The Rising Popularity of Dystopian Literature

Dystopian fiction has grown as a genre and continues to evolve today. One of the first dystopian novels to become famous was George Orwell’s 1984, which is still one of the top-selling dystopian novels today. Recently, there has been a rising popularity of dystopian novels. These novels have been transformed into popular movies that have made millions of dollars. There is a uniqueness to these novels that made them immensely intriguing to people and famous in today’s society.

Divergent is one of many of dystopian novels to become a huge Hollywood film
Divergent is one of many of dystopian novels to become a huge Hollywood film

The concept of dystopian literature is to not only entertain readers, but to let them understand the ideas and characteristics of a dystopian society. These characteristics are shown through our own society but at a more drastic level. The reader gains more knowledge by finding ways in which the topics the author writes about is relevant to today’s society. This style of writing is so popular because it makes readers think of interesting topics that seem realistic, yet fictional. The rising popularity of dystopian literature among adolescent audiences is prominent in today’s pop culture due to its relevance in young adult’s lives, its direct comparisons to current events in today’s world, and its originality in relation to other genres.

The relativity of dystopian literature to young adult’s lives is a component to why the genre is so popular. The reasoning behind this is how the stories are written. Young adult dystopian literature today is mostly in an adolescent’s perspective. For example, The Giver by Lois Lowry published in 1993 was one of the first dystopian novels written in a teenager’s perspective. Most of all dystopian novels are now written in this style, such as The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner. No one knows why there was such a gap between the dystopian novels from Lois Lowry’s The Giver to Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. Lowry is honored to think that she was one who started this fad, but she now says, “Dystopian fiction is passé now.” (Lowry). Dystopian literature dates back much further than 1993 with George Orwell’s 1984 being written in 1949.

The Tributes Fight To the Death
The tributes in the Hunger Games are seen metaphorically as students of high school who will stop at nothing to be at the top of the food chain.

One component to the relativity of young adult dystopian literature is that they are written in a teenager’s perspective, which is unusual for traditional literature. Young adults, with the drama and the hormones, are trying to figure out who they are and what they want to be in life. With dystopian novels, the character is perceived as someone with independence and ambition. For example, “So I learned to hold my tongue and to turn my features into an indifferent mask so that no one could ever read my thoughts” (Collins 6). This explains Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games and how she understands herself as an individual. This gives reassurance to the reader who is at similar age to the protagonist of the story. They admire how the author shows the protagonists insecurities and concerns such as their love interests and body image. The readers, especially in young adult dystopian literature, can take themselves to an alternate universe in which the character lives and feel like they are in the story. This concept makes it easy for them to relate to the protagonist.

Societies within young adult novels and how they are structured connect to the universal high school experience. The Hunger Games is about the protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, who fights to the death against other adolescents in an arena due to the government creating life or death game situations in order to control society and its actions. The Hunger Games can be compared to high school as a “…cutthroat race for high-school popularity becomes an annual televised fight” (Stevens). Readers may see high school as a dystopian society because of the political stigmas that could possibly exist. There are social classes, upper class being the popular kids and lower class being everyone else. The “popular kids” run the school and mandate the status quo. This assumption is made for the stereotypical high school student. young adult dystopian novels can give young readers different types of advice whether it is love, conflicts with the school, or other classmates.

Divergent written by Veronica Roth is another dystopian novel that can be compared to a high school environment. Divergent is about a teenager protagonist, Beatrice Prior, who faces the faction Erudite to prevent them from overtaking the government. She is Divergent, a person who has the characteristics of each faction. This is perceived by other citizens as dangerous because it is rare and is considered a threat to society. In the young adult novel, there are groups of people called factions. There is Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Erudite (the intelligent), Amity (the peaceful), and Candor (the honest). These factions can be compared to cliques within a high school like the jocks and nerds.

The factions in Divergent are compared to the stereotypical cliques of high school.
The factions in Divergent are compared to the stereotypical cliques of high school.

