In the vast world of books, there is one genre that has recently taken the spotlight–dystopia. There are so many out there…Hunger Games, Divergent, The Giver, The Selection (and those are only a small percentage!).
I think when it comes to understanding the love for this genre, you have to know what it is. A quick Google search reveals it as “an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one”.
Now, I can guess what you’re thinking…Don’t some of these occur in places that, well, aren’t completely bad. And you’d be right. Books such as The Giver take place in a utopia, which is basically just the opposite of a dystopia (though the concepts could be debated, especially in situations like the Giver). For the purposes of this article, I’ll be lumping them together.
Now, these books are wildly popular. Why? To be completely honest, I don’t have a definite answer. I can only speculate and use my own love for these types of books to provide a hypothesis.
Here it is: These books provide an escape.
You can travel to an alternate reality (or a crazy future) with different rules and technology. You can step into someone else’s life and see a new world through their eyes. Pretty awesome, right?
These books quite frequently emphasize rebellion and individuality, topics that resonate with teenagers, which may explain the targeted age group.
As these books are turned into movies, an even bigger following comes into play. While I think we can all agree that the books are always better, movies often reach a larger audience. This (hopefully) motivates people to read the books. It also spreads the ideas of the novel.
It’s also interesting to see how many different takes there are on the dystopia style book. There’s the seemingly typical “badass chick takes on messed up government”, but there are also books like The Selection, which combines the Bachelor with a dystopian caste system. Both are good stories, but it goes to show there is something for everyone.
As a writer, I find it thrilling to create dystopian worlds. You can take the present day and morph it to see how it affects the future. Reading them is no different. When I read dystopia, I can’t help but wonder how the present day fits in.
That’s why it’s even cooler when authors show us readers where things line up. For example, a few years ago a map was released showing how Panem lined up with North America.
As soon as I saw that District 13 was where I lived, I was amazed. The map has changed since then (I believe I’m located in 13 or 12), but it’s still fascinating to see what life would be like if it did happen. I’d be underground for sure!
If you’re looking for an escape, no matter your age, dystopia is definitely worth a try. It’s no doubt an adventurous escape.