Waiting on Wednesday: ‘The City of Mirrors’


‘Waiting on Wednesday’ is a weekly meme that began at Breaking the Spine, where you blog about a book release you’re eagerly awaiting. There are A LOT of sequels I’m waiting for, as well as a few new releases.

But currently, The City of Mirrors, the third novel in the Passage series by Justin Cronin, is what I’m most excited about. It’s been years since I read the first novel and I absolutely loved its horror and its humanity. It was released back in 2011, in my last year of high school, and it feels quite odd to think that I’m now awaiting the third book whilst in my last year of university.


The Passage and The Twelve are big hefty hardbacks and at times you do have to force yourself to go on, but Cronin’s world is as immense as it is horrific. I love how Cronin’s vampire/zombie monsters are not just mindless beings. All virals stem from an original twelve who have a kind of sentience the average viral doesn’t possess. This is not your standard disease apocalypse story and I really love it for that, especially due to the fact you often find yourself feeling sympathy towards the virals and the humanity that is still dormant within them. But don’t let that statement lull you into a false sense of security; the virals really are terrifying when they need to be.

This is achieved mostly through the protagonist of Amy, ‘The Girl from Nowhere’. The mysticism and power surrounding her is captivating and I really envy Cronin for creating such a strong character.

As for the others, I’m looking forward to learning the fates of Alicia and Peter, as well as the viral Anthony Carter and the original Patient Zero, Dr Fanning. This is one of those series I wish I’d written myself and, if you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend you do! Be ready to laugh, cry and get entirely freaked out.

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Review: The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig


The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig

Genre: Post-apocalyptic / Dystopia

Publisher: Harper Voyager, 2015

My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis (different to the Amazon synopsis, this is on the back of my copy):

What would you do if you had to leave everything you knew behind?

If what made you perfect also made you an outcast?

If your twin, once your only friend, was now your worst enemy?

Since the blast that reshaped the earth, only twins are born. The imperfect one of each pair is branded at birth and sent away. Twins share nothing but the moment of their death: when one dies, so does the other. But Cass and her twin Zach cannot be separated.

In this scorched and broken world, Cass’s bond with her brother may be the most dangerous thing of all.

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My Review

The Fire Sermon had been sitting on my shelf for quite a while whilst I got on with reading for university. So, now that I’ve pretty much finished my final year, I was excited to begin this book that had been gathering dust. The premise is an extremely unique one: 400 years after some kind of man-made apocalypse (my best guess is nuclear, but it’s never revealed fully to us) a mutation in human DNA causes twins to be born. One is physically and mentally perfect (the Alpha), the other usually physically deformed (the Omega). However, a few, like Cass, are mentally different in that they are seers, essentially clairvoyants.

The novel for me started a little slowly. I loved the world-building at the beginning, and creating the power-play dynamic between the twins Cass and Zach, but I found it took a little while for me to be really hooked. Yet once it began to pick up the pace, I was gripped.

The details of the apocalypse and the reason for the psychically-connected twins is never fully explained, but I didn’t feel at a loss for that. The sequel is actually very close to being released, so I’m hoping Haig will expand a bit more on these topics. However, I do wonder if an answer for the psychic link for the twins, and the creation of the seers, might end up being too far-fetched, so I would honestly be happy if Haig left it ambiguous. This is down to the fact that her story-arc really does take us for a ride. She weaves an excellent plot with a twist that I was oblivious to until the very end. The idea of not being able to kill off someone without also killing their twin was a great one in terms of creating dilemmas. The world-building itself was fresh, with the setting being somewhat medieval in its use of wood houses, agriculture and weapons such as swords and bows. Thankfully, no one spoke like the world had really plunged back into the Dark Ages; that would have been too much a regression in a world that fears the ‘Before’.

As for the characters Cass meets along the way, I actually preferred some of them to Cass herself. Cass was by no means a bad heroine; I really did like her. It was just that the other characters seemed to get the better lines. I did like how Cass wasn’t one of those stereotypical ‘feisty’ heroines who are actually just a bit rude and obnoxious. She lost her temper when she needed to, but for the most part was quite calm and chose to be the bigger person when people were sarky. This included her main companion of the novel, Kip, who came out with some good one-liners against her. Cass saves him from the clutches of the Alphas and the two make a journey in search of a rumoured Omega resistance. I won’t spoil the plot line as to whether this resistance exists or not, but Kip was an extremely likeable character, full of wit but not just acting as the standard comic relief. The two of them also meet others along the way, but my favourite character was a man called Piper. Confident, intelligent (and also quite witty), I really enjoyed the conversations between him and Cass.

