Thursday, May 26, 2011

Guest Post by Ilsa Bick + Giveaway: Pre-order of Ashes (Hardcover)

Hi everyone! So…today we have an amazing author with a longish but detailed and entertaining post (with a couple of videos,) Ilsa Bick! Stick around for a giveaway!

A long time ago, in a life far, far away from Wisconsin . . . er . . . wait.

Let’s try this again.  

A while back, before I settled down to write books, I ran across this little gem: Close friends become family and family is the center of the universe.  

That’s always stuck with me, probably because I’m a child shrink.  For many kids—and tons of adults—struggles with friends and family are huge.

But once upon a time I also studied and wrote about film and television.  Why?  Well, hey, any excuse to watch a movie is a good one.  TV, not so much, necessarily; they don’t call it the vast wasteland for nothing.  On the other hand, I have this deep and abiding affection for one particular show, Star Trek, for a whole slew of reasons, not the least of which happens to be, well . . . Captain Kirk’s chest.  I’m sorry, but it’s true.  Kirk went through so many uniform shirts that poor pork chop (lingo for the supply corps officer) must have had fits trying to explain all those requisition slips and replicator requests to Starfleet Command. 

But, oh, those pecs.    

As with most obsessions, I got over Kirk’s chest.  (Honestly, if I’d been born twenty years later, I’d be drooling over Taylor Lautner.)  That show always stuck with me, though.  The thinking part of my brain wanted to figure out why I liked it so much, an occupational hazard when you’re a shrink.  I was so interested—and easily bored—that I eventually went back to school and got a masters in film studies and literature which was completely cool because then I had a go-to for watching tons of movies and, oh yeah, writing the occasional paper or two.  I even wrote one on Star Trek and that paper put me within spitting distance of William Shatner.  (Why I never went through with getting his autograph is another confessional for another time.)  The paper was even published.  Twice.  So that was all good.

In the course of all that, I ran across this nifty book by Dave Marinaccio, All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Watching Star Trek, from which the quote at the beginning of this is lifted.  That one sentence jumped off the page in a true Eureka moment—and let me tell you why. 

Now, I see you out there.  You’re scratching your head, going well, okay, that’s cool, but . . . like . . . dude, hello, this is supposed to be a blog about dystopias . . . 

Patience, Young Skywalker.

Several of my fellow bloggers have already done a bang-up job of describing not only what attracts them to dystopian novels—most notably, the freedom to explore, well, freedom—as well as the fundamental characteristics of dystopians and their history.  The takeaway is that even though we’re seeing a whole new crop of apocalyptic and dystopian novels, the subgenre’s not new.  In contemporary times, adult science fiction and fantasy have been all over dystopian and apocalyptic novels.  Before there were books like The Hunger Games and the Uglies series and Feed, there were the novels of John Brunner, Phillip K. Dick, Walter M. Miller, Ray Bradbury, Aldous Huxley, William Golding, Kurt Vonnegut, George Orwell . . . well, the list is endless.  For those of us born before the sudden and huge demand for YA literature, that’s what we read.  Those novels are the parents and grandparents of today’s YA dystopians.  

What I want to focus on here is development: how dystopian and apocalyptic novels are structured; why I think they speak so well to YA concerns; and why, IMHO, we’re seeing an uptick right now because I firmly believe that a culture’s art reflects the societal concerns of the moment.  What we turn to for entertainment tells us a great deal about what bothers, ails and worries us.

Works of art—especially the narrative arts like films and books—are both geared for certain age groups (picture books versus novels, say) and embody certain developmental levels (latency-aged concerns versus teenage issues).  For our purposes, let’s talk about the tasks of latency versus the goals of adolescence. 

Latency Narratives

Now, what do I mean when I say a film or book is, say, a latency-aged narrative versus one aimed at adolescents? Well, none of us would ever mistake a ten-year-old for an eighteen-year-old.  I’m not just talking about thing like cooties or zits or homework.  What a ten-year-old cares about is much different from the worries of an adolescent.  That’s because each age group has a specific agenda. 

