YA dystopian fiction

All posts tagged YA dystopian fiction

In my presentation, I will be discussing how dystopias impact our views of current events. As I continued to watch and read dystopian novels and films I began to like it more and more. The reason I chose to research this topic is because I am interested in finding out about humanity. I want to also talk about why we are taking interest in dystopian novels more today.

One reason we are more interested in dystopian literature is because we know that people with power are capable of making this as bad as the dystopian novel or film. It makes you think that the fictional story or film have some truth behind it. It makes us question the honesty of the authority. As you are reading dystopian literature, you seem to find something in the story that has occurred, is occurring, or about to occur. So, as we are reading these novels we seem to connect with the characters. Also, dystopian novels are seen as a warning message to a society so that they can avoid the world turning into a dystopia.

I read an article The Daily Beast by Amy Zimmerman and it talks about how “The Real-Life Hunger Games” is coming to the television in Russia in the winter of 2018. These games supposed to been seen as reality television show just like the Hunger Games. The game consists of 30 female and male in 40-degree weather and in the wilderness of Siberian. The prize of the games is 1.65 million dollars. Everything is included such as murder and rape according to the show rules.

When things in humanity occur in fictional novels and films, it makes you wonder is fictional after all. I will give more evidence on why dystopian literature our current views in the today’s world.

Zimmerman, A. (2016, December 17). The Real-Life ‘Hunger Games’ Is Coming to         Russian Television. God Help Us All. Retrieved March 06, 2017, from          http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/12/17/the-real-life-hunger         games-is-coming-to-russian-television-god-help-us-all.html


Fresh Hell is an article from the New Yorker website that explains the appeal of newer YA dystopian novels while focusing the most on the Hunger Games. Its main argument is that these novels attract readers because they understand what teenagers are going through. Or in other words, they are allegories of our young adult lives, fraught with dangers and difficulties.

One of the main theories is that the dystopian worlds described are similar to the world of high school. This is most evident in the Hunger Games where children are thrown in an harsh environment by unfeeling adults and must survive. It also compares a main difference between adult and young adult dystopias which is the ending. The first is pessimistic and the second is more optimistic so it can be suited for a younger audience.

Its organization is effective as it goes from one point to the other while bringing examples first from the Hunger Games then from other books. These include The Knife of Never Letting Go and Little Brother. Each section first outlined a claim about young adults that related to an aspect of a dystopian novel, then it was backed up with references and examples. It had a formal tone but the diction was not ridiculously high so that everyone could understand: teenagers and scholars alike.

This source was especially important to me because it helped me with some of my points regarding the novel I was studying: After by Francine Prose. It helped me delve in deeper to some of the hidden themes the writer used. I also understood how it was an allegory to our daily lives but exaggerated. Instead of mirroring the world high-school, for example, the story was set in an high-school that turned slowly into a dystopia. That was an interesting twist that I had not realized. The negative world incorporated itself into daily life directly, which was very different from other young adult novels.


Miller, Laura. “Fresh Hell.” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 14 July 2015, www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/06/14/fresh-hell-2. Accessed 22 Feb. 2017.

Why are we as readers interested in dystopias? Is it the fact that we are prideful in our societies and are able to laugh at the imperfect and impossible dystopian societies that we read about? Or, perhaps it is that we fear for the future of our society and see these novels as plausible futures. It might be that we read these novels as precaution. Whatever the reason, dystopian novels, many of them YA dystopias, have become increasingly popular throughout the past decade. A timeline of dystopian popularity is shown below in the infographic by goodreads. It shows that dystopian novel sales are as high as they have been since The Cold War.

It would seem that the increase in popularity of this genre is in response to tighter government controls and security threats. Often times dystopian novels are written in response to these changes in society and present commentary and a new perspective on societal and governmental flaws. These criticisms are often displayed as underlying themes in dystopian novels where the plot of the book is often to overcome an obstacle. Many times, these books present challenges to the characters that are extremely intense and often deeply saddening. These challenges range from killing 23 children in an arena as seen in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins to fighting to keep your memories as seen in The Program written by Suzanne Young.

