of steampunk thrown in. It takes place in England in the year 2059 and centers around

Maggot Moon

By Sally Gardner
Rated by Bryan V.
Feb 10, 2014

Standish Treadwell stands on the brink of bringing down an elaborate hoax perpetrated by the insidious rulers of the Motherland, an alternate-universe mashup of Stalinist Russia and the Nazi-era Germany. Messing with the Greenflies, as they’re known, means certain death. After all, they imprisoned and tortured his best friend Hector, killed his teacher, and threatened his family. They would certainly do worse to Standish, whose bravery does not go unnoticed by the evil rulers.   However, success means striking the Greenflies where they’re most vulnerable.  Standish’s love for Hector gives him

Landry Park

By Bethany Hagen
Rated by Diane H.
Feb 5, 2014

If you liked the dystopian themes in Kiera Cass' The Selection, Ally Condie's Matched or Gennifer Albin's Crewel, then ​Landry Park is for you.

In a future where nuclear energy has replaced electricity, there is a sharp divide between those who live privileged lives fueled by this energy and those who live oppressed lives working with the energy.  In this world, a young woman has to make the choice between what’s known, safe, and comfortable and the uncertain, dangerous, can’t-be-forgotten truth. Will she be loyal to her family and ancestors, or will she stand up for what she knows is right

The Marbury Lens

By Andrew Smith
Rated by Rachel C.
Jan 30, 2014

In the very first bit of this book, you learn that Jack lives with his grandparents, is best friends with Connor, and that he is kidnapped while drunk, nearly raped, and escapes through sheer luck.

It's all downhill from there.

I mean, sure, he's given a pair of magical glasses that transport him to another world, but given the choice between a world where friendly-seeming strangers can be hidden monsters, and a world where monsters are everywhere and clearly visible, which would you choose?  Do you stay with the friend you've known and loved your entire life, or do you protect a couple

The Selection by Kiera Cass

Rated by Robin D.
Aug 1, 2013

16 year old America Singer, citizen of Illea-caste 5, was just chosen as one of 35 girls who will compete for the hand of Maxon Schreave, Prince of Illea-caste 1.  So begins The Selection, a “Hunger Games meets the Bachelor” dystopian novel by Kiera Cass.  Any other girl in Illea would have been thrilled to be picked to go live at the palace in Illea and have an opportunity to become the next Princess, and then Queen, of this new nation founded in the remains of the former U.S.A. But unfortunately for America Singer her heart was already committed to another.

This is the first of the trilogy

The Testing

By Joelle Charbonneau
Rated by Kate M.
Jul 3, 2013

Everyone has felt the pressure around standardized tests. The thought, real or imagined, that how you perform in this one moment will decide the rest of your life. While we may be lending a dramatic flair to our own examinations, that fear is real for Cia. She has been chosen along with 3 other classmates from the 5 Lakes Colony to participate in The Testing. Every year, the best and brightest high school graduates are brought to Tosu City to undergo a series of exams that will decide who goes on to University. Of the 108 students that enter the capital city with Cia, only 20 will be accepted

The Elite by Kiera Cass

Rated by Leslie G.
Jun 22, 2013

Following the first novel in the series (The Selection), The Elite takes readers deeper into the horrors of the Illea Society.  As America continues to uncover the truth behind her country’s beginnings, she is also forced to witness the violence and harm that befalls anyone who steps out of line in the eyes of the royal family. Not only does she still need to decide which boy she loves, Maxon or Aspen, but she may even need to decide if her country is worth fighting for, and whether or not she would ever want to lead a country such as hers. 

The Elite is the second novel in Kiera Cass’

Jun 6, 2013

The much awaited conclusion to The Giver quartet, Son pulls together Lois Lowry’s three previous books in the series—The Giver (1993), Gathering Blue (2000), and Messenger (2004)—with the tale of Claire, a 14-year-old girl born into the same controlling community as The Giver. Having been assigned the roll of “Birther,” Clair finds herself living in a secluded sub-community with other women who have been assigned the same fate. After complications with Clair’s first delivery, however, she is released from her duties and reassigned to work in the fish hatchery. When Clair finds out that the

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

Rated by Elizabeth L.
May 17, 2013

The Dog Stars has been in my stack for months and months. I picked it up once, read about 15 pages and thought “this is TOO weird.” But then. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen it on so many “Best Of” lists, heard such wonderful reviews from the podcasters I listen to, that I thought I’d give it another go. And I’m so glad I did – I ended up really, really liking it. Here is the set-up: The world has been wiped out by a super-flu and the devastating blood disease that followed it. Hig and his faithful dog Jasper are among a handful of survivors, and the two of them have staked out a

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Rated by Melody M.K.
May 15, 2013

Warm Bodies is a beautiful  contemporary romance such as we have seen in Romeo and Juliet. Everything is against them but in the end love conquers all, only better than it did for Romeo and Juliet.  We have an outbreak of some sort of plague that is turning people into zombies either when they die naturally or when they are bitten and the zombie saliva is transferred into their blood streams.  A zombie named R lives in a jet cabin at an airport. He calls himself R because he can’t remember his name. He is different from the other zombies because he remembers he should have a name and he

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Rated by Melody M.K.
Apr 28, 2013

Ready Player One takes place in the  future—the world has turned into a very bleak place, but luckily there is OASIS, a virtual reality world that is a vast online utopia. People can go to school, earn money, and even meet other people (though only through their avatars), and for protagonist Wade Watts it certainly beats passing the time in his grim, poverty-stricken real life. Along with millions of other world-wide citizens, Wade dreams of finding three keys left behind by James Halliday, the now-deceased creator of OASIS and the richest man to have ever lived. The keys are rumored to be

The Selection by Kiera Cass

Rated by Leslie G.
Apr 15, 2013

In a dystopian society where people are born into a numbered caste system, America Singer, a young musician, has fallen deeply, painfully, and irreversibly in love with a boy of a lower caste than herself. America’s and Aspen’s love consisted of stolen moments in the camouflage of night for over two years. They both knew if their secret were revealed that America would be whisked away by her mother and severely punished. Yet she didn’t care if her mother would be furious, or if she would be submitting to a lower caste, where she would be more likely to go hungry and would be unable to continue