For example, “Beatrice Prior… is a lifelong Abnegation who chooses at the last minute to become a Dauntless—basically, an Amish girl gone Goth” (Stevens). This idea sends a negative message until readers meet the main protagonist, Beatrice Prior. Beatrice is born with a gift that makes her fall under none of the categories of these factions. She represents all the factions because she shares each of their characteristics. The government disapproves of this society of people because they do not fit neatly into a certain faction and could convolute the entire social system. She teaches the reader that it is okay to be different from everyone else because it brings out the beauty in people when you understand who they really are. There is a moral to the story in many of the young adult novels. In Divergent the underlying moral is to be oneself and show that it’s acceptable to be different from those who feel they must hide who they truly are.

Young adult dystopian novels are known for their metaphors such as comparing the issues within the book to the current affairs in our world. Dystopian themes touch many controversial issues we face today, from school shootings to Middle Eastern women challenging cultural gender norms. The most covered subject in this genre is the government and its corrupted ways. In young adult dystopias, the problems are more recognizable and easily solves by the reader compared to real world issues. For example, “…it introduces…the problems of today’s society and allows them to escape to a world where good and evil are more black and white than our own” (Khood). Though a majority of the young adult population knows almost nothing about current events, these dystopian novels put them in a frame of mind conducive to thinking critically about current events. Dystopian novel authors make this concept intriguing by adding love interests and drama. Teenagers are not interested in what goes on in today’s world because much history needs to be factored into each problem in order to understand the predicament. With dystopian novels, the problem is clear and needs almost no information to be explained.

The idea of rebelling against the government to teenagers is quite outrageous until they see how it is done in dystopian literature. Though this genre is fiction, the situation seems realistic because the problems within the novels can be compared to problems within our own country or world. These ideas give hope to young adults to think that they can speak up for what they believe in whether it is in school or about the government. For example, “… they reflect the economic unrest in America today and allow teenagers to believe that they can make a difference.” (Khood) These brave characters in these novels are admired by millions of adolescents and they want to be like them with their heroic courage. This mind-set gives them confidence that their voice matter no matter what the topic is over.

Young adults now do not comprehend the idea of government and how powerful it can be especially in America because of our democratic government. We are not enlightened in how cruel governments and militaries are around the world. By reading these kinds of novels, we get a main idea of how insane some societies and governments can be. Parents might have a problem with this concept because they do not want their children to be exposed to these extreme ideas. Teenagers like how dystopian novels are honest with their readers and they treat them like adults with the ideas they display. An example of this is, “…politicians, military people and corporate moguls are capable of doing awful things – meaning dystopian novels feel kind of honest” (Astor). The bluntness given from these authors is attractive to the reader because teenagers do not enjoy things that are sugar-coated. They want honesty and to be treated like adults so they enjoy reading this sort of writing style.

With everything that is happening in young adult’s lives, young adult dystopian novels are an escape from reality. Teenagers are forever known for their “best and worst” years of their lives. From high school parties to girls’ first love heartbreak, teenager’s lives are like a rollercoaster. These novels parallel to teenager’s moods in how they escalate situations in an instant, and then a completely different mood is set up while reading. Young adult dystopian novels are known for their intense plot twists. These twists make these novels intensely popular because it causes adolescents to engage themselves into the book. The characters are so well liked and “we’re fascinated by the terrible things these characters face, and by how some react bravely and some react cowardly or with resignation” (Astor). Dystopian novels are much more than just books; they are problem-solving situations. All these combined intriguing components have greatly escalated the allure and popularity of this genre.

One of the most interesting parts of the most popular dystopian novels is that the protagonist is a female. Though the main character is a female, she has a powerful male presence in the story and takes on stereotypical male obstacles. This is because the authors of these books want to make the character relatable to both genders or want to make strong female characters as a challenge to society’s gender norms. An example of this is, “…readers can experience a level of freedom from oppression and freedom to play with gender not possible in the real world.” (Smith). This is a good way for male adolescents to see a female’s perception in a male fitted situation. With these roles, a male or female could play both roles and there would be no need in changing any part of the book.

Dystopian novel authors have started writing more strong willed women roles creating a whole new audience to this genre.
Dystopian novel authors have started writing more strong willed women roles creating a whole new audience to this genre.

This makes it attractive for both genders to read rather than a specific one. Young adult dystopian novels “…encourage different ways of thinking about gender and sexuality, departing from what is normal and teaching acceptance of varying forms of identity and self-expression” (Smith). The idea of a female playing a non-feminine role has instantly attracted a huge audience and made this genre extremely popular among all ages.

