Saturday, March 29, 2014

My Irrelevant Opinion on Teen Dystopias

     I read books indiscriminately.  I am just as happy reading Beowulf, a crusty old Scandinavian epic poem, as I am reading The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  So I'm not a snob who only reads first-edition classics bound in leather or anything like that.  But I do have one requirement when it comes to the books I read and recommend, and that is that they be good.  And I do see a problem emerging in one of YA's most popular new genres, the teen dystopian novel, and that is that many of these books are not good.
     The dystopia craze started, I believe, with the success of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (a book that I very much adore).  It's hard to make it as a writer, so when people saw how well her parable of futuristic teen angst and bloodshed did, they understandably thought Aha!  Here is the formula for success!!  And ten seconds later, the front display tables of every Barnes and Nobles' across the country were weighted down with hardcovers featuring alluring young rebels simultaneously coming of age and overthrowing the government.  But books are not meant to be formulaic!  Believe me, I've tried to like some of these books, but they are not original, and so they are lifeless.  They recycle the same type of oppressive government, the same old heroine in the spirit of a watered-down Katniss Everdeen, and the same tired love triangle.  The saddest part of all this, however, is that people love these terrible books. And so I have taken on the solemn task of educating my peers!

Some highly recommendable dystopias,
along with my toes-again
     I'm not going to list the titles of any poor copycats here because I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. But I have no qualms about listing some really good dystopian stories: 1984 by George Orwell, Maze Runner by James Dashner, The Giver by Lois Lowry, The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, and Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.  These books are so great because they give us unique glimpses into the nightmare we may be headed for.  As long as there are new generations being born, and with each generation, new problems, there will always be new warnings to share.  In this brave new world, there will always be brave new material to write about - so why do what's been done already?

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  1. Absolutely agree!!! I'm quite tired by the whole teenage novels- the vampires, the werewolves, the dystopias, the 18 something's boring as hell!!!
    84 was an awesome read, have you seen the movie? The one from 1984? It was pretty good too!
    Btw, if people like "50 Shades of Grey" too, then I don't think it's humanly possible to educate them :D

  2. I haven't seen the 1984!! But I want to. And you're probably right about "50 Shades of Gray" :P

  3. I've liked most of the dystopian stuff. Maze Runner itself was good, but when I got to the end of the trilogy and there were no answers and more suspense, I was a little ticked. Enough to not even read The Kill Order that came out later.

  4. The teen dystopian craze definitely gone beyond the pale...isn't that the way things go though? Have you ever read the Dystopian Novel called FEED? I found that hauntingly true. You are a really great writer Carly. I enjoy reading your posts and will share your blog with others as soon as I learn how to do so. I am excited to follow your posts and hear your thoughts.

  5. Thank you, Mary! That's so nice of you to say :) I almost read FEED at one point in elementary school, I can't remember why I put it down. I'll have to look for it again!

  6. I love the Maze Runner and The Giver!!


Thank you for talking to me!! I wish you lots of good books and brownies!