My question still remains: why are young adults so interested in dystopian novels? Many scholars have devoted time to researching this interest including Justin Scholes and Jon Ostenson of The Alan Review at the Virginia Tech online journals. These scholars suggest that teenagers are able to relate to the characters in these novels because most are written from the teenagers perspective. They also explain that the protagonist’s willingness and ability to assert him or herself and to bring about change in a place that dampens individualism and rebellion appeals to and empowers the reader. The Program clearly demonstrates this stolen individualism through the program itself. As there is a depression and suicide epidemic across the nation, this program is instituted in order to reduce the number of suicides by taking away all painful and potentially damaging memories. But, the protagonist Sloane does all that she can to fight the program and regain her memories from before, although they may be painful. When the government tries to suppress her, she resists. This quality is found in most protagonists of dystopian novels and the idea of defiance and independence of rule may be what attracts so many young adults to these types of books.

Though the reason behind the attraction to YA dystopias has been speculated, there are many other factors ranging from gender roles to youth empowerment that also play into this interest. The Program as well as other popular dystopian novels are great examples of rebellion within an oppressive society that allow readers to imagine themselves in such a position to defy their own authority. But, what exactly rallies thousands of young people around these similar stories? Stay tuned to find out.


Works Cited



I think it is really cool that dystopias, specifically YA dystopias, are able to take some pretty serious subjects and turn them into stories that a wide variety of people can read and understand. Furthermore, I think what interests me most about dystopias is how much they can be related to the world that we live in today. I have seen all sorts of topics in dystopian novels such as role of government, media, surveillance, power, etc. Specifically in my independent reading book, Champion by Marie Lu, as well as in the prequels to Champion, a lot of what happens in the fictional society is influenced by the Media. I hope to discover more about the role of the media and propaganda in dystopia and how it relates to the role of media and propaganda in real life as well. Additionally in the novels, big corporations play a huge role in their society. The Colonies are ruled by four corporations, which demonstrate just how much power the corporations have. I know that the corporations in our world tend to have a certain degree of power, and therefore I am interested in finding out more about the amount of power that corporations in our capitalist society have, and how much power they have over the people.

Example showing how big the media is in our society.

I would also like to relate this back to dystopian novels, and address the reasons that so many of these sorts of novels include themes relating to the media and big corporations. Ultimately I would also like to know what the popularity of these sorts of novels says about our society, or if it says anything at all. Do the themes that I have focused on offer a glimpse into the way our society works now, or possibly what we may face in the future? Or are they just entertaining books that sell?

Image Source: MediaChannel.org

What if we lived in a world where we were told what to think, who to be, and our expectations of the future? In Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games” series, this is the role that propaganda plays. Beginning with the reaping day video, which pushes the idea that each of the twelve districts are traitors to the Capitol, we, as outsiders, can see clearly the Capitol places all blame of the rebellion on the districts. This has created feelings of oppression and tension between the two. History is written by the victors, and since the Capitol emerged victorious from the district uprisings, they dictated how the entire society would view the rebellion. The history they wrote consists of the betrayal of the districts, which in turn leads to the creation of the hunger games.

The Hunger Games are in and of themselves a form of propaganda. They convey the message that the Capitol will always win. By forcing each district to sacrifice their children, who symbolize the hope and future of their families in each district, the Capitol reinforces their power.

Children of the districts live in continual fear of the Capitol. Each year, the televised blood sacrifice of children remind the districts the Capitol is in charge and their only option for survival is to do completely as they say.

Even if you do survive past the childhood terror of being sent to the games, you are expected to support the Capitol in whichever industry they have assigned to each district.


Another form of propaganda the Capitol uses against the Districts is Caesar Flickerman’s pre-game interview with the contestants. During this time, he gives the Capitol an air of relatibility and humor. He embodies the Capitol and all its people, so when he jokes with the contestants, cries for the contestants, and rejoices with the contestants, the Capitol claims the stance of regret and empathy towards the Districts.

