Last year, I read an adult dystopian novel. It stayed in my memory, and not in a good way. Not that it was a badly written book. On the contrary, while it wouldn’t win any prizes for literary merit, the book did its job: it hooked me from the start and I kept reading all the way through to the end to see how it turned out.
All the same, I’ll never read it again, and I can’t say I’d recommend it. It was extremely depressing. It started off with a disaster (manmade? I think so), some kind of virus that killed off most everyone on the planet and left the remainder unable to reproduce. The characters tried to find ways to overcome their short and long-term problems of survival. But the story was so grim that halfway through the novel, characters just started committing suicide because it was all so hopeless.
For example, at the beginning of the story, the heroine is separated from her one true love. She survives all the evil things that happen to her and makes it through to the one place of safety, only to find that her one true love had been there for months. He’d killed himself a few weeks before she arrived because there was no point in going on.
Reading that book left an aftertaste of depression, alienation, a sense of overall grayness to my life that I really don’t think I need. Look, I don’t care how hopeless life is, not every waking moment of every day is always off the scale miserable for days and weeks and months on end. You can find hope even in desperate situations. Victor Frankl, in Man’s Search for Meaning, describes surviving life in a concentration camp by finding positive things to hold on to.
The next book I read after the dystopian story was an inspirational romance, Tracy Blalock’s Wed on the Wagon Train. The heroine had problems. She was in a desperate situation. She worked to resolve her problems and she held on to Hope even when things looked pretty dire. I put that book down feeling encouraged to go on with my daily burdens, not ready to give up because Everything Was So Dark.