All posts tagged counter-utopia

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,