Skip to main content

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?
     -Carly

Bloglovin link: <a href="http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/12033577/?claim=w7rp4nha2dk">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</
a>

Popular posts from this blog

Best Reading from my Third Semester

Once again, this semester's schoolwork took precedence over this blog.  It had to happen, but now I'm back to let you all know about the wonderful books I read in my classes.
     On an unrelated note, feel free to add me on LinkedIn!  I made an account but I only have four connections so far, it's very sad.

Novels
1. Cane by Jean Toomer - A gorgeous genre-blending novel which describes the lives of black people in rural Georgia in the early twentieth century.

2. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston - The greatest self-love story of all time.

3. Passing by Nella Larson - A novel which examines the complex friendship between two wealthy black women, one of whom passes for white.

4. Smoke, Lilies and Jade, a Novel by Richard Bruce - A semi-autobiographical, experimental text peppered with ellipses and the names of great Harlem Renaissance artists.

Short Stories
1. "The Closing Door" by Angeline Grimke - This story demonstrates with intimate, hea…

Book Review: The Spanish American Short Story, edited by Seymour Menton

I love the cover of this book.  Look closely - it's a little skeleton man clasping his hands over a cup of black coffee.  I don't know what it means, but it's delightful.      Anyway, I read this collection of short stories in Spanish - El cuento hispanoamericano - for a class I am taking this semester, but it is also available in English.  According to my professor, it's a unique book in that it offers the best representation of Latin American short stories throughout modern history, with details about literary movements and authors as well.  I liked some stories better than others - "The Tree" by Maria Luisa Bombal and "The Ruby" by Ruben Dario were my favorites - but even the ones I disliked, such as "Secret Love" by Manuel Payno, were included because they were representative of a certain movement or regional style that was worth acknowledging.        My only issue with this book is that a story I just mentioned, "The Tree,&…

Review: God Help the Child by Toni Morrison

I read this book courtesy of my friend Shanille, who purchased it for a class on the novels of Toni Morrison (!!!) and lent it to me when she was done.  Thank you girl!
     As usual, this book did not disappoint.  It is about a beautiful, successful, dark-skinned woman named Bride who sets out on a journey to confront an ex-lover, and by extension the many traumas she has experienced both as a child and an adult on account of other people's perceptions of her skin color.  
     My favorite aspect of the story is its characters, because they are drawn in such precise and lush detail.  Bride, for example, has constructed her outward appearance in order to thriveFor example, she goes by 'Bride' rather than her given name, Lula Ann Bridewell, and exclusively wears white clothing, in accordance with the advice of a lifestyle consultant.  At one point, she refers to herself as "The [woman] driving a Jaguar in an oyster-white cashmere dress and boots of brushed…