Teenage Dystopia

Definition of Dystopia from Dictionary.com 


http://sp.dictionary.com/dictstatic/d/g/speaker.swf [dis-toh-pee-uh]


a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression,disease, and overcrowding.
Compare utopia.
Origin:  1865–70; dys-  + (u)topia
Related forms
dys·to·pi·an, adjective
dys·to·pi·an·ism, noun
More on dystopia from Wikipedia.com  
The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi
I’ve been curious about the seeming rise in popularity of Dystopian YA Literature. In 2011 I read a few of these novels to see what was developing in this genre.  Here’s my list or recent reads.  

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer – This is the one I’m reading now.  The things that go wrong are deal with such ordinary things that I keep looking around to see if it’s happening now. Is the moon hanging low in the sky, or are we having runs on food at the supermarkets.  We do have lines at our local gas station. . .

It’s not exactly a creepy feeling, but this book makes me uneasy because I can totally see these things happening.  Other dystopian plots are just so out there that you know they are fantasies, even while you are enjoying being  caught up in the action.

I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier – This is an older story, late 1970s, that used to be required reading in some schools.  That was after my high school days.

Our dystopian reads (1960s & ’70s) were things like 1984Brave New WorldFahrenheit 451 and Lord of the Flies.


Witch & Wizard by James Patterson – This is the first book in the series that is popular around my office. None of us are YA.  We’re MA, OF or AR (middle-aged, old fogies or ancient relics). Reading stuff like this keeps us young, or at least give us the illusion that we feel young.  It also gives us something to talk about with our kids.

Witch & Wizard combines a dystopian world with elements of magic.  It features a super-villain with magical powers called, The One Who is The One (as opposed to the One who must not be named or Big Brother).  It was OK, but I  preferred Life As We Knew It

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak. He is more famous for The Book Thief, but I liked Messenger better.  I would describe it as random-acts-of-kindness with a dark twist.  I listened to the audio narrated by an Ausie, so it had a down-under flavor.  I think this was my favorite novel of 2011.

The Book Thief is set in Nazi Germany during WWII.  It’s pretty depressing, with Death as the narrator, but there are some interesting aspects.

I haven’t started The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins yet.  My daughter just finished and she describes it as “Better than Twilight, not as good as Harry Potter”.


All of the books listed above can be found in your local public library.  Many libraries now offer online, downloadable audio-books and eBook options, including Kindle versions available through Amazon.com. Amazon.com has most of these in Kindle format as well.
What do you think of Dystopian Literature?  This isn’t an exhaustive list, and I’ve probably left out your favorite book (The Giver? – Among the Hidden?)  What is your favorite?  Why do you think this genre is so popular now?  Is it the unstable economy?  Wars and rumors of wars? 
If you were to recommend an alternative, more positive reading list, what would be on it?  

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