Tag Archives: dystopian fiction

Great Opening Paragraph 127… ‘The Road’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him. Nights dark beyond darkness and the days more gray each one than what had gone before. Like the onset of some cold glaucoma dimming away the world. His hand rose and fell softly with each precious breath. He pushed away the plastic tarpaulin and raised himself in the stinking robes and blankets and looked toward the east for any light but there was none.”
‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy Cormac McCarthy

Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:-
Affinity’ by Sarah Waters
The Secret History’ by Donna Tartt
Enduring Love’ by Ian McEwan

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
#FirstPara THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy #amwriting https://wp.me/p5gEM4-4er via @SandraDanby

#BookReview ‘The Choice’ by @clairerwade #books #dystopian

The Choice by Claire Wade is set in an alternative world, one where sugar is banned, exercise is compulsory and every supermarket visit is preceded by a weigh-in. It is a Big Brother world where a new government, initially intent on preventing sickness and encouraging healthy living, has gone OTT and taken control of the smallest details of people’s lives. Claire Wade

Olivia used to be a baker before the changes. When she lost her shop, she lost her reason for living. And so she subsists, making the best of the meal plans approved by Mother Mason, chivvying her friend Alice to keep to the rules and stay out of trouble, and worrying about the effect all of this is having on husband Danny and their two children. And then she gets a glimpse of a fightback. Is Olivia brave enough to join the protest, or will she play safe to protect her family? Of course she fights, in the only way she knows how. It starts in a small way, baking cakes for the local protest group to raise money for the cause. But then her rebellion gets way out of hand and she is faced with shame and condemnation.

The premise for this novel is fascinating and it reads as a freely-written novel, by which I mean the writer let the story flow and go where it wanted to. This adds to the excitement but it also left me feeling vaguely unsatisfied [like one of Mother Mason’s dietary-approved snack bars]. This is a hugely ambitious subject to tackle – one which, in the real world, we are struggling to address – so perhaps it is not surprising that the ending fades away with a lightweight conclusion. But the middle section is a rip-roaring read of domestic fightback. The passages in the detention centre and the shame box are great group scenes and this is where the novel is strongest.

I was left feeling the absence of a male voice – the key characters are all women – and longed for a deeper exploration of a challenge facing modern society with slightly less about cake ingredients. If you like Bake Off you will probably love this!

Claire Wade won the 2018 Good Housekeeping Novel Competition

If you like this, try:-
The Ship’ by Antonia Honeywell
The Last of Us’ by Rob Ewing
‘The Art of Baking Blind’ by Sarah Vaughan

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE CHOICE by @clairerwade #bookreview https://wp.me/p5gEM4-4tv via @SandraDanby

First Edition: ‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding #oldbooks

A moral for all times about self-governance, Lord of the Flies was the first novel of schoolteacher William Golding. It tells the story of a group of British schoolboys stranded on an uninhabited island and their disastrous attempts to govern themselves. It was not an instant hit, going out of print in the USA a year after publication, but it went onto be a bestseller.

William Golding

Faber original UK cover 1954

In the middle of an unspecified war, a plane crashes on a remote island in the Pacific. Fair-haired Ralph believes that grown-ups will come to rescue them, but Piggy says they should get organised. “Put first things first and act proper.” The novel explores the conflicting human impulses towards civilisation, social order, living according to the rules, with the pursuit of power. It is abrilliantly observed study of teenagers free of the usual rules and conventions imposed by adults.
Artwork for the first UK Faber edition [above], published on September 17, 1954 is by Anthony Gross. The current Faber edition [below] was first published in 1997. Buy here.

William Golding

Faber 1997 current ed

The story
During a wartime evacuation, a British aeroplane crashes on an isolated island in the Pacific Ocean. The only survivors are adolescent boys. Two boys – fair-haired Ralph, and spectacles-wearing Piggy – find a conch which Ralph uses as a horn to draw all the boys into one place. As Ralph appears responsible for bringing them all together, he commands some authority over the boys and is elected chief, despite not winning the votes of a boys’ choir led by Jack. In the early days the boys discover a source of food in fruit and wild pigs. But Piggy quickly becomes the butt of jokes and the initial sense of order disappears as the boys become idle. Their time is spent having fun and developing paranoias about the island; particularly a ‘beast’ that they all begin to believe exists.

The films
There have been three film adaptations based on the book. In 1963, Peter Brook’s Lord of the Flies was supported by Golding. In 1976 there was a Filipino television film called Alkitrang Dugo, the third Lord of the Flies film in 1990 was directed by Harry Hook.

