Thursday, September 29, 2011

Jeyn Roberts on the Popularity of Dystopian fiction in YA

Hi everyone! I’m Jeyn Roberts and I’m the author of Dark Inside. I’m here today to talk about the rise of dystopian fiction in today’s YA market and why it’s become so popular.

Dystopian fiction isn’t exactly new. I remember reading Nineteen Eighty Four and Brave New World back in high school. There’s also The Handmaid’s Tale which is still one of my favourite books today. Dystopian fiction has always held a place on fiction lover’s bookshelves. But why is it so popular right now? I think a lot of it has to do with what’s going on in the world today.

Everything comes around full circle. Right now there’s been an abundance of talk about the end of the world since 2012 is coming up. The whole Mayan calendar ending and so will life on earth thing. I can’t say I really believe it but then again, who knows. Didn’t a bunch of people claim the world was supposed to end a few months ago too?

There’s also a lot of dissatisfaction with today’s economy and many people are coming out of school and unable to find jobs. People simply can’t support themselves anymore. There are a lot of countries that are at war. We have environmental problems that are affecting us globally. To say times are tough isn’t an understatement.

Suddenly it’s very easy to imagine a dystopian world in the not too distant future.

People have always been fascinated with the end of the world. It’s terrifying. It’s exciting. There is no way to predict the outcome. Will mankind wipe itself off the face of the earth? Or will something else do it for us? Meteor? Plague? Zombies? Crazed killers? There have been countless movies and books that play out those very ideas. And we never tire of it. It doesn’t matter how many zombie movies George Romero makes, I’ll keep paying money to see them.

I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that we love being scared. Well, most of us. There’s something very satisfying about being terrified, especially when we’re in the comfort of our own home where we know we’re technically safe.

For myself, I love end of the world stuff. I always have. There is nothing scarier than isolation in my opinion, especially if you’re being chased by something evil. I grew up on zombie movies and Stephen King’s The Stand is one of my favourite books. I love dystopian because there’s a huge amount of creativity involved when it comes to trying to rebuild a world that’s been destroyed. If we were almost wiped off the face of the earth, how would we come back? Electronics, comforts, cars, etc...everything we take for granted would be gone. Sadly, humans think we’ve come a long ways but all we’ve managed to do is destroy all that survival knowledge we’ve spent thousands of years acquiring. Could I go out and shoot a deer if I was starving? I honestly don’t know that answer.

I spent the summer reading a lot of the great dystopian books that are starting to come out on the market right now. I must admit, I’ve loved Blood Red Road by Moira Young. She’s an amazing writer and her voice is so unique and fresh. Across the Universe by Beth Revis was another one that really captured my interest. I’ve also enjoyed the Gone series by Michael Grant and the Enemy series by Charlie Higson. I can’t wait to read the third one.

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