Discussion: My Problem with Dystopians


Ever since The Hunger Games became yet another YA phenomenon, dystopians have been on of the “it” things to publish and make movie and TV adaptations of, whether the dystopians are realistic and therefore terrifying or the product of supernatural problems and still probably quite scary. Now, I enjoyed The Hunger Games – sure, they were bleak and pretty sad books, but interesting nonetheless. I enjoyed the movie adaptation of the first book as well, and plan on seeing the sequel, although I don’t know if I’ll go to see it in theatre, especially since I didn’t see the first until after it had left the theatres. So, I don’t have a problem with every dystopian simply because it’s a dystopian story. And I’m not just sick of them because 1 out of 4 new releases seems to be some sort of dystopian, although it’s certainly a factor.

So, why do I have such a problem with dystopians, to the point where I refuse to read a book that even mentions “dystopian” in the blurb unless I read a lot of positive and gushing reviews from people I trust? To be blunt, I’m not quite sure.

Well, that’s not completely true. I have some ideas. The main one is that I’m sick of reading about these horrible worlds that have the potential to be somewhat interesting commentaries on human nature, government, etc. yet end up focusing too much energy on the romance between a girl who’s fine with everything until a boy opens up her eyes to how bad things are (at least, this seems to be a common trope in my experience). Enough with the romance already! Yes, I love reading about it, but if I want to read a book that’s 75% or more about a romance, then I would read romance books, and since I don’t, I think that’s a sign that I want a book with a plot that might happen to include a romance, not a romance that maybe includes a plot. Is that really too much to ask?

OK, but now to the specifics of dystopians. I think one of the biggest issues I have is that I’m so sick of starting at the beginning. You know what I mean – every book/series has to have a beginning, and, in the beginning of most dystopians, the protagonist is perfectly content with the status quo and can’t believe that people could possibly want to rebel against the government because obviously they only want the best for their people. I know that, to make this dystopians world work, most people have to be fine with the status quo, but I feel like I’m starting over with ever new dystopian series because I have to sit through yet another protagonist gasping at her brother/sister/best friend/obvious love interest for their rebellion against the obviously corrupt government. Is it really so silly to think that maybe, just maybe, the protagonist would feel this way from the very beginning? Especially since these protagonists tend to become magical heroes who stopped the evil government because they’re so gosh-darn special.

Oh, and this all brings me to another problem: why do authors hate the government so much? I get it, the government can be quite restrictive and makes it easier to have a dystopian society, and government definitely isn’t perfect, but nearly every. single. dystopian. has. the. darn. controlling. government. Enough already! It feels kind of lazy at this point. Give us a dystopian that’s the result of supernatural creatures realizing that they’re really powerful and there’s really no point to hide because they can rule the world with their powers! Give us a dystopian that’s the result of nature finally ganging up on people and getting revenge! Give us a dystopian that has a nice, caring government that just can’t handle the way the world is changing! Just give us something other than the cliché government that wants to restrict its people – especially since it normally seems to do that by messing with people’s love lives in some way, whether it involves arranged marriages or something similar. We get it – there’s romance, romance sells, but enough already!

I’m sure there are plenty of other things I could rant about, but, as I just said, this is a rant, and it’s long enough as is without boring people further. My main problem, ultimately, is the same problem I have with pretty much all areas of young adult: I’m so sick of the clichés and recycled tropes. Try something new. Try something interesting. And please stop ganging up on a love-hating government – you’re going to hurt the poor government’s delicate feelings.

(Well, this was my first time using GIFs in a post – not sure if it worked out well, but I thought Jennifer Lawrence was appropriate thanks to her Hunger Games connection and its position as top dystopian. Anyway, all these GIFs came from here.)


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