Today I’m teaming up with Cornerfolds and Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My for the 2016 dystopia reading challenge. This month’s discussion prompt is “Five reasons why I read dystopias.”
Dystopias—especially YA dystopias—often get hate from book reviewers. The genre can be formulaic and full of tropes. The books are rife with love triangles, insta-love, melodrama, and badass girls with serious cases of special snowflake syndrome. Most dystopias are pretty far-fetched and definitely require some suspension of disbelief.
I agree with a lot of the criticism that reviewers hurl at the genre, but I still read (and obsess over) dystopias. Here’s why.
1. They’re intensely readable. I can usually get through a dystopia faster than most other genres. I’m not a fast reader, but I finished The Hunger Games in one night. Some dystopias have so much action that the pages fly by. Also, dystopias tend to be dark and weird, and that's exactly how I like my books. If a book is dark and weird, I don't want to put it down.
2. They have depth. Action-packed books can sometimes feel like the literary equivalent of those movies that have cool explosions, but you forget the main character’s name halfway through because the story has no depth. The dystopian books I’ve read have action and depth. You get the cool explosions, but you also get characters to care about and issues to think about.
3. I’ll be dead in the future, and I don’t want to feel left out. I read dystopias for the same reason that I read historical fiction. The world existed for a long time before I was born, and it will continue existing after I’m dead. Most of the dystopias I’ve read are set in a science-fiction future. Maybe I’m morbid, but I like to read about different futures that I won’t be around to see. (In the case of dystopias, maybe it’s good that I won’t be around to see them.)
4. They’re not really about the future. Even though many dystopias are set in the future, they’re not about the future. They focus on modern-day issues, which is interesting. I like to see authors’ fictional takes on current events.
5. Who needs rules? Characters in contemporary and literary fiction are bound by modern laws, morals, and technology. Some authors go to great lengths to get their characters around modern limitations. In futuristic or fantasy dystopias, the limitations of our modern world don’t exist. That makes for an entertaining reading experience.
Do you read dystopias? What is your favorite thing about the genre?