Latency-aged kids—say, seven to eleven year olds—care most about friends and family.  The task for a kid that age is to leave home, go to school (or out into the wild), make friends and have adventures . . . but also, and eventually, come home again.  Home and the stability that home implies are incredibly important.  Kids that age might grouse about the rules; they may daydream about how much better life is somewhere else . . . but what’s really important is that home is, well, home base.  Think Tom Sawyer: a little bit of adventure, a little bit of trouble, a tad of flirtation, a touch of dissatisfaction with home and those stupid rules . . . But you can always go home again because your family will always be happy to see you.  In the end, home isn’t that terrible even if you do have to wear shoes.

A great example of a latency-aged dystopian fantasy, one that operates on that developmental level and speaks to those concerns, is The Wizard of Oz.  Think about it.  Dorothy’s life is black-and-white drudgery; she hates the rules; Uncle Henry and Auntie Em eke out a marginal living on the farm in pancake-flat Kansas; the kid has no friends except for Toto; the evil Miss Gulch wants Toto taken to the pound; her aunt and uncle can’t go against the law (i.e., the oppressive society), etc. etc.  Dorothy runs away with Toto then returns out of guilt (when Professor Marvel tells her that Aunt Em has collapsed with grief) . . . well, you all know the story. 

But here’s what’s important.  This is why Oz is a latency-aged narrative: at the very end, despite the fact that she’s in this fab, Technicolor place and everyone loves her and she has a ton of friends. . . Dorothy wants to go home.  That’s all she wants.  Her mantra—There’s no place like home—underscores that for the latency-age child, home is always there, something permanent and unchanging; something that can be left but to which one can and must, inevitably, return.  By film’s end, Dorothy not only comes home, she has learned that home is best: I’m not going to leave here ever, ever again because I love you all.

Watch this if you don’t believe me.  Click on this link——and bop on back when you’re done.  Go ahead; I’ll wait . . .

Welcome back. 

Now is Oz a tad regressive?  Sure.  I mean, is it realistic that a kid on the cusp of adolescence would stay home forever?  Of course not.  But consider what was going on in 1939 when Oz came out.  The country was still in a depression; Spain was in the middle of a civil war; Hitler was on the rise; the Nazis were on the march; a world war was brewing; farmers from the Dust Bowl states, like Kansas, were still in pretty desperate straits. The country was a mess, but still the world was even scarier.  For a film to assert that however bad you think things are at home, they’re five thousand times worse out there isn’t so surprising. 

Now, it’s okay if Oz makes you reach for Kleenex.  Just because you’re not ten anymore doesn’t mean you can’t love and appreciate what the film is doing and where it’s operating.  If you enjoy this film, that’s just fine.  You’ve got lots of company; millions of people agree.  I only like to understand why I’m crying is all.  My point is that certain kinds of narratives address specific concerns much better than others—and they aim for different gut punches.

An example of a latency-aged novel with the same developmental concerns is A Wrinkle in Time.  Without going into all the nitty-gritty of the plot, let’s pull out the key elements that highlight where this book is operating, psychologically.  Yes, Tween Meg is unhappy; she has no friends; she’s a geek; worse, her dad’s missing.  The family is broken.  Meg’s entire journey is geared toward making the family whole again and re-creating a home to which she can and does return at the end of the book.  She’s had great adventures, beaten a terrible evil with love and even has the promise of a future love interest in Calvin.  But family is key and the whole point of the book, and so much so that close friends do become family.  At novel’s end, poor Calvin—whose real home is quite dysfunctional—feels the love when Meg herself reels him in for a group family hug.  For Meg, family and friends are the moral and developmental center of her universe.

Why was Wrinkle reflective of its cultural moment?  When Wrinkle appeared in 1962, Kennedy was president; Cuba and the Soviet Union were tight; civil rights was starting to take hole; the Cold War was in full swing; and—of course—the Cuban Missile Crisis happened that October.  The few years preceding Wrinkle’s release were times of deep national anxiety over the spread of communism, the threat of nuclear war and annihilation, and the fear that the United States was coming apart from within.  These worries, especially the threat of communism, deeply inform Wrinkle, and these fears are those against which Meg fights, particularly in her showdown with IT, a remorseless brain without soul that exerts complete mind control.  Free will is lost.  Everyone on IT’s planet is exactly the same; they do things at the same time, with the same lack of feeling.  There is no such thing as the individual.  For Meg, IT’s dystopian regime mirrors world and American concerns about communism.  Being a kid’s book, though, Meg gets to win—and ain’t that a relief?

