“At the end of the world, I will be there with you…”

Dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction – be it the written word or film – has exploded over the past year or two. It was a welcome turn from the endless circle of vampires, werewolves and clumsy human girls, but then it became a little bit…predictable. “No kidding, another government fell and it’s up to two teenagers to head the revolution? How droll.”

A seemingly exciting, adventurous genre turned…boring. It was the same story being recycled over and over, as is inevitable when anything blows up into the super-popular. However, there have been a few dystopian/post-apocalyptic recipes that have really worked for me. They’ve kept me on the edge of my seat, I haven’t gotten bored, and I’ve wanted more. Once I become picky about a genre, it gets almost impossible to give me something I approve of (boy, I sound like a snob. I guess I’m a fiction connoisseur? That sounds nicer).

Here are a few that have passed the test –

Jericho.

This TV show ran from 2006 to 2008, for a season and a half. It revolves around a small Kansas town, Jericho, and what happens after the nation’s major cities are destroyed by nuclear bombs and the country crumbles into chaos. Mom and Dad watched this show before I did and honestly, I wasn’t that interested for a long time. When I finally watched the pilot episode with them, I was pleasantly surprised – it was intriguing, exciting, intelligent, and I may or may not have instantly fallen for the main character Jake Green.

We watched all the episodes, and then my parents bought them (we were extremely excited) and we re-watched it almost instantly. Why did this series work? Why did I love it so much, when it isn’t a completely original idea?

1. Real main characters. Everyone was different, and everyone was real. Nobody was unrealistically cool – even Jake made impulsive decisions, got hurt, and argued – and he’s about as cool as it’s possible for a character to get. The only unrealistic thing about them was…their hair. The women, not the men. Seriously, how DID they find all that product?

2. Realistic problems. Nuclear fallout? Check. Starvation? Check. Cold winter? Check. Power struggles? Check. Family problems? Check, check, check. Mercenaries? Oh, check. You never knew what problem they were going to get hit with next, but you knew it was going to be a doozy.

3. Humor. Yep, humor. The shows are intense and thrilling (and surprisingly clean, too) – but the writers made sure to keep the dialogue livened with humor. Jake and Stanley had some hilarious conversations, city-woman Mimi was always good for a laugh, and it all felt very much like a real family. Dysfunctional at times, but held together with love and friendship and chuckles.

4. Jake. You really have to watch the show.

That’s my best example of a post-apocalyptic story that really worked, even if it was depressingly short. My mom, sister and I are watching Revolution online; it’s a new story revolving around the world 13 years after a global blackout. I’m not as impressed with it as I was with Jericho – the characters border on unrealistically fanny-kicking cool or “Lookat me, I can take’mallout with my pinkifinger!” My favorite thing about this show is watching them travel around the overgrown train stations and whatnot – the visuals are awesome. Plus there’s a lot of swashbuckling, which you don’t find often in dystopic fiction. Also, there keep being actors we recognize – Mirror from Once Upon a Time, Russel from Jericho, daddy werewolf from Red Riding Hood. That’s always fun.

I’ve read three dystopic books recently: Legend, Ashes Ashes, and Sneak. None of them were perfect – Legend had teen insta-love, Ashes Ashes needed more development, Sneak could be predictable – but they all had things that helped make them interesting and keep me turning the pages.

Legend was intriguing, you couldn’t help but wonder what all those Xs on doors meant, if anybody was going to catch the plague, if Day was going to get caught. I liked that about it, you weren’t sure what was going to happen next and there was enough danger and people getting hurt to raise the stakes.

Ashes Ashes did well with realism – skinned knees, boiled clothes and turtle soup (that didn’t turn out so well). And it had Sammy, a character who was absolutely awesome and only had about 3% page time. Urgh.

Sneak, like its predecessor Swipe, was fun and interesting enough – while it isn’t outstanding, it has Christian values, a solid plot, and characters colorful enough to make it a good read.

What about you? Anything that particularly irritates you about the post-apocalyptic/dystopian genre, or do you have favorites?

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23 thoughts on ““At the end of the world, I will be there with you…”

  1. I’m a HUGE fan of dystopian. Eek. Love it. But after you’ve swallowed about twenty books in a row on it, yeah, things start sounding the same. I just read *Legend* too, enjoyed myself immensely, but I knew where it was going the whole time. Novels like *The Giver* and *Gathering Blue* will stand as timeold favourite dystopians for me. And of course the Hunger Games. I’m a sucker for the Hunger Games. 😉

  2. Actually, the only sort of end-of-the-world kind of story I’ve read are the Left Behind Novels and I loved them (still reading them, in fact) Buuut . . . I’ll definitely get back to you when I read a dystopian novel. But yes, they’ve been blown up in the major sense these days. :/ *shrugs*

  3. I’m a huge fan of the dystopian/post-apocalyptic genre, and… well, I have to agree with you. Every dystopian novel seems to repeat itself. However, there have been a few that I’ve fallen in love with, no matter how “un-original” they are. For example, The Hunger Games was fantastic, as was The Divergent Trilogy, as well as Enclave by Anne Aguirre.
    Mirriam, you *stole* a post that I’ve been wanting to do for some time now! 😉 BTW, it’s a great post. Much better than something I could’ve come up with…
    Also, I love your new blog design. 🙂