I was also pleased with how Haig gave her Omega characters obvious physical deformities, but draws attention to the fact that they shouldn’t be judged for this; they are not lesser people simply because they’re missing a limb or have an extra eye. I thought this was a really sensitive message and it reminded me of Julianna Baggott’s Pure trilogy (which is an absolutely amazing series of books which you must read if you haven’t already, especially if you’re a fan of post-apocalyptic writing).

I’m looking forward to the sequel to The Fire Sermon and I’m hoping to get my hands on a copy of it not long after it’s released. I think there’s definitely room for improvement in the next novel, especially when it comes to pacing, but overall it was a novel that didn’t churn up a lot of genre tropes and provided a sincere message.

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Have you read The Fire Sermon? Let me know what you thought in the comments below!

Caitlin (1)


A Novel Round-Up: My Favourites in Horror

I used to be terrified of horror films. I couldn’t even watch Most Haunted without struggling to get to sleep, despite Derek Acorah’s, um, questionable medium abilities. Now, though, I am a huge horror fan. Films, books, video games, you name it. I haven’t even managed to finish playing Until Dawn on the PS4 because I can’t handle the stress of keeping the characters alive (or encountering the wendigo’s).

Books, however, like films, can be a little hit and miss. Horror is a genre that is easy to create but difficult to pull off. But when it’s done well, it can leave you sleepless for days. Or, in my case, absolutely terrified and fascinated by zombies.

However, I think I’ll save my favourites in the zombie sub-genre for another post, so here is a quick round-up of some of my favourite horror novels over the years.


The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Fear factor: 3/5

Synopsis: Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor, is summoned to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow, the sole inhabitant of Eel Marsh House, unaware of the tragic secrets which lie hidden behind the shuttered windows. The house stands at the end of a causeway, wreathed in fog and mystery, but it is not until he glimpses a wasted young woman, dressed all in black, at the funeral, that a creeping sense of unease begins to take hold, a feeling deepened by the reluctance of the locals to talk of the woman in black – and her terrible purpose.

Why I loved it: I first read this novel in Year 8, so that was back in 2008, long before the film. The film is scary, but my god the book is scarier in a much subtler way. Our English teacher made us all read the same chapter in silence to ourselves during class, a chapter involving the infamous rocking chair. I remember halfway through all of us students were looking around at each other uneasily as we read. The tension in the room was palpable. I’ve never forgotten that moment, nor the way in which Susan Hill is an absolute master in suspense and giving you the chills. For me, horror is all about the subtlety. Everyone loves a good jump scare, but the jump scare is nothing without the suspense that builds up to it.


The Ritual by Adam Nevill

Synopsis: When four old University friends set off into the Scandinavian wilderness of the Arctic Circle, they aim to briefly escape the problems of their lives and reconnect. But when Luke, the only man still single and living a precarious existence, finds he has little left in common with his well-heeled friends, tensions rise.

A shortcut meant to ease their hike turns into a nightmare scenario that could cost them their lives. Lost, hungry, and surrounded by forest untouched for millennia, things couldn’t possibly get any worse.

But then they stumble across an old habitation. Ancient artefacts decorate the walls and there are bones scattered upon the floors. The residue of old rites for something that still exists in the forest. Something responsible for the bestial presence that follows their every step. And as the four friends stagger in the direction of salvation, they learn that death doesn’t come easy among these ancient trees . . .

Fear factor: 4/5

Why I loved it: I read this novel a few years ago and I’m not ashamed to admit that it gave me nightmares. It was a deeply unsettling novel, riven with suspense. However, there was a lull around the middle of the book after ‘the big reveal’. I found this dulled the fear factor somewhat, but it did pick up again at the end. Unlike The Woman in Black, there are more blood and guts in The Ritual, but not a gratuitous amount that you become numb to it.


The Shuddering by Ania Ahlborn

Synopsis: Ryan Adler and his twin sister, Jane, spent their happiest childhood days at their parents’ mountain Colorado cabin—until divorce tore their family apart. Now, with the house about to be sold, the Adler twins gather with their closest friends for one last snowboarding-filled holiday. While commitment-phobic Ryan gazes longingly at Lauren, wondering if his playboy days are over, Jane’s hopes of reconciling with her old boyfriend evaporate when he brings along his new fiancée. As drama builds among the friends, something lurks in the forest, watching the cabin, growing ever bolder as the snow falls…and hunger rises.

