R.L. Stine once wrote, “There are all kinds of worlds in the real world,” she said softly. “Most people don’t know that.” Worlds exist within the world we live in, a scary thought but a necessary one. Are they similar to ours, perhaps? But living in a world that differs from ours, even by an inch, is enough to send a shiver down anyone’s spine. And with All Hallows’ Eve quickly approaching, this bazaarite prepares for a good fright with these reads. Bringing to you three dystopian thrillers that are sure to get you hiding behind a pillow, here’s the Halloween edition. Brought to you with the sounds of A Nightmare on Elm Street playing in the background.
Before there was The Hunger Games, a Japanese author by the name of Koushun Takami brought forth a far worse imagining of violence. Battle Royale was considered a controversial exploitation of violence amongst teens that find themselves in the midst of war. Kill or be killed, forty-two students walk in but only one walks out, or crawls; no one cares. The students are kidnapped from school and sent to a deserted island where they’re forced into collars and sent out for the ‘Program’ to begin at random selection, one male one female. The premise? Pick up your backpack (packed with a random weapon), and run. Run as fast and as far as you can if you want to survive, and always be on the move else the collar explodes. Got your attention yet? Gorey and haunting, this tale is not for the weak of heart.
Was that too much carnage for your liking? Well try to sit back and relax, this might not be murder-filled, but it’s still disturbing on some level. Collectively known as The Southern Reach Trilogy, Annihilation, Authority, Acceptance are the titles in this triad of disturbance. Reminiscent of Lovecraft’s writings, Jeff Vandermeer has portrayed the hauntings of dystopian settings to a bone chilling intensity. Discomfort and tension are two of the emotions this story plays on. In a space civilization has abandoned, Area X remains uncharted and unexplored. With every expedition sent to it either never returning physically, or mentally, we follow the twelfth expedition into Area X to live through their encounters as they progress deeper into the area. Expect anything when crossing the border of Area X, and hope for the best. Area X is dangerous and should be treated with caution, but will you survive? *Cue maniacal laugh*
Less gore, less disturbia, the winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 2011, Lauren Beukes plays on her readers’ nerves brilliantly. A ‘zoo’ in Zoo City is far from the place you take your kids to see animals. A ‘zoo’ is the title of those with a criminal record due to the presence of a spirit animal at their side. This dystopian novel follows the life of a ‘zoo’ living in a time where committing a crime equals attaching an animal to your spirit. Specializing in finding lost and valuable items, Zinzi, the protagonist, has a sloth attached to her as she runs around procuring what you long for, at a reasonable fee. But living in Zoo City as a ‘zoo’ automatically makes her a suspect to any case she might have been near. While missing persons cases are automatically refused, she finds herself forced to take the case to save her life.
Bone chilling and disturbing, these thrillers are set to create a sense of foreboding doom as the reads progress. In the words of R.L. Stine, “Reader, beware, you’re in for a scare!” And as Edgar Allan Poe had put it “Quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore.’”