All posts by Lindsey Stowell

Visit: to view my Vlog based on a dystopian future.

Sources Cited:

Brueck, Hilary. “NASA Just Discovered Seven New Exoplanets… So What?” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 4 Mar. 2017,

Stanton, Andrew, director. Walle. Walt Disney, 2008.

Pedro, Aguilera, director. 3%. Boutique Films, 2016. Netflix.

Scott Westerfeld, well-known author of Leviathan and The Uglies, published an interesting article through his publisher’s website that could be applied to a multitude of research topics concentrated on young adult dystopian literature. Cleverly coining the category as “dyslit”, Westerfeld attempts to explain the adolescent’s draw to the dark themes of a dystopia by defining the genre itself and analyzing several key components in such literature.


The term “counter-utopia” is referred to in the start of the article to define Westerfeld’s version of dystopia being used in his argument. His use of the “classical” type of a dystopia where “a twisted version of perfection is imposed on a populace” is easily applicable to the YA dystopian genre we are using in our research papers. Using such a credible source as a reference for a pre-existing genre of dystopia could help establish ethos for an argument.

Similar to one of my peers’ presentations, Westerfeld draws a connection between “dyslit” and the importance/impact of escapism. By focusing on the function of the wilderness for characters who previously lived in an oppressive society, he illustrates the woods as a refuge and a place of transformation. The escape from previous misery contributes to the change you see in the protagonist that ultimately shares the newfound knowledge with those he/she left behind in their previous life. The decision must then be made: share the perceived utopia with those stuck in the oppressed society or live happily having escaped. This could easily be connected to the concept of escapism that was present in some people’s arguments this week.

This article employs a laid-back style that somehow adds to the credibility. It seems as if you are having a friendly conversation with the well-educated Scott Westerfeld rather than being lectured from an all-knowing source. His conclusion perfectly aligns with his purpose by ending on a thoughtful message of rebirth coming from all the death in a dystopia. Just as the typical YA dystopian novel does, Westerfeld fills his conclusion with a note of utopian hope that both inspires and awes the reader. His article, outside of providing invaluable evidence towards most arguments on the topic of “dyslit”, is a genuine good read.

Work Cited:

Westerfield, Scott. “Teenage Wastelands: How Dystopian YA Became Publishing’s Next Big Thing.”, Macmillan, 15 April. 2011,

A definite pattern of interest in dystopian literature can be seen over the evolution of novels throughout the years of humanity. Typically, popularity of such literature peaks following a tragic event in our history such as World War II, the Civil War, or 9/11. This theme raises questions about what exactly society gains from reading dystopia and how the younger generations might be affected by reading such themes of horror in their own literature.


A common concern that people share is the potential negative consequences of our youth being exposed to themes of disaster and oppression in dystopian literature. This thought process stems from the known stereotypes of a dystopia being a hopeless “hell-scape” with no hope of redemption. Although this may be the conclusion in adult dystopian novels, this is not the case in majority of the young adult dystopias. Instead of ending the book on a note of depression, showing no escape from the deplorable actions of humanity, authors in YA typically end their story with a touch of utopian hope. By leaving room for social change, the author prompts an active thought process in the reader that they too can make a difference in our modern society before it reaches the point of dystopia. The dystopian themes generate a response from the reader that could ultimately lead to change for the better in society.


The characters in a novel can also influence the reader for the better. Most YA dystopias share a common theme of the search for an identity. They follow along with a young protagonist that displays the all-important “coming of age” trope. Take Delilah Bard, a no-nonsense thief from A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab. Although she begins the book a little rough around the edges, when paired with a stable friend she ultimately displays loyalty, perseverance, and strength – all outstanding characteristics. As readers are exposed to positive role models that, like everyone else, are just trying to find their way in the world, they absorb some of these characteristics into themselves. Reading through the eyes of a strong, independent character can ultimately improve your own self and maybe even introduce you to qualities you did not know you could possess.

Overall, YA dystopian novels are popular following times of hardship for a reason: we look to them to better ourselves. Reading such literature can open your eyes to new ideas, help you discover qualities in yourself that you did not know existed, and prompt change in society before disaster strikes. Dystopian novels may follow along with certain stereotypes, but there is no doubting the effect they can have on a population.

Works Cited:

Schwab, V.E. A Darker Shade of Magic. TOR, 2015.

The world operates on order. Who makes the rules? Who decides consequences derived from said rules? Who holds the power? It seems that the conflicts inside many young adult dystopias follow along the same principles: a domineering authority consuming the few scraps left in some desolate landscape. My independent reading book, A Darker Shade of Magic, is no exception to this theme. Victoria Schwab’s masterpiece features overblown palaces filled with so-called royalty, an impressive array of magic wielding villains, and a dark stone that could destroy all realities.


Instead of adhering to the standard overbearing government in need of a rebellion plot, Schwab created a universe with omnipotent magic that, depending on the realm, could be used to claim power. What interests me are the correlations that can be made between the illusion of control and those that accept the magic’s existence in their world. Take “White London”, a realm where magic has absorbed all form of color and life from the city. The only form of leadership comes from a bloodthirsty throne that is open to be conquered by anyone who is willing to prove themselves superior through a battle to the death with whoever currently holds the title. The common people who lack magical talent believe they have no control over this process so they simply accept it as the natural order of things. By strategically demonstrating their power to the magicless, the top magicians gain authority that can then be used to control the populations. Instead of igniting rebellion, the commoners fight amongst themselves for crumbs of leftover magic. This enables the victors of the throne to maintain control by keeping the individuals separate, paranoid of one another, and fearful of their overlords.