After a blizzard leaves the group stranded, the true test of their love and loyalty begins as the hideous creatures outside close in, one bloody attack at a time. Now Ryan, Jane, and their friends must fight—tooth and nail, bullet and blade—for their lives. Or else surrender to unspeakable deaths in the darkened woods.

Fear factor: 4/5

Why I loved it: I stumbled across this novel whilst searching for more horror to read after playing a bit of Until Dawn. Much like the game, the novel takes place in an isolated winter cabin with a bunch of young adults being stalked by something in the woods. I think the novel was written before the game, but either way it’s a good premise, and I found the story very disquieting. There’s a fair bit of blood and guts, along with some pretty good twists and turns. At first, I didn’t think I liked the characters that much, but by the end I was desperately rooting for them to survive.


Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Synopsis: Malorie raises the children the only way she can: indoors.

The house is quiet. The doors are locked, the curtains are closed, mattresses are nailed over the windows.

They are out there. She might let them in.

The children sleep in the bedroom across the hall.

Soon she will have to wake them. Soon she will have to blindfold them.

Today they must leave the house. Today they will risk everything.

Fear factor: 5/5

Why I loved it: This book was simply amazing. It terrified me and I loved that, especially the added bonus that it was post-apocalyptic! The blurb doesn’t tell you much, but the general premise is that the world rapidly succumbs to some kind of affliction that causes people to go mad and kill themselves and others. The link between these cases? All of them saw something before they went mad. The idea is a brilliant one and executed extremely well by Malerman. Even just thinking about this book creeps me out.

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Got any good horror books to recommend? Let me know in the comments!

Caitlin (1)

Review: Starborn by Lucy Hounsom


Starborn by Lucy Hounsom

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Tor, 2015

My Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis: Kyndra’s fate holds betrayal and salvation, but the journey starts in her small village. On the day she comes of age, she accidentally disrupts an ancient ceremony, ending centuries of tradition. So when an unnatural storm targets her superstitious community, Kyndra is blamed. She fears for her life until two strangers save her, by wielding powers not seen for an age – powers fuelled by the sun and the moon.

Together, they flee to the hidden citadel of Naris. And here, Kyndra experiences disturbing visions of the past, showing war and one man’s terrifying response. She’ll learn more in the city’s subterranean chambers, amongst fanatics and rebels. But first Kyndra will be brutally tested in a bid to unlock her own magic.

If she survives the ordeal, she’ll discover a force greater than she could ever have imagined. But could it create as well as destroy? And can she control it, to right an ancient wrong?

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My Review

As I said in a previous post, I was pretty excited to get my teeth into Starborn after Lucy Hounsom gave a talk at my university. Hounsom, a clearly avid fantasy fan, pitched the novel to us as a somewhat epic/high fantasy adventure for adults. However, those hoping for a myriad of strange creatures will be disappointed. Different races are hinted at, and there is of course magic, but ultimately the novel takes on a more Game of Thrones feel in that the human aspect is prioritised over warring races and talking creatures. However, magic is still at the forefront of this novel, revolving around a magical system that uses the sun and the moon, as well as the stars. I would also pitch this novel as more of a YA/adult crossover. There isn’t a cheesy YA romance, but the protagonist is a teenage girl, so I believe the novel would be suitable for older teens and adults alike.

It is clear from the outset that Kyndra is special. The novel follows the typical structure of village girl discovers she has powers. However, what power Kyndra has is not really revealed to us until 400 pages in, long after the reader has guessed it for themselves. This was a little annoying for me; I just wanted someone to come out with it already before I got even more annoyed with Kyndra’s obliviousness. I couldn’t quite believe Kyndra could really be that dumb and not work out what she was. She spent a lot of time denying it even though the facts were all there and she’d clearly accomplished things no regular mortal could. She is a feisty heroine at times, but sometimes lapses into being rather bland as plot takes precedence over characterisation. However, there is certainly room for Hounsom to develop Kyndra in the upcoming sequel, Heartland.

But what about the other characters? Kyndra is chiefly helped along in her quest by the mysterious Bregenne and the caring Nediah. Bregenne is a blind woman who wields Lunar power, Nediah her Solar counterpart.

Bregenne began as cold and intriguing and I was excited to see what dynamic she would have within the novel. However, Bregenne doesn’t seem to develop, but actually recedes somewhat. Suddenly, she isn’t this hard, troubled woman, but fragile and weak. There didn’t seem to be much reason for this change and I found myself frustrated with the character development.