Through their use of propaganda, the Capitol hopes to keep the Districts under its control. They have rewritten history in their favor; they have broken the fighting spirit out of many of the Districts by continually claiming their children for contestants in their game. The Capitol, as many dystopian societies, has used propaganda to further their own agenda and keep the citizens in check with mind games and force.



Lionsgate needed to sell “The Hunger Games”. How did they get people to come to the theater when the film criticizes our very own behavior? They marketed the storyline and the characters.

Forget the message, forget that what the PR team is doing is the very thing the books are warning of, and just focus on the foreground of the story. Create posters of sample citizens from each district. Show snippets from the peak action scenes in the film. Throw in a tender moment between Katniss and Peeta. Between Katniss and Gale. Depict the characters as fierce and defiant individuals in the movie posters.

“The Hunger Games” is special in that it had a large following of the book series before the movies. This allowed Lionsgate to skip a few steps; there was already an existing fanbase that would easily be attracted to the films. Personally, I like to see visualizations of books, whether it’s simply the book cover, fan-made art, or an actual film. These real-life depictions make the books and their components seem more tangible. The posters shown below were created for the existing fans. These are characters that they’ve already read about and that they’re curious about. To those who had not yet read the books, these posters didn’t hold as much significance.

Movie trailers and posters aim to spark interest in people that are not already fans, in addition to re-captivating the excitement of existing fans. The trailers carefully weave together scenes from the films that will ensnare the most viewers. It’s difficult to derive the main message of a dystopia from movie trailers because the focus isn’t on criticism. It’s on introducing the characters and action that they’re involved in, which is what tends to convince the audience to go see the film anyways. It’s much more likely to hear, “Oh, that movie looks really cool, we should go see it” than, “Wow, I think this movie is going to convey a really provoking message and critique of human society, let’s go see it”.

“They just want a good show, that’s all they want,” Gale says in “The Hunger Games” movie. I can’t help now but think that it’s a bit disturbing. That is exactly what we want out of the films, and we don’t see any problem with it, thanks to the presentation on the market, and propaganda of our own.

Works Cited

Barnes, Brooks. “How ‘Hunger Games’ Built Up Must-See Fever.” The New York Times, 18 Mar. 2012, www.nytimes.com/2012/03/19/business/media/how-hunger-games-built-up-must-see-fever.html.

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

Dystopia’s etymology reveals the one true commonality that all dystopia’s share. The Greek word “dys,” signifying bad or difficult, places all dystopia’s in the context of the human experience. In all of them, there exists human suffering. From this point, any more depth in the definition of dystopia comes from its combination with another genre. Each genre provides a different lens to view human pain, and as a result, reveals different societal problems we experience today. Sci-Fi often examines how the use of technology may be used to oppress large amounts of people. Apocalyptic dystopias take the Sci-Fi twist and go further, in which technology leads to a slippery-slope of human annihilation.

Dramas and Romance maintain criticisms of society, though it allows for human emotion to creep through, namely love and hope. This is visible in The Hunger Games, where signs of positive human emotions not just linger, but play important roles in its plot.

Young Adult Dystopian fiction introduces subtler changes to the standard dystopian novel. It focuses on issues that younger people would likely engage in, such as love, money, and family. YA Dystopian fiction does not solely criticize society, rather it uses that criticism to build an otherwise normal plot. The setting just “happens” to be diseased and dark. The Hunger Games is not a story about a totalitarian government using its power to oppress the masses, or how technology could be used to cause great human suffering. It’s one about love, and how pure human qualities (Katniss) can prevail against greed and fear (Cato).

This thematic change brings entire new meaning to dystopian novels, one unique to YA fiction. The combination of genres appears simply as an addition, though it’s clear through its effects on plot and overall theme that different forms of dystopian literature introduce and expand on very different ideas, and their shared foundation of human suffering has little impact on the development of the novel.