By Mahira Dasgupta
Death. Violence. Oppression. Ruin. These are common to all dystopian novels. Many people fail to understand this fascination with stories where things are as bad as they can be. But this is what is dominating young adult fiction. The thrill and excitement of these novels and their unpredictable nature make them un-put-downable. But this is not all that there is to them becoming insanely popular.
These books revolve around realistic and relatable characters that are forced into unrealistic situations. These books play on the uncertainty and anxiety that is an inescapable part of teenage life. There are many parallels that can be drawn between their world and ours.
Similarities Between Real World And Dystopian Novels
The factions in the Divergent series are scarily similar to high school cliques. Every adolescent girl feels the need to be prettier, and no other book describes this as well as the Uglies series. Discussing this in unrealistic and artificial contexts makes the audience both remember that the situation is not real while still allowing the reader to relate to the situation.
Dystopian novels are not new but they have recently gained more popularity than ever before. Novels like George Orwell’s 1984 and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 were both rather well known both critically and commercially in their time and even today. But it is only now that the dystopian future genre is going mainstream.
Why Are They Going Mainstream?
The uncertainty prevalent in today’s time could be a reason why this genre is in such demand. Today a teenagers future is much rockier than their parents was, with no guarantee of a job or a financially secure future and extremely high level of competition. We will inherit a world that has been mismanaged by older generations and we will be expected to ensure that it is safe for future generations.
With the Internet, there is no hiding all that’s wrong with the world. Therefore we acknowledge that those in power can do immeasurable harm to this planet and those who live on it. If we do not change some of our reckless habits, these imagined futures may not be as farfetched, as they seem after all.
Overthrowing the government is also an idea that appeals to a lot of teenagers today. We don’t trust those in power. Escapism also contributes to its popularity. At least our world is not as bad as it is shown in the books.
Some may see these books as depressing or demoralizing but they give me hope. They usually have a relatively happy ending where the main protagonist saves the world. To me, this shows how one person can have such a huge and positive impact on the world. I feel that this is a message that all teenagers need. We need to believe that we as individuals can change the world.
The characters in these novels not only save the world but they also refuse to conform to societal expectations. They never end up doing what they are supposed to do. This correlates with the pressure we face to fit in even if we don’t want to fit into the stereotypes laid out for us.
The popularity of these novels may also root from the fact that teenagers think that the odds are never in their favor. At least these grim and violent novels are making us think about political, societal, and economic issues that will most definitely affect our future.
Image Credits: Google Images