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The critique, “Fresh Hell,” written by Laura Miller for The New Yorker, is an in-depth look into the world of young adult dystopian literature.  Miller analyzes the boom in YA dystopian literature and believes that the autonomy of teens, the imaginative environments and cliff hangers are major contributors to the popularity of recent novels such as The Hunger Games. Comparing adult and young adult dystopias Miller says that adult dystopias are “grimmer.” In the article, Miller analyses an academic journal, “2003 collection “Utopian and Dystopian Writing for Children and Young Adults,” the British academic Kay Sambell […] implies that dystopian stories for adults and children have essentially the same purpose—to warn us about the dangers of some current trend.” Specific examples Miller strategically uses is “1984” and “Brave New World” as “they detail the consequences of political authoritarianism and feckless hedonism.”

Similar to Melissa Ames’s academic journal, “Engaging ‘Apolitical’ Adolescents: Analyzing the Popularity and Educational Potential of Dystopian Literature Post-9/11” Miller explores the increasing demand for this specific YA genre through these themes and motifs. The most interesting argument stems from the idea that young adults are living in their own dystopia and that idea is the cause of the boom in popularity of the genre. “The success of ‘Uglies,’ [author] Westerfeld once wrote in his blog, “is partly thanks to high school being a dystopia.” Miller says, “adults dump teen-agers into the viper pit of high school, spouting a lot of sentimental drivel about what a wonderful stage of life it’s supposed to be.” This cruel sentiment is relatable to the government of The Hunger Games and how they “dump” teenagers into the games

The overall article is well-developed and ties into many of the themes of the course. The arguments are well-rounded and have no bias. Miller herself had done many critiques of literature and is very credible in her field. Her insight into the teenage condition is the most impressive feature in the article. This source really benefited my argument that young adult dystopia’s are social criticisms, however almost all other projects involving YA dystopian literature will benefit from the insightful and well-developed argument by Miller. This is because as Miller showcases the social commentary YA dystopias have for society, it also demonstrates and proves how meaningful and impactful this genre is. This notion benefits all research into young adult fiction as it heightens its purpose and gives the writer a new perspective into the mind of the targeted audience.

Works Cited

Miller, Laura. “Fresh Hell.” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 14 July 2015,

www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/06/14/fresh-hell-2. Accessed 24 Feb. 2017.

 

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.

“http://www.tor.com/2011/04/15/teenage-wastelands-how-dystopian-ya-became-publishings-next-big-thing/”

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.” TOR.com, Macmillan, 15 April. 2011, http://www.tor.com/2011/04/15/teenage-wastelands-how-dystopian-ya-became-publishings-next-big-thing/