Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Inspiration: great books

I've found that I draw inspiration from or model characters after my favorite books and characters, especially those within my target genre. So what better way to dig deeper into my story ideas than by examining why I loved my favorite books and others within the dystopia genre?

Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden
This is my all-time favorite book (and series.. and author.. and movie..). I first read this book back in middle school, when my library only had the first two books in the series. I reread the first book a couple of times over the years, then finally tracked down the entire series in the US (yay for no international shipping!) and read it in the spring of 2010. This series.. wow. Just wow. Marsden is definitely not afraid of taking the reader on a wild ride, and none of the main characters are necessarily safe (think Joss Whedon). I loved that the story was told from Ellie's point of view. I also loved that these characters had to learn to be strong and self-reliant. It's not dystopian in the sense of an imperfect future but rather an imperfect present. And even though it's been 12 years since I first picked it up, Tomorrow never fails to leave an indelible impression on my soul.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
This was my introduction to the dystopian genre, though I didn't realize there was an entire genre at the time - at that point I was still in historical romance land. Before reading this book, I had never given much thought to how a scientific advancement could change the landscape of the future. Now, new advancements contain the possibility of a bleak and controlling future.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
I'm not a big zombie fan, but TFHT really blew me away. The zombies were really secondary, at least to me. The most important part was that every part of Mary's world was beyond her control, and nobody even realized it anymore because they're so far removed from the original situation that the records have (presumably) been lost or destroyed. Lots of potential here for conspiracy theories. I would love to pick Carrie Ryan's brain!

Across the Universe by Beth Revis & The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
These two probably seem like an odd match-up, but in my head they are linked together by their non-paranormal dystopian nature. I love paranormals, but sometimes it's nice to take a break and only have "normal" characters. Amy and Katniss are different kinds of strong (Katniss more so in the first installment than the second and third), but they are both more than capable of stepping up to the plate and getting things done. I loved how, in both books, the main characters come together to take down the controlling regime, and that just because they accomplished their goal doesn't mean their lives are now all fine and dandy.

Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey
Again, this one isn't dystopian, but I loved how unique it was. Maybe it's because we Americans aren't exactly exposed to a lot of Maori and/or New Zealand culture, but this was such a breath of fresh air, and I have been hunting for something similar since I read it last spring, to no avail. Then again, being unique is both a blessing and a curse, so how unique to go is always an issue.

The Next 100 Years by George Friedman
This isn't fiction, but it's important all the same because it gave me some great ideas about the potential political landscapes of the future. Anything that helps me gain insight into this topic is a useful resource.

What are your favorite books? Or, what books inspire you?

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