All posts by Madeline Scheinost

“Darkness Too Visible” by Meghan Cox Gurdon is an article that addresses the effects of dark content featured in Young Adult novels. Gurdon begins the article by providing a real life example of a concerned parent. The mother in this situation fears the extremely violent and dark content in a large majority of the books targeted towards her daughter’s age group. Gurdon then goes on to discuss how Young Adult novels are crude. She mentions that life is often portrayed with misery and depression, and she questions the effects of these themes on the reader. She argues that while reading a book may not necessarily make teens depressed, it certainly will have some effect on their brains. Gurdon then provides specific examples of YA novels with dark storylines. She uses several examples over time to demonstrate how the books have become more and more violent and dark over time. Gurdon then briefly discusses the argument that books such as these should not be banned. Her reasoning is that the readers could find comfort in these storylines if they have gone through something similar. However, her counterargument is that the publication of such novels normalizes dark behavior. She also discusses the fact that profanity in such storylines has been normalized over the years. She closes the article by discussing several points about book censorship and how it affects readers. She states that many librarians are against censorship as young adults should have the freedom to decide what to read.

This source provides much needed support to my argument. The author provides both a counter argument and support to my thesis. My research is about the effects of banned books and censorship on young adult readers, specifically banned dystopian novels. Dystopian novels frequently contain dark content that parents do not approve of for their children to read. I can use this source to discuss parental concerns, and also discuss the benefits they believe censorship has. In addition, I  can use the material about why censorship is bad in my argument.


Works Cited:

Gurdon, Megan Cox. “Darkness Too Visible.” The Wall Street JournalDow Jones & Company, 4 June 2011.

Censorship is the prevention of certain ideas, phrases, or images from reaching the general public. Throughout history, censorship has occurred in the form of banning and challenging books. Although countless authors have warned against the idea of censorship, it is still prevalent today. Moreover, censorship and book challenging is especially common among YA dystopian novels. In my research, I will be discussing the effects of censorship in YA dystopian literature. Why are these books banned, and how does it affect the targeted young adult audience?


Every year the American Library Association publishes a list of the most frequently challenged books of the year and the reasoning for banning them. Within these lists are countless YA dystopian novels. Titles such as The Hunger Games and Feed are frequently on such lists. What is interesting about many of the challenged and banned novels is that their reasoning for being banned is often obscure. For example, The Hunger Games was once challenged for the “religious viewpoint”(Biller). It is interesting to me that parents would choose to challenge a book based off of a said religious viewpoint when there is so much violence that would be easier to challenge.


Another interesting aspect of censorship I wish to uncover is false censorship. My independent novel, Delirium, had some sources claim it was banned or challenged, yet I have not found any conclusive information. Could this be a marketing tactic used by the author to draw attention from young readers? It has been found that banned books are more popular among young readers because they feel that in a sense they are being rebellious by reading content that is deemed explicit. Additionally, Lauren Oliver, the author, has appeared in a YouTube live video about censorship and its effects in the past. A small detail in Delirium also covers the idea that books that promote love are banned from the fictional society.


Finally, I hope to uncover some of the effects censorship has on young adults. The content of ya dystopian literature was written by authors to address topics they felt the youth ought to be able to comprehend. Are parents being overbearing in their quest to put an end to what they deem unsuitable literature? The content is meant to evoke emotions about the current and past political states and promote change in society. By banning and challenging books that contain such important material, what are we teaching the young adults of today’s society?


Works Cited:

Biller, Diana and Charlie Jane Anders. “The 12 Weirdest Reasons for Banning Science Fiction and      Fantasy Books.” io9, Gizmodo, Sept 2014, banning-science-fiction-and-1639136022

Every year, the American Library Association publishes a list of banned and challenged books. Banned books are books that have been removed from library shelves because they are deemed unreadable for particular audiences. This is most common in public school libraries, where parents will challenge books that have various content they do not approve of. The book is then reviewed by a board and they decide whether or not to leave it on the shelves. YA dystopian novels are commonly featured on the banned books list. Titles such as Brave New World, The Hunger Games, The Giver and Fahrenheit 451 have all been on the list a number of times.

