Divergent author Veronica Roth’s Sci-Fi/Dystopian Picks

One of the things we love so much about Divergent is that it stands out from all the dystopian books hitting book store shelves these days. But that doesn’t mean we have any less love for those other books.

In fact, we’re big fans of dystopian & sci fi in general — and so is Divergent author Veronica Roth. Here’s her list of favorite dystopian & sci fi books:

Dune by Frank Herbert

This Hugo & Nebula Award winner tells a sweeping tale of the desert planet Arrakis, the focus of an intricate power struggle in a byzantine interstellar empire. Arrakis is the sole source of Melange, “spice of spices”. Melange is necessary for interstellar travel & grants psi powers & longevity. Whoever controls it wields great influence. Troubles begin when stewardship of Arrakis is transferred by the Emperor from the Harkonnen Noble House to House Atreides. The Harkonnens don’t want to give up their privilege. Thru sabotage & treachery they cast young Duke Paul Atreides out into the planet’s harsh environment to die. There he joins the Fremen, a desert dwelling tribe, the basis of the army with which he reclaims what’s rightfully his. Paul is more than just a usurped duke. He might be the end product of a long-term genetic experiment to breed a superhuman. He might be a messiah. His struggle is at the center of a nexus of powerful people & events. Repercussions will be felt throughout the Imperium.

Dune is one of the most famous sf novels ever written. Deservedly so. The setting is elaborate & ornate, the plot labyrinthine, the adventures exciting. Five sequels follow.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Jonas’s world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

“Community, Identity, Stability” is the motto of Aldous Huxley’s utopian World State. Here everyone consumes daily grams of soma, to fight depression, babies are born in laboratories, and the most popular form of entertainment is a “Feelie,” a movie that stimulates the senses of sight, hearing, and touch. Though there is no violence and everyone is provided for, Bernard Marx feels something is missing and senses his relationship with a young woman has the potential to be much more than the confines of their existence allow. Huxley foreshadowed many of the practices and gadgets we take for granted today–let’s hope the sterility and absence of individuality he predicted aren’t yet to come.

1984 by George Orwell

Portrays a terrifying vision of life in the future when a totalitarian government, considered a “Negative Utopia,” watches over all citizens and directs all activities, becoming more powerful as time goes by.

Animorphs series by K.A. Applegate

The Earth is being invaded, but no one knows about it. When Jake, Rachel, Tobias, Cassie, and Marco stumble upon a downed alien spaceship and its dying pilot, they’re given an incredible power—they can transform into any animal they touch. With it, they become Animorphs, the unlikely champions in a secret war for the planet. And the enemies they’re fighting could be anyone, even the people closest to them.

Want more? Here are some of Veronica’s TV & Movie Picks:

  • Firefly
  • The Matrix
  • Blade Runner
  • Terminator
  • Star Wars
  • Children of Men
  • District 9
  • Batman

For the comments: What are some of YOUR favorite dystopian & sci fi books and movies?

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