Adults weren’t so lucky.  The fear of the Communist Menace and nuclear war—as well as other concerns, like Korea—gave birth to a slew of adult-oriented dystopian films: from the apocalyptic narrative, Invasion of the Body Snatchers  (and I encourage you to watch this entire clip; John Whitehead does a fabulous job of laying out what ailed folks back then)

to Village of the Damned (based on John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos), with all those spooky, soulless, telepathically-linked kids who serve as stand-ins for societal threats.

This fear crops up in books and stories and on television in anthology series like The Outer Limits and in The Twilight Zone’s adaptation of Jerome Bixby’s classic sf story, “It’s a Good Life,” all about terrorized adults confronted by an all-powerful little kid (a young Billy Mumy before he was Lost in Space).

Now, sad to say—and despite the pecs-drool-factor—the original Star Trek pretty much operates at the same level, not such a surprise given the show aired from 1966-69.  Kirk is a Cold Warrior, pure and simple.  The Klingons and the Romulans and all those aliens bent on destroying the Federation are stand-ins for real-world threats. 

Trek is also a latency narrative—and probably why I glommed onto it in the first place given the geeky, marginalized kid in need of a better family and some friends that I was back then.  Stripped of all the glitz, the show follows the adventures of a bunch of boys.  They bop around outer space, heading out into the wild (think Tom Sawyer) and have cool adventures—and then they go home for dinner.  Sure, there are girls, but they have cooties.  They’re almost always aliens, frequently naïve, usually disruptive or downright evil and a threat to the boys and/or ship.  Yes, Kirk may get it on; by the third season, when their shooting budget had the terminal dwindles, most episodes happened aboard ship and the guy was bedding a new girl every week. 

But friends—and home—are incredibly important.  Home—the Enterprise—opens every episode and, with only one exception in the entire series, closes every episode.  Even the ship’s destruction in Star Trek III—a film that’s all about finding lost friends—isn’t permanent.  In Star Trek, home and friends are synonymous: unchanging and always there.  Spock says as much in The Wrath of Khan: I have been and always shall be your friend.  These boys in space will sacrifice for one another, die for one another, save one another . . . because that’s what close friends—i.e., a family—do.  As long as they have one another, they’re never alone, and they’ll never die.

Now, there are tons of other things Trek deals with, but for us, the take-away of that show and all these kinds of latency dystopian and apocalyptic narratives is this.  When they’re aimed at kids, it’s about stability and sameness.  However bad you think things are at home, the outside world is always much more dangerous.  Yes, by all means, get friends; have chums; fair play is extremely important.  You can even kiss a girl and probably not die.  In the end, though, come home before dark and take off those muddy shoes before you set one toe on my nice, clean floor.

Adolescent Narratives

If there’s one thing I can say that sums up the adolescent narrative and dystopians in general, it’s this: Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. 

Hamlet is a fine example of adolescence gone wrong; I mean, the kid’s girlfriend offs herself and the poor guy dies, and this is the thanks he gets?

I’m only half-joking.  Hamlet is a tragedy and by definition, tragic figures embody some central flaw that leads to doom.  (That’s why Romeo and Juliet ain’t a romance.  Those two crazy, sex-starved kids just couldn’t figure a way out of their box other than by getting all drastic.  If they’d only realized that they would grow up . . .)

But contrast latency with the tasks of adolescence, which are:
growing up; leaving home, literally and emotionally; forming new peer groups and ditching old ones; having sex; maybe forming a love interest; and heading out into a future.  That’s a long, long list of disruptive and potentially quite painful change. 

