Fact: The world we live in is messed up. With so many awful things happening all around the world, it’s scary to think of what kind of future our generation will eventually have to face. But it’s not that hard to guess. Pick up any dystopian novel from a bookstore these days, and you’re more than likely to find an answer.
Ever since Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games broke records when it was first published in 2008, store bookshelves have been populated with more and more books under the dystopian genre. Nestled within their pages are paragraphs upon paragraphs depicting worlds where it’s perfectly normal for teens to kill each other as a game, or for entire countries to be entirely submerged. While they still remain entirely fictional, these stories show how society can easily get much, much worse.
Basic history lessons have taught us that literature is one kind of primary source that helps us understand how people lived in a certain time period.
Here, we list five things that show what the popularity of dystopian novels says about our generation.
Complexity is cool.
Just because every headstrong, butt-kicking protagonist needs a love interest (or two), that doesn’t mean that it should be the central topic of the entire story.
Today’s dystopian novels usually merge themes of love against the background of a dysfunctional society. Applying this to life, it can’t just be all romance, no action, and vice versa. Our generation acknowledges that there are problems much bigger than us because we are complex human beings who live and breathe in a complex world.
Humor and wit (and in some cases, puns) are our lifeblood.
In the midst of all the destruction, wit and intelligent quips from characters of these novels help lighten the mood. In the present real world, if Twitter’s any indication, 140 characters is all it takes to keep us going in spite of all the papers, tests, and reports we have to complete or study for.
Talking about ‘me.’
What better way to relate than to talk about ourselves? Many of these novels are written in the first person. At the heart of every YA dystopian novel is a good personal story that readers can identify with, which shows how we as readers look to our own experiences and the experiences of the main protagonists of the books to inform our actions.
Socially aware citizens.
Part of the reason that people love dystopian literature so much is because they feel that it serves as a commentary on the real problems that plague modern society. It’s a way of doing something about it — by at least thinking about the problems. The social justice warriors who constantly post about current issues exemplify this mentality.
Innovate to be prepared.
Most of these novels are set far in the future, which makes it seem like they’re too far off for such things to happen in our lifetime. It’s a time that seems far enough away that we don’t think that we’ll be affected anytime soon.
These novels show different versions of what the world could turn out to be, and we become better prepared to create and innovate in order to avoid living in the devastated worlds we read about in the books.