My independent reading novel, Delirium by Lauren Oliver, was not on the ALA banned book list, although there have been some sources claiming that the book has been on a ‘commonly challenged list’. Within the story itself, however, books and poems that promote the idea of love are banned from society. The government in the fictional society also censors the media and songs to ensure that the idea of love is not promoted in their society. In addition, Oliver participated in a YouTube live video a couple of years ago in which she discusses banned books and censorship. I am interested to learn more about Oliver’s motives for such active warning against censorship. Is it to promote sales for her books by making teens think they are being rebellious by reading explicit content, or is Oliver worried about our current society?

The idea for my research paper is to understand why censorship still plays a role in society when so many authors, such as Lauren Oliver and Ray Bradbury, have warned us from extensive censorship. Additionally, I want to understand what makes YA dystopian novels so dangerous in particular. Is it the idea of rebellion, profanity, the sexual content, or a combination of each of these elements?


Works Cited:

Peters, Patricia. “Frequently Challenged Young Adult Books.” American Library Association, August


Propaganda is used to control citizens. By definition, it is biased information used to persuade a group into believing a political idea. Typically, propaganda is the only source of information the people receive, so there is very little free thought. This idea is exemplified in many dystopian novels, including Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series.

In The Hunger Games, each of the twelve districts of Panem are required, by law, to send one boy and one girl aged 12-18 to a death match. This event is known as the hunger games, and although there are twenty-four contestants, only one will comes out alive. The games were formed as a result of a rebellion started by District 13 in the Dark Days, and now the remaining twelve districts must pay the ultimate price. The ruling body, the Capitol, is not required to send any of their children to these games. However, everyone is required to watch. The sad thing is, the Capitol and many of the richer districts view the games as the ultimate form of entertainment. What the citizens of Panem do not realize is that the games are just a form of propaganda. The games are meant to show that the Capitol has complete control over the districts. Parents are unable to protect their children from the reaping, and the children are forced to kill each other to survive. President Snow and most of the citizens of the Capitol say that the games are to keep the peace among Panem, but at what cost? The Capitol is responsible for the death of innocent children and they only use the games as a way to pit the districts against each other to try and prevent another rebellion. When the friends and family of the tributes see their children being killed by someone of another district, they are unlikely to want to unify with the murderers and rise against the Capitol. Additionally, this killing game is the only access the districts have to each other. So, the only time citizens of different districts are in any sort of contact is when they are forced to kill each other or watch it happen.

Even after the games the ‘victors’ are used as propaganda for the Capitol. They become the stars of Panem, showered with gifts and promised a life filled with happiness. Katniss proved that this is not always the case. To be treated well by the Capitol, you have to play their game until your eventual death. The victors have to help maintain the order in Panem and promote the Capitol’s ideas. Those that turn against the Capitol, like Katniss, are quickly discredited and given death warrants.


Works Cited:

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. Scholastic Press, 2008.

A utopia is defined as a perfect, unachievable society. All of the citizens are happy and it is typically an idealized version of our current state. Authors aim to improve upon the current state in which we live by offering subtle recommendations of change, either socially or politically. A dystopia is a society that has turned to the worst. Most often, dystopias are societies with little to no social justice and a general unhappiness among its citizens. Authors write dystopian novels to warn readers about the potential road to destruction they believe our society is on.

Dystopian novels often contain sub-genres such as science fiction or romance. Science fiction in dystopias reflects “our hopes and fears about the future, and more specifically, [links] those hopes and fears to science and technology” (Claeys 138). This is evidenced by Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. The main character, Montag, is a book burner for a society that’s increased its reliance on technology has killed free thought. As a direct result, books are banned and burned. Montag one day develops a curiosity about books and begins to read them. The thoughts provoked by his reading made him even more intellectually curious. He begins to subtly take more and more books from houses he is sent to burn. Montag soon realizes that society is slowly becoming mindless as the people around him fail to engage in meaningful conversation and quiver with fear at the sight of a simple book. In the end, Montag barely escapes from his former coworkers turned enemies and helps to rebuild the city with rebel book readers, restoring free thought in society.

When it comes to Young Adult dystopian novels, the authors are trying to achieve the same goal. YA dystopian novels are a warning to future generations. It is interesting to note that many dystopian novels are commonly on the banned book lists for public libraries. Parents believe their children are not old enough to cope with the violence commonly featured in such books, yet authors target a youth audience. Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games series is a perfect example of this. The entire series has remained in the top ten most wanted banned books lists for the past five years, yet it is one of the most loved YA dystopian novels today. This shows that authors are trusting in younger generations, and although the books are targeted towards young adults, the major themes are lessons for everyone.


Works Cited:

Claeys, Gregory, editor. The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2010.