Love at the End of the World
When terrible things are happening in the world around us, it's nice to know that we can still feel--and believe in--love. I think that's the greatest power we have as humans.
So today I'm gonna get a bit mushy on you--after all, if I can't get mushy on Valentine's Day, when can I?--and tell you some of my favorite dystopian love stories.
Can you imagine what kind of person Katniss would have been if she hadn't been from Panem? Can you imagine what sort of joyous, wonderful family she would have had?
That's the real heartbreak of the story for me. That the family was destroyed by the world they existed in.
But then again--the love survived. Katniss's love for Prim was the theme that carried all three novels. And I won't spoil MOCKINGJAY for those of you who've not read it yet, but I'll just say this: that damn cat made me cry.
I'm also going to add Carrie Ryan's THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH to my list of "love-dystopian-books," but again: not for the reason you think. Because while I DO think that Mary's love triangle is beautifully written (and the way a love triangle SHOULD be, where there's reasons and consequences for both boys), the things that I'm left with most isn't the love triangle.
It's the love Mary finds for her world.
Even though Mary's world is torn apart by zombies, even though she is surrounded by death and ugliness and horror--she still finds something beautiful in her world. She still finds something worth seeing. She doesn't give up on herself or her life--she still seeks the value of the world around her.
THIS is what makes Mary a strong character, in my opinion--that even as the world dies, there is something beautiful that still remains in it.
I give you: DELIRIUM.
If you're a romantic at heart, this is the book for you. This is a world where love is eliminated as a dangerous disease, and where people literally cut the part of them that feels from their brains.
What I loved most about the main character, Lena, is that despite the fact that she lives in a world where love is feared and reviled and thought to be a disease that kills--she still falls in love. It creates a nice allusion to the way love really is: that it's a scary, dangerous thing, something that can hurt and even, yes, kill, but still worth it when it's real.
DIVERGENT is about a world that's run by factions that value certain traits: strength, truth, wisdom, humility. And it's about a girl trying to find her place in this divided world. It's very kick-butt, fast-paced, lots of blood and fighting and death.
But it's also a love story.
And yeah. I'm gonna throw you for another loop. Because although I love the love story between Tris and her man (no spoilers), I love even more the love story between Tris and herself.
Throughout the course of the novel, Tris is trying to figure out who she is, what she stands for, what she's willing to fight for, and what kind of person she wants to be. And although it's not really a conscious thing for her, she grows to appreciate and love herself for exactly who she is. She starts out wishing she could be one thing or another, but by the end she realizes that she's great the way she is.
So there you have it! For Valentine's Day, my book recommendations are a story where a girl loves her family, one where she loves her world, one where she risks everything for true love, and one where she discovers a love for herself.
What about you? What's your favorite romantic tale?
The League of Extraordinary Writers is a group of debut YA authors who write science fiction and dystopian works. The ten of us have works that run the gamut of near-future mind control to far-future space travel, but they do have one thing in common: a future where the Earth we know now is twisted, gone.