According to some people, the world is supposed to end in the next couple of days, and while I am one of the people who doubts this very highly, the hype has me thinking … why is everyone so obsessed with the end of the world as we know it? The trend in YA literature right now that seems to trump all others is dystopia, a.k.a. society in a controlled state, often in a post-apocalyptic world. (Read Sharon Rawlins’s post from July 2011 for more details!) I know some people who love it and are always pushing the newest dystopian title on anyone who asks for a book recommendation. I know some teens who will read nothing else. I would personally rather read a good romance or an epic fantasy. So in my own personal quest for understanding, I want to know why the end of the world as we know it is so appealing to some of us and yet so distasteful to others.
My own dislike of dystopian stories started at a young age. 1984 by George Orwell was forced upon me when I was in seventh grade, and I think it set the bar very low for me when it comes to this genre. It felt like torture to get through that book because I was so not ready for the content even though I was comfortable with the reading level (something that I am always consciously aware of now when making recommendations to teens). Since then anything even remotely resembling Orwell has been at the bottom of my to-read list — if it made the list at all. I’ve never read Lois Lowry’