February 26, 2011

Pajama Musings - Living in a dystopian world

I noticed a certain trend over the recent years.
First it was all about wizards.
Than followed the vampires.
And now dystopian novels are all the rage.
I'm talking about books for young(er) readers, mostly YA fiction.

Time to fess up – I never read any of the Harry Potter books, nor anything even remotely related to Twilight. I can offer you two reasons for this. No. 1 being that it's just not the kind of books I generally like to read. No. 2 being that I'm not exactly in the right age group either. Alright then, that obviously doesn't keep other adults, not necessarily young ones, from reading about Harry adventures and Edward and Bella's liaison. So maybe I should really just blame it on reason no. 1, because now the time has arrived that I seriously consider reading YA novels.

Following quite a number of book blogs feeding me bits and pieces of reviews on all kinds of books I ended up being drawn to some truly intriguing releases. Matched. Bumped. Uglies. Delirium. The Hunger Games. You name it.

So *drumroll please* I mightn't have bought any of these books yet, but I figured I should really give it a try and requested two on NetGalley. After all, age doesn't really matter when it comes to a good story, and hey, dystopian novels have always been something I really like.

Which reminds me of something that happened to me just a little while ago …

Maybe I expect too much, but to me it seems like common knowledge (as it will probably be for all book addicts) what dystopia means. When I recently dropped the word in a conversation I was met by some confused looks. The kind of look you'd get from me if you suddenly started reciting the divergence theorem. Some people live in a book world, others in a mathematical world. Anyway. I will certainly not hold it against anyone not being familiar with the word dystopia, but it sure surprised me. And after throwing 1984, Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451 into the discussion everyone was nodding in understanding anyway.

For the innocent among you – A dystopia (from Ancient Greek “bad, ill” and “place, landscape”) is in literature an often futuristic society that has degraded into a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian. Also known as anti-utopia or counter-utopia. Dystopian novels are most often associated with science fiction, as a futuristic world is easier to paint than one that currently exists. Yet not every screwed up society has to come from sci-fi books. Lord Of The Flies is a great example of a dystopian novel that is not science fiction.


  1. I love dystopian novels and am so glad they're making a comeback after all this paranormal stuff.

  2. I also love dystopian novels but after reading a number of YA dystopian books, I started trying to find adult dystopia, and there is a lot of that too.

    Here is a list I made last year: http://leeswammes.wordpress.com/2010/06/19/dystopia-for-adults-a-reading-list/

    Happy reading!

  3. Dystopian novels are just so much more my thing than, say, paranormal novels, so this is a great development in the book world!

    Thanks for the list of adult dystopian novels! While I know some of the books on the list I also wonder whether there are any more recent books out there too. Maybe the dystopian spark has yet to touch non-YA writers ...

  4. Hi Birgit -
    Loved this post. I have been enjoying the dystopia genre although I am not a huge fan of YA. I enjoyed listening to the audio books for Harry Potter - too long to read in print for me. I have not read the Twilight series and I wasn't impressed by the first movie.
    I liked the Hunger Games and Inside Out. I will be reading Outside In soon. To be honest a year or two ago I looked up the word dystopia so I would have the actual definition even though I sensed what it was from the genre books.
    I hope you enjoy your YA choices!

  5. Can I suggest Against Nature, a dystopian thriller about a global pandemic caused by an extraterrestrial dust mite brought to earth by a shuttle astronaut?