Dystopian YA

Falling out of love with dystopian YA

My book club is reading The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness for February. I’ve been carrying it around in my bag for about two weeks now but I haven’t cracked the spine yet. Every time I consider starting it, I feel this weird pang of anxiety and I just can’t bring myself to pull it out, let alone turn to the first page. Instead I hunch over this month’s Runners World or Mental Floss and pretend like it’s not stooping dark and dystopian under my desk in the forgotten recesses of my bag.

It’s not the book or Patrick Ness. I like him just fine, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about the Chaos Walking trilogy. The thing is, I’m exhausted by dystopian trilogies. I’ve been reading them non-stop for too many years and for maybe the first time I just want to read about a girl falling in love and going to the prom. I want a story that doesn’t require the heroine to starve or bring down a corrupt government or run from zombies.

“Everyone is corrupt. Everything is awful. Everyone will die.  Good luck, sucker.”

I need a break from despair. I need some emotional and mental struggles and less outstanding misery. I want brilliant sci-fi that is not thinly veiled romance in space. I want gritty steampunk or diesel punk that is less about gluing gears to shit and more about how the technology influences class warfare. I want cyberpunk girls with a knack for breaking into things. I want a contemporary graphic novel about a girl living on the streets as a modern day Peter Pan. I want urban adventure. I want Joss Whedon dialogue and Paolo Bacigalupi world building. Add in some Melina Marchetta characters and Cherie Priest’s atmosphere and I’d never leave my reading chair.

I want beauty and wonder and what ifs that don’t start out with, “Everyone is corrupt. Everything is awful. Everyone will die.  Good luck, sucker.”

The thing is, I love dystopian novels. I do. I love the feeling of finding beauty in the dark. I love watching the girls grow stronger and the boys who love them. I love the crazy, scary, horrible (believable) events authors bring down on the world, then pointing and saying, “Can you deal with this? Can you?”

I’m just tired and I’m too good at guessing the bad guy, what’s going on, who will betray who, how it will end.

I regret gorging on dystopian for so long. Like eating a whole birthday cake in one sitting, then breaking out in a sweat every time someone says the word buttercream.

Like my grandmother once said, wagging her finger at naughty little eight year old me – Too much of a good thing, Sommer, and you’ll make yourself sick. See? You’ll never listen and you’ll always learn the hard way. At least you seem quite pleased with yourself anyway. Oh, Grandma. If only you could see the joys of marathoning television shows on Netflix, you’d see I haven’t much changed.

I hope I just need time and some distance and maybe a little historical romance to cleanse the palette. I feel like we are breaking up, dystopian and I.

And I can’t say I’m not just a little bit heartbroken.

 Have you fallen out of love with a genre? Was there a book that made you fall in love with it all over again?
If you fell out of love with dystopian books, what book brought you back to it? Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match...


3 thoughts on “Falling out of love with dystopian YA”

  1. I completely agree! I only really loved the Hunger Games and Divergent trilogies. The other dystopian series I read I could rarely get past the first book. In one case I couldn’t even finish the book. I have the hardest time with the ones where the world is ending before your eyes. The books like Divergent or the Hunger Games where the bad thing happened years ago and now we see what is left of the world are easier for me to get into.
    I am started to get burnt out not just YA dystopian worlds, but all of the movies and TV shows too.
    Some of them are just too depressing.

  2. I hear ya! I fell out of love with dystopian novels early last year. I still occasionally read them but definitely not with the same fervor and eagerness from 4-5 years ago. I’ve yet to find one that made me fall in love with the genre again but I’m sure it exists. It’s just hard to find when it’s buried under a glut!

    These days I’ve been enjoying contemporary mysteries and thrillers. I’m sure one day I’ll get tired of this subgenre too but that day is not today.

    1. I love the Unwind series by Neal Shusterman. The creeipness and overall realism is just amazing. Not to mention the amazing characters. I also really love how there was a romance, but it was kept in the backseat, like it should. I feel like most dystopians try to put the romance first and the dystopian world is just a means to get the two characters together instead of being the focus. In Unwind, it is the opposite. The world building is amazing and the romance is a small subplot that is fun, but doesn’t get overly soppy.

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