Young Adult Dystopia Novels

I must confess that I have a slight addiction to Young Adult Dystopia Novels. I’m not sure how many I’ve read in the past two years, but it is a rather large number (see below for a partial list). Lately I’ve started to wonder if I’ve read too many. I’ll pick up a new one, and, for the first quarter of the book, think “Is there really going to be anything new in this one?” This thought leads me to the topic of today’s posts:

Common strategies used for writing a Young Adult Dystopia Novel!!!

Here is a list of commonalities that I’ve noticed through many of them. But before I get started, a disclaimer: Obviously these won’t apply to ALL of the books in this genera. I’m sure it would be easy to identify many books that do not fit in these categories, but I hope you notice that some of these trends pop up in a lot of them.

  1. Our heroine (because usually these books are told from a girl’s point of view and marketed towards girls) is stubborn. She stands up for what is right in her bizarre world, but she’s got to do it her way, even if her friends/lover thinks it might be too dangerous.
  2. She is smart, but misunderstood by the society in which she lives. And that society usually has a major flaw that is endangering its citizen. She must come up with a way to solve this problem.
  3. The antagonist is often a power-hungry adult who easily dismisses the thoughts of the heroine and other young people in the society.
  4. She’s usually petite, fit/slender, and has some facial feature that she views as making her not pretty, but is SOOO obviously an asset. For example, she might say something like “My eyes are too big for my face” or “my nose is too slender”.
  5. The love interest is usually tall, dark, handsome, brooding, fit, with dark hair and blue eyes. Yup, I would say a majority of them specifically have dark hair and blue eyes.
  6. The love triangle between the heroine and two young men is featured in these stories. There is a strong attraction to both, but there is usually a strong reason why she should end up with one of the characters.

I’m sure that there are many more items that can be added to this list, and as I think or hear of them, I’ll come back to add some more.

Creating this list is not meant to belittle the genre of Young Adult Novels. I love them! Otherwise I wouldn’t have read so many of them. Any time you’ve participated in a specific event many times, you start to see the threads that connect them all.

After the success of series like The Hunger Games and Divergent, I think adults often wonder why this genre is so popular with young woman. Being a teenager is hard. At that age you are struggling with no longer being a child, but also not being seen as an adult. You have a desire for independence, but your guardians aren’t willing to give you as much as you like. You want to be able to make decisions for yourself, but often you don’t realize what the consequences will be. For these reasons, I think that young people connect with a heroine that struggles to stand out for what she thinks is right in a society that is standing against her. Is this what we want to be teaching our children? Well, in some ways, yes. We want our children to learn to think for themselves and to stand up for what is right. These are skills that will benefit them now and later in life, and will hopefully lead to a better society. So, having a role model, even a fictional one, who does that can be a good thing.

Here is a list of some of the many Young Adult Dystopia novels I’ve read. Some I loved, and some made me want to smack my head. Not all of them have a female lead character as I described above (e.g. The Maze Runner and Gone), but they do fit into the genre.

  • The Hunger Games Trilogy
  • The Divergent Trilogy
  • Partials
  • Graceling
  • Altered
  • Fire Country
  • Reboot
  • Razorland Trilogy
  • Article 5
  • Delirium
  • The Pledge
  • Legend
  • The Maze Runner
  • Gravity
  • Incarnate
  • Gone
  • Beautiful Creatures – told from a young man’s perspective, but many of the descriptions of the lead female seem to fit some of the above list.
  • City of Bones
  • Under the Never Sky

A quick side note for any budding authors of this genre. Please don’t write in first person present tense. Others may like it, but it drives me crazy, and I think it limits your writing.

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The most amazing book

When I was in high school I had a dream about a book. I was wondering through this old storage facility that had shelves full of antiques. It was dark with the occasional beam of sunshine that highlighted the vast amount of dust in the room. I came across a section that had lots of old books piled haphazardly on a shelf. I started poking around and ended up with this large, leather-bound book in my hands. I opened the book to find it filled with the most beautiful words and equally beautiful pictures. I can’t tell you a single thing about the story it contained, but I do remember that it was the most amazing book I’d ever read and ever would read. To this day I sometimes find myself search for it in my dreamland, but I’ve never been able to get my hands on it again.

I find myself thinking about this book again, despite the fact that I had this dream 20 years ago. It think it is because for the past 26 days I’ve been reading like it’s going out of style! I’ve always been an avid and fast reader, but there is one fact that has been driving me recently: I’ve given up TV for the month of February. The fact that February is the shortest month of the year was a calculated decision. I do love a good TV show. However, I had noticed that I was loving it a little too much recently. So, I decided to see what would happen if I tried to go a month without it. And more importantly, could I do it?

It’s been an interesting month so far! The first few days were fine, and then I started to get annoyed with getting myself into this predicament. When I would tell people about my self-imposed TV ban, I would refer to it as “this stupid idea” I had. Fourteen days in I celebrated the half way mark with “only 14 more days to go” instead “good job on making it 14 days”. Let’s just say that this probably isn’t the best attitude. But somewhere in the last week or so, I’ve finally come to accept it.

