Dystopian Mini-Reviews Pt 2| Among the Hidden, Blood Red Road, and City of Ember

Sup. It's 1:30 am, and I am dead tired but cannot fall asleep (still stuck on island time), so here I am, giving you my undivided, half-asleep attention.

You're welcome.

Who likes reading? Y'all better have raised your hands. And who likes reading well-written books that don't make you want to cause the apocalypse just to spite the world that was awful enough to contain such books? (I can only hope that all my dear readers raised their hands solemnly and said "Aye". If not, then I am upset that you do not see the situation with the same gravity that I do) 

Apparently some authors have decided to cheat the world of the threat of the apocalypse by making it about as fearful as a plushie unicorn in a cartoon.

Thankfully these are not those books. These are books that made me look at the Dystopian genre with a refreshed hope for the future of humanity (not that the dystopian futures were any less bleak, but they had more variety in their oppression, so that's something to look forward to). They all have something in common. Every single one of these I found by accident whilst perusing the magical isles of my local library (I once got lost in there for 3 years. In fact, I am half-way convinced that I am still lost).

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Among the Hidden by Margaret Haddix
Luke has never been to school. He's never had a birthday party, or gone to a friend's house for an overnight. In fact, Luke has never had a friend.
Luke is one of the shadow children, a third child forbidden by the Population Police. He's lived his entire life in hiding, and now, with a new housing development replacing the woods next to his family's farm, he is no longer even allowed to go outside.
Then, one day Luke sees a girl's face in the window of a house where he knows two other children already live. Finally, he's met a shadow child like himself. Jen is willing to risk everything to come out of the shadows -- does Luke dare to become involved in her dangerous plan? 

My favorite thing about this book is how un-Dystopian it felt. Yes, the big bad government is coming to get everyone, but the way it is told is through the eyes of a child -- simpler, relatable, and none of them have any special skills. In fact, I'm sure that if they were given half a chance, they would all be lying on the couch eating potato chips (honestly, same) and watching Tom and Jerry reruns (for those of you who don't know Tom and Jerry, it is about a psychotic cat desperately trying to murder an innocent mouse by any means possible).

Why y'all should read it (also known as a Pro):
  • This features children who act their age, but are also rational human beings.
  • I would like to see more characters that act their age, and don't make reeeeally stupid decisions (because clearly I can't relate to making stupid decisions. I am perf)
  • Kids helping kids.
  • Boarding schools full of secrecy and betrayal.
  • I'm pretty sure there's a few secret entrances here and there.
  • A lavish party that is complete with a chandelier (The Phantom is thrilled)!
  • You might very well be preparing for the future as we know it. Could you imagine?
  • OH NO
  • I need to prepare.
  • Ahem, excuse me. I need to pack some things and learn how to defend against threats besides a small toddler (and even then it's a little dodgy)
We must prepare.
Why y'all might not want to read it (also known as a Con):
  • Because while it is a great dystopian book, it isn't the greatest book of all time. You could be spending your time reading, say: Winnie-the-Pooh or Six of Crows! But we're here to talk dystopian, so...
  • It is middle-grade, so if you're looking for a book to stimulate your mind and present new topics to think over extensively with the greatest philosophers, then you should probs look elsewhere.
  • But if you want to read a fun book about children running for their lives, then this is it.
  • I can't remember anything really wrong with this book.
  • I hope that's a good sign. Who knows.
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Blood Red Road by Moira Young
Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That's fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when four cloaked horsemen capture Lugh, Saba's world is shattered, and she embarks on a quest to get him back.
Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the outside world, Saba discovers she is a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba's unrelenting search for Lugh stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization.

This was one of my first introductions to YA dystopia, and I could not be happier. I adore that it's not defined by the fact that it's dystopian. When I read it, I didn't even know it was technically dystopian until I saw it under that category on Goodreads.

Why y'all might want to read it (also known was a Pro):
  • There aren't any dialogue tags and everything is spelled exactly the way it is said. I AM PLEASED. During the first chapter I was extremely confused and unsure what book I had just opened, but then after I got in the groove of the style, I immediately sold my right hand to keep reading (yes, I am typing this one handed. It is extremely difficult and slow. This one post alone has taken me three years)
  • A girl gang called the Free Hawks that's about fighting things. SOAR HIGH, precious girl gang, soar high.
  • Cage-fighting and other fun ruthless things.
  • Btw, the heroine is tough as nails and pretty deadly (though not your typical "dystopian heroine dressed in black and emotional issues" tough)
  • It's so marvelously intricate, and every detail is important. The author didn't throw in a bunch of random, useless facts to confuse the reader (*glares at Les Miserables* We don't need the life history of a random candlemaker...)
  • The story builds on itself and unfolds like a gorgeous flaky pastry rising in the oven.
  • The characters are like icing on the already fantastic cake.
  • And the story didn't end perfectly tied up in a little bow like a box of macaroons (can you tell I'm hungry right now?). 
  • And it's apparently being made into a movie??? So you can read it before it's known by the masses. When you're standing in line to buy a ticket, you can scoff at everyone else and say: "I read it before it was cool."

Why y'all might not want to read this (also known as a Con):
  • Because the book was told in first person and slang, the imagery isn't exactly dazzling. I don't know about you, but I don't exactly go around describing everything I see in my head.
  • As much as I love the Classic Western influences, there are quite a few cliches that kind of stare you in the face.
  • I didn't think that the romance was well done. It kind of popped up with no real purpose (which is actually a big pet peeve of mine, but we'll ignore that)
It's a refreshing dystopian that isn't all about the big bad government and isn't in the usual setting either, so frankly, it's already winning.