Some of these dystopian novels have such an influence on women’s lives because it introduces to them the idea of females playing a non-feminine role. The female roles in these novels are masculine to some degree, but they also have feminine characteristics. All of these concepts are so popular because it causes such controversy. This includes males and females who are on the fence about these ideas that this controversy caters to. The authors create a good balance of making sure the character is not too masculine or feminine so that the protagonist can be relatable. For example, “Her comfort with her masculinity is assumed, and her transgression of traditional femininity is in fact not transgressive at all.” (Smith) The protagonist is pleased with who she is and this is symbolic to independent women. They learn to be their own individual and do not depend on other people for happiness or survival.

Given all of these examples of the rising popularity of dystopian literature, there are many purposes to this original genre. One purpose being that it is more relatable to the audience. This genre of books has an emotional effect on people and how they feel about the world and on different issues they face. The basic focus of dystopian literature is to make readers think about how these dystopian societies relate to the real world.

In the end, the dystopian genre has been alive and thriving for many years. Teenagers’ love for dystopian novels have created a whole new business for movies, merchandise, and more. No one can predict whether this genre will continue its popularity but it will allow our present generation more open-minded due to the ideas these novels share on government, military, society, and culture. The real question is will young adult dystopian literature continue it’s popularity or slowly disintegrate and begin another fad in literature?

Works Cited

Astor, Dave. Why Do We Like Dystopian Novels? Article Byline Information . 19 October 2012. 25 October 2014 <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dave-astor/why-do-we-like-dystopian-novels_b_1979301.html>.

Collins, Suzanne. “Chapter One.” Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic, 2008.

Khood. The Hunger Games and Importance of Dystopian Literature . 28 April 2012. 25 October 2014 .

Lowry, Lois. The Giver Author Lois Lowry Says Dystopian Fiction Is Passé Janey Tracey. 13 August 2014.

Smith, Hannah. “Permission to Diverge: Gender in Young Adult Dystopian Literature.” University of Puget Sound Sound Ideas (2014).

Stevens, Dana. “Why Teens Love Dystopias .” Slate (2014).

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60 Comments

  1. I’m definitely interested in checking out some more of these YA dystopic novels. I’ve read some, but not all of them. The hard part is weeding out the good ones, that honestly try to connect to teenage readers and analyze a society, from the bad ones, that insert the stereotypical tropes but lack any kind of authenticity. Unfortunately, there are too many of these types of novels flooding the market right now.

  2. connell
    0

    I think recent YA dystopia lacks the reflection of our own society. Hunger Games is a great example. Though an entertaining read, it lacks any social commentary. How did we get to such a society? Who or what does the “capital” represent? Is it a critique of reality TV where we watch groups of people emotionally tear each other apart and this is the progression of our current popular culture? If so, the reader will never see the (non-existent) road signs (especially the younger reader.)

    • I think that’s exactly what it is, a critique of reality tv. It is amazing the things that are now the norm on television, however, when reality first gaining traction (I would say, late 1990s) many were shocked that there were people out there who would actually participate. Now, it’s likely that most of us know someone who’s appeared on a reality tv show. Hunger Games emulates media theory, i.e., real life imitates what is shown on tv. The people of Panem see rebellion on tv from Katniss, so they are emboldened to act it out in the real world.

    • I would disagree almost entirely, with regard to the Hunger Games. The only question you posed that readers cannot adequately answer for themselves, given enough critical reflection, is the first one. And I would say that for the story and the points it is trying to make, that answer is of a decidedly secondary importance. As for the other questions, because you know to ask them, the road signs you talk about must be present. The answers then, are something you have to decide for yourself.

  3. Natividad
    0

    Kids are reading more dystopic novels now, not necessarily because they’re responding to our crazy times, but because the adult YA writers are.

    • Teens have always have liked this genre and they eat up edgy realistic fiction as well. And it’s not just the disaffected teens–back in the 60’s I was a Girl Scout (literally) but read whatever I could get of this type. It’s just that now, finally, the adult writers have caught up with the teens and are providing books for their tastes.

  4. Good dystopian fiction is ominously fascinating. 1984 is one of the greatest novels ever written; few books can boast such everlasting relevance.

