Horror & Dystopian

Okay, so we're nearing the witching hour (Halloween), and October is the perfect month to talk about horror.

Now, I'll admit that I'm a huge wimp. I don't watch a lot of horror, because then I can't sleep at night. And my definition of horror is like, the 20/20 episodes about serial killers. I seriously make my 13-year-old son check the closets if the doors are closed and I don't remember closing them.

Watching movies and shows are much more impactful for me than reading, but I still don't read a lot of horror.

Unless you count the horror in dystopian novels. Because let's face it, dystopian novels aren't all sunshine and unicorns.

Let's examine:

THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE by Jeff Hirsch. All we have to do is look at the first sentence on the jacket copy.

In an America devastated by war and plague, the only way to survive is to keep moving.

Sounds horrific to me. Yet it was one of my favorite reads of 2011.

BLOOD RED ROAD by Moira Young. This time, it takes two sentence for me to feel the shiver of fear down my spine.

Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from.

Actually, the thought of a "dried-up wasteland" doesn't sound that appealing. And in BLOOD RED ROAD, there are some gruesome scenes that are simply brilliant. Horrific? Definitely. And I loved it.

THE PLEDGE by Kimberly Derting. Again, only one sentence.

In the violent country of Ludania, the language you speak determines what class you are, and there are harsh punishments if you forget your place—looking a member of a higher class in the eye can result in immediate execution.

I haven't read this yet, but I'm dying to be deliciously horrified.

THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank.

I can't think of anything more horrifying than waking up and remembering absolutely nothing. I think our memories make us who we are, and it would be difficult to even know where to go or what to do moving forward.

A fantastically horrifying read.

SHIP BREAKER by Paolo Bacigalupi.

Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging for copper wiring just to make quota-and hopefully live to see another day.

I don't know about you, but I'm not just trying to live to see another day. This novel has its fair share of violence, and it fits the world perfectly. But I was horrified--in the best way possible.

So I think I actually read a lot of horror. Maybe not blood and guts and people crawling through TVs, but still.

What do you think? Are dystopian novels horrifying?


theprettybooks said...

I think the loss of individual freedom is horrifying, and even more so when it's combined with a post-apocalyptic event! I think it's actually more horrifying than a lot of actual 'horror' books because of the realistic feel they tend to have. There are/have been police states and totalitarian societies.

It's horrifying and exciting at the same time.

Ava Jae said...

I am exactly the same way. I'm a huge wimp when it comes to horror movies or TV shows (even some movies classified as thriller freak me out), but when it comes to reading I have no problem reading about serial killers and I love dystopian novels.

Thanks for the recommendations! A few of them look really interesting. :)

Bittersweet Fountain said...

"Soft Apocalypse" by Will McIntosh has to be one of the most horrifying books I've read. It's about the world taking a slow, downward spiral towards doom, sort of like slowly boiling a frog as opposed to throwing it in hot water. Watching the world fall apart from the eyes of these characters and then thinking... "wait, these characters are supposed to be the same generation as me! This is supposed to be my future"! It's sort of traumatizing.

I find that book much scarier than most of the horror movies and books out there. Ghosts and the like I can deal with. Our world falling into chaos? Not so much.

Jessi said...

I'd say the Maze Runner, and zombie books probably could go into the horror genre but I don't consider books like Ship Breaker to be horror.
Fantasy stories, where the main character starts out in poverty, or stories about a child being abused normally don't count as horror, even though the character is living in a bad situation.
These books are frightening, but in the same way a person can be frightened by reading a book about a real life political dictator. I don't really want to see dystopian put into this category because some parents might not want their kids reading books they think are horror, even if they consider fantasy books okay.
The most frightening book I've read was Matched. Sure, the characters were living in a clean world, where their needs were met, but they had no freedom to choose anything. Even more frightening, EVERYONE THOUGHT THAT WAS OKAY. What makes this scary is I see people who think the government should be in control of their lives, not to the point of it being like Matched but, if they keep giving up some freedoms, like the freedom to decide who educates their children, or the freedom to have weapons, their children might give up the freedom to decide what they eat, and their grandchildren, being used to the world their parents live in, might give up more freedoms until Matched isn't fiction.
I find books like Ship Breaker less horrifying, because the characters do normally have the freedom to make choices, even if they live in a world where they don't know where the next meal is coming from.

NeuroHormone said...

Oww.. I love the cover of Pledge. Seems pretty to me.
I'm starting The Forest of Hands and teeth. I heard there were some zombies in it...! ;)

Kamille Elahi said...

I hate Dystopia. I love horror but something about Dystopia feels to familiar to my life and so I feel really uncomfortable about it.

I really can't wait for the Pledge to come out. It might be because the cover looks so cool!