Nediah, however, was developed much better. He provided some comic relief, but was also a rather complicated character in terms of the women in his life. There’s no romance between Kyndra and Nediah, but their dynamic is very interesting in the way it progresses, as they seem like siblings and I found myself enjoying their scenes together. He is a willful character, portraying a vaster range of emotions than Bregenne.

Other interesting characters include the sly and sarcastic Kait, and the ambiguous Medavle, who readers will encounter throughout the novel.

Also, the identity of Kyndra’s father is a clearly important mystery right from the beginning of the novel. I found the reveal an interesting plot twist that I didn’t see coming, much unlike Kyndra’s destiny.

I’ve given this book 3.5/5 because, whilst I really did enjoy it, and found it difficult to put down at times (despite the sometimes slow pacing), I found there was much room for improvement in terms of characterisation and world-building. Whilst the world-building throughout is quite unique, it needed some more explaining to be properly understood. Hopefully, Hounsom will develop both Kyndra and Bregenne in the next novel. Hounsom actually read an exclusive extract from the sequel for us at the reading and, whilst the scene involved new characters, I found it really interesting and can’t wait to see how the next installment develops on the first.

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If you’ve read Starborn, let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Caitlin (1)


Ready, Set, Novel!

ready set novel.png

I’m not gonna lie; I’ve always considered myself a pantser at heart, yet this has never really paid off for me. The furthest I ever get in a novel is about Chapter 5, when my enthusiasm has run dry and so has my plot. I’ve tried to plan numerous times, but my impatience often gets the better of me, and so do my doubts.

Then I stumbled across Ready, Set, Novel! from the creators of NaNoWriMo (something I’ve often taken part in and never even come close to finishing). After flicking quickly through its pages in Waterstones, I loved the clear, colourful layout and the myriad of activities inside. I got it home and I’ve been hooked ever since, planning a novel.

The book doesn’t force you into planning meticulously like those dauntingly long character sheets that ask you all manner of (I think) irrelevant questions. The book has made me think more logically about a potential novel, making planning less of a chore, and as a result I’ve found myself becoming immersed in my ideas instead of doubting them. I imagine it’s also a great thing to come back to if you’ve hit a snag in your writing as it allows for numerous possibilities to be explored and room for change.

I’ve been working my way through it slowly and I haven’t completed every single task, but I relish the idea that I can return to some later on when I’m struggling or simply bored. I definitely think this book is a gem for those who often lose steam when writing, like me. Who knows, maybe I’m currently planning a future bestseller, but either way I’m honestly enjoying the process of planning. Now back to the book I go…

Caitlin (1)

March To-Read List

It would be an understatement to say my ‘to-read’ pile is pretty big. After three years of reading four novels a week academically , I am down to my final two novels of my BA English degree. There’s the slight panic of: What do I do now that there’s no lecturer choosing books for me? Well, I finally get to read for fun.

Some of the books on my courses over these three years have been amazing, and some have been so boring I’ve wanted to rip the letters from my laptop keyboard and gouge my eyes out with them. To put it mildly. But now I can go back to reading my favourite genres like sci-fi and horror, and even delve back into the world of YA. So here is a short list of books I’m looking forward to reading once this term is over.


The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig



Cass is born a few minutes after her brother, Zach. Both infants are perfect, but only one is a blessing; only one is an Alpha.

The other child must be cast out. But with no discernible difference, other than their genders, their parents cannot tell which baby is tainted.

Perfect twins. So rare, they are almost a myth. But sooner or later the Omega will slip up. It will eventually show its true self. The polluted cannot help themselves.

Then its face can be branded. Then it can be sent away.

Why I want to read it: I’m a huge fan of dystopia and this book caught my eye on display in Waterstones. The blurb is really gripping, creating a lot of questions that I want answered. Twins in novels usually go down pretty well as a plot device and I’ve heard some great things about it.


Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

Plot: In the wake of the complete destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, three people are left alive who know the truth about what happened and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace, rescued from the ocean after seven days adrift with her friend Libby (who died of thirst just before rescue), knows that the Persephone wasn’t sunk by a rogue wave as survivors Senator Wells and his son Greyson are claiming. It was attacked. In order to insure her safety from the obviously dangerous and very powerful Wells family, Libby’s father helps Frances assume Libby’s identity. Frances has spent years in hiding, transforming herself into Libby, and she can no longer allow the people who murdered her entire family and Libby to get away with it even if she had been in love with Greyson Wells. After years of careful plotting, she’s ready to set her revenge plans into motion. The game has just begun, and Frances is not only playing dirty, she’s playing to win.