  5. I think it is a combination of things. I do think that dystopian lit has always been there. I remember reading 1984 and Farenheit 451 when I was a kid. I think the modern times have just changed the marketing to attract younger audiences. I also think that adults are being drawn to those books as well. I have read all of the Nicholas Flamel series and love them.

  6. Of course teens read dystopian novels. I did when I was that age too (and I still do).

    It’s to do with making the world your own. When you come into this world, it seems that everything already exists – houses, roads, cars, society, science. It is hard for a young person to feel any sense of ownership. Instead, they feel more like consumers and lodgers. They did not choose the world to be the way it is, but they are expected to work to maintain it, and most of the power is in the hands of old folk like me.

    Collapsing societies gives young folk a chance to remake things the way they would like them to be – it is a fiction where the young have tremendous power. Of course this makes exciting reading!

    It is hard to comprehend that everything around us belongs to us – the ones who are alive today. We did not personally build all this stuff, but it is ours to do with as we want. That’s kind of exhilarating. Imagine what it must have been like just after the French Revolution. Everything in that enormously rich nation changed hands overnight. What a thrill!

  7. a cynical world breeds dystopian dreams

  8. Charline
    0

    The best unknown Dystopian novel would be We by Yogani Armington. It was written in Russia and 1921 and it was the novel inspired brave New War in 1984″

  9. CLASSIE
    0

    Dystopian fiction is on the rise because teen fiction in general is on the rise. When I was growing up, I don’t remember a separate “Young Adult” section in the bookstore.

    It was combined with the children’s section and did not have many selections.

    • DelHealey
      0

      Definitely. These days, recognizing the money-making possibilities by targeting the 12-18 year-old reading community, more writers are writing for this age group in mind. There are so many choices now in young adult literature, one of which is the dystopian literature

      • I used to be a really avid reader, from 4th through 8th grade. Then when 9th grade started and puberty hit, I stopped reading. I remember going to the bookstore and just seeing kids books and adult literature, nothing for teens. There was no YA section, no teen romance, teen horror, teen dystopias, nothing. I tried reading the novels from English class but found them too difficult to consume. I wish there had been teen fiction in my day because I know I would have thoroughly enjoyed it. Instead, I didn’t get back to reading until I was about 20 yrs old. So literally, 6 years of my life, I did not read. 6 years wasted.

  10. I think the Handmaid’s Tale is wonderful, I don’t know if most people could read it and understand it and appreciate its greatness.

  11. Zenia Glass
    0

    The big difference now, compared when I was a kid is that I was scared of the planet disappearing while I was at school. The fear of a nuclear war is something a whole generation grew up with.

    What do today’s kids have? Dodgy stats used by ideological NGO’s to scare the innumerate that the world will eventually run out of pot noodles etc

    Its far nicer to be in control of your scares, and that is what the books are feeding – safe in the knowledge that it will never happen!

  12. Good article. It was mind opening to see into a genre and why it’s becoming popular. Well done!

  13. I enjoy a good ‘ol dystopic novel. They provide fertile grounds for a writer (and reader)to explore complex emotions/anxieties that we collectively feel on a personal & societal level.

    The rise in popularity of YA dystopic novels is interesting. As other commenters have noted–dystopic novels have been around for a long time. Now the market is saturated with apocalyptic adolescent fiction. Perhaps, publishers have caught on that this particular genre resonates well with younger crowd. But intentional marketing aside, these fictional dystopic worlds are so exhilarating to engage in for many reasons.

    And as you’ve pointed out in your essay, these novels can truly expand our minds to think more critically about the world we live in.

  14. Laura C.
    0

    My daughters’ favorite dystopian novels when they were younger (they are 18 and 20 now) were The Giver by Lois Lowry, Running out of Time by Margaret Haddix, and Among the Hidden, also by Margaret Haddix. While I wouldn’t argue that they are classics in the sense that 1984 and Brave New World are, they are all excellent and I could certainly read them without gagging (and did).

  15. aileenmaeryan
    aileenmaeryan
    0

    To answer your question about if dystopian literature will turn into a fad, I don’t believe it will (or at least I hope it won’t) as long as writers keep coming up with new ideas of what “dystopian” means and new ideas of the “hero” challenging this dystopian society.

