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Dystopias without romance

Do these even exist? I would take even played-down romanced. I would take the first book of a series that only hinted at the romance to come.

Too often lately I've been drawn in by a book's premise only to see the same formula over and over: girl doesn't question the way the world is until mysterious boy arrives. Girl falls for boy, follows him to "enlightenment".

I tend to love the world building in dystopias but am so tired of this. I will read pretty much anything marketed to adults or young adults or even children, just get me out of my tacked-on-romance-in-a-dystopia slump!


( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 22nd, 2012 12:04 am (UTC)
The first two books to leap to my mind are Cormac McCarthy's The Road and Russell Hoban's Riddley Walker. Both are very much books for adults, but they're also free of even the hint of romance. Of the two, The Road had more emotional impact on me, but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend either.
Jan. 22nd, 2012 12:06 am (UTC)
Maybe The Passage by Justin Cronin? It's an adult book and I don't recall a lot of romance. Just a warning...it's a brick of a novel and has mixed reviews, but I actually enjoyed it.
Jan. 22nd, 2012 12:09 am (UTC)
Oh! And maybe Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. It pretty much has only one guy by himself in a dystopian world. It's told in a lot of flashbacks, but I don't remember a lot of romance in it either. I liked it a lot too.

I also love dystopian novels, but get really annoyed with the teen romance crap they throw into some of them. So, I know how you feel.
Jan. 22nd, 2012 12:17 am (UTC)
I was going to rec Oryx and Crake too. The narrator does love a woman, but it's as far as romance as you can get.

If you like YA, The GIver by Lois Lowry doesn't have romance at all.
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Jan. 22nd, 2012 12:38 am (UTC)
There's also Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde, which kind of flips that trope - the girl is the one who is fighting against the way the world works, boy turns up and falls in love with her (but her not with him), and she leads him (unwillingly) to a state of enlightenment. There's not really a romance in it (I have a sinking feeling this is only true for this first book in the series), apart from the main male character being head over heels for the very disinterested main female, who's far more interested in bringing down the social structure than in men...

I definitely second Oryx and Crake, and Fahrenheit 451.
Jan. 22nd, 2012 04:51 am (UTC)
Seconding Shades of Grey (and Fforde's other series as well).
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Jan. 23rd, 2012 02:10 am (UTC)
It is, as far as I know! I haven't looked at Fforde's website in a while, but last I checked the second book was coming... Wikipedia tells me that it'll be published in 2013, so, hopefully!
Jan. 22nd, 2012 12:49 am (UTC)
You could try "Farthing" by Jo Walton. It's an alternate history of 1940s England. It's been a while, but I think the main characters were a married couple.
Jan. 22nd, 2012 04:31 am (UTC)
YES. Farthing and its 2 sequels are awesome and wonderful. The main characters are a married couple and a detective.
Jan. 22nd, 2012 01:44 am (UTC)
Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy. He, She and It by the same author does have a romance, but it's not exactly a normal one, and it's definitely not of the "man-shows-woman-how-world-ought-to-be" variety. Alternately, WotEoT does have a "person-A-brings-person-B-to-an-alternate-reality" type relationship that isn't romantic.
Jan. 22nd, 2012 02:11 am (UTC)
There are tons of dystopian novels without romance. Just step outside the YA aisle.
Jan. 22nd, 2012 05:57 pm (UTC)
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Jan. 22nd, 2012 02:23 am (UTC)
I second both those recs, even if I wouldn't call Lord of the Flies a dystopia. It does have common themes, and I found it excellent.
Jan. 22nd, 2012 04:57 am (UTC)
I've been having the exact same problem lately! I love a lot of dystopian fiction, but I get sick of the romantic subplots, especially when the story doesn't even need them.

One YA series I read last year that fits the bill perfectly is Susan Beth Pfeffer's Last Survivors series. It's also called the Moon Crash series, and it begins with Life as we Knew It. There are miniscule hints of romance in the first one (the main character thinks about this guy she used to like, but he doesn't really appear as a character). There's more in the third book, but that's why I think it's the weakest book in the series. I really enjoyed the first two, though!
Jan. 22nd, 2012 07:32 pm (UTC)
Feed by Mira Grant is a zombie book, but fits the bill I think. It's hard to imagine a post-zombie world that isn't a dystopia!
Jan. 22nd, 2012 10:36 pm (UTC)
Seconding this. :)

Also, a classic is Brave New World by Alduous Huxley. The granddaddy of dystopians.

(* eta for spelling error)

Edited at 2012-01-22 10:36 pm (UTC)
Jan. 23rd, 2012 02:27 am (UTC)
I was just moaning about this to m husband last night so I'm enjoying the suggestions as well!
Jan. 25th, 2012 07:26 am (UTC)
Ursula LeGuin's The Dispossessed? It's not a pure example of the genre, but it does tend toward the dystopic. Definitely not formulaic.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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