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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The antagonist is often a power-hungry adult who easily dismisses the thoughts of the heroine and other young people in the society.
- 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”.
- 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.
- 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
- Fire Country
- Razorland Trilogy
- Article 5
- The Pledge
- The Maze Runner
- 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.