  16. I think you forgot one of the best, more contemporary and intriguing dystopian novels of our recent time – Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. That’s ok though – it’s a very underrated book/film and seems to slip the awareness of many. It’s worth an explore though – absolutely amazing story!

  17. Crouseg
    0

    Dystopian fiction–if it’s good and presents positive characters in the mix–can help readers prepare for future challenges in a world that seems to be increasingly difficult to comprehend. Even for well-versed adults and parents.

  18. There is a huge difference between the YA dystopian novels being published recently (though I’ve only read some of them) and 1984 which I would like note. That is, in these YA novels, it is a sort of “save the world” scenario in which the system is overcome, but in 1984, the system wins. I only point this out because these YA novels really do pull their punches. If these dystopias are truly about exploring the darker side of society and human nature, I would really love to see a main character that is at least slightly morally compromised. If possible, completely so. It would also be pleasant if one of them could get a premise its plot could stand on. As it is now, all I can see it as is a self-indulgent, profiteering fad.

  19. Wolfstar96

    Dystopian novels being written in a teenager’s point of view are interesting to me because the mere concept of a ‘teenager’ is actually relatively new in our society. It used to to be that you were a kid until 18, then you were an adult, but sometime in the 1970’s or 80’s (I’m close, but I don’t remember exact dates) society went ‘Hey, what if there’s a stage BETWEEN kid and adult??’ and thus the word ‘teenager’ is used to describe the ages 13-18. Having YA novels (which is specifically for teenagers) is a pretty cool idea on it’s own, but when you start adding say, fantasy elements or sci-fi elements, or dystopian elements, you get teenagers who want to read, and there’s books just for them!

  20. Daniel Hein

    As a writer I am extremely fond of dystopian futures and dystopian literature, and yet I don’t enjoy Hunger Games and Divergent and the like. I feel that putting it from the teenager’s point of view diminishes the point of dystopian stories. I feel that YA dystopian future writers feel that since they’re writing for/about teenagers, they need to include things like love and the struggles with being an adult, which, at least in my mind, have no place in dystopian settings. Dystopia is supposed to be a comment on our modern society, or where it is headed – it’s not supposed to be about high school drama. But this is a personal vendetta and I know I’m in the minority. I respect YA dystopian books and writers for their success even though I can never get into them.

    • I like your distinction, Daniel, betwee teen and adult dystopian novels. What dystopian novels from the adult perspective do you recommend?

      • Daniel Hein

        Well, Fahrenheit 451 has long been my favorite novel of all time, and that is an amazing novel for adults. Then you consider other classics like 1984 and Brave New World. I also really like The Children of Men, but I consider the movie to be much better.That movie is absolutely perfect.

  21. Pete Dion
    0

    I beleive the dystopian novel is a cautionary tale that gives the reader road signs indicating how the present could become a dystopian future. You should see your own society in the reflection of the dystopian society.

    Sadly, I often find the road signs missing in YA dystopian fiction.

  22. ChelseaOtis

    I enjoy dystopian novels, the ideas they portray and the characters they create are intriguing and fitting of this time. Dystopian societies can be written off as mere fictional places, but this is a great description of their importance and relevance in the lives of readers.

  23. There are far too many dystopian books published recently, I’m getting a little bit tired of them.
    – Yours, Mac

  24. Kristian Wilson

    Psst, found a few typoes. You keep saying /young adult’s/ when you mean /young adults’/.

  25. I was interviewing someone once about a related topic, and he stated that part of the reason that Dystopian books are becoming more popular and being written is partially based on how our generation currently views the world. We are at a point in time where the economy is weak and there is constant talk about global warming. This varies greatly from books written in the 1900’s where there is more Utopia and a bright future; all things that don’t seem so possible now.
    I love this genre and hope that it might spark something in the minds of the current YA fanbase and encourage some sort of change in the way we think.

  26. A very in-depth look at the popularity of the dystopian genre. This genre gets me thinking about events going on in our world now and in the future. I really enjoyed the comparison of events in Divergent and The Hunger Games to high school.

  27. I also find it extremely interesting that the popularity in Dystopian literature is at such a peak. I definitely recommend reading “In the Dust of This Planet”, it talks about the philosophy of dystopian literature. Also though, I’ve found that a big reason why Dystopian fiction is increasingly popular is because it gives its characters a straightforward life purpose to stay alive, and beat whatever it is that is causing the destruction of society, which I think everyone inherently finds attractive.

