I was introduced to the dystopian genre in books when I read Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games trilogy. In a nutshell, a dystopian world — contrary to utopia, of course — is where everything has gone terribly wrong without a direct explanation and people are either just surviving or has organized societies which are a far-cry from the societies that we know of today. The Hunger Games trilogy had me transfixed and oblivious to the world for several weeks. You can safely say that I was willingly under a spell. After that, I used several book networking sites like YourNextRead and GoodReads to find out other books in the same genre.
Though the word ‘dystopian’ was first coined in 1868 by John Stuart Mill and as a genre had made significant inroads into literature by the end of the 19th century, I found out that 1984 by George Orwell was one of the first important 20th century books written in the genre. I smiled to myself amusedly because I’ve always passed this book on the classic literature section of the bookstore. So needless to say, I immediately grabbed myself a copy. I also procured the last book of Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale which was highly recommended by friends who also like the same genre. Since then, I’ve enjoyed reading several social scenarios that can happen in a dystopian world.
Among the other books I’ve read are Lois Lowry’s The Messenger series which was about kids who found themselves having exceptional capabilities that exempted them from the norms of their society. Feed by Mira Grant, on the other hand, is the first book of a series that relates the adventures of blogger siblings who were survivors in a zombie apocalypse. The Maze Runner by James Dashner involves a thriving community of teens engaged in a scientific experiment where they show different facets of human nature. Believe it or not, there’s also a subgenre of dystopian romance like the novel Delirium by Lauren Oliver. Just recently Divergent by Veronica Roth was earning raves from critics and being dubbed as a serious competitor to The Hunger Games.
Reading dystopian novels do make me think about the future. Would we be overrun by zombies borne from a nasty super virus or science experiments gone wrong? Or would we also try to genetically purge out bad traits from our very nature just so we can live in a conflict-free society? Whatever the future holds, the creative minds of writers for this genre sure illustrate a fictional world that sometimes can be really scary when they start to make sense. One more thing that I like about this genre is it always shows the triumph of the human spirit.
Dystopia as a genre is not really new and it’s a good thing that it’s getting its turn in the spotlight with a recent social reading trend in young adult fiction. It is definitely one genre that shows good promise in producing more engrossing reads.