Why I want to read it: I was a huge huge HUGE fan of Carrie Ryan’s zombie The Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy. The writing was atmospheric and lyrical, the world-building entirely unique and immersive, so when I heard Ryan was bringing out another novel I was pretty excited. Whilst there doesn’t seem to be any zombies in this one, I’m hoping Ryan’s plot and writing will keep me hooked.


The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Plot: When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn’t expecting much. The Wayfarer, a patched-up ship that’s seen better days, offers her everything she could possibly want: a small, quiet spot to call home for a while, adventure in far-off corners of the galaxy, and distance from her troubled past.

But Rosemary gets more than she bargained for with the Wayfarer. The crew is a mishmash of species and personalities, from Sissix, the friendly reptillian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the constantly sparring engineers who keep the ship running. Life on board is chaotic, but more or less peaceful – exactly what Rosemary wants.

Until the crew are offered the job of a lifetime: the chance to build a hyperspace tunnel to a distant planet. They’ll earn enough money to live comfortably for years… if they survive the long trip through war-torn interstellar space without endangering any of the fragile alliances that keep the galaxy peaceful.

But Rosemary isn’t the only person on board with secrets to hide, and the crew will soon discover that space may be vast, but spaceships are very small indeed.

Why I want to read it: I picked up this little gem at London Waterloo when waiting for a train. Having just re-watched the Star Trek reboot films, I was in the mood for something spacey and sci-fi. This sounded right up my street and it’s also now been nominated for The Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction!


Dark Tides by Chris Ewan

Plot: When Claire Cooper was eight, her mother disappeared during Hop-tu-naa, the Manx Halloween.

When Claire was eighteen, she and her friends took part in a Hop-tu-naa dare that went terribly wrong.

Now in her early twenties and a police officer, what happened that Hop-tu-naa night has come back to haunt them all, and Claire must confront her deepest fears in order to stop a killer from striking again.

Why I want to read it: I do try and push my boundaries out of the sci-fi/apocalypse/dystopia world and this was one of my attempts to do so. Everybody likes a good thriller and this just happened to catch my eye in Waterstones. It’s had good reviews so I’m hoping to be dying from suspense when I get round to reading it.


Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

Plot (some spoilers if you haven’t read the first book): 

If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different.

Mare’s blood is Red – the colour of common folk – but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from the prince and friend who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by the Silver king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

Why I want to read it:  I did enjoy the first book, the plot certainly had me gripped, but I wasn’t totally enamored with the writing style and the characters. I’m hoping for some improvements this time around.

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And that’s it for this month! Hopefully I should get around to reviewing these books once university begins to calm down, so bear with me. Thanks for reading!

Caitlin (1)

Starborn: Fresh-faced Fantasy


I have to be in the mood for fantasy. Whilst I love a bit of The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, I’m not an avid reader of the genre. I’ve never quite understood why that is, if I’m honest. Maybe it’s because fantasy can get a bad rep. Too many elves and dwarves, too many silly and unpronounceable names, too many nerdy teenage boys playing World of Warcraft.

But, yesterday evening I found myself attending an event at my university, Royal Holloway. The event was a reading from an alumni, Lucy Hounsom. I confess it was a last minute decision to go, but I thought I could pick her brains on the world of publishing and authors instead of lying in bed surrounded by sweet wrappers whilst my laptop burns a hole through my legs.

In fact, I was pleasantly surprised. Lucy was friendly and very open, not at all a pompous author, an artsy grad who thinks their writing is the best thing since Chaucer. She read an extract from her novel, Starborn, a somewhat epic fantasy that follows the teenage Kyndra as she upsets an age old ceremony in her town and is forced into exile, only to discover that this departure from home will reveal powers she could only dream of.

As someone who only dabbles in fantasy, I found myself drawn in to the world Lucy had created almost immediately, and possibly even more so when she read an extract from the sequel, Heartland.

Whether it was the wine or the reading, I was keen to participate in the Q&A session afterwards. I found Lucy’s advice genuine and heartfelt. The event instilled me with a newfound confidence in my own writing and I subsequently bought a copy of Lucy’s novel. I’ll get round to reviewing it on here when I can finally read for fun again after the last two weeks of term. Who knows? Maybe I won’t be so scathing of elves afterwards.

Caitlin (1)

The 1975 and a Glass of Red Wine

Brixton Academy, 08/03/2016.


