Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dystopian Novels: what's their deal?

Happy Thursday everybody! The weekend is nearly here, and I know we're all waiting for it. The work/school escape is always welcome, is it not? :)

So I thought that today I'll write about dystopian novels: what they are, why we like them so much, where they came from?

Wikipedia defines 'dystopia' thus:

A dystopia is the idea of a society in a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian, as characterized in books like Brave New World, Nineteen Eighty-Four, The Iron Heel. Dystopian societies feature different kinds of repressive social control systems, various forms of active and passive coercion. Ideas and works about dystopian societies often explore the concept of humans abusing technology and humans individually and collectively coping, or not being able to properly cope with technology that has progressed far more rapidly than humanity's spiritual evolution. Dystopian societies are often imagined as police states, with unlimited power over the citizens.

Of course, titles like "Matched", "Divergent", "Inside Out", "The Hunger Games", "Delirium", "Gone", "Shatter Me" and many many others, are more to our taste than good ol' "Brave New World" with its naked people and what not. They all tell of societies after an apocalypse, a war, a world collision, a catastrophe of some sort. Any calamity that has the power to turn the world upside down.

They always talk about the constraints placed by the governing minority over the general populace. They always make us feel like we are living in a utopia, because there is no destruction around us, because there's relative freedom to do what we please. They always make us think that we could have it much much worse.

And indeed we could.

But we don't want to live in a world stripped of sun light, or lacking the much necessary breathing oxygen, or featuring monsters that come out at night. We don't want to live in hunger and constant fear that if we do something outside of the norm we'd be humiliated, sent far from our family or simply killed.

But we like to read books about people who are able to find a way to cope with unfathomable circumstances. People who infiltrate the ruling government and mess it up to such an extent that it works no more. People who are bold and brave, who love and want to live a life that they'd never known existed.

People like you and me who know that if they give up or give in they'd lose the only thing they have - themselves.

They may be just fictional characters, but they inspire us to take charge of our lives, so that when we look back we'd be happy with what we'd accomplished throughout the years.  They teach us to stick together behind the right cause. They teach us to be strong, to face the hardships face on. To blend when we must and to rebel when we must.

It's why we love them, why we read them, why we cry and laugh with them.

I have a theory why dystopian fiction became so popular. I think it has to do with December 12th and the supposed end of the world. Or perhaps they're inspired by the deterioration of our society....

What do you think??