Dystopian novels are combination horror stories and cautionary tales, set against twisted versions of perfect societies. Dystopian heroes are discontented—they don’t fit in, and often lack the self-awareness to realize why.
Teens (like the little ol’ seventh-grade version of me) who aren’t yet ready for the heavy-hitting social commentary in the classics of the genre may find those same themes and messages, presented in the context of a YA book, much more palatable.
In YA dystopian societies, civilization is usually managed by absent adult authority figures. For teenagers who fear they’ve inherited a chaotic world, yet feel stifled by the rules, these fictional societies resonate. Dystopian societies take rule-making to the extreme. Extreme control. Extreme censorship. Extreme surveillance. No dissenting ideas. In these societies, parents and children are often subjected to the same controls and restrictions.
The classics of adult dystopia tends to be more apocalyptic, more dire. YA dystopia can be apocalyptic and scary—but it can also feel a lot like high school, where everyone feels pressure to conform. To escape the fear, alienation, and danger, protagonists band together with others like themselves.
YA dystopian fiction opens a pathway to explore and appreciate the genre—and appreciating makes it easier for teens to fully absorb the classics when they’re assigned to read them at school, or choose to read them for pleasure.
Next up: I’ll compare Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and Matched by Allie Condie
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published at www.counteractbook.com and is used with the permission of the author.
TRACY LAWSON has wanted to be a writer ever since she learned to read. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Communication from Ohio University, and though she embarked on a career in the performing arts as a dance instructor and choreographer, never lost her desire to write, and thus far has to her credit a coming-of-age dystopian thriller and an historical nonfiction. Her interest in writing for teens is sparked by all the wonderful young people in her life, including her daughter, Keri, a college sophomore.
Tracy is also the author of Counteract.
Counteract: Book 1 of the Resistance Series (2014) is the story of a guy, a girl, the terrorist attack that brings them together, and their race to expose a conspiracy that could destroy their country from within. What Tommy and Careen learn about the true nature of the terrorist threat spurs them to take action, and their decisions lead them to run afoul of local law enforcement, team up with an underground resistance group, and ultimately take their quest for the truth to the highest reaches of the United States government. The second book in the series is slated for release in 2015.
For more about the book, check out Tracy’s website for a synopsis.
There’s even a book trailer!