I came to realize over the course of reading a few queries recently that a plot I would normally say “eh” to suddenly piqued my interested if it was set in some sort of post-apocalyptic world. So of course I want to blog about it.
I read a fascinating book for a review once called ENCHANTED HUNTERS by Maria Tatar, which explores the assumptions and power behind childhood reading. Tatar’s take on it has resonated with me ever since, and may shed some illumination on why dystopian might be such a captivating and lasting trend:
The authors of children’s books stockpile arsenals of beauty and horror to construct “peak experiences” – memorable moments that offer up the exquisite, the terrifying, and everything in between…. Children’s literature traffics in sensory bliss and horror, offering a secure place for children to go and face down the twin seductions of good and evil.
It offers a safe place, in sum, to explore the horrors of what might be.
Now, more than ever, as technology surmounts higher and higher peaks, it’s hard to imagine that anything can come next. And if it doesn’t, dystopian novels are there to show us that life will go on even if the WORST happens.
Just as bed-time stories used to serve to scare children into going to sleep, these tales of dystopia serve to scare us into why we SHOULD care about the today, and why we SHOULD be cautious about the tomorrow.
Translate that into a teenager’s life, which is tumultuous enough, and I think it shows why YA is leading this trend: forget powers and long-lost vampire heritage. If the world ends, YOU could be a hero just by being able to survive. It’s the ultimate geek-out escape; a way to feel powerful in the imagination by being YOURSELF.
Just my two cents into the popularity of this genre. What do you think?