Needless to say, I was pretty hyped up for this gig. Having listened to The 1975 since the time of their EPs, I was finally getting a chance to see them live. And I wasn’t disappointed.

It wasn’t even like I paid a huge amount of money for the tickets. It was refreshing to find a popular band charging under £30 and, as a destitute uni student, I was shit-your-pants-excited.

The show itself was a seamless and slightly unusual extravaganza. The set, consisting of four rectangular towers and a background, changed from scenes such as white noise to city scapes, matching the urban, yet atmospheric, music of The 1975.

Matty Healy himself is an excellent frontman, in my opinion. He really seems to be in the moment of the music, dancing about the stage, sure of himself and his somewhat androgynous look and moves. He didn’t stand there for a good five minutes preaching to the audience, which in the past has often got on my wick at gigs, mostly ones for American bands. Matty did actually give a little speech about wanting the crowd to put their phones away for a song, and as he wandered about the stage, seemingly lost in the music (and lost in his glass of red wine), I had the impression that the band were really there for the music they had created and the fans they’d made, not the celebrity status.

I was also glad that I’d packed all my belongings into the cloakroom. Without a phone to keep an eye on (something I’ve previously had stolen at a gig); without a bag to wrench at when it gets trapped between the mass of bodies; without a sweaty jacket to look after; I found myself having a great appreciation for the four men on the stage before me. It was a sincere display, and one that I will not forget for a while.

Caitlin (1)

What’s the Deal with Dystopia?

dystopia-1I’ve just finished reading ‘The 100’ trilogy by Kass Morgan. As an avid fan of the TV series, I was keen to see how the books tied in with the programme. And for once, I actually found myself to be more of a supporter of the TV series than the books. Being a book lover normally means that it is more often than not the other way around; the books are always superior. However, I felt Morgan’s writing lacked finesse and proper thought at times. Some scenes seemed a little rushed and I felt that the writers of the TV series had fleshed out the characters and the general plot of ‘The 100’ much better. Yet again, I still enjoyed the books. I’m not one to bash an author, especially when I’m aspiring to be one myself. Everyone can write a novel, but not everyone can write one well.

This leads me to the ideas of dystopia and apocalypse. What’s the deal? Why the obsession? I ask all this even though I myself am a pretty hardcore fan of all things dystopic and apocalyptic. My family often say I need to branch out, but who ever told Stephen King he needed to quit the whole horror thing? Once a genre captures your attention then that’s it; you are undeniably hooked.

The ideas of dystopia and apocalypse can be found as far back as the Old Testament, and the word ‘dystopia’ comes from the Ancient Greek language. They’re nothing new and certainly not so in literature. What about George Orwell’s ‘1984’, published in 1949? Or one of my favourite author’s, Margaret Atwood, and her stunning dystopic novels (‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ being my number one) published back in 1985. Yet the hype for this genre seemed to become apparent not long after the vampire/supernatural phase. There was, to be frank, so much shit written during that genre’s reign, everyone jumping on the bandwagon, that it was nice to have a change.

Cue the arrival of ‘The Hunger Games’. The novels were everywhere and soon after came the films. Yet they provided a refreshing escape in the Young Adult genre. The novels weren’t centred around a gag-worthy romance. They focussed on the downfalls of a society, ones that can be seen reflected in our own world. Whilst ‘The Hunger Games’ novels are no masterpieces, they were highly entertaining and raw. They depicted a society of mistreatment and violence. And wouldn’t it be so horrible to live in that society, that dystopia? Well, some people do. Just look at North Korea. If you want an example of a dystopic society in our time, there’s your perfect reality of one.

Dystopia and apocalypse are now genres that dominate Young Adult literature, and can be seen just as frequently in the adult sections of book shops. I like to read a selection of both, whether the protagonists are younger or older. It’s often just the depiction of a new society that I’m interested in. What would it be like to live there? What it would be like to live in a world ravaged by war, or disease? Terrifying, that’s what. It makes me see how good I have it in my little boring middle-class bubble. But there are people out there who are dealing with situations so similar to those that I get lost in when I read or watch TV. These novels often paint us a picture of what we’re doing wrong somewhere in our world, or what roads we could head down. These stories force us to look at our own reality without explicitly saying so. Some of the best societal critiques can be found amidst an imagined society. What about the misogynistic treatment of women in Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’?

So I will keep on reading these books, I’ll keep on writing these apocalyptic stories, and I’ll keep on watching ‘The 100’. Even when I’m ogling the men on my TV screen, it’ll be hard to forget how much this all rings true with some parts of our world.

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