While I take a break from all the madness that is Comic-Con (more about that later), I thought I would take advantage of the SUPER-SLOW WiFi access I have in this hotel in San Diego and write about a totally depressing subject.
A Dystopian society, simply said, is the total opposite of a Utopian society. While Utopia is a “perfect world”, Dystopia is a horrible world created by the consequences of present-day human behavior. Basically all the crappy stuff humans are doing today will cause the world to end in about 50 years. Which is why dystopian novels are so freaking scary. They make it seem like this shit can happen.
Like Steampunk, Dystopia is EVERYWHERE in books these days, especially young adult books (the only kind I read, if you haven’t noticed). It’s been written about before, but it wasn’t until the publication of The Hunger Games that reading about dystopian societies really took off. Seriously, just about every other book on the shelves at Borders (R.I.P.) deals with some sort of world gone wrong, usually involving a headstrong heroine who’s determined to break out of it.
Don’t get me wrong…I LOVE dystopian books. I’m not ashamed to jump on that bandwagon, the same way I jumped on the vampire/werewolf/angel/faerie bandwagon. The bandwagon is a fun place to be. I highly recommend it.
But why are these dystopian books so addicting? Why are teens gobbling them up like a bunch of post-apocalyptic zombies? Is it because the reality of them is so believable? Or are things so bad in our world today that we need something to read that actually makes us think “Well, geez, at least my world isn’t that bad”? Or are we hopeful enough to where we believe that the heroine (0r hero, if you like boy books) will actually make it out of this horrible place and make a change?
For example, the book I’m reading now, Wither by Lauren DeStefano, is about a society in which males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. At first I thought, “Ooo, like Logan’s Run!” But, um, no…it’s a little different. In this world – which takes place sometime around 2050 after a very destructive WWIII took out all countries except for North America – scientists have discovered the cures to all diseases, along with a way of making humans perfect when they’re born. The only downside? The humans only live for twenty (or twenty-five if you’re a dude) years.
Because of the short life span of humans, the “first generations”, aka “the ones not affected with the virus and who screwed the whole human race over to begin with” are desperate for these poor young souls to procreate to keep the human race going. So what better way to do this than good old marriage – polygamy style! Yes, young girls are forced to marry young men and share the home with their “sister wives”.
Well, that’s dystopia for you. Fun and games for all.
If I have to recommend a good dystopian book to start with, it would be the aforementioned The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I couldn’t stop reading after the first sentence and went on a mad library search for the second and third (couldn’t find, had to buy instead) as soon as I finished. For those of you who have read it, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, you’re in for an awesome ride. Super intense, but not so much that it loses the importance of the characters. Because at the end of each chapter, it’s the characters you really care about.
And by the way, Lionsgate Films…DON’T EFF THIS MOVIE UP.
Crave more dystopia? Try these guys on for size:
1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
2. The Giver by Lois Lowry
3. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
4. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
5. Bumped by Megan McCafferty