Other editions 

If you like old books, check out these:-
‘Ulysses’ by James Joyce
‘101 Dalmations’ by Dodie Smith
‘The Sea, The Sea’ by Iris Murdoch

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
First Edition: LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding #oldbooks https://wp.me/p5gEM4-3G7 via @SandraDanby

Book review: The Ship

Antonia HoneywellLondon: an alternative world in which resources have almost run out. This is the world of The Ship by Antonia Honeywell. Sixteen-year old Lalla lives in a sheltered world managed by her parents. Her time is spent in safety, in their flat, or wandering the corridors of the British Museum, anything to avoid the danger, the shortages, the violence of this alternative London. People without homes camp in public buildings and parks, but they are a drain on the scant resources and are bombed, murdered in the name of preserving resources for the few who are ‘registered’. If you don’t have a card, you don’t exist, cannot get food or shelter.

Lalla has never eaten a fresh apple, and she begins to dream about what a real apple feels like, tastes like. On ‘The Ship’ she finally is given an apple. But like most things on The Ship, the apple is not what it seems. Lalla’s childhood has been governed by her parents’ political arguments, how best to make a life for Lalla, punctuated by her father’s mysterious disappearances. He is building something, gathering things, people, but Lalla does not know what.

Until the day arrives when her father takes a decision for the family and takes them to The Ship. An actual ship which he has bought and over ten years has fitted out with stores and everything needed to support the hundreds of people he has selected: for their skills, creative talents or bravery. He has chosen everything, anticipated everything.

The book really takes off when Lalla boards The Ship and tries to unravel the truth of what The Ship is, where it is going, and what is on the fourth floor. They eat tinned apple and powdered egg, read books on their ‘screens’ and discard their memories and grief in order to live in the now. It is a tale of growing up, of unpalatable truths, of shaking off the illusions of adolescence and being brave enough to stand up for yourself, to make your own decisions not governed by your parents. It is green-eyed Tom who gives the apple to Lalla, but why? And what does Lalla choose to do?

The ending will make you gasp.

For more about Antonia Honeywell, click here for her website.

If you like this, try:-
‘Sweet Caress’ by William Boyd
‘The Queen of the Tearling’ by Erika Johansen
‘In Ark’ by Lisa Devaney

‘The Ship’ by Antonia Honeywell [UK: Weidenfeld & Nicolson] Buy now

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE SHIP by @antonia_writes #books via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1y6

Great Opening Paragraph 66… ‘Animal Farm’ #amwriting #FirstPara

George Orwell

“Mr Jones, of the Manor Farm, had locked the hen-houses for the night, but was too drunk to remember to shut the pop-holes. With the ring of light from his lantern dancing from side to side, he lurched across the yard, kicking off his boots at the back door, drew himself a last glass of beer from the barrel in the scullery, and made his way up to bed, where Mrs Jones was already snoring.”
‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell

Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:-
‘Queen Camilla’ by Sue Townsend
‘Middlesex’ by Jeffrey Eugenides
‘Herzog’ by Saul Bellow

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
I want to read more: ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell #books via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-kL

Great opening paragraph 25… ‘Super-Cannes’ #amwriting #FirstPara

JG Ballard“The first person I met at Eden-Olympia was a psychiatrist, and in many ways it seems only too apt that my guide to this ‘intelligent’ city in the hills above Cannes should have been a specialist in mental disorders. I realize now that a kind of waiting madness, like a state of undeclared war, haunted the office buildings of the business park. For most of us, Dr Wilder Penrose was our amiable Prospero, the psychopomp who steered our darkest dreams towards the daylight. I remember his eager smile when we greeted each other, and the evasive eyes that warned me away from his outstretched hand. Only when I learned to admire this flawed and dangerous man was I able to think of killing him.”
‘Super-Cannes’ by JG Ballard

Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:-
‘Illywhacker’ by Peter Carey
‘The Children Act’ by Ian McEwan
‘Couples’ by John Updike

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A 1st para which makes me want to read more: SUPER-CANNES by JG Ballard #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-8x via @SandraDanby

Great opening paragraph 1… ‘1984’ #amwriting #FirstPara

George Orwell
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him.”
‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ by George Orwell 

Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:-
‘Catch-22’ by Joseph Heller
‘Room’ by Emma Donoghue
‘Jack Maggs’ by Peter Carey




It is 38 years since I first read this paragraph, here’s my old university copy of 1984George Orwell

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
1984 by George Orwell via @SandraDanby #amreading http://wp.me/p5gEM4-2d