Adolescence is all about challenges within and without, and teens can be pains in the ass, always in your face.  That’s because parents are seen as just one facet—a stand-in, really—of a repressive, dystopian society.  Think about protestors, and now look at the demographics.  By and large, adolescents and young adults form the core of most protest movements and engines for social change.  They’ve got the energy, the drive and the mojo—and it’s in their psychological makeup to do so.  For a teen and young adult, the rules are there to be challenged, overturned (if possible) and replaced by something better.  (Long live Flower Power!)  All of a sudden, home isn’t so simple or straightforward, and it’s very push-me-pull-you, I-love-you-I-hate-you.  Ambivalence is the shrinkly term for it, but you get the idea. 

Now, is that a vast oversimplification?  Sure, but they don’t call it teenage rebellion/angst for nothing.

A lot of popular media equates teenage rage and adolescents with aliens or monsters (and, of course, sex is very, very dangerous).  Before there was I am Number Four and the Twilight series, there was I Was a Teenage Werewolf and I Was a Teenage Frankenstein.  There are the Scream and Jason movies (we all know the kids who wander off to have sex get the knife.)  Even Plato complained.

Yet consider Huckleberry Finn, which is a much more developmentally advanced narrative.  Twain was addressing a repressive, fundamentally dystopian social institution, slavery.  His mouthpiece, Huck Finn, comes to understand that home/civilization equals oppression.  No matter how nice some people might be, he just can’t stomach wearing shoes, sleeping in a bed, or going to school.  Now, there are lots of other developmental issues here—treacherous fathers, devious friends, gender concerns (think of Huck dressing up as a girl)—but this is a novel about breaking free.  For Huck, a home is a place to be left. 

One of the quintessential films about adolescent rebellion against a perceived dystopia is not a fantasy or sf film at all but the James Dean classic, Rebel Without a Cause.  Again, I won’t reiterate the plot, but what’s important here is to recognize that a) home’s repressive and not all that safe; b) parents are tremendously flawed;  and c) only love experienced outside the family—Jim’s love for the (probably gay) Sal Mineo character John “Plato” Crawford and Judy—allows for real growth and some repair of the family.  I’d encourage you to watch the whole film—it’s just so good—but here are two clips, one long and one short, that incorporate all the themes I just talked about.

The really short version, with that one fabulous line:

The longer version:

and the first minute-and-a-half of this section:

Okay, got it?  Rebel is a film about leaving home, breaking free, breaking out—and teaching adults how to behave better.  It is also a film that came out around the same time frame as Body Snatchers and all those adult TV shows about creepy, threatening kids.  Rebel is, at heart, dystopian in structure minus the futuristic, post-apocalyptic scenario. 

If Rebel were YA science fiction, though, it might be something like Logan’s Run (which is a tad dated even though we’re talking 1976) or—better yet—Aliens and The Matrix.  A developmentally more-advanced film than Alien (note that I didn’t say better; I happen to adore Alien), Aliens focuses on breaking free of the evil over-arching Company (and its treacherous minions: a nice, shiny vision of the future, this ain’t).  Like Jim in Rebel, Ripley beats the Company; kills the bad Mother Alien; has a bunch of friends (those tight-knit, loving Marines who watch each other’s backs, as well as the android, Bishop); and she gets a love interest (Hicks).  She and Hicks even pick up a little orphan kid to care about, protect, and love (Newt), just as Jim and Judy practice playing house with Plato in Rebel.  In Aliens, Ripley is a kick-ass rebel with a cause.

Similarly, The Matrix is another fabulous example of a developmentally-adolescent/YA dystopian narrative.  I’ll bet you can name all the key points off the top of your head now . . . That’s right; you got it: set against a repressive, homogenized society, a lonely guy with the heart of an adventurer trapped in the body of an office drone goes on an adventure.  He gets a group of friends who will sacrifice and kill for each other; he finds a love interest; he beats the bad daddy and saves the good daddy who’s not jealous of his son at all and by film’s end, our Glum Gus is a superhero with a girlfriend and well on his way to dismantling everything that’s wrong in the state of Denmark.  (Okay, yeah, he dies at the end of the third film, but you don’t need to watch it or the second one.  In fact, don’t.  Just enjoy the first for the masterpiece it is.)

