Commentary from Mrs. Beamer: Dystopian Fiction

Recently, several adults have asked me about dystopian fiction.  They are unfamiliar with the genre...and want to know what all the fuss is about :)  As I've stated before, I'm a HUGE fan of dystopian fiction.  However, I think it resonates with readers differently, based on their age and life experiences.  Here is the definition from dictionary.com:

dys·to·pi·a

  [dis-toh-pee-uh]  Show IPA
noun
a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression,disease, and overcrowding.

Another way to think of it...the opposite of utopia (an idealistic, perfect society).  Dystopian novels are set in a world where there is an ultimate flaw in what used to be.  My favorite dystopian novels are ones that portray a future that cause me to stop and think...hmmm...would this way of life really be all that bad?  Of course, the answer is "yes" :)  BUT...the really great dystopian novels cause the reader to ponder a different way of living.  Some of the future societies bare a strong resemblance to past societies that failed.  I've often wondered if this genre is popular in less democratic societies...if growing up with so much freedom causes us to digest the genre differently.  And, because teen readers have less life experience, it is inevitable they will relate to dystopian fiction differently than adults.   Another reason I enjoy dystopian fiction is it gives me a taste of sci-fi...without paranormal characters and space :)



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