  28. Catherine Knnutson’s Shadows Cast by Stars is an excellent example of laying culture into the genre and introducing young adults and some adult readers about cultural genocide and assimilation tactics by placing the issues in the future. Comparing that to the past and present, opens up a whole new dialogue.

  29. My Grade 7 class read The Last Book in the Universe and it was amazing how the kids related to it in relation to the technology they are embroiled in right now. The same can be said about my Grade 10 class and Fahrenheit 451. The biggest question to come out of this is will books eventually be replaced and will we lose the power to think by overuse of search engines. mickymoo15

  30. A very interesting article, though I’m not particularly in favor of the writing style some of these books used. But it is true that dystopian literature shows us our fears of our current society gone wrong. Fascinating article.

  31. Katy Lewis

    This is a fantastic article! I love dystopia future novels as they encourage us to think of future possibilities, it’s so thought provoking! Have you by chance read Battle Royale? Very similar theme to The Hunger Games, but focuses more on a totalitarian universe, and far darker in brutality but anexcellent read just the same!

  32. One thing I like about dystopian literature is that it makes me realize that I should not complain because the world I’m living in is definitely much better than the worlds in dystopian novels

  33. I don’t think the interest in these dystopian novels will ever fade because they are something everyone can relate to, especially when written from a teenager’s perspective, and something that all of us have thought about our government every now and then

  34. I think there are so many dystopian novel because no one believes in a utopian society, so they create dystopian to so that life can be improved if fought for.

  35. With all of the war, destruction, and repression in dystopian novels one would think that the reader would find them discouraging and even depressing. Yet, there is something about the honesty of dystopian literature that’s oddly satisfying. We all see glimpses of these major themes of dystopian literature in real life: government corruption, unfair distribution of wealth, the power and danger of surveillance and the all too common abuse of power. Dealing with these things in real life is often difficult to face. However, reading about these very real issues, but in a fictional setting makes them easier to comprehend and to deal with. Perhaps this is one reason why so many people (myself included) read dystopian novels.

  36. I like the comparison between classes in society and social classes in high school. I agree that that’s an important component contributing to the popularity of young adult dystopian fiction. I personally hope this trend encourages teens to indulge in more adult dystopian lit, like Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, or, as you mentioned, George Orwell’s 1984. It’s not to say young adult fiction has nothing to offer teens, but there are deeper themes explored in these works that I think books like The Hunger Games and Divergent skim over.

  37. Very well written and researched article. Many people attach stigmas to this genre, but an in-depth study into any of the novels you mentioned would shatter a lot of those stereotypes. I taught “Brave New World” to a Composition course of mine a few years back and they were surprised, pleasantly, yet also uncomfortably, at how close the novel predicted some of our current societal dependences. You should read the novel “We” by Yevgeny Zamyatin, a classic Russian dystopian novel that often gets overlooked.

  38. The dystopian genre has definitely always been there. I think as humans we are drawn to the idea of destruction, of a different world and chaotic world, especially in our entertainment. Most of the shows, movies, and books we are attracted to are not about the happy and perfect hero/heroine and how his/her life is amazing and wonderful. A story like that would be too boring as entertainment, even though it is something we want. And this is why dystopian is so interesting, because it has flawed characters and a flawed world, because it comments on society and leads to questions.

  39. Celeste Reeb

    Nice write up. I have not read all of the novels you mention but I get a good feel for the patterns etc. I am a huge fan of Sci-Fi dystopian novels. I think that as long as there is trauma there will be dystopian novels. There is a major difference when looking at the pattern in YA dystopic novels and the “classics”. The system was not beaten in 1984 or Brave New World. These older novels usually focused on smaller individual stories rather than someone saving the entire population. I think the YA aspect or teenager as you pointed out plays a part in how these newer stories are told.

    Sci-Fi stories have always been cautionary stories set in the future about the present. The current dystopic novels are less Sci-Fi and more Dystopic Melodramas. This is not to say they are bad but that they are different. The threats are different. The classics were in reaction to the atomic bomb, censorship, and classisms (and other -isms). From your write up it seems that this is not the threat these newer novels are speaking to.