The impossible artifact that conveniently crosses paths with the main character, Kell, represents a disruption in the order of the realms. The user of the stone has access to dark and unbelievable magic that can actually breaks existing laws by creating things out of nothing. Although the stone creates a sense of control, wielding its power comes at great cost to the user. This illusion makes the stone all the more dangerous in the hands of an eager but inexperienced human. I see this plot thread as a warning to the readers in the typical dystopian fashion. To me, Schwab is drawing a connection between those who can control themselves when given responsibility, and those who become drunk with power. It is easy to be influenced by the power you wield and only you can control what you become as a result.


Works Cited:

Schwab, Victoria. A Darker Shade of Magic. Tor, 2015.

Advertising, propaganda, and marketing can sometimes define the difference between an idea that skyrockets in the general public or one that crashes after liftoff.

Upon release of his book, positive reviews immediately surfaced on websites such as Gizmodo and Goodreads targeting the obvious ideal audience: gamers, readers, and web surfers. By advertising his young adult science fiction/dystopian style online and stressing the nerdy themes, anyone with a remote interest would find it difficult to ignore. Cline, an avid gamer himself, made it clear that the book would feature a multitude of “easter eggs” for the readers to connect to outside realms such as Lord of the Rings, Stephen King, and other different videogames. These references draw in old and young generations looking to get caught up in a sci-fi with familiar throw-backs. Even the title, Ready Player One, instills a sense of nostalgia for old school arcade games which ultimately prompts attention to the book.


Recently there has been talk of Stephen Spielberg directing a major motion picture representing Ernest Cline’s masterpiece. Although the advertising hasn’t yet peaked for the movie, there seems to be a subtle strategy in place. Ernest Cline appears to be focusing on other projects instead of playing the market which, as it turns out, is working pretty well. Most of the marketing for the movie stems from outside sources, mostly fans of the book expressing excitement for the upcoming movie. This passive form of advertising may actually lead to massive success as people generally choose their movies or books based on recommendations from peers. In theory, because of the book’s popularity, the movie advertises for itself through mainstream media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. As long as the marketing team continues releasing tidbits from the filming process to keep the public hooked, suspense for the movie’s release will fuel the ratings and boost book sales.


I first discovered Ready Player One on Goodreads as one of the books recommended for me. I had never heard of Ernest Cline or seen any mention of his book. The portrayal of the cover, a boy climbing up a ragged pile of trailers with “Ready Player One” sprawled in neon orange, is what captivated me. The connection of the title to the videogames I would play with my dad growing up peaked my interest and gave me a clue to the potential style of the book. I eagerly waited a few days to get the book and then immediately dove in expecting a science fiction reality set in a video game universe. Suffice to say I was not disappointed… the book surpassed my expectations and managed to deliver on the plot I was promised. Thanks to Ernest Cline, I can safely say Ready Player One continues to pave the way for future science fiction novels’ survival in pop culture.

Work Cited:

Cline, Ernest. Ready Player One. Random House, 2011.

IMDb., 20 Sept. 2016. Web. 05 Feb. 2017.

The genre of dystopia plays such a dominant role in the development of our culture, even in the modern day, that it seems necessary to craft a definition for the term. The difficulty with confining such a broad, complex style of literature into a single description is there will always be significant details left out. How could someone define something that is constantly adapting to the atmosphere of society, consistently referenced, and continuously ever-present?


Gregory Claeys claims that dystopia as a genre “refers to imaginary places that were worse than real places” and goes on to say the concept is the “dark side” of the Utopian concept. While I fundamentally agree with his analysis, I have to think there is more to dystopian themes than simply portraying a universe completely opposite of society’s utopia. In my opinion, a dystopian literature is one that reveals the flaws of our society to such an extreme that it engulfs the written reality and twists it into the worst possible outcome for humanity. The commonalities in such stories, such as a Great War or a vast abandoned colony, come together to represent this epic doom hanging over our heads that could consume our future if the warnings from the story are not heeded.

Like many other genres, dystopian themes can be combined with other categories of literature such as science fiction or fantasy. When considering such styles paired together I do not see the meaning of dystopia changing; I believe the best elements of each genre come together to adapt the broad definition into a more cultivated mixture of ideals. Science fiction brings about technological innovation and new ways of thinking in the devastated, previously hopeless environment of a dystopia. Fantasy gives way to epic battles and unearthed magic that, when used correctly, can highlight the desolate dystopian themes.  Combining genres does not completely change the definition of a dystopia, it simply adjusts it to better fit the role it is made to fill.

When young adult themes are used to direct a dystopia, some slight changes in the genre can be seen. The authors, aiming to reach a wide range of ages from middle school to college, will create a broader story that could be applicable to many readers. The lessons they attempt to teach and the critiques they wish to be heard will be pushed slightly harder at the reader in order to ensure everyone receives some message from the book. The main characters in young adult dystopias typically mirror the projected audience in age, thought process, and interests. Overall, when an author aims to write a young adult dystopia the overall themes common in the genre remain with only slight changes to the style of writing.

Works Cited:

Claeys, Gregory. “The origins of dystopia: Wells, Huxley, and Orwell.” The Cambridge
Companion to Utopian Literature.
Cambridge University Press, 2010.