And, see?  I knew you’d been paying attention.

Now, is any of this so different from, say, The Hunger Games trilogy?  Nope.  The overarching adolescent structure is the same.  Boiled down to its essence, that trilogy is all about teens heading off into the wild (i.e., leaving home), breaking a repressive regime; killing off a bad daddy (Snow) and bad mommy (Coin); making friends; losing friends; sacrificing oneself for a greater good; finding love and then returning to make a new, better and different home. 

The take-away message?  Most, if not all, adolescent and YA dystopians pretty much follow that template.  To name just a few, consider: The Maze Runner series; The Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy; Across the Universe; Rot and Ruin; The Chaos Walking series; Gone. (And don’t you wonder just what’s going to happen to those kids in the FAYZ? I mean, can you imagine ANY of them—even the latency-age kids—slotting back into any kind of normal life?  That town will be in serious need of child shrinks when that barrier comes down, I’m telling you—so I’m kind of hoping that Michael Grant has something different in mind.  If he wants suggestions, tell him where to find me . . .).  There are, of course, many, many more, including all the books by all the writers featured here.

My forthcoming book, ASHES, isn’t really a dystopian novel per se—at least, not in the early going.  Since it’s not out yet, I really can’t talk about it much (SORRY!!!).  But, without giving stuff away, let’s just say that it’s an apocalypse on top of an apocalypse.  Alex, the prime mover, has already gone through one end-of-the-world-as-she-knows-it: her folks are dead.  Her life is in ruins—and she’s got some other . . . problems.  Then civilization comes crashing down around her ears and things go from bad to worse.  Staying alive in the immediate aftermath is everyone’s first and ongoing concern.  Like so many other people, Alex only discovers what she really needed when it’s already gone and way too late. 

What some people do to stay alive in ASHES is another matter, and that’s where the dystopian vision begins to creep into and develop throughout the series. 

In a way, what the ASHES trilogy is “about” can be boiled down to this.  At the end of the world as we know it, what I’m interested is: what comes next; the compromises people are willing to make and the rules they’re willing to break in order to survive; how social orders and communities, both good and bad, rise from the ashes; and what, if anything, is truly worth dying for.
Why are apocalyptic novels so appealing to adolescents?  Easy.  Adolescence and young adulthood is all about blowing up the world as you’ve known it.  Man, you’re leaving home; before that, you were trying to CHANGE home because the rules were so stupid, right?  So for teens and young adults to want to read about people just like them going through exactly what they’ve going through isn’t so surprising.

Now, why are these novels so prevalent at this cultural moment?  Sorry to say . . . but I think it’s because the world feels like it’s in a shambles and accelerating from bad to worse.  Is it a coincidence that these books are coming out now, post-9/11, while we’re involved in two wars AND potentially a society on the decline?  Nope.  To name just a few other, very bad things going on right now, you’ve got: global warming; overpopulation; diminishing resources; ongoing threats of terrorism; a crummy economy; mass species extinctions and environmental degradation; a bleak outlook for life-paths that were traditionally thought to lead to a nice life (like all those unemployed college grads who are flipping burgers and asking if you want fries with that); a trazillion dollar deficit and debt; the overall decline in American influence abroad; the rise of other countries as economic and world powers (think China and India) . . .

I could go on, but you get the picture.  The world as we know it right now is dangerous and feels as if it’s getting worse.  Granted, it can always be worse; and worse is what these books are about.  If young adults and teens are pissed off, they should be because adults have made a mess of things they now get to deal with.  So is it any wonder that they read books about tearing down crummy societies and making better ones?  Of course not.  Reading these books is like watching The Matrix or Aliens or Body Snatchers.  It’s only a movie from which you can walk away, reassured that the world is still there.  They’re only books and stories about what could be worse if no one acts.  As dismal as dystopians and apocalyptic narratives might seem, they offer hope because they posit young adults and teens as prime movers: masters of their fate, saviors of the human race, and the future after tomorrow becomes yesterday.

And what I say to that?

