The Golden Age of Dystopia: Guest Post by Jenna Greene

Jenna Greene is a writer from Lethbridge, Alberta. She teaches elementary school. When she isn’t teaching, writing, or spending time with her daughter, Olivia, or husband, Scott, Jenna coaches, drums, and paddles with several dragonboat teams. She is the author of several YA novels, including the Heroine and the Imagine series. Renew (The Reborn Marks Book 2) is her latest book.

By Jenna Greene: Dystopian literature is far from new. George Orwell may have set the world on a disturbing, informative, and thought-provoking path with 1984, but it continued from there with works such as Brave New World, The Giver, and Ready Player One. All these titles are rich classics. Still, the insurgence of utopian-societies-set-upside down was an anomaly instead of the norm at that point in our historical timeline.

Then The Hunger Games crashed onto the scene, finding a YA audience that burned with desire for more prints and more pages, catching the attention of youth and adults alike. It could have been a one-hit wonder, skillful and unique, but it wasn’t. Divergent soon followed in Suzanne Collin’s footsteps, before authors such as Lauren Oliver, Ally Condie, and Victoria Aveyard hit the scene.

With many trends in literature, there are often ebbs and flows. Yet the dystopian trend has not had its ebb yet. The quality novels, short stories, and poems have continued to be produced. Hollywood studios are filming adaptations of newer classics as well as older titles. (Maze Runner and Ender’s Game anyone?) I could write for hours on The Handmaid’s Tale – willingly and with great passion, and see more and more titles popping up in my Netflix queue.

So how and why has the Golden Age of Dystopia been sustained this long, providing more quality than the temporary teenage-vampire trend? I believe it is connected to the depth of the questions that can be asked, should be asked, and most importantly need to be asked. Tackling discrimination, poverty, government corruption, fundamentalism, voyeurism, and a wealth of other themes through allegory and metaphor allows us to examine the issues in a critical way. Dystopian settings are both objective and subjective, authentic and fake. For those who have never examined these issues, they are drawn in by character arcs and rapid storylines filled with action and sentiment. Readership begins, fandoms arise, and then discussions happen. Sure, this happens with all literature, but with our global consciousness rising each day, dystopian literature has the power to do so in a way other genres cannot hope to equal. Paired with genuine societal movements such as #metoo, books have a way of changing the scope of thought and action in the world in a pivotal way.

All that remains is the question of which issues will dystopian authors tackle next. As a YA fantasy/ dystopian author myself, the challenge of creating new worlds with new problems, connected to our consciousness of this world and this world’s problems, is one I am able and set to tackle – and excited to do so. I am a part of the discourse, and thankful to be so.

ABOUT RENEW

The Unclaimed Cities are not the idyllic setting Lexil, Finn, and Ceera thought it would be. This new land has challenges of its own – which they soon discover. When Lexil and Finn return to the Wastelands, they are accompanied by Kaylen, someone they can’t decide is a friend or foe. As they retrace their path, they meet up with old allies and enemies, and encounter other treachery embedded in the Wastelands. The trio are then forced to face their own assumptions, prejudices, and fears.

And in the end, to change her fate and alter the destiny of all other Reborns, Lexil must decide what she is willing to risk…

Of both herself and others.

JENNA GREENE ON SOCIAL MEDIA

1 thought on “The Golden Age of Dystopia: Guest Post by Jenna Greene

  1. Your chronology of books is significantly off. BRAVE NEW WORLD was published in 1932, well before 1984 (published 1949). READY PLAYER ONE is 2011; HUNGER GAMES is 2008 (and BATTLE ROYALE, a probable inspirations for HUNGER GAMES, is 2000 and spawned a major discussion in Japan). If you’re attempting a bit of historical overview, it really helps to get the chronology right.

    Yes, there’s a long history of dystopian fiction going well back into the 19th century. It’s fascinating to study!

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