Guest post by Jamaica Pfenn

Dystopian fiction has long been a staple of the literary world, often presenting readers with thought-provoking explorations of the human condition. In recent releases, two novels—Recipe X by M.S. Kaminsky and Burrowed by Mary Baader Kaley—put their own unique spin on the genre. Let’s take a peek into these two worlds and see how they spice up the dystopian recipe.

In Recipe X, Kaminsky cooks up a society where eating is a crime and health points are currency. A girl named Persi navigates this world, desperately trying to prove her worth in a system that prizes productivity. When her brother introduces her to the sinfully decadent world of food, Persi’s life is turned upside down. She discovers a secret community beyond The Desolation, where she encounters a renegade chef named Noah and learns the art of cooking.

Kaminsky serves us a veritable buffet of humor, romance, and adventure, with Persi and Noah’s daring plans to rescue her sister from punishment at The Hive. One cannot help but be amused by the notion of a world where a chocolate cupcake is a sinister object. However, beneath the lighthearted veneer, Recipe X offers a biting commentary on the consequences of strict societal control and the importance of savoring life’s simple pleasures.

Meanwhile, Mary Baader Kaley’s Burrowed takes us to a bleak future where a genetic plague has split humanity into two factions: the underground-dwelling Subterraneans and the surface-living Omniterraneans. Enter Zuzan Cayan, a “light blind” Subter girl with limited options for her future. When offered the opportunity to study the broken genetic code and potentially reunite the world, Zuzan leaps at the chance.

However, a new virus threatens the Omnits, and Zuzan must race against time to find a cure or face humanity’s extinction. This novel explores themes of scientific morality, compassion, and cooperation in the face of adversity. Kaley presents us with a fascinating world, both in its division and its potential for unity.

So, how do these dystopian dishes compare? While both novels touch upon the consequences of societal control, they approach their themes from different angles. Recipe X offers a whimsical take on a world where eating is outlawed, with a protagonist who discovers the joys of food and love. In contrast, Burrowed delves into the divide between two factions of humanity, exploring themes of scientific ethics and the potential for unity in a world on the brink of collapse.

Ultimately, both novels serve as satisfying courses in the dystopian feast. For readers craving a romantic adventure with a side of satire, Recipe X will undoubtedly hit the spot. On the other hand, those seeking a darker, more thought-provoking tale might find Burrowed to be the perfect literary meal.

As dystopian fiction continues to evolve, these two novels showcase the versatility of the genre. So, whether you prefer the sweet taste of satire or the savory flavors of scientific intrigue, there’s a dystopian dish out there for you.