Last week I had the pleasure – and terror – of reading Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (to be published in November 2011). In her debut novel, Mafi paints a rich, gorgeous, and terrifying post apocalyptic dystopian world that left me trembling and eternally grateful for free speech and ice cream. But while I hurriedly checked to be sure that my books and pets were safe and reassured myself that I wouldn’t incinerate if I stepped outside, Mafi’s vision lodged itself into a small but growing knot of anxiety in the back of my mind. I speedily ingest dystopian fiction, from the recent Hunger Games trilogy and Divergent, to the classic 1984 and The Giver. Okay, perhaps I’m taking all of this a little too seriously. How likely do you believe it is for the government to remove color from the world, as described by Lois Lowry?
I find the best stories in this genre to also be the worst, for they are horrifyingly vivid and striking. They live in my mind long past the final page, as Shatter Me does. Let’s just say that I remember the disturbing parts as clearly as the skipping-through-field-of-daisies ending. Recently, however, the former has been snowballing and invading my dreams. The dates on these stories aren’t that far in the future – how soon do I have to worry? Is an asteroid going to hit the Earth and dramatically change our climate anytime soon? Should I start stocking up on water? Please excuse me while I go check the news…
Okay, I’m back. No zombie epidemics or impending asteroids – at least that they’re reporting on the local news. I think that it’s time for my reality check. I shall begin by reading the definition of fiction to myself. “Fiction: fabrication as opposed to fact”. I shall continue by informing myself that George Orwell’s 1984 predictions were, in fact, predicted to take place during 1984, whereas in reality I’ve yet to hear from Big Brother. Finally, I shall remind myself that 1) the purpose of post apocalyptic dystopian fiction is to entertain, not to forewarn, that 2) I find it entertaining, and that 3) it is counterproductive and just plain stupid for me to lose sleep over Shatter Me.
What do you think the deal is with this stuff, and when do you think the world will end? Now, where’s my icecream?
…And I feel fine.