The Dystopian World

The Dystopian World

I was browsing my Goodreads the other day, adding more into my to be read list when I realized, most of the books I've been wanting to read are science fiction, specifically dystopian. Even though there are a few adult fiction thrown in, I noticed how much of a staple residence dystopian fiction is in my list. I know I've always loved them but it wasn't until recently when I did some thinking did I realized why I am so fascinated by them.

I don't remember the first dystopian book I read but I know, for sure, that I have been in love with the genre ever since I exposed myself to it. Growing up with the magical wonders of Harry Potter, discovering dystopian fiction feels like figuring out a bet on the probability of the life we live in, the situation we are seeing on the news. The futuristic setting and elements I found within a book began to paint a picture in my mind, one that reflects the world I live in and the surroundings I am exposed to every single day. As I continue to flip the pages, my mind a world filled with dirty politics, chaotic environments and catastrophe as the rich stays wealthy and the poor stays unfed, frightened and beaten, I start questioning the reason behind the popularity of dystopian series, especially in young adult books.

The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and Divergent are probably the most common dystopian series you have heard today. I may not be a huge Hunger Games or Divergent fan but that's not the point. The point is, whether it's set in Panem or The Glade, we are still intrigued by them. The question is why — why are we drawn to them? What made me tick? Dystopian is not just a genre, it's a trend in progress. I swear to you there is always at least one or two dystopian book on the foremost display of a bookstore, followed by the sign "New York Times bestseller." And every single time I paused to check it out, I find myself picking up one or two science fiction book set in a dystopian universe. At first it felt like I was jumping into the whole overrated, hyped up bandwagon and I forced myself to stay away and read something else. And no, it wasn't because liking mainstream things objectifies individualism, it was because I thought it'd be boring to be stuck in the same loop. Yet I find myself wanting more.

© hernan sanchez
All this thinking, digesting and analysis brought me into the one and only cliche solution you've probably heard before: we are probably living in a dystopian universe ourselves, maybe worse. The reason why we, or at least I, continue to read dystopian is because it pictures the situation we see in real life. The excessive use and dependency on social media and how technology poisons some of us, the disastrous, slowly dying environments, the totalitarian government and state capitalism economical status and of course, the fucked up riotous society we have to tolerate and endure every single day. It's a genre that is fictional yet feels true, raw and honest; a genre where young generation, usually the protagonist, develops bravery over time and the nerve to actually fight back — a seemingly idealistic 'dream comes true' plot that may be difficult to achieve in real life but is completely possible in a book. I found myself sighing in relief, a sense of liberation where I can feel like I'm in control of my life and I can push through, regardless of how dictated our lives have become due to social media and all that. For me, the excitement from reading a plot set in a universe I can relate even though it is completely fictional and still use my imagination to picture things is the sensation I seek in my book.

Of course, not every dystopian book does things perfectly identical but you know the tricks up their sleeves, you know what to expect from a dystopian universe if you have read a couple. While the definition of a good book varies from one person to the next and is judged based on different points such as writing style and character development, I don't think I will stop picking up a new dystopian / science fiction book because...

if dystopian persist, I shall not resist.

How about you? What is your ultimate favorite genre and why?