    Again, nice write-up. Thanks.

  40. “So I learned to hold my tongue and to turn my features into an indifferent mask so that no one could ever read my thoughts” (Collins 6). While I agree with this observation, such characterization is not limited to recent dystopian writing. It has a much longer history. The description here of Katniss is very reminiscent of what Jane Eyre learns at a young age, after her experience in the Red Room.

  41. arielsilkett

    Young adult dystopian literature seems to be a permanent genre that is here to stay due to many good reasons. It captures the imagination and allows an emotional escape for readers. Despite plot, it is really the characters that readers fall in love with- the emotional escape that draws them in. Readers are side-by-side with the protagonists and feel pain when they are in pain, feel love when they fall in love, feel pressure when they are pressured, and so on. Readers grow attachment to characters and that is why this genre will not die out. The plot, characters, and ideas may change, but the attachment and journey never will. This genre encompasses the many real-life problems that reality faces each day- abuse, corruption… Although these issues may be exaggerated for pure entertainment, it allows readers to gain new insight and maybe even sympathy. Regarding the mass media and negative and positive influences, I strongly believe this genre (books and movies) is of positive influence for young readers. It is much more stimulating and causes feelings and thoughts than many other genres that dictate mass media today.

  42. Interesting piece. You mentioned more than once that the dystopian worlds not only threaten the livelihood of the protagonists, but prevent them from exercising personal freedom and individuality. I have noticed that dystopian landscapes, from those created by Orwell to those of Collins, characteristically suppress individual identity and chip away at the “I” in favor of a collective herd to be directed and controlled. So if we can accept that this is an important part of dystopian literature, we can understand why young adults are intrigued by this genre. Adolescence functions as the period of time where the individual self comes into formation out of growth, pain, and learning. Young persons are often searching for and constructing a personal identity based off of subjective experiences and desires, but an identity that can survive and thrive within sociocultural boundaries and expectations. Thus, when institutions of power in dystopian worlds attempt to dissolve and forget the individual self, the youths take up in arms, because it’s much easier to lose yourself when you are still in the process of becoming.

  43. I recently took on a new role as a Social Studies teacher, and my L.A. colleague and I have been making huge connections to these dystopian novels (both classic and new!) between our subjects. Is it just me, or are all the book and movies too similar? In any case, I am glad to see we can teach the same themes via books that speak more prominently to our teens. Additionally, many of these books can be used to help teach concepts around ideologies in Grade 12 Social Studies!

  44. Stephen Matthias

    Such dystopian novels are fascinating since they bring to us a terrible version of our society which teens, I think, are thinking impossible. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick, for example, tells the story of 1960’s America following its defeat and occupation by the Axis Powers following the latter’s victory in the Second World War. It is interesting to see what our own lives would be like if set under such extreme and tyrannical settings.

  45. PEWBERTY

  46. FIREDASH
    0

    THAT KID MUST HAVE BEEN LIKE 2 AND 4000000000000 QUARTERS OLD AM I RIGHT NIGEL MATE?

  47. FIREDASH
    0

    the flash is a f***ing beautiful person am i right nigel mate?

  48. Kandice17

    You make very good points, but I wish you would have drew more off other dystonpian novels. Brave New World is a very good one too. The older dystopians are much more realistic in my opinion. Brave New World, The Giver, and 1984 are only the few novels that actually show that it doesn’t take much for the government to have absolute control over a group of people. While it feels like a long shot, some feel like they can see it happen more than stories like Divergent and The Hunger Games.

  49. SmilinJack
    0

    We’re living our dystopian novel right now. The left wants to use 1984 as a playbook rather than the cautionary tale it was written to be.

    We have an honest to gosh Socialist Party member being paraded as an honest to goodness viable candidate for the Presidency and our President announced that there is little difference between Socialism, Communism and Capitalism.

  50. geopikey

    I am currently doing my thesis on a similar topic and find your thoughts very interesting. The idea that these texts are allegorical for high school does explain why young adults are enjoying them so much. It is nice to see modern literature re-imaging real life problems in such a creative way.

  51. eliza
    4

    may I ask who is the real name of writer? I need it for my essay. thank you. 🙂

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