You go, guys.

Thank you for sharing, Ilsa! :)

Ilsa J. Bick is a child psychiatrist, as well as a film scholar, former Air Force major, and now a full-time, award-winning author of short stories, novels and ebooks. (And, yes, some are Star Trek.  No pecs.)  Her critically-acclaimed first YA novel, DRAW THE DARK, won the 2011 Westchester Fiction Award; DRAW was also named a Bank Street College 2011 Best Book.  

ASHES, the first book in her new YA apocalyptic thriller trilogy, is due out in late August, 2011 through Egmont USA.

Ilsa currently lives with her family and several furry creatures in rural Wisconsin, near a Hebrew cemetery.  One thing she loves about the neighbors: They're very quiet and only come around for sugar once in a blue moon. You can visit her online at

*CLOSED* Giveaway: Pre-order of Ashes (Hardcover) *CLOSED*

It could happen tomorrow...

A cataclysmic event. An army of "The Changed."
Can one teen really survive on her own?

An electromagnetic pulse sweeps through the sky, destroying every electronic device and killing billions. For those spared, it's a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human...

Desperate to find out what happened and to avoid the Changed, Alex meets up with Tom---a young army veteran---and Ellie, a young girl whose grandfather was killed by the electromagnetic pulse.

This improvised family will have to use every ounce of courage they have just to survive.

“Gripped me from the beginning to end—-dark, creepy and suspenseful. I loved it” - James Dashner

“A haunting and epic story of survival in a shattered world. ASHES is a must read.” - Michael Grant

Ilsa is super generous to offer a pre-order of Ashes from the Book Depository to one lucky winner!


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To everyone, Ilsa wants to tell you this (she just emailed me - May 27, 2011)

To everyone who's posted so far:
First, guys, thanks for stopping by.
Second, I'm glad you find some things that resonate and make sense. Buddyt, you're spot on about "coming of age" novels, although what qualifies dystopians as such is the focus on regimes and repression. But, you bet, Alexei Panshin's RITE OF PASSAGE is a coming of novel. So is Stephen's King's HEARTS IN ATLANTIS. Whenever you have kids heading off into the wild (and I mean "wild" in the loosest sense) and discovering for themselves some of the problems with "home," they are properly coming-of-age novels.
Birgit: ooh-oooh-ooooh . . . what was your thesis about?
Great comments, everyone! Tell your friends to stop by!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. OMG OMG OMG I also wrote my thesis on Star Trek (I majored in Communication Studies though), how cool is that? I've never been in spitting distance to William Shanter though ;-) !

    danaan at gmx dot at

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  3. I must say, I was intrigued by the whole 'no place like home' idea. I'd never heard that before, but it makes perfect sense, considering a lot of middle grade novels.

    I follow the other blog, I tweeted (!/ElanorLawrence/status/73820403344216064) and I posted the button on my blog (

  4. Whoops... giving my email might be a good

    elanor_gamgee [at] yahoo [dot] ca

  5. I enjoyed her reading about her thoughts on Wizard of Oz and that time period.

    +2 new follower
    +2 twitter:

  6. Interesting ideas on why YAs like dystopian novels and sounds convincing to me but I am not really qualified to judge the merits of the argument.

    One thing I have noticed about the few YA dystopian labelled novels I have read is that I as an adult would not really qualify them as such.

    To me they were more what we used to call "coming-of-age" novels. although set in an unfamiliar world. ( But then perhaps a teenagers brain counts as an unfamiliar world?)

    Anyway I am curious and would like to read Ashes.

    Thanks for the giveaway and for opening it to worldwide entries.

    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOTcom

    +2 Follow Amaterasu Reads

  7. Woot, another author who references the older stuff!!! (This is also my answer to the question - anyone who references Huxley, Orwell, Vonnegut, and Oz is my hero.) Really amazing guest posts you've gotten for this event.

