YA literature

All posts tagged YA literature

After having read several dystopian novels, I noticed that in most of them there is a prominent presence of advanced technology. The types of technology and its usage varied slightly from novel to novel, but they mostly seemed to be technology that is similar to what exists now or could be feasible in the near future. ­Technology is very powerful. It can be used to improve people’s lives and provide safety for a society. Some examples include elevators, cars, medicine, and security cameras. However, if taken too far, which is the case in dystopian novels, it is usually used for surveillance, control, and oppression.

When writing literature, authors often reflect their personal situation or society into their writing. They can criticize or explain any number of topics, including but not limited to government, society, race, technology, and human behavior. In dystopian literature, writers often focus on future societies, explaining the destruction of the current society and government. Are the authors criticizing our scientific improvements and technological advancements? How are dystopian novels portraying the future of our society? Can scientific development be taken too far? These are questions that I am asking myself and I would like to research more about.

In my independent reading book, Delirium, by Lauren Oliver, love has been declared a dangerous disease by the government. A cure has been perfected and everyone has had the procedure by the time they turn eighteen. This medical advancement along with restrictions on the intranet, and the type of music and books allowed allows the government complete control over its citizens.

Other types of everyday technology such, as cameras, toll passes, computer bugs, that exist already, were said to be used in Little Brother to track peoples’ every move, in order to track down the terrorists, but instead it seemed like the whole society was just constantly being monitored. The use of cameras for surveillance was also the case in The Hunger Games. While in the arena, each tribute was being monitored through every move they made.

Works Cited

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

Oliver, Lauren. Delirium. Harper, 2011.


Propaganda serves as a method by the government to control the flow of information to its people. It is so prevalent in dystopian societies because such governments are entirely dependent upon their complete control of their citizens. By managing the flow of information, they can shape people’s views and opinions favorably for that government.

In Ender’s Game, Propaganda is the tool of  the International Fleet, a far-reaching government instituted with cooperation from all countries for one purpose: The Protection of Mankind. Eighty years ago, the people of earth were caught off-guard against a dangerous foe, now known as the “Formics” or Buggers due to their exoskeletal appearance. The Formics were an advanced alien race, and even though Earth managed to defeat them, humans now live in fear that one day the Formics will return. Before, the Earth was on the verge of a Third World War but suddenly they all had one rallying cry that every human could share. “Never Again.”



In the Hunger Games, President Snow says “The only thing stronger than fear is hope.” Like the Capitol, The International Fleet knows this too well. As long as there is a greater enemy, the Formics, then the earth is one nation and the International Fleet is in total control. The Propaganda posters loudly declare that the Formics are their one true Enemy and they must be defeated at all costs while fostering hope that some “hero” will end the threat. Any sympathy for the Formics is crushed. They are the enemy.

It’s somewhat important to recall that the last time the Formics attacked was 80 years ago. But the International Fleet has had 80 years to convince people that they’re coming back. It’s that one unifying thread that keeps them together, the survival of humanity.

Most often, Propaganda is viewed as the tool of the weak and a largely negative thing. In most cases, it usually is. However, the International Fleet had one purpose: to keep mankind alive against a dangerous threat. Who was to know that this thread was also itself. The Formic Wars were the only thing that kept the world together. The external threat forces a pause on Earth politics so that Human Kind could survive. And when the Formics were ultimately slaughtered by Ender, the world fell back into war, proving that they needed a reason to look over their should so they had no time to look upon their neighbors. It’s not to say that propaganda is positive, only that bias is a necessary thing to hold together a Nation.



Ender’s Game Trailer. www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=19&v=0MOqoRSWHCs.

Card, Orson Scott, and Alan Smithee. Enders Game. Boekerij, 2013.

Card, Orson Scott., and John Harris. Ender in Exile.  Tor, 2008.

“Los Angeles Times.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, herocomplex.latimes.com/movies/enders-game-new-propaganda-posters-appeal-to-honor-fear/#/0.

Propaganda is the key behind most issues in dystopian societies, novels and movies alike. Propaganda is a fantastic way for the government, or other groups, to use ethos, pathos, and logos to create visuals for their cause/beliefs.Image result for ethos pathos logos

A very specific instant of propaganda being used to influence a dystopian society can be found in the Hunger Games series. From the very beginning of the first book, Collins shows the Capitol’s propaganda with the description of the speech given before the reaping ceremony. Image result for hunger games reapingThe speech describes Panem’s past and how the Capitol has supposedly saved them all and made the world a better and more peaceful place. Later on in the series, it is mentioned that clips are shown from District 13, the District the Capitol bombed and supposedly wiped out years ago. But it is later revealed that District 13 is alive and well and the video clip is the same one from when they were first bombed, as seen from the same tiny bird flying in the corner of the screen. An instance as simple as a video clip of District 13 has helped the Capitol hold control of the Districts as a whole. The Capitol uses the images and words in their propaganda videos and speeches to strike fear in the hearts of the Districts, which allows the Capitol to remain in control. The Capitol uses pathos when they create fear in the citizens of Panem by constantly reminding them who is in charge through the use of the speech before the reaping (or the video in the movie adaptation). They use logos by showing District 13, creating a message of “hey, you don’t want to mess with us or we’ll bomb and kill your District, think about that first”. The Capitol also uses ethos by describing how horrible life was before they took control, giving the impression that the Capitol knows what they are doing and can be trusted to take care of the citizens because they know the past and don’t want to return to it.

