Summer Reading: Assistant Managing Editor Angela So

From genetic manipulation to a restriction on women’s rights, the issues that populate dystopian novels speak to my deepest fears: a look into a possible future where humanity morphs into new. So that’s what I did this summer. I read seven dystopian novels in the span of two months.

My Dystopian Novel Summer Reading List

A Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
1984 by George Orwell
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
The Road by Cormac McCarthy

My favorite? The Road.

Coming at the end of my reading list, McCarthy took a familiar genre and broke many rules—no explanation for the cause of this post-apocalyptic world, no chapters, no traditional three act structure—but all for the stake of the novel. The nameless father and son wander a harsh and yet awe-inspiring world full of dangers lurking on the periphery. In a lawless, broken world, the form added to the emotional and physical terrain of the novel. Full of surprise, menace, and tenderness, The Road changes the rules with a consciousness that adds to a popular genre.

And there’s no better way to cleanse the dystopian palette than to watch the sci-fi TV show, Orphan Black. The show is about cloning and doesn’t pull any punches with plot. A less confident show would have teased the audience with red herrings, but Orphan Black understands that drama and tension comes from revealing secrets, not withholding information. Anchored by a fearless performance by Titiana Maslany, who performs every single clone herself and brings life to a variety of characters, this show doesn’t paint characters as villains and heroes. Each is flawed. Each has vulnerability. Each has a motive. With a strong lead and a charismatic supporting case, the show also allows us to have an explicit discussion about the way others claim the bodies of women. Dark, funny, and suspenseful, it’s a show worthy of binge watching.


Angela So is currently a MFA candidate in fiction at The Ohio State University and the assistant managing editor at The Journal. She earned her bachelor's degree in English at the University of Houston. Previously, she served as the associate editor for NANO Fiction and was an editorial assistant at Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts. ​