    +2 GFC follower of Amaterasu Reads
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    susanna DOT pyatt AT student DOT rcsnc DOT org

  8. I also really enjoyed the last paragraph. The scariest and realistic thing about readying Dystopian or post-apocalyptic fiction, is that it COULD happen. Or at least it's written to make us think it could. It bases a lot on fact. That's why I love this genre. It a total mind melt.
    +2 follow Amaterasu
    +2 spread here

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  9. Would love to win this!
    Would love to win!
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  11. All the references to movies/books/tv. Okay so I may not have understood most of them but I definitely got the Matrix one (and agree that while the first is a masterpiece the other two are really, really crap).

    +2 Follow Amaterasu Reads


  12. I was intrigued most by the paragraph talking about how authors like Ray Bradbury were actually out here first. They are great books and I feel like they aren't getting the credit that they deserve.

    +2 spread here

    thegirlonfire27 at gmail dot com

  13. It's really neat how realistic some of these dystopian novels can be. I mean, it's true, if we let the world get crazy, this can be our reality.

    Follower. +2


  14. Wow! I am completely and authentically moved. What an amazing collection of the scope and depth of dystopian and apocalyptic stories. For me, intrigue happened early in the post when Ilsa said, “the subgenre’s not new.” Because I think that many readers today who have just “discovered” the term “dystopian” do not realize that it has been around since at least 1868 when John Stuart Mill denounced a land use policy in a speech he gave before the British House of Commons. What most impressed me about her post, however, is the concept of the “latency narrative” versus the “adolescent narrative”. It is quite a helpful distinction for those of us who not only enjoy reading dystopian (and utopian) fiction, but especially for those who write in these genres. Very impressive and informative post! One of the best I have read! And I would love to win a copy of ASHES!

    Ann E Eisenstein

    Facebook - Ann Eisenstein
    Twitter - @authorann

  15. What intrigued me the most were all the ancient videos which led me to do some reflections in a blog post.
    I completely forgot to add that sentence (what intrigued me) and my email addy in my comment above, duh. so I don't know if that disqualifies me from winning.. Wish there was a way to edit/combine comments
    Bmcbroom @

  16. Hi everyone! Thank you so much for dropping by! Ilsa wanted me to post this here:

    To everyone who's posted so far:
    First, guys, thanks for stopping by.
    Second, I'm glad you find some things that resonate and make sense. Buddyt, you're spot on about "coming of age" novels, although what qualifies dystopians as such is the focus on regimes and repression. But, you bet, Alexei Panshin's RITE OF PASSAGE is a coming of novel. So is Stephen's King's HEARTS IN ATLANTIS. Whenever you have kids heading off into the wild (and I mean "wild" in the loosest sense) and discovering for themselves some of the problems with "home," they are properly coming-of-age novels.

    Birgit: ooh-oooh-ooooh . . . what was your thesis about?

    Great comments, everyone! Tell your friends to stop by!


  17. +2 I follow Amaterasu Reads
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  18. Oh wow, what an incredibly insightful post! I love the depth in which Ilsa has explored the issues behind this genre and really peeled back the layers. I'm a lover of all dystopian novels, but I suppose I never really considered WHY I am drawn so much to them. So many valid points, especially "No place like home", but I am going to have to personally confirm the validity of Captain Kirk's pecs being so gorgeous. Google Image search, here I come ;)

    I am SO excited to get my hands on Ashes! It sounds absolutely amazing and the reviews I've seen trickling in so far have been nothing short of positive.

    +2 Follow Amaterasu Reads
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    Thanks for the fantastic giveaway!

  19. What really got my attention in Ilsa's post is how she defines a trilogy. And just the simple fact she took the time out of her day to write all of this for us to read! :) Thanks for the giveaway!!

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  20. I am an old GFC Follower =)
    I haven't heard much about Ashes which is what made me open this post up to read!

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    thanks again
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  21. I love how realistic thece distopian novels are. I men, it coul be reality. We could be under somebody's domination.

    Great giveaway. I am GFC as misadevilgirl


  22. The part i found interesting was how she said that most YA dystopians pretty much follow that template (she was talking about hunger games).

    GFC (jennifer)

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  23. The paragraphs about "A Wrinkle in Time" caught my attention most decidedly. Fascinating.

