Saturday, March 3, 2012

Dystopian vs. Post-Apocalyptic Week 8: The Growth of Dystopian Literature

Kristen runs the blogThe Book Monsters with Kate, a good blogger friend of hers. She is an elementary school librarian who works in a low-income district on the outskirts of Chicago. As a lover of reading and all things bookish, she finds that it really is the best job in the world to have. For fun, she loves reading YA literature, especially anything that involves fantasy, paranormal or science fiction elements. Kristen, @bookgoil, like myself found the love of Dystopian when she read The Giver.  When I read it in 7th grade, the year it won the Newbery, I knew that whatever type of book it was, it was my new favorite. The Giver is one of those books that makes you question everything- and I loved having this new outlook on life. Kristen, as well, found her love of this subgenre grow because of this amazing book. 

Which brings us to the topic at hand. Ever since reading The Giver by Lois Lowry, I’ve found myself entranced by dystopian and post-apocalyptic literature. It went even further in high school when I picked up 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. I admit, I was a classics junkie in high school. I read through the books I had to and then picked up anything my older sister had read for her classes. But these three books have always struck me and I’ve often revisited them as rereads.

With such a growth of YA in the past decade, it is amazing how many of these novels are at the fingertips of readers. I remember reading and devouring The Hunger Games when it first came out. My first year working in a school library, I read Life as We Knew It and the companions and sequels as they came out. There is so much out there now, that it’s hard to keep up.

I love also the way that these are feeding into novels that aren’t quite completely just dystopian - such as The Unwanteds, which has a beautiful mix of fantasy with dystopian that is so appealing and hopefully will capture the attention of those who have read and loved Harry Potter. I’m all about mixing genres. I find that even in the music I listen to, I love that mix of classical and rock or opera and rock. Subgenres are growing under the spectrum of science fiction and fantasy. We had a discussion about this in my masters class, how science fiction, fantasy and even horror fall under this broad category of Speculative Fiction, which really sums up what these books really pose - the “what if...” unicorns exist, the government forced you to do something unrealistic, or the apocalypse happened.

I can’t say that I like one more than the other. Depends on my mood, depends on the book. I think there are great novels coming out that will stun readers and will keep them reading and engaged in these subgenres for years to come.

We, too, do not see this subgenre going anywhere and are happy that it is here to stay!

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