Monday, September 19, 2011

Don't Diss Dystopian

Welcome to the crappy, scary future. Here's your gun. Hope you survive!

That would be a great enticement if you wanted me to play a pc game (like Fallout 3), but to read a YA novel? I don't think so. I'm escapist by nature and that's just not the type of place I'd like to escape into.

So, when I hear the words 'dystopian YA' I want to run the other way fast. I think part of the reason I'm wary of dystopian is that it's so huge right now. When a sub-genre gets so popular that every agent wants it, and it's clogging computers and piling up on desks, I begin to doubt the quality of what's being published. I also worry that anything not dystopian will be swept under the rug and agents won't give it a second glance. That's not true, though.

Because of the huge influx of dystopian YA, a lot of agents are saying "No more!" and are looking for something different. It's not the genre's fault. Everyone just jumped on its bandwagon. Writers were savvy and realized it's what's selling and it's popular. Now the market is stuffed full of 'dystopian' this and 'paranormal' that, and some readers are growing sick of it.

It's a tough thing to navigate bookstores today - if you don't particularly like dystopian, and paranormal romance. A lot of books lately boast black and red covers, skeleton trees, or full moons. While I like all these things, the sheer volume of them is daunting. It's easy to pass over a good book when it's lost among so many others of the same genre. (I've had this trouble with fantasy for years.) It's also increasingly harder to make your particular book stand out.

The thing is, not all writers write dystopian because it's popular. Just like not all writers write paranormal romance (werewolves and vampires) because it's popular. Also, not all writers think 'paranormal' automatically means vampires and werewolves. It's just that that's what you see crowding bookstore shelves lately.

So, I pose a challenge. I'd love to have my mind changed about dystopian YA, but I don't know where to start. If you know a great dystopian book you'd like to recommend, please post it in the comments. I will choose at least one of the recommendations and post a blog entry of the review once I've read it, along with the name of the person who recommended it to me. To show my appreciation, I'll even link to your blog if you have one.

If no one recommends anything to me, I'll choose a book on my own, but it might take a lot longer to find.


  1. Oh I SO know where you are coming from on the dystopian genre. My problem is that I read quite a few and got very weary in a hurry.

    However, one of them is one of the best books I've ever read. I recommend it to every person I know! And not a single person has come back and said they didn't love it. THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins. It was also probably the first in the recent upsurge of dystopians, so it's very original. Hope this helps!

  2. I've never read a dystopian book, but I'm waiting to read The Hunger Games. In fact the library just sent me an email today that it's ready for me. So, maybe we'll be reading it together. :)

  3. I've heard of The Hunger Games. Wind of it is blowing around the net and people seem to like it.

    This does help me decide, thanks, Dana!

    It does look like it, Rachel. I'm excited!


I'd love to hear what you have to say!

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