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  24. As a Wizard of Oz lover of old -the "no place like home" theme sucks me in every time.

    +2 GFC-Lisa Richards
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  25. I think it's interesting that Ilsa would say her upcoming book Ashes is an apocalypse on top of an apocalypse. Can't wait to read it!

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  26. I really like the last paragraph :)
    GFC: Jeanne
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  27. The whole way she summed everything up in one sentence: At the end of the world as we know it, what I’m interested is: what comes next; the compromises people are willing to make and the rules they’re willing to break in order to survive; how social orders and communities, both good and bad, rise from the ashes; and what, if anything, is truly worth dying for. That is so intriguing, it makes you stop and think what you would do. Totally cool!
    I am a GFC follower here and at Amaterasu, +2
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  28. "In a way, what the ASHES trilogy is “about” can be boiled down to this. At the end of the world as we know it, what I’m interested is: what comes next; the compromises people are willing to make and the rules they’re willing to break in order to survive; how social orders and communities, both good and bad, rise from the ashes; and what, if anything, is truly worth dying for"
    I really like this paragraph because it seems to explain the true purpose of the book and makes you want to read it even more.. :)

    I follow both you and Amaterasu Reads :)
    I tweeted here!/kla505/status/77431568574054400

  29. This book looks amazing! I'm so happy to see that Dystopian-type novels are growing popular so rapidly!

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  30. What caught my attention the most was the whole idea of the Wizard of Oz and Dorothy's mantra of "There's No Place Like Home" being a very dystopian theme. I'd never really thought of that before. Also I think its very true what Ilsa said about what people read & watch have to do with current state of the world. Thinking about all the effects of the war and also global warming, its no wonder Dystopian is popular right now. Also I think people like to read books that challenge them and make them think and I think that's very true of Dystopian. Much of it seems to be a warning of what the world could turn into if we're not careful.

    I'm very excited for the chance to win Ashes, thank you so much for the giveaway!!!

    +2 I'm a GFC follower of both you and Amaterasu Reads
    +3 Dystopian Domination button on my blog:


    Thanks again to you and Ilsa. What an amazingly insightful guest post! :D

  31. What got my attention was the total spoiler on Hamlet. I am currently reading it and hadn't gotten that far yet lol yes I know people die, it is a tragedy after all. My English teacher went and ruined it for me when he announced that Hamlet dies.. I was the only person in the class who's like 'WHAT?'

    GFC Follower - Gabbie
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  32. I found the entire post quite fascinating, but what stood out for me is this:

    "At the end of the world as we know it, what I’m interested is: what comes next; the compromises people are willing to make and the rules they’re willing to break in order to survive; how social orders and communities, both good and bad, rise from the ashes; and what, if anything, is truly worth dying for."

    That sums up PERFECTLY what I look for when I pick up dystopian fiction.

    Thank you for the awesome giveaway!! I'm an old follower. :)

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  33. I like the last paragraphe. It is really scary when I think about the fact that dystopian books could become a reality.
    I'm old follower.
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  34. What got your attention/intrigued you in Ilsa’s post?
    This passage: "I could go on, but you get the picture. The world as we know it right now is dangerous and feels as if it’s getting worse."

    It's so true. Sometimes I'm reading a dystopian book and all I can think is, "This could happen anyday! It's totally possible!". It just makes me appreciate life more.

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  35. thank you for this awesome giveaway!!!

    the interview really interesting and it really got me thinking about dystopia and how sad and unfortunate it can be for some people.we should really consider ourselves lucky and fortunate:)

    GFC-Janhvi Jagtap
    justjanhvi at gmail dot com

  36. i loved how she explained why apocalytpic novels are appealing to adolescents. it got me thinking about the world today, and a future world...
    +2follower of both
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  37. The references to the Twilight Zone...I love that show!

    crazypplrok at gmail dot com

  38. +2 GFC: usagi, the golden witch
    +2 tweet:!/usagiko/status/82064061763821568

    Seriously loving the Twilight Zone/original Star Trek mentions. And this title has been on my tbr list for AGES. :D

    usagiko at gmail dot com