  4. I really LOVE The Hunger Games and The Giver. Both are excellent examples of letting our government take too much control. The more one starts to study the books and break down the ideas, the more one realizes that the futures shown in them could become ours. In the Hunger Games, it talks about how citizens of the Capitol didn’t care aboutwhat happened in the government as long as they had the Games and food to eat. It’s scarily similar to our world today; for example, lots of people will take the free health care and education offered to them and never question the motives behind it. They don’t care what our government does as long as they get what they want. Even the fact that our country is so accepting of abortion is scary. They’re destroying life without thinking about it, much like the Capitol did with the children of the districts. So yeah, I’m a huge fan of dystopian done well. 😀

  5. WHAT?! NOOOOOO!!!! Jericho is only a season and a half long?!?!?! RAWR I was hoping for something to keep me going for a while!!!!!! I started it yesterday, and it’s magnificent!!! But that meas I’m going to have to find another series to watch soon, ’cause I’m all caught up to all my other series. Like Sherlock *cries* I finished it the other day when Netflix FINALLY got the second season.

    Isn’t it awful when favorites become super popular?! It generally tends to ruin some (sometimes a lot more than some) of the fun of it. Buuuut at least they haven’t ruined very many of my favorites yet *goes all Gollum with subjects like dragons and assassins*!!!!

    • I KNOW it’s TOO SHORT! Nuts!!! But alas; it’s still awesome. Small but mighty. SHERLOCK. OHMYWORDMA;SLDKFJ;ASLDKJSHERLOCKEPISODES *screams* AAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • SHERLOCK! ❤

        I was recently introduced to that show… 😀 Can't. Get. Enough.

        As for dystopia, well, I've never liked it. Still don't. I prefer the straight up adventure story – with a satisfying conclusion. Most dystopias are too much like disaster stories for me, not a "hero's journey".
        *cough*call me crazy but I hated the Hunger Games*cough*

      • Lol Mirriam. Spaz much? Though I feel exactly the same. X) we have both seasons on dvd, actually. 😉
        and to Krazy: I’m sorry, I can never resist rattling off a list of shows whenever someone says they’re out of things to watch. So here goes. 😉 have you seen:

        Merlin – bbc drama (guess what it’s about!)
        Castle – crime show about a mystery writer
        White Collar – crime show about a master theif
        Alphas – x-men-esque drama about people with powers
        The Mentalist – crime show about a sherlock-esque guy
        Psych – comedy about a guy who pretends to be psychic
        Rookie Blue – cop drama about rookies
        Robin Hood – bbc drama (again, take a wild guess)
        Hawaii 5-0 – crime show in HAWAII
        Bones – crime show about a forensic anthropologist
        Lie to me – crime show about a guy who can read minute facial expressions
        The Glades – crime show in Florida
        Downton Abbey – drama about 1912 life
        Numbers – crime show about an FBI agent and his genius math prof. brother

        You’ve most likely seen, or at least HEARD of many of these, but I thought I’d name them for you anyway. 😉

        • Oh, it’s all good! I love suggestions; they make me feel so much better about watching random stuff. Does that make sense? Anyway…

          Merlin, yes! A big favorite, but Netflix is an idiot and won’t get any episodes after season two.
          White Collar, yes. That’s one of my brothers favorites.
          Psych, yes! A whole family favorite!
          Robin Hood, yes! Watched, re-watched, and re-watched again!
          Bones, no, but my older siblings watch it.

          All the others I’ve heard of, but don’t know anything about. Now I do! Yay! Thanks a ton, I’ll be sure to check them out!!! Especially Alphas…I’m in an super-powered-people sort of mood…

          • I completely understand. 😉 and yes! Alphas!! 😀 SUCH an awesome show! X) hehehe I love Gary, he’s adorable. ;D

            PSYCH!!! XD our whole family LOVES that show, too, and so does everybody we’ve shown it too. 😉 lol it’s hard NOT to like! 😀

            • Oh, I almost forgot. If you want you can watch Merlin online using this site called sidereel. you don’t actually watch it THERE, but you just click on the episode you want, and then click “show links”, and it’ll give you a list of a bunch of sites you can watch it on. It can take some patience to find a good link, but there’s usually one there. 😉

              also, MERLIN SEASON 5 STARTS AIRING OCTOBER 6!!!! *has a freaky fangirl moment or seven*

  6. I love dystopian, and it makes me sad to see it wasted on poor plots and flat characters 😥

    I really need to see Jericho. It sounds epic =D

  7. I don’t think I’ve really read much dystopian/post-apocalyptic . . . I’m going to read Swipe and Sneak soon though because my brother liked them… (Also on my to-read stack is Lawhead’s Robin Hood trilogy which he recently read; I know you love them. ;))
    I’ve seen Hunger Games but not read it yet… (Did you like the movie??)

    Oh yes, I hate it when my favorite character in a story doesn’t get to have much screen-time/page-time!!! It’s DREADFUL! >.<

  8. Cinder, by Marissa Meyer, is a really good dystopian novel. It’s not too original, but the characters are good, there’s suspense–and the plague, the surroundings are unique, and there’s an element of whimsy that I really enjoyed.

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