Another form of propaganda can be found in District 13. Once District 13 is up and running, they get ahold of Katniss in Mockingjay and use her to get their message out. At this point in the series, Katniss has inspired rebellion in the hearts of the Districts simply by her rebellious nature and refusal to quit. District 13 acts on this and begins to make promo videos to get the hesitant Districts to stand up and fight against the Capitol. While District 13’s propaganda may seem to be more for a better cause than the Capitol’s, they are still using ethos, pathos, and logos to attempt to convince the citizens of Panem to join their cause. They show Katniss in action to use ethos by showing that they have “the Mockingjay” on their side. They use devastating images of bombed Districts to inspire pathos, and have Katniss make calls of action to use logos.



Works Cited


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

Collins, Suzanne. Mockingjay. NY, NY, Scholastic Press, 2010.


Dystopias seem to be defined in a plethora of ways. On a general basis, there are certain characteristics that seem to be common to most dystopian tales. A lot of the time, it starts off with a utopian goal, but something doesn’t go as planning and leaves the community in shambles. These dystopias usual occur in the future where some sort of disaster or uprising occurs that causes the community/society to be pervaded with characteristics like poverty, an evil government or power, hunger, and just basically unfavorable circumstances. They usually are hopeless throughout the literature they are in and the stories usual focus on someone or some people who challenge the way the society works or who refuses to put up with their current conditions.

When integrating dystopia with another genre, the basic characteristics remain, but some other characteristics specific to this addition genre come to light. For example, when combining dystopia with sci-fi, usually we see how humans have used technology to advance in society but such advances have caused unanticipated circumstances. These types of literature form as a cautionary tale to those who mess with things like artificial intelligence, interstellar travel, etc. When combining dystopia with a genre of something apocalyptic though, some traits you may find are hunger, lack of resources and safety, and a broken-down society. While the core elements of dystopias remain constant, the addition of other genres alter the features of the literature.

YA literature targets a younger audience. Due to this, by integrating dystopic literature with YA literature the author tries to appeal to what they believe intrigues those from 12-18. To appeal to them, usually these dystopic novels have main characters in the same age range to add a sense of relatability and connection. It also uses language and concepts that appeal to young adults and that they understand well. For example, in The Hunger Games the novel has young main characters who while dealing with the dystopic problems, also deal with things like young love, difficult parents and siblings, and a yearn for adventure and fun. It also contains a lot of action to appeal to the youth’s need for something exciting to keep their attention. Together, these are the defining feature of a YA dystopia.

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

What is dystopia?

I think of dystopias as imagined societies created and shared in order to critique and/or caution readers of certain trends, norms, or social and political systems that the author deems as dangerous or undesirable. This is evident when dystopian works from different centuries or ages are compared to each other as observed in The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature by Gregory Claeys. The focus of the critique transforms as different social trends and norms come into place along with the new century. Admonishment of certain political and social systems changes with the current systems as well, for example, capitalism being critiqued in times of economic struggle or failure.

The authorities in dystopian societies create their dystopia as a solution to an issue or crisis that they are approaching or experiencing. These “solutions” paint a negative perspective of society as well as humankind on a fictional canvas. Dystopian societies often follow ridiculous rules and norms that may seem specific to that dystopia, but actually embody much broader aspects that are applicable to our current, non-fictional world. An example of this is in Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. While the Capitol insists that the games are to keep peace (and to keep the people of the Capitol entertained), their actions actually translate into a general warning of government power and oppression.


Combining dystopia with another genre doesn’t change my definition as the combination serves to focus the critical spotlight, illuminating the concept or behavior that the author most disagrees with. For example, a dystopia combined with the sci-fi genre critiques humans’ use of technology, often dissenting our efforts to mechanize and genetically engineer many aspects of our lives. Dystopias paired with the romantic genre are reproachful of repression of emotions. They might consist of a system where the citizens are all participants in a giant, computerized match-making program as observed in the dystopian novel, Matched by Ally Condie. The system might even prohibit or obstruct the citizens from expressing or feeling love.

Bringing dystopian literature into the YA field brings significance to the genre. Opening the younger generation’s eyes to the world of dystopia allows them to consciously and subconsciously absorb messages about society and humanity. Of course, other literature besides dystopia in the YA genre relays messages, but much stronger and deeper critique is provided through dystopia. The often shocking or disturbing worlds of dystopia are more captivating and can convey provocative concepts without being too philosophical to keep young readers’ attention.

Whether you’re actively looking for something that will change the way you view society, or just want something to sit down and enjoy, dystopia fiction will leave you with something to ponder.

Works cited:

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

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York, NY, Scholastic, 2008.

Condie, Ally. Matched. New York, NY, Dutton Books, 2010.