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The City of Ember by Jeanne DeProu
Many hundreds of years ago, the city of Ember was created by the Builders to contain everything needed for human survival. It worked…but now the storerooms are almost out of food, crops are blighted, corruption is spreading through the city and worst of all—the lights are failing. Soon Ember could be engulfed by darkness…
But when two children, Lina and Doon, discover fragments of an ancient parchment, they begin to wonder if there could be a way out of Ember. Can they decipher the words from long ago and find a new future for everyone? Will the people of Ember listen to them?

I was always a little in awe of this book. It takes a concept that sounds so simple and changes it into something that is fresh and engaging. This is how dystopian is done.

Why y'all might want to read it (also known as Pros):
  • That is honestly the main thing I remember: being so incredibly hungry for canned peaches (in fact, just talking about it is making me a tad peckish).
  • I love the two main characters. They're both so sweet (and frankly, I used to have a bit of a thing for Doon. That boy was Little Me's 12 yr old dream).
  • The writing is very emotional. You can feel exactly what the atmosphere is like. Every time there is a blackout, that very same panic ripples through the reader.
  • GIANT RODENTS TERRORIZING TUNNELS. I always wanted to make friends with the giant rodents. If I lived in Ember, I would be dead in a hot minute.
  • Lina's lil sis is an adorable plot device. I am okay with her being a blatant plot device because she's just so gosh darn squishable.
  • This entire story is just one giant metaphor about society and the human spirit. 
  • I am told by a reliable source that there are more books that vaguely fit together to create a coherent series that continues to be delightful. 
Why y'all might not want to read it (also known as a Con):
  • It is written for a very specific target age, and the writing is definitely middle-grade. 
  • There were times where I did find myself stifling a yawn and beginning to nod off. There were a few sentences that should have been vetoed, and maybe a few paragraphs that could have been saved for the super special extended version ("limited edition version with three whole new pages. Yours for only $50 more than the original price!" I feel like they could really make some money off of that).
  • The characters can be kind of naive at times, which can be a tad annoying if you see the correct decision to make. Obviously they should listen to you, but for some reason, they dON'T. It's preposterous. 
City of Ember has earned a permanent place on my shelf. It is sweet, well-formed, and OMG, FULL OF CANNED PEACHES. Y'all, we need to start a petition for all books to contain at least 36% food appreciation. Maybe 50%. Aw, heck, why not just start reading cookbooks instead?? That's a better idea.

Have you read any of these? Are you going to be reading any cookbooks with me? Do you like canned peaches? Would you try to make friends with a giant rodent? (please tell me I am not the only one with questionable judgement)  Are you the third child in your family? Or would the goverment spare you from their wrath (you lucky duck)?


  1. I am the oldest in my family, so I will most likely survive a government purge. Thankfully 😅.

    I haven't read any of these... but it looks like I should! They sound awesome!

  2. I'm eldest, so the government would spare me. HOWEVER- I would not spare the government if they dared try and take my siblings. *snarls*

    ...Oh snap. I think I've just set myself up as a dystopian protagonist, the classic overthrow-the-government kind. I'd rather be The City of Ember sort (although I've only read a little bit of that book)

    1. If there is a rebellion, I will let you take the lead since you clearly are the Chosen One here.

      I agree that City of Ember seems like a much more agreeable sort of dystopia to live in.


    But ... I'm the firstborn, so I guess I'd survive anyways xD. Awesome post, Evangeline! I've been slacking on commenting (*totally blames life for everything*) but your posts are always the best *nodnod*.

    ~ Savannah @ Scattered Scribblings

  4. AMONG THE HIDDEN OMG. One of the first dystopians I ever read and, to the day, still one of the best. :) I completely agree - it was eerie how realistic it felt; it almost didn't feel like a dystopian novel at all - and I think that's what made it so powerful and haunting. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous post! <3

    1. RIGHT? SO GOOD. I just hope it never becomes a reality because, dangit, I would be in trouble. XD



    (I promise I'm a very normal human being.)

    SECOND: "for those of you who don't know Tom and Jerry, it is about a psychotic cat desperately trying to murder an innocent mouse by any means possible" << THAT IS A PERFECT AND HILARIOUS DESCRIPTION OH MY GOSH and i'm lowkey worried for everyone who doesn't know what Tom and Jerry is but then I'm an Old Soul™ hahahahahem. *nervous laughter*

    I THINK THE ONLY DYSTOPIAN BOOK I'VE EVER READ IS DIVERGENT... like the whole series but that doesn't count. I have a hard time getting to like dystopian?? IT ALL FEELS THE SAME IDK IDK. But that cover for The City of Ember is FREAKING GORGEOUS omg want <333

    rock on,

    1. ISN'T IT SO PRECIOUS??? it's just too cute.

      *bows* I thought it was a fitting description. XD

      I can definately relate to dystopian all feeling the same. Unfortunately, dystopian is a genre that is sorely lacking in GOOD STORIES. Uhg.

  6. I'm the eldest in my family and there are only two of us, so we wouldn't really have any shadow children in my family. >.< I love Maragaret Peterson Haddix's books, like Running Out of Time, the Missing series, Double Identity, Into the Gauntlet, and while we aren't supposed to judge a book by its cover, THE COVERS SCARED ME AS A KID.

    Ooh, City of Ember! I think I've read it once, but it was a long time ago (like fourth or fifth grade) and it's definitely time for a reread! I love how you're also like, "(also a con)" LOL. That made me crack up.

    I'm going to follow your blog as soon as I get on my laptop after volunteering today. ^.^ I can never find the GFC button while on mobile....

    xoxo Abigail Lennah | ups & downs

    1. Your family will be safe from the government's wrath. You are blessed. :D I haven't read all of her books, but the one's I have read are so good!! I love the Missing series.

      Aw, thanks! Welcome to the group. :D


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