Why Is Dystopian Literature so Popular Genre Among the Young Adults?
In a modern society gripped by social, educational, and governmental fears, young adults cling to the ideal of a singularly relatable hero with whom they can identify. This hero transcends the boundaries that are placed upon them and their communities by a higher and omnipresent power. These dystopian worlds are most often the result of an apocalyptic event that destroyed humanity and its comfortable state of living. This “reboot” to society is a modern reflection of past colonists seeking independence from George III.
Young adults are drawn to this hero complex due to its youthful and remarkable protagonists. These protagonists go through the motions of their overly scrutinized lives, but possess an inner spark that sets them apart from the rest of their peers. The underlying theme in this style of literature is rebellion, a nod to pre-teen and teen attitudes towards authority, thus their affinity to it.
In The Hunger Games, the young female protagonist, Katniss, is emotionally reserved with quiet strength. She becomes the pioneering symbol of the revolution in an impoverished world governed by tyranny. “I volunteer!’ I gasp. ‘I volunteer as tribute!” (p. 22) is one of the most notable quotes made by Katniss. It is the ultimate declaration of sacrifice and rebellion against the oppressor — to volunteer in place of her younger sister and challenge their system of ideals. There is also The Giver, set in a futuristic dystopia, where the government has regained control of the masses by absolving them of emotions and memories. Jonas, the protagonist, has been chosen to be the Receiver of Memories but is not allowed to reveal them. He takes it upon himself to return the emotions, so that the universe can experience the world through their own eyes. “The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared” (p. 154). This literature is a representation of the “live wild and free” notion that most young adults would consider their mantra of youth.
Dystopian literature allows young adults to gain a sense of purpose by living vicariously through the characters in their books who represent the emergence of a powerful generation.
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