After reading The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature book, and having discussions in class, I have gathered that a dystopia is a utopia that has fallen. Where a utopia is a dreamed up basically perfect society, a dystopia is just the opposite. The idea of the dystopias is often combined with other genres of literature. I do not think that combining dystopias with other genres changes the essence of a dystopia. Instead it adds another element to the story to engage the readers. For example, in The Hunger Games, there is definitely a romantic love triangle going on. However, this romance aspect of the story does not detract from the serious dystopia related issues at hand.
On another note, considering the popularity of YA dystopias, I think that when dystopias become marketed at young adults, that the underlying themes surrounding the genre do not change very much. In fact, I also do not think that the real problems in the stories are sugar-coated very much for young adults. For example, The Hunger Games deals with very serious issues, and young adults who are forced to kill each other. I would definitely not say that there is anything sweet about this subject.
With the rise of this genre, I think it is important to ask why it has gotten so popular. With the growth of technology and the direction in which our society is moving, it would seem that we are always striving to become better and improve our world. Are we trying to create a utopia? Are these numerous dystopia novels a warning to us that we will not be able to achieve the utopia we strive for? I think these become bigger questions when we consider that many sci-fi novels of the past predicted events and technologies that we have today. Which leads to the biggest question of all: when we read dystopia novels, are we glimpsing our future?