The selections this week include all YA books set in the future that involve the dangers of medical tampering. Three of the four societies are post-apocalyptic. It’s easy to draw the conclusion that forceful changes to improve the human body will have disastrous consequences.
- In Delirium by Lauren Oliver, love has been labeled a disease, amor deliria nervosa, and has been eliminated from all adults. When teenagers reach eighteen years of age, an operation removes all their strong feelings, thus changing their personalities forever. From infancy, children are taught that the disease of love ruins lives. Boys and girls are segregated and are only allowed to spend time together post-surgery. As the main character, Lena, falls in love with a boy, she realizes that love is a wonderful part of life. One aspect of Lena’s childhood helped her feel things differently than those around her. When she was young, her mother danced with her, sang with her, and showed love and affection to her on a regular basis despite those actions being considered inappropriate. As a result, she recognized love and sought after it. Once she starts acting on her emotions, her life is never the same. (HarperCollins, 2016)
2. Daughter 4254 by Leigh Statham has a similar theme of a nurtured child being capable of love. As a child, the main character’s mother comforted her when she was upset. Such a normal expression was deemed unlawful in their oppressive society. All markers of identity and personality are erased. People are assigned numbers instead of names, clothing and buildings are without color and exist only in greys, and everything beautiful has been ripped from society. There are no flowers, songbirds, decorations, or art of any kind. Children are taught to not express themselves and aren’t permitted to feel emotion. At the beginning of the novel, the main character, Daughter 4254, is incapable of controlling herself and gets in trouble daily for laughing or asking questions out of turn. She doesn’t find the courage to openly celebrate beauty until she enters college. A search for personal expression and love causes a chain reaction of events that take place over a trilogy. The final installment will be released in 2020. (OHP, 2017)
3. Wither by Lauren DeStefano portrays a futuristic society where science has eliminated all harmful diseases like cancer. This means longer life spans for the population but causes an unforeseen problem. All the future generations have shorter lifespans. Girls live to the age of twenty, while boys die at age twenty-five. As a result, there is an overabundance of young orphans and destitution for most of the population. How much wealth and security can you amass for yourselves if you have a shortened life? The first generation of the cured are the only people in society with wealth, and they amass the power and live luxurious lives in comparison. Poverty leads many youths to prostitute themselves for security. Rhine, the main character, is kidnapped and sold to a wealthy family to be one of three new wives to their teenage son. The “norm” of teen marriage and pregnancy disturbed me. Rhine tries to find her true self despite being married against her will. (Simon & Schuster, 2011)
4. In Narcosis Room by Louise Cypress, scientists have discovered a medically safe way to change personalities and alter or “fix” appearances while you sleep. A stuttering rock star wants to forget his recent breakup and fix his speech problem. A girl’s parents want to control her life by erasing her memories in the hopes of removing her rebellious ways. Memories are erased and personality is changed through a type of hypnosis during months of sleep while in the Narcosis Room. An unexpected problem arises that helps the main characters during their journey of self-discovery. Not all the erased memories are forgotten. As the characters struggle to remember their past, they seek to make peace with themselves. Soon, they realize that internal struggles are a normal part of growing up.
What are your favorite futuristic medical thrillers?
Until next time, keep indulging in all the glorious words. Savor their sweetness and don’t forget to share some book ideas for me below.
Hannah is OHP’s acquisitions editor and fearless reader of the flock. We love her insights about books of all genres, and we’re thrilled to share those with you in a monthly series: Books are Better than Chocolate (Don’t get mad. We still really like chocolate).