I think originally I had this idea that giving up TV would give me time to do all these things that I had on the back-burner, but never got around to doing. Then reality set in – instead of attacking that to-do list, I’ve noticed that my day-to-day approach to things has changed. Here are two examples:

1. The quilt I started in January has been sitting there staring at me. I have hardly touched it at all. I’ve decided that the reason for this is that while doing certain tasks (like sewing a quilt) my brain likes to be distracted. In the past the easiest way for me to do this was to have a TV show (usually not a good one, but I’m not willing to divulge just how bad of one) on in the background. The storyline and the noise would keep me occupied, and it usually wasn’t necessary that I give it my full attention. I tried briefly to replace this with an audiobook, but it didn’t quite take. Perhaps I chose the wrong one? I suppose I could use the next few days to test this hypothesis.

2. I’ve been reading reading reading reading. I find myself on the couch, curled up with a book or my kindle, just devouring story after story. In a way, I’m just replacing one type of story telling (TV) with another (books). Apparently, I really like to get lost in a good story.

I have loved reading for a very long time. During the three years I rode the bus to work, I would always make sure I had a book with me. In fact, it was one aspect of the long commute that I enjoyed – I got 1.5 hours worth of reading time each weekday. That’s over 10 hours a week, not to mention the 20 or minutes I would read before going to sleep each night. I can read a lot during that time.

I always thought it would be a good idea to keep track of all the books I’ve read. A few years ago someone introduced me to Goodreads.com – a social media site for readers. For me it became an online list of the books I’ve read.  I could also give each book a rating in case I can’t remember what I thought of it down the line. Recently I noticed that the website had a Reading Challenge. Apparently I read 42 books in 2013 (plus a few that I was too embarrassed to list). So for 2014 I’ve decided to challenge myself to 50 books. How, you may ask, has the TV fast affected my reading? I submit to you this photo:

ReadingChallenge

I think it’s fair to say that no TV has, in some ways, been good for me, or at least for my reading.

Now the question is, what will happen in three days on March 1st? I strongly hope that it won’t involve a 48 hour TV binge that leaves my cross-eyed and drooling!

Is there urge to watch TV as strong as ever? No, I would say that having gone for 26 days without it has definitely reduced the urges. However, perhaps I’ve replace one addiction (TV) with another (books).

Will I continue to shun TV? No, I doubt it. My desire for being told stories (as demonstrated by the ridiculous number of books I’ve read so far this year) is still very strong. However, there will probably be a transition period during which I don’t latch on quite as strong as I had before. Perhaps I need to develop a plan on how to approach this over the next few days.

Am I happy that I’ve participated in this experiment? Yes, I am. I no longer refer to it as “that stupid idea”, and I think it’s probably been good for me to realize that I can do it if I want.

Do I still want to know the story of the most amazing book? Oh yes, yes, Yes, YES! I would love to get my hands on that book again. It might even be worth giving up TV for a year…

Tea

When I was in middle school my mom would serve me a hot drink with breakfast every morning. She would oscillate between hot chocolate and hot tea. But not just any tea. It was almost always Earl Grey tea with milk and sugar. Little did she know this would lead to me becoming a tea snob. Yes, I admit it – I am a total tea snob!

So what makes someone a snob when it comes to a particular food or drink? I think some traits are:

1. Being loyal to a particular brand, preferably one that is expensive or hard to come by – Check!

I have a preferred brand and variety of tea – Whittard of Chelsea Afternoon Early Grey – that I have to import from the UK, thanks to my dear friend Anne. I fear that one day they decide to stop making it or I’ll have no way of getting it.

whittard
Whittard Earl Grey directly from England, complete with its travel LEGO box. Probably a first for Whittard!

2. Look down on other brands as just not being good enough – check!

I continually search for a good replacement tea brand that I can purchase locally, but I have yet to find a worthy tea. So the search continues.

3. Have a specific routine associated with said brand – check!

I have a specific amount of time that I steep the tea and a special spoon with which to measure out my sugar. It’s all a very exact science. All this makes it very difficult for me to purchase tea while out and about, hence me being a total tea snob. And it’s not just Earl Grey. I have very specific routine when it comes to other types of teas as well.

Oh, I do love a cup of green tea.
Oh, I do love a cup of green tea. Especially if it’s good quality tea and hasn’t been steeped for more than 2.5 minutes.

4. Finally, judge others – check, well, kind of.

This is probably pillar of snobbiness. In fact, one of the definitions of a snob, according to the internet, is “a person who believes that their tastes in a particular area are superior to those of other people.” Yup, that’s me. To be fair, although I judge other people, I also try to “educate”/convert them. I’m willing to make most people what I consider to be a good cup of tea. It started long ago in college and continues today with my husband and friends. I think I’m making progress too!

OK, I think it’s time to go make myself a cup of tea! While I do that you can let me know what other characteristics of a food/drink snob I’ve forgotten.

A Name

I never realized how hard it would be to choose a name for a blog. I had a thousand different variations run through my head, and most of them were quite ridiculous. I thought I was on to something with my first and last name, but it turns out that my real-life alter ego has already snatched that one up (she’s much more famous than me, but that hasn’t stopped people from send me emails that are meant for her for the past 15 years).

My goal was to come up with a name that wouldn’t limit this blog’s content. In the end I was inspired by the movie Jiro Dreams of Sushi, but I don’t want to limit the focus of my dreams.

So, there you have it. Alexia dreams of many things, but today she dreams of a name for her blog!