Dystopia Rocks YA


The world of dystopia is older than one might think and can be traced back to the 1700’s. Many say this fictional genre began with Jack London’s novel The Iron Heel in 1908, yet there are several Victorian novels that fit into the dystopian category. A well-known example, implemented in many high-school English classes, is 1984 written by George Orwell. How prescient Orwell was in his dystopia is shocking. In a world full of cameras on every street corner, Orwell could not have guessed the future better. While driving the cracked roads of Tucson, its corners are a painting inspired by 1984 with cameras constantly watching, eliciting a perfect example.

The following classifies a Dystopian novel:

  1. A protagonist who intends to advocate for the community.
  2. A place or state in which everything is bad.
  3. The protagonist disagrees with the government and wants to change it.

Selling over fifty-million copies, one of the most popular dystopian series is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. The nightmare of a brutal hunt between children returns to the Roman gladiator games and sets the stage for dystopia. With help from the movie franchise, this dystopian world rocked the YA scene. 

Another huge influencer of the genre is the Divergent Series by Veronica Roth. A government that divides the world into factions shows the dictatorship that Tris, the protagonist, lives in. Tris becomes a wanted fugitive when her plans to overthrow the government become public knowledge.

Human beings cannot be categorized in this way. It doesn’t work. Maybe it’s time to start embracing people instead of dividing them into groups. – Allegiant by Veronica Roth

The idea of categorizing or dividing the world into groups is a common theme in dystopian novels, new and old. Ever since YA’s popularity rose with the success of The Hunger Games and Divergent, authors were taking notice. Shelves quickly filled with new dystopian stories when publishers noticed the positive change in popularity.

The dystopia genre has changed the face of YA and gives authors a place to voice their opinions while entertaining readers through colorful pages. Even with the diversity movement taking over YA, authors still find a way to challenge the government such as Diverse Energies by Joe Monti and Tobias Buckell. Though YA changes with time, dystopian novels have been proven impenetrable and apparent in many YA novels. 

PRR Writer, Elizabeth McCormick


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