Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Celebrate Teen Read Week: Seek the Unknown at Your Library

Reader to Reader’s Navajo Nation Outreach Coordinator, Ophelia Hu, shares her thoughts on writing and reading dystopian fiction to kick off Teen Read Week, October 13-19. To learn more about YALSA’s Teen Read Week, visit teenreadweek.ning.com. 

Earlier this year, I finished and published a dystopian novel. It wasn't meant to be science fiction or dystopian, but sometimes stories stop their authors, stamp their feet, and assert themselves beyond an author's control.

To me, the distinction between fiction and nonfiction is blurry at best. It's not completely like what they taught us in school. Dystopian fiction is a great example of that. (After all, fiction is often about what's true, and nonfiction can be totally bogus, right?)

At its heart, dystopia isn't about the future or the faraway; it's about the here and now. It's a mirror stamped with the words, "Caution: items are closer than they appear." It's the minutiae of the everyday connected lightly in pencil in the hope that human nature is good and that, against all odds, the future is mutable. Dystopia is the renegade's real-talk - the burgeoning activist's catalyst.

If that describes you, or even if this is the first time you've heard of dystopia, consider a dystopian novel for your next literary adventure. Some of my favorites are George Orwell's 1984, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.

Don't forget: some great movies are coming out soon! Ender's Game and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire are both based on fantastic series. I highly recommend reading the books before seeing the movies. Compare the two. What did they change in the movies? Which did you like better?

And if you liked The Hunger Games, try Veronica Roth's Divergent series or Koushun Takami's Battle Royale. If you're looking for something a little off the beaten path, crack open Aldous Huxley's Brave New World or P. D. James' Children of Men.

Ophelia Hu is a storyteller of many media. Also a pianist, singer, and songwriter, she combs each day for folk tales and misheard words. She now resides in a trailer in canyon country, where the unbroken highway and unbridled horses are the stuff of stories. Her novel, The Good Fight, is now available on Amazon and through her publisher, Deep Sea Publishing.

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