The Problem with Dystopian Fiction


More times than not I hate dystopian fiction.

I can already hear the collective gasping at this, as well as ‘But what about the Hunger Games!?’ or ‘But Divergent…!’

You need to appreciate something. Dystopian and I… we just do not get along.

I could get on board with super-natural romance (as much as I totally gave up in the second Twilight Book) and I totally loved the whole School-Of-Criminals-And- Con-Artist thing that happened for a bit but I have never been all that chummy with the whole Alternative-Dark-Society-Thing.

You would think I would be. Given I love politics and history and social issues and the like but when it comes to any kind of grand Dystopian book I really do struggle.

Yes. I do like books that challenge us and force us to ask the big questions that shape our society.  Yes I love history, and books that highlight previous historical situations with more intensity (such as the oppression that was done and should never be allowed to be repeated by the Nazis during World War Two, or even the fact that we need to not judge people because of culture – something people are tempted to do in today’s world, and something I write about a lot.)

But what I don’t like is fully immersive Dystopian stories that are super cliché.

Authors paint huge pictures of these societies that operate almost entirely on their own, which usually focus around the whole ‘The United States Has a New Name Now… And It’s The Only Country That Exists And Now It Has This Super Weird Social Order This Whole Book Is About’ thing.

Because this is what Dystopian books always assume and this is why they annoy me:

– The protagonist world is ALWAYS a variant of America that has fallen into a plague/war/something else that makes it the only KNOWN nation that survives.

– This nation either operates as the ONLY existing nation (aside from like… other small people groups seen as ‘savages’ or ‘not as good’ that bumble around in settlements outside of a major metropolis) and everything happens inside of it.

– There will always been a headstrong angry girl OR a soft ‘I cant do this’ boy who faces some kind of challenge, is almost always on their own initially and finds some underground/rebel force that they become a part of.

– The Family must ALWAYS die. Either the whole family or a significant family member. Apparently that makes it super intense for the character.

– There is always a class structure. The character will always be that lower class structure.

I could go on but I won’t.

The other thing I super struggle with (aside from like… a total lack of creativity from authors of this genre) is that the story never fully resolves. So you finish it, completely dissatisfied that it sort of just… crumbles and you never know how things get better. And yeah, the world is never perfect and things aren’t always better and blah blah blah, but I don’t care. I want to know how the mess the author concluded with ever sees a fulfillment, good or bad.

You may think I am crazy, but I really, really do struggle with Dystopian fiction. I have since I read my very first dystopian story (Divided Kingdom) when I was fifteen. The reason I bring this up is that I am thinking of reading Red Queen (not sure who it is by) and I read the reviews and rolled my eyes.

I will probably read it just eventually rather than right this very moment because I am compelled to.

Me and Dystopian. we don’t see eye to eye.


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