Dystopia would appear to be the new go-to genre for young adult literature. There’s the standing classic, now present in film form, The Hunger Games, and some similar, moderately popular novels that came afterwards, such as Ally Condie’s Matched and Divergent by Veronica Roth, which I have yet to read. Across the Universe by Beth Revis is a less well-known gem of the genre, and one of my favorite books. Like any literary craze, there’s the good and the great, the bad and the worse.
Thanks to my required summer reading, I’ve started delving into pre-Hunger Games YA dystopia. I’m currently reading Feed by M.T. Anderson, and, while I’m only about halfway through, I think it’s safe to say that it’s an excellent contribution to the body of futuristic literature. It manages to be an entertaining satire as well as a chilling commentary on our society and where it could be headed. Out of all the other YA dystopias I’ve read, Feed reminds me most of Across the Universe–or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that Across the Universe reminds me of Feed, since Feed came first. Both volumes center of fairly ordinary teenagers, feature a good deal of futuristic slang for the reader to pick up on, and seem to have a focus on fighting societal expectations and norms.
Actually, the rebellion against society theme is a common trait among most of the dystopias I’ve read. This combined with the general fixation on the future shows that, as a people, we’re afraid of turning into a homogenized society. We’re expressing our fears and ideas through our literature, and also using it as a warning. If we spread a spirit of individualism now, such a future could be avoided.
What are some of your favorite dystopian novels? Do you think that we should be paying attention to the lessons they teach?