Revolution – “…the overthrow or renunciation of one government or ruler and the substitution of another by the governed.”

Rebellion  “…usually unsuccessful defiance of or resistance to an established government.”

The Hunger Games is the recounting of the rebellion or revolution (I don’t want to give it away if you haven’t read the trilogy) of the districts of Panem against the government. Fiction has many examples of dystopias in which there is (or probably is) an eventual rebellion and/or revolution. Take, for example, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood or The Children of Men by P.D. James.

The “rebellion/revolution” stories are somewhat different from those in which one or a few people escape but the dystopian society doesn’t change. Examples from that genre include (spoilers ahead):

Gattaca, Brave New World, THX 1138 (George Lucas’s film debut), or Kurt Vonnegut’s stunning short story Harrison Bergeron (read it here or in the collection entitled Welcome to the Monkey House).

If you’re feeling rebellious, here are three amazing books about people who realize that the existing way of life is not good for the citizens.

  • The Devil’s Advocate by Taylor Caldwell – Although Caldwell is for the most part regarded as a “romance novelist,” I think that her stories are substantial and have deeply developed characters. This particular story shows what happens when a people allows itself to be taken over and dominated. It is sobering and action-packed.
  • Anthem, by Ayn Rand – Written by the author of Atlas Shrugged, Anthem  is the story of a society in which citizens wear identification bracelets, live according to strict schedules, and are assigned jobs by the Council of Vocations. One man had the ability to do much more, but knew that it was wrong:  It is a sin to write this. It is a sin to think words no others think and to put them down upon a paper no others are to see. At only 75 pages long, this is a quick way to get the theme of all of her books.
  • This Perfect Day, by Ira Levin – Yes, the same author who wrote Rosemary’s Baby, The Stepford Wives, and Boys from Brazil. The boy in this novel lives in a  world in which everyone wears identification bracelets, lives by schedules, and is assigned vocations (sound familiar? What other dystopias can you think of that include these restrictions which we obviously hate and loathe?) This book will keep you reading until you finish it. You will absolutely not be able to put it down.

Tell us your favorite fictional stories about rebellion and revolution!

2 thoughts on “Rebellion and Revolution

  1. Thanks for your comment, Kathy. I have a shameful confession: haven’t yet read “Player Piano.” But I promise I will do so immediately!! (I always love good suggestions for things to read.)

  2. Excellent choices for the Rebellion and Revolution theme. I kept thinking “that’s a good one” and “ooh, that’s a really good one.” I would, however, have chosen Vonnegut’s “Player Piano” over his sudden fiction piece “Harrison Bergeron”

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