-Note: I’m not a literary expert with four doctorates or anything, I’m just the target audience and somewhat well-read in the genre. For a professional opinion (or at least someone who uses big words, it’s hard to tell the difference), knock yourself out.-
Dystopia. The word has a “chic” connotation these days. Books like The Hunger Games, Matched, and Gone have taken a relatively old genre and made it cool again. But has it gone too far?
I love dystopian novels, I really do. Something about the man vs society conflict pattern thrills me (“gee, wonder why,” says the awkward antisocial teenager), and I love it when the main character’s strong and brave, taking a stand for what they believe in against a conforming world. Seeing characters come to the truth after living in the dark their whole lives, being controlled by the predetermined laws that govern their society and then breaking free….
The problem, though, is the same with many things: too much of a good thing makes it turn sour. The genre’s the hottest thing in teen lit right now, and–at least to me– it seems to be hurting the quality. The Hunger Games was probably one of the first in the new-age dystopian trend, and it spurred countless other authors to write the same plot over and over again.
Protagonist is living a good life in a technologically-advanced future version of Earth. An event triggers their realization that their society isn’t actually perfect, and their world has some serious problem. They have a choice to either forget what they found/heard and live a quiet life, or fight back. Of course they choose the latter. Rebellion ensues, they gather a group of friends (or at least one love interest) to combat society with them. Ends happily, with society overthrown and a new world reborn.
Of course there are minor differences with every plot, but the structures of the books I’ve read in the genre typically follow this, at least loosely.
One book like this is good. Two makes for a fun comparison. But thousands…? Within a few years?
Then there are the classics like Fahrenheit 451, the dystopian novels from 60 or 70 years ago that actually apply more today than they did when they were written. I’ve heard Brave New World, 1984, V for Vendetta, and a slew of the other books are well-written, dystopian, and unique (and I’ve been meaning to go and read them all).
How is it that the classics are able to fit within the genre but still remain unique, while modern-day dystopians all read the same?
Anime’s suffered from it, too, with shows like No. 6, Tiger and Bunny (to some extent), Sands of Destruction, Appleseed, Ergo Proxy, Fullmetal Alchemist (when you think about it), and elements are even found in Avatar: The Last Airbender (can you say “welcome to Ba-Sing-Say”?). Again, this isn’t inherently bad, and many of the shows do it well.
But it’s so darn REPETITIVE.
Anyway, there’s my rant. You can agree or disagree in the comments.
(‘Cause I started to go back and reply to them all today, but there’s over 200 I’ve let slip. So I set aside a few hours tomorrow to do it, and if they’re not done by Monday morning you’re allowed to yell at me.)
Unrelated, this by far is the best scene of live-action television. Ever.