From National Public Radio:
The plots of dystopian novels can be amazing. A group of teens in Holland, Mich., tells me about some of their favorites:
. . . .
Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies is on everyone’s favorite list. The plot goes like this: Everyone wants to be pretty. And their 16th birthday, they can be surgically altered to be a “pretty.” During the surgery, however, lesions are put on their brains. These can cause illness, or hinder your thinking. If characters get an important enough job later on, they get those lesions removed.
. . . .
The teens explaining these books are sitting around a table at the public library in the idyllic west Michigan town. Tonight the book club is meeting to talk about House of The Scorpion by Nancy Farmer — the gathering is part of the library’s young adult programming.
Even though the flyer advertises this book as dystopian, there’s some dissent around that (at a dystopian book club, this distrust of “the adults and their flyers” is no surprise.)
After a brief plot description (there’s a drug lord, clones and, of course, a rebellion against the status quo), Taylor Gort, 17, starts things off: “It’s a question of how many ethics rules are you willing to break,” she says, referring to the book’s main character, El Patrón. Amanda Heidema, the librarian leading the discussion, nods her head, “I mean, is making a clone ethical?”
. . . .
The conversation goes on for nearly an hour — flowing from clones, to whether or not manipulation is evil, to how screwed up adults are (can you believe they think this book is dystopian? It’s not.).
That last one — how messed up grownups are — it’s a hallmark of dystopia, especially in the young adult genre. When I ask the group why they think these types of books are so popular with teens, they tell me it has a lot to do with relatability.
“There tends to be a common teen-angst thing, like: ‘Oh the whole world is against me, the whole world is so screwed up,’ ” Will explains.
Teenagers are cynical, adds Aaron Yost, 16. And they should be: “To be fair, they were born into a world that their parents kind of really messed up.”
Everyone here agrees: The plots in dystopia feel super familiar. That’s kind of what makes the books scary — and really good.
Link to the rest at NPR