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Why Camilla Loves to Read

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The Resurgence of the Dystopian Novel: But Now it is for Teens

This infographic from Goodreads explores the resurgence of dystopian fiction and its shift to teen audiences. (Click twice for a good look.) Is this shift because George Orwell and Aldus Huxley weren’t really writing for teens? Or is there something particular about today’s teens’ future-vision that the dystopian novel has particular current appeal?

Eighty years ago, when Aldus Huxley wrote Brave New World, teenagers probably assumed their adult lives would be fairly similar to that of their parents, if they thought of the future in those terms at all. Teenagers now know that change comes so quickly that their future is unpredictable. Dystopian fiction explores possibilities often with a warning to citizens who blithely allow corruption to spread and eventually destroy.

Are teens learning? Are they motivated and empowered to prevent Orwellian or Westerfieldian societies from developing? Or are they fatalistic, with a live-for-today, live-it-up-cuz-the-future-will-suck attitudes. I hope it’s the former.

In the SLJ post,  Adventures in Dystopia, Marc Aronson observes, “The new has changed from a dream to a product — a product who [sic] shelf life is only as long as the next production cycle.” From the perspective of learning from the past, even the recent past, he writes,

” In some way we are so disconnected from history that the action, however reflective of our present, must be cast ahead. We don’t expect the past to tell us anything. The real is the imagined…”

Ted Alverez from Grist braved The Hunger Games premier to find out if, “…the dystopian appeal of the books and now movies draws strength from the young’uns’ acceptance of the climate-disaster-addled hellhole they are destined to inherit.” His results were interesting and entertaining, but inconclusive.

What are you seeing? Are the teens at your school or in your family thinking ahead with a global perspective?

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