We all have talked and thought countless hours about the themes of dystopian societies, their people, their ways, etc. Yet not often enough have we analyzed how these books were written. Also infinitely important to all YA dystopian novels are the division of chapters, cliffhangers, sentence structure, and point of view. Without these, there would be no method through which to tell the author’s messages. These aspects of any novel are often so fundamental they are either forgotten or disregarded as absolutes. Yet a skilled author knows how to twist these fundamentals to make a good story into an extravagant one. Point of view specifically stands out to me in every YA dystopia. It is very rare indeed that one of these novels is not in the first person point of view. The goal of my research project is to delve deeper into why exactly every author seems to know that first person POV is the way to go.
First, there is the obvious answer: first person POV makes the reader able to relate with the main character. Yet I believe there is more to the inevitable use of this POV. For example, there are two main types of first person POV: present and past tense. These are both used in YA dystopias, yet what difference does it make? Does the present tense give a sense of urgency that the past cannot provide, therefore encouraging the reader to read like there’s no tomorrow? Also, is there something wrong with using the third person POV? Is it simply convention to use first person for a YA dystopia; are authors following some sort of mold that each story fits inside of, which is guaranteed to make the most money?
The aim of my research project will not only be to dig deeper into using first person POV as a method of forming a link between the reader and the main character, but also to uncover ulterior motives that may not be quite so obvious. At the moment, one such motive I have thought up would be to keep other characters’ thoughts from reaching the reader. In a dystopian novel, the purpose is to point out “flaws” in a society dreamt up by the author. Yet not every person in the novel is bound to disagree with the society. So if the author lets other points of view be presented alongside the main character’s, will the reader be less inclined to agree with the main character? Is the author providing a safety net by only creating a single path through the novel, and making it nigh impossible for a young adult reader to stray?
The fact is, nearly every YA dystopian novel you read is in first person POV. This is a very undeniable fact, less disputable even than many common themes. Such one-track minds, both in the books and with the authors, must arise from somewhere.