Tag Archives: pure

Far From Utopia: The Love Of Dystopia

It cannot have escaped anyone’s notice that Hunger-Games fever – and a love of all things dystopian – has gripped the nation. If you’re not faced with the sight of books baring the all-too-familiar grey tie, it’s more than likely that your tube journey will be populated with numerous commuters reading The Hunger Games. The love of the dystopian is by no means new. In fact, it is over 60 years since the publication of George Orwell’s seminal 1984 and it is as widely read and studied today as ever. But why has the genre seen such overwhelming growth in popularity now? Why has The Hunger Games trilogy so captured the imagination of young readers and adults alike?

The success of The Hunger Games began with the readers at whom it was initially targeted, young adults, and this is due in no small part to the powerful protagonist at its heart, Katniss. It is easy to see why she has become a poster-girl for teenage independence, a symbol of youthful power and resilience. Faced with seemingly insurmountable adversity, her endurance and bravery are impressive indeed and even more so for readers of her age, for whom she provides an obvious role model. Her struggle for survival is universal and has been depicted countless times; it is mankind’s greatest test writ large. This time, however, it is a teenager who offers hope in a time of moral turpitude and her strength is undeniably compelling.

Although confined within the constraints of the game itself, Katniss is able to exert control over her performance, ignoring the advice of her elders before entering the game and defiantly undermining the gamemakers’ control at every opportunity. For modern-day teenagers, eager to be released from the shackles of parental and societal restriction, these worlds offer a unique opportunity to imagine themselves autonomous, even in this most bleak of environments. Like Katniss and her fellow dystopian inhabitants, teenagers today are faced with a future determined by the decisions of their elders. Ultimately, these fictions offer hope; the hope that they, like Katniss, will not be found wanting when faced with considerable adversity and challenge.

However, it is not Katniss alone who has determined the success of The Hunger Games. Much has been said of Suzanne Collins’ strikingly vivid world creation and it is certainly true that Panem has captured the imaginations of readers of all ages. With nods to the world we inhabit, Katniss’ world is inescapably unsettling. It is, like ours, a world of self creation. Katniss is constantly aware of the public’s perception of her, carefully crafting her persona throughout. In a time of Facebook/Twitter domination and internet avatars aplenty this is something we can all relate to. Readers of The Hunger Games may well tweet about their love of the book, keen to add this to the intangible perception others glean of them from the internet. Just as Katniss manipulates the audience’s understanding of her personality, her experience of the game and her motivation, so too do we all create an identity for ourselves in the online landscape.

The similarities between Panem and the modern world may be unnerving but so too are the differences comforting. Regardless of the problems we see around us, we are safely removed from times as hard as those depicted in the world of the games. It serves, instead, as a snapshot of what might be. Whilst we can, for the moment, revel in complacency that our youth are not selected at random to compete in a fight to the death, we can only hope that the similarities we recognise and the degeneration depicted serve as warnings that are heeded, not ignored.

With the release of the remaining Hunger Games films and with a bevy of dystopian novels to come – including Headline’s very own Pure – it doesn’t look like we’ll be finding a literary utopia any time soon…

Posted by Frankie Gray, Editorial

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Staff Hot Picks for 2012

The fairy lights have been packed away, it’s relentlessly gloomy outside, your rail ticket has gone up, there’s still Christmas cheese in the fridge. As months go, January isn’t the best. Perhaps that’s why we spend most of it looking forward – for it’s the month, is it not, where we peer into the year ahead and contemplate what it has in store for us.

Here at Headline we’re hugely cheered by the fact that we will be publishing some seriously brilliant books in 2012. We like to think this is true of every year, but it feels like we have a particularly fine crop this time round. So, as we half-heartedly sip on our miso soup and resign ourselves to the fact that post-Christmas TV schedules are truly woeful, it’s heartening to remind ourselves of what we have coming up to get us jiggling with excitement again.

In the interests of appetite-whetting, we thought we’d ask a few Headline staff to tell us about some of the books we’ll be publishing in the forthcoming months that are already getting them all hot and bothered. Here’s what they said:

PURE, Julianna Baggott (February)
I can’t wait for Pure to come out this February so I can finally get to see what everyone makes of it. What struck me about this brilliant novel was the breadth of themes it covers. This is a tale about a dystopian future that draws on past tragedy, a satire on technology and freedom of speech, a coming-of-age story – all delivered at the pace of a thriller. Pressia and Partridge are two very intriguing protagonists, divided by the formidable dome that separates the pure from the unpure, and as their stories collide and intertwine in their quest for the truth you’ll find yourself as battered and bruised as they are by the end. Thrilling.
Richard Roper, Editorial

This is a tense and unsettling story of one girl, Emily Koll, and the heinous circumstances that have led to her imprisonment in the psychiatric ward of a young offenders institute. Emily totally makes the book for me. She is a deeply fascinating and disturbing character, consumed by an unapologetic obsession with revenge; revenge for a crime that has shattered her family, her identity and most tragically her future. Her obsession ploughs through the lives and loves of others as well as her own, destroying everything in its path, and as the reader you’re left dragging along in its wake. I absolutely loved it!
Lynsey Sutherland, Marketing

THE OTHER HALF OF ME, Morgan McCarthy (May)
Half the joy of reading surely comes from being able to talk about a book you love. I think that’s why I’m champing at the bit for the publication of Morgan McCarthy’s  magical The Other Half of Me. From the very first page, Morgan deftly locks the reader into the world of brother and sister, Jonathan and Theo. Their carefree childhood comes to an end when their wealthy grandmother, Eve, starts to take an unprecedented interest in the children’s wellbeing. As they grow older, cracks begin to appear in Eve’s veneer and the stories she tells, and Jonathan and Theo’s relationship is tested as dark family secrets unfold. Morgan McCarthy’s melodic and witty prose is truly unique. She encapsulates the preciousness of sibling relationships and the heartache of adolescence as the naivety of youth ebbs and adult responsibilities take hold. Have the hankies at the ready – for both tears of laughter and sadness.
Vero Norton, Publicity

A KILLING IN THE HILLS, Julia Keller (September)
I finished this last night and thought it was brilliant. A thriller set in deepest America, it’s certainly no postcard for Ackers Gap, West Virginia, but I found myself totally sucked into this bleak and poverty stricken town and eager to read more about the steely protagonist Belfa Elkins – she is a total heroine for the hillbilly underbelly.
Frances Doyle, Sales

JEFFANORY, Jeff Stelling (April)
It’s hard to imagine a Saturday afternoon of football, anymore, without thinking of one man – Jeff Stelling. Whether you support Barnet or Barcelona, Jeff and the boys on Soccer Saturday have created a 3-hour window during which football fans all over the country are gripped and should, under no circumstances, be disturbed. Jeff’s book, Jeffanory, is full of new hilarious stories, memories of classic matches, the agony and the ecstasy and of course the banter, that we witness on Soccer Saturday each weekend. It’s the perfect way to get through the long weeks that divide each Saturday fixture. The personal touch that Jeff adds to his anecdotes really show why he is a national hero amongst all football fans, and why all fans should look no further than this for their footballing fix.
Anthony Simnica, Production

CIRCLE OF SHADOWS, Imogen Robertson (April) and WHATEVER IT TAKES, Adele Parks (June)
It was too hard to pick just one 2012 title, I have far too many favourites, so instead I have cheekily gone for two. Circle of Shadows by Imogen Robertson has to be one of my picks. I love Imogen’s writing, it is packed full of historical references, amazing characters that pop up out of the book and page-turning plots that get more and more interesting as the story develops. And then there’s Whatever it Takes by Adele Parks, which is one of the most addictive books I have read since joining Headline. The relationship between the two women, Eloise and Sara, is absolutely brilliant, with the added complication of men making this a refreshing, shocking and unputdownable read.
Holly McCulloch, Editorial

And there you have it, a mere taste of what’s in store for us in 2012. There’s much more where that came from, so be sure to keep a beady eye on this blog over the coming months for more gems.

Posted by Leah Woodburn, Editorial

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