Our first YA book club was filled with discussion about being in a bunker, creepy guys with God-complexes and diary-style writing. The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks was a bleak book, one that will haunt many readers for many nights to come. If you’re looking for more haunting books, you’ve come to the right place. As is custom with every book club, we give out some recommendations for possible further reading. For our YA book club the recommendations will be a bit different as we will talk about just two books. One book that will fit right in with the YA-theme and another that is supposedly for grown-ups, but awesome for everyone.
The Cellar by Natasha Preston
Most of us reading The Bunker Diary were pretty annoyed with the fact that we learn so little about the Man Upstairs. Why does he kidnap all these people? Does he know them and why does he let them die like that? It’s very frustrating that none of these questions get answered, so we wanted to give you a book that actually teaches the reader more about the perspective of the kidnapper and why someone would do such a thing. The Cellar is the first book in a series by Natasha Preston about 16 year old Summer Robinson, a girl who gets kidnapped by a Norman Bates-type momma’s boy called Colin. Together with some other girls, Summer finds herself locked in his basement. The Cellar is told from different perspectives, so you get a better overview of what is actually happening. Summer, Colin and Summer’s boyfriend all narrate the different elements of a kidnapping story, giving you the whole picture instead of just a small sliver of information. Unlike in The Bunker Diary, the kidnapper wants to interact with his captives and makes them play out different fantasies and act like his family. Colin is obviously very disturbed and forces the girls to abide by his rules or deal with the consequences. Just as with The Bunker Diary, The Cellar will make you ask yourself what you would do in this situation and if you would ever help out a stranger or walk alone at night ever again.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
We know that Room by Emma Donaghue would be the obvious choice here, but we had already mentioned it during the book club and almost every book review compares The Bunker Diary to that work as well. We wanted to give you something else and therefore settled on The Handmaid’s Tale written by Margaret Atwood. The book is told in a way similar to The Bunker Diary, all from the perspective of Offred, who’s a handmaiden to The Commander. They live in Gilead, a society where men rule and woman find a vocation based on their fertility. Depending on your status in society and your capability to have babies, you get a color to show to everyone else who you are. If you can still procreate, you become a handmaid and have to wear red. All women are held captive and underdeveloped. They are not allowed to read and every new generation of girls being born doesn’t even get taught how to read or write. Women need to follow strict rules and parts like The Ceremony are so awful it will take a while for it to leave you. The book is a haunting story of how a dystopian society run by men who feel the need to protect women will turn out bad for all of us. Similar to The Bunker Diary, this book doesn’t give you all the answers and it makes you work for the ones that are there. The flashbacks of Offred about how our society slowly changes to an oppressing state where women have no more rights, can’t have any money and are deemed worthless if they are sterile send shivers down your spine. The Handmaid’s Tale builds a complicated new world with its own hierarchies and set of rules that feels so realistic that while reading you will need to check if everything is still in order.
Have you read these books and did you like them or are there other books you’d recommend? Let us know in the comments!