dystopian dystopia

A Dystopian Guide for Survival

A few years ago I was working on a dystopian series which shall remain nameless for the sake of this story. It was a pretty big series for the publisher I worked for at the time and we brought the author to BEA to celebrate. I was very excited to meet her, not only because she was an incredibly interesting woman who had written a series I admired, but mostly because she had incorporated a lot of her own survivalist training into her writing and I saw this meeting as an opportunity to gain some tips that would help me survive the end of the world. I am a planner, I like to be prepared.

When I finally got some one on one time with her during one of our cocktail events I asked her for some tips. She gave me the once over and simply said, “You’re not a survivor” and left it at that. Sadly, it’s true. I am no Katniss Everdeen and probably never will be. When I first read The Hunger Games I had to put it down every few chapters because it stressed me out, so I can only imagine how I would react if forced to go through something similar in real life. I am sure I would be a mess. So in the absence of any real life survival advice I look to these three books for inspiration for what I’ll need to survive in the hopes that I don’t go running in the opposite direction when the revolution beings.

1. Perseverance


The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

After accidentally erasing her parent’s memory, Ruby is sent to Thurmond, a brutal “rehabilitation center” set up to deal with kids who survived the IAAN virus that killed most of the children in America and left the survivors with special abilities. When it’s discovered how powerful Ruby really is, she barely escapes with her life and is forced to go on the run and hide her abilities, even from those she is trying to trust. Girl gets knocked down multiple times but still comes back swinging.




2.  Love

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Giving yourself over to the complete and total vulnerability of falling in love is something to be admired in even the best of circumstances, but when you happen to live in a society that considers love a disease and maintains order by vaccinating its inhabitants, choosing love over obligation is pretty gutsy. I am a creature of habit. I like familiar faces and places and take comfort in what is “known,” which is why I also find it particularly inspirational when a character decides to break free from a society that governs their every decision and forge their own path against all odds. I could use some of Lena’s spunk in making my everyday decisions!

3. Community


All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin

I think most of us can agree that living in a world where coffee and chocolate is outlawed would be reason enough to give up on the spot, but sixteen-year-old Anya Balanchine takes this and so much more in stride. Anya bears a lot of responsibilities so that her family can stay together and if there is one thing I have learned from reading dystopian novels it’s that having people on your side is important. We’re not going to make it through the hard times on our own, so Anya’s devotion to her family and keeping them all together despite the odds is a heartening lesson in survival.


What about you, Swoon Readers? Which books do you turn to when you need some inspiration for surviving the end of the world or just a really bad day?

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Katie H.

School and Library Marketing Manager. Lover of Jane Austen and all things paranormal and supernatural!

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