fictional worlds i never want to live in

Every reader has a favorite world, a place they would escape to in reality if they could, and not just through the printed word. But for all the beauty in literature, there are those kingdoms, countries, and planets that we wouldn't want to set foot on in a million years. These are a few of those places—all from books I absolutely adored and highly recommend picking up!—that I was delighted to explore in fiction, but hope to avoid in real life.

Panem (Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins)

You could make an argument that living in the Capitol isn't so bad until the very end, although that still requires you to either a) be okay with an annual competition to the death, or b) not be okay with an annual competition to the death and have to survive a brutal dictatorship while holding that opinion. Unlike the next world on my list, there are definitely ways to lead a relatively happy and healthy life in Panem. Not every district suffers from the shortages and general poverty we see in District Twelve and, depending on the size of your district, the odds of getting selected as a tribute can be relatively low.

But even living in the Capitol—or one of the more posh districts—requires a willful ignorance and complicity regarding the Games, which is very hard to swallow. It's kind of like picking Elizabethan England as the historical time and place you'd want to live instead of modern society: if you're lucky enough to wind up in the upper echelons of society, it's probably a comfortable life. But if you have to struggle along in the middle and lower classes, it stands a high probability of sucking.

Republic of Gilead (The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood)

The idea of serving as a handmaid in Atwood's dystopian America is obviously reprehensible. Readers don't need to dive into sub-textual minutia to understand the misogynistic subjugation of treating women as breeders; it's a role that should horrify anyone who reads about it.

But women have other functions in Gilead beyond that of a handmaid. At first glance they might seem less oppressive, but a closer look reveals that women are universally diminished in this new militaristic theonomy.

Commander's wives are both complicit in the monthly rape of their husband's handmaids and reduced to empty symbols of traditional femininity. Although Marthas, who attend to domestic duties, aren't subjected to ritualistic assault (a sad, but very real advantage in Gilead) but essentially function as indentured servants. Women outside the sphere of the social elite still live under constant surveillance, constantly at risk of arrest or execution. While its possible to eke out a better existence than the one forced on handmaids, there's no such thing as a happy and moral life in Gilead.

Tokyo (Warcross duology by Marie Lu)

This world doesn't differ very much from our own; the key difference is the titular virtual reality competition, which influences every aspect of life in Lu's alternate present day. Maybe this makes me sound like a dinosaur, but the idea of a Warcross-esque technology overtaking our society terrifies and angers me. The opportunities to take advantage of such a sprawling social network are virtually endless and the ubiquity of that digital world makes it feel suffocating and inescapable. It's too difficult to say at this moment how close Lu came to predicting the future, but I hope whatever comes does so later rather than sooner.

Hogwarts (Harry Potter series by JK Rowling)

Hear me out, fellow Potterheads! Hogwarts is amazing. Magic is awesome. And owls are some of the coolest (fictional) pets. But how much would it suck to go to school at the same time as Harry Potter? Trolls loose in the dungeons, dementors crawling all over the grounds, deadly competitions, and finally all-out war fought on school grounds. JKR built an enchanting, addictive world in her series and I would still kill to make it a reality. But realistically speaking, I'd much rather get my Hogwarts letter at least 7 years before or after a certain Chosen One gets his!

What fictional world would you avoid at all costs? And which one would you want to live in for the rest of your life? Let me know in the comments!

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