A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I was going to post about dystopians and the things I thought were unnecessary in them, before I realized that I was completely wrong about what a dystopian was. You can read about that here.
I’ve decided to go ahead with the post anyway, and instead talk about the things that I generally don’t like about dystopians.
Two things that I feel we need to clarify before we begin:
1. Dystopia is, by definition, “society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding.” Therefore, a dystopian novel is about and set in a messed up society like this.
2. I have not read truckloads of dystopians, but the ones I have read are: Divergent, Noughts & Crosses series, Uglies series, Matched trilogy, Red Queen, The Selection series, The Jewel, and Delirium series. I’m basing this entire post off these books, and I’ll reference back to this list.
In general, I claim to dislike dystopians. However, I’ve given 80% (ish) of the books on that list at least four stars, and the rest were mostly three stars. The Selection is my new favourite series. So why do I claim to dislike dystopians?
Because without fail, every single one of them has elements that I dislike. I try to push those aside when reading, and figure out if I enjoy the rest of the story when rating. That was confusing. Reading my review of Red Queen might make things a bit clearer.
What I’m trying to say is that I don’t like a lot of things that dystopians contain, but I try to ignore it and focus on everything else.
Maybe I should just start the list.
So. This is what I don’t like about dystopians.
1. The violence
I don’t like blood. I don’t like death. I don’t like brutal fighting. I don’t like pages and pages of people killing each other. I like happy endings and flowers and rainbows and unicorns. But dystopians have a lot of violence. People die. I don’t like that. Sure, it makes me feel things and makes me yell and cry and all the emotions, but I’d rather they were just positive emotions. Violence and death and all that featured in all of the books on the list.
2. Evil people and betrayal
There’s always got to be a good guy who turns out to be bad. This is on my mind because I watched Frozen literally two hours ago, but oh well. Sometimes I see it coming, and sometimes I don’t. I can’t decide which I prefer. When I see it coming, I have a sense of dread the whole way through, which makes the book less enjoyable. When I don’t, I have hopes and dreams for a happy ending, and then they get crushed and shattered and part of me dies inside. It’s a lose-lose situation. I just like to see the good in people, and I’d prefer it if my faith in humanity and good people wasn’t crushed every time someone betrays someone else. This is in about half of the books on the list, from what I remember, but the specific example that jumps to mind is Red Queen. Although I saw that one coming.
3. Doomed love
This isn’t specifically a dystopian thing, nor is it required to make a book dystopian. However, it seems to be in an awful lot of them. Doomed love is the worst. I hate it. Love is so beautiful, but putting it into a situation like this is just awful and it kills me. The love could be doomed because of prejudice and discrimination (Noughts & Crosses is the prime example of this one), or, like most of the others, because of rules and laws that prevent it. That accounts for all the rest, except for Divergent and the Uglies series (although that kind of has a form of doomed love in it). I like my happy endings an awful lot, and when you present me with a relationship that is doomed from the start, I’m going to be awfully mad. Even if they end up together in the end. It’s too stressful and painful. Although it does make the ending that bit sweeter, so it’s not always bad. Maybe.
4. Corrupt governments
This one just scares me. When I read a book with a corrupt government, I become terrified, because it often has a semi logical reason behind the corruption. For someone who knows politics, the history probably isn’t all that logical or plausible, but when an author presents me with this awful government and a back story about how it became that way, I’m going to get scared. It makes me terrified that the same thing is going to happen in real life, and then I freak out. Although I freak out about a lot of things. But if there’s a seemingly plausible explanation behind it, things won’t go well in my head. This one is again in all of them.
Ahhh, the rebels. I do not like them. They seem to think that violence is the only way to get what they want. They’re probably right, actually, but I still don’t like them. They threaten my beloved main characters and their families and friends. It never ends well when there are rebels around. At least one cherished character dies each time. Doesn’t matter what book, but if there’s rebels, there’s gonna be death, and if there’s death, there’s gonna be tears from me. There are rebels (or something similar with a different name) in the Noughts & Crosses series, the Uglies series, the Matched trilogy, Red Queen, The Selection series, the Delirium series, and possibly The Jewel.
Quick note here: I can barely remember The Jewel at all. It’s probably the least memorable book that I read all year last year, even though it was very thought provoking and terrible (in the good way, if that makes any sense). I have no idea why this is, but I struggle to remember a thing about it, so I’m probably not being entirely accurate about it. Do read it though. It was good. I just can’t really remember it.
6. The darkness
All of the dystopians have this heavy, bleak, dark feeling about them. I know it’s characteristic for the genre, because when you consider that type of society, it is pretty bleak and dark. But I don’t like it. It’s depressing and makes me feel all gloomy. I like happy things, like lighthearted, sappy romances that make me melt into a little happy puddle when everything turns out perfectly. I’m a sap, I know. But I’d rather read about things that make me happy than things that make me gloomy. Like I said before, this was in all of them, although definitely more prominent in some than in others.
A lot of dystopians tend to have people that live outside of society, for whatever reason. I don’t like reading about them because it’s depressing. In many cases, they aren’t considered good enough to live in the messed up society that’s in the book. Not good enough for a society that’s a horrible mess. Imagine that. Either that, or they’ve made the choice to live outside it, because they don’t agree with it. In these cases, they nearly always end up getting caught by the government. It just makes me so sad. From what I can remember, there are outsiders in Divergent (I’m meaning the factionless), the Uglies, the Matched trilogy, and the Delirium series. Although there’s probably aspects of them in others too.
There you have it. A list of seven reasons why I don’t much like dystopians. And yet I can’t stop reading them and I’ve given a few five stars. There’s something strange about that.