I read this article, “Fresh Hell” by Laura Miller (LINK)
It brought up an interesting point—that dystopian novels like “The Hunger Games” aren’t about what WILL happen if we don’t stop a certain cycle, they are about “what’s happening, right this minute, in the stormy psyche of the adolescent reader” (Miller 2010).
Okay, how many of you thought about that? Cause I didn’t.
Because, let’s face it. So many critiques about dystopian novels out there are really about trying to figure out what the book is actually saying about the world we live in, what our government will actually become, etc. While that works for ADULT dystopian (You know, 1984, Brave New World), it’s probably a little different for Young Adults (Collins has also maintained that her books aren't commentary on the government). I’ve always wondered how Young Adults could find dystopian appealing (no offence to those of you who find it appealing). Let me explain why I don’t find dystopian appealing:
1. I want my books to take me to a place I’d like to explore; I never found a dystopian world I wanted to explore (note that this DOESN’T mean I won’t. I have Under the Never Sky on my reading list; maybe that book will change my perspective.)
2. After reading a ton of Adult dystopian in High School, my tolerance for it is very low.
**these are my personal opinions. Please feel free to explain why you love dystopian or why it doesn’t appeal to you.
Now, interestingly enough, I learned from this article, or rather gathered an opinion on why Young Adults like dystopian. Let me put it in the words of Scott Westereld (Author of the Uglies), “The success of ‘Uglies,’ is partly thanks to high school being a dystopia” (Miller 2010).
Let’s think about this:
High School vs. Dystopian world:
Round 1: Often, it does feel like you’re competing for perfection, mostly physical perfection. There’s always that one girl who everyone wants to be like. There may be a certain hair dye, cut, accessory everyone has, or certain type of clothes.
Round 2: Cliques often form. A sort of “US vs. THEM” mentality. At my school there were the popular kids (they ALWAYS hung out at the benches), the "weird" kids (they ALWAYS hung out near the brick wall, or in the back of the cafeteria and often wore black), the bands kids (they ALWAYS hung out near the flag pole and the rails), and then there was the nutral crowd who mingled with everyone (in dystopian, we’d all probably be the first to die, or the we’d be the heroes. I think it goes either way, lol).
I think of Equilibrium.
I think of Equilibrium.
Round 3: You have an enemy that exercises power over you. These are teachers, principals, or parents who keep you from doing what you want--like dressing a certain way, wearing a certain type of makeup, and even, sometimes, hanging out with the people you like.
I see a trend.
In the end, I like looking at dystopian like this. It definitely makes me see why it would be appealing to Young Adults.
What do you think?
Also, normally I wouldn’t try to dissect meaning like this, but I’m in a Young Adult Literature class, as I have said before, and I felt like this would be a fun exercise.