Books feature apocalyptic plots

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 13, 2011

By Cathy Brown
Rowan Public Library
Authors have long been fascinated with the end of the world. Even the renowned Robert Frost wrote about it almost a century ago in his poem ěFire and Ice.î In the post-apocalyptic genre, however, most lean toward the fire and less toward the ice.
One of the most recent young adult series in the genre is the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. With casting recently announced for the main character of Katniss Everdeen in a planned movie trilogy, interest in the book series is sure to increase.
In The Hunger Games, readers are introduced to the nation of Panem, which is the successor to an unknown part of the North American continent some time after a devastating war. Panem is controlled by the Capitol, located in the area of the Rocky Mountains, which originally controlled 13 districts.
But, 74 years before the events of The Hunger Games, District 13 rose up against the Capitol, and the other 12 districts have been told that it was completely destroyed. As punishment for the rebellion, every year, each of the remaining districts must send two ětributesî ó one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 ó to compete in the Hunger Games.
The Hunger Games is a fight to the death with the sole survivor and his or her family being provided a home in the Victorís Village in their home district, while also being paraded through Panem on a Victory Tour as a reminder to the other districts of the power of the Capitol if they ever decide to rebel again.
Throughout the three novels, ěThe Hunger Games,î ěCatching Fireî and ěMocking Jay,î Katniss becomes the inspiration for a new rebellion against the Capitol and the end of the Games.
Another young adult trilogy in the post-apocalyptic genre is the Maze Runner trilogy by James Dashner. The two published books, ěThe Maze Runnerî and ěThe Scorch Trialsî tell of a world that has been decimated by a solar flare and a virus called the Flare.
In order to find the cure, a mysterious group called WICKED locks a group of teenage boys in a maze in a desperate attempt to find the most intelligent of those not infected.
The second book picks up after the boys have left the maze, but have not yet passed the tests that WICKED deems necessary in order to find the cure. The third book in the trilogy, The ěDeath Cure,î is expected in October.
Of course, the end of the world isnít restricted just to young adult literature. In the past two years, several adult books in the genre have been published, among them Cormac McCarthyís ěThe Roadî and Justin Croninís ěThe Passage.î
ěThe Roadî takes place after an unknown cataclysmic event has caused a nuclear winter. Readers follow the travels of the main characters, known simply as the man and the boy, a father and son attempting to move south in order to find warmer weather. Along the way, they fight against starvation, cannibals and disease.
ěThe Passageî is the first in a planned trilogy of novels covering not only the apocalyptic events that end life as humanity knows it, but also a century later as the descendants struggle to continue.
In ěThe Passage,î the end is brought about by a virus, meant to cure all disease, which instead causes vampire-like mutations to those who are infected.
Most of the novel deals with the Colony, located in present-day California. The Colonists are the descendants of children brought there by the U.S. Army when the virus overtook North America. They subsist on century-old generators and batteries, waiting for the day when the lights go out and they are left defenseless against the ěVirals,î the name given to the infected.
Cronin has given his world a supernatural twist in that the Virals are connected to the original Viral that created them. Otherwise, it fits in well with the post-apocalyptic genre.
Computer classes: Classes are free. Sessions are approximately 90 minutes. Class size is limited and on a first-come, first-serve basis. Dates and times at all locations are subject to change without notice.
Headquarters ó Monday, 7 p.m., Uploading & Downloading Photos (basic computer skills required); May 23, 7 p.m., Microsoft Word 2003 (basic computer skills required).
South ó Monday, 7 p.m., Introduction to Heritage Quest; May 19, 11 a.m., Digital Photo Editing.
JRís Adventure Club: Headquarters, May 21, 11 a.m. The club will choose a project to build, and have books from the library and recommended websites that go along with the project. The club is open to all school-age children. Light refreshments will be served. Call 704-216-8234 to learn more.
Teens invited to meet authorCheralyn Lambeth: East Branch, May 24, 5:30 p.m. Lambeth will speak about the paranormal investigations that were used to create her ghost books and much more. She is a paranormal researcher and nonfiction author who has also worked on multiple feature films. Join us for this free teen event.
Roads Scholar program ěHard Times at the Millî: South, May 24, 7 p.m. Thanks to funding from N.C. Humanities Council and their Roads Scholar program, Dr. Roxanne Newton of Mitchell Community College is bringing her program ěHard Times at the Millî to the South Rowan Regional Library. The program is free and open to the public.
American Girl Club: Headquarters, May 28, 11 a.m. A book discussion group about the life and times of the American Girl characters.
Book Bites Club: South only; May 31, 6:30 p.m, ěDeath Comes for the Archbishop,î by Wanda Cather. Book discussion groups for both adults and children on the last Tuesday of each month. The group is open to the public and anyone is free to join at any time. There is a discussion of the book, as well as light refreshments at each meeting. For more information please call 704-216-8229.
Library closings: May 30, all RPL locations closed for Memorial Day holiday.
Displays: Headquarters ó Doll Society by Jim Bourdain, Lee Street Theatre by Robert Jones; South ó student art by South Rowan High School art class; East ó Art by Colleen Walton.
Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.