The deal with dystopian

The dystopian genre is on the rise among teens


Macy Maynard

Dystopian literature has surged with popularity in recent years with many new books being published in the genre.

Story by Sophie Keller, staff writer

Everyone has their own taste in books. With countless literature genres to choose from — mystery to sc-fi, crime to romance and horror to comedy, one genre in particular has been on the rise — dystopian.

Some people love these stories about collapsing societies, but oftentimes people just don’t understand the appeal. After all, why would someone want to read about a broken world, a society hanging together by mere threads? Maybe the answer lies deeper than it just being a fun read.

More often than not, these dystopian worlds that authors dream up are based on the world as of now. They set them in the future, make the characters know nothing about how life used to be and then drop subtle (or not so subtle) hints about how our world slowly fell apart. Climate change finally caused the world to flood. Nothing but destruction is left after World War IV. A virus conquered the world.

There are many possible answers as to why someone would want to read about the image of such a bleak future. People could choose to look on the more depressing side and say that they read these things because they think one day, if things start to go downhill, they just might end up in a society as broken as the ones they read about.

However, someone could also say they read dystopian because it makes them feel better about the way our society is now. Even as bad as things have been getting recently, even as bad as things have been in the past, this world is still better than the alternative and things could always be so much worse.

Or perhaps the characters are easier to relate to. More often than not, the protagonist is a teenager just like the reader. Unlike in fantasy or sci-fi, they (usually) don’t have any special powers or bionic limbs. They’re just a normal kid. Maybe they made some bad choices, maybe they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But slowly, as the book wears on, people end up falling in love with the character. They want to be like the character: brave, smart, confident, capable. And really it’s not so hard to believe because even as everything is going on around them, even as they’re trying to bring down a corrupt government or stop some criminal or even just stay alive, even during all of that, they’re still just kids, just teenagers. They still deal with the same things normal people do: grades, crushes, fracturing friendships.

It may just be fiction, but it’s nice to think that even after all of that, they can usually get a happy ending.

Top Picks

“The Lunar Chronicles”

This book is a favorite and one of a kind. It’s the perfect mix of dystopia, sci-fi and the childhood fairytales everyone knows and loves. There’s a young cyborg girl named Cinder. A deadly plague is running rampant across the world, and Lunars, people of the moon, are threatening war against the Earth. Two worlds that will either join together or tear each other apart. Things only get worse for Cinder and her friends as the series progresses.  Secrets unfold as people are sucked into these twisted fairy tales that are like no other. 


People that loved Neil Shusterman’s “Scythe” series will fall in love in this earlier work of his. After the heartland wars, children have no control over their lives or bodies. Parents can choose to have their child unwound; all parts going to someone else, so they’re not technically dead. Travel with Conner, Risa and Lev as they try to escape their unwindings and grow closer than they ever expected in the process.

“Red Queen”

In this fantasy dystopian story, the world is divided between the Silvers, elite with special powers, and Reds, the working class who are treated as the lowest of the low. When Mare, a Red, discovers that she has a power greater than even the Silvers, she finds herself swept up into the life of the palace while trying to hide her red status. Meanwhile, a plot is unfolding against the crown and things could go either way. Plot twists that will leave people stunned or in tears is what this author is known for, and “Red Queen” is no exception.