The appeal of Dystopia

Written By: Kellie - Jul• 14•11

I’ve been putting it off forever (don’t ask me why, I have no excuse), but today I finally started reading The Hunger Games. Of course, it was brilliant and I’m already half way through Catching Fire. Which is also heart-stoppingly crazy. Seriously, why didn’t I read these books before?

Anyways, this has gotten me thinking about how and why Dystopian novels are so popular right now. The Hunger Games and Divergent being the best examples, but there are currently countless books at least trying to follow in their footsteps. The appeal of a lot of YA books is that they’re relate-able. Obviously, this isn’t the case here. So what is it?

My best theory… The characters living in dystopian societies actually have something worthwhile to fight for. Everything else pales in comparison when you’re trying to secure the future of civilization. Falling in love with the wrong person, becoming a vampire, stranded on a deserted island… pfft, so what? Dystopian books breed unforgettable characters because these people really believe in something and are in the middle of a way of life none of us could imagine surviving. This recipe obviously makes for some pretty brilliant novels.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this. What are your favorite Dystopian reads? What do you think makes these books so popular?

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  1. April says:

    Well, I’ve read Hunger Games and my friend’s first book in her Chemical Garden Trilogy – please do check her out! Lauren DeStafano. Her website is gorgeous, and she’s brilliant! I like Dystopia, but it puts me in a funk because the overall mood, even when things are going better for the MC, is sorta depressing! In a good way, of course. :)

  2. Dystopian favorite is easy: Brave New World, Aldous Huxley. I love this book to bits and pieces and am more surprised that I don’t go around quoting it, although I probably could. If you haven’t read it yet I would heartily recommend it, although it is going to be wildly different (in terms of writing) from YA dystopian. (I’m also a fan of Orwell’s 1984.)

    I think the reason that I enjoy the genre/idea so much is that it’s all about possibilities. For the most part dystopian books are set in a recognisable setting that the reader doesn’t feel completely removed from the story and as if they have to learn everything from scratch, but instead society is drastically different. The government is oppressing people through job control, pre-matched relationship pairings, castes, medically…there are so many potential permutations that just a slight difference can make all a difference as far as the story and characters go. Usually there’s some sort of unsteady political climate, and as a poli sci student it’s something I like to study and see what other people come up with in comparison to the present and see for the future.

    I love THG and Divergent is my favorite YA release of the year, but I would also check out: Unwind by Neal Shusterman (one of my favorite books, full stop, and something I think everyone should read), Blood Red Road by Moira Young (fabulous, fabulous and another of my favorite 2011 releases), Watchmen by Alan Moore… there are so many. This is my favorite genre so I could go on forever. But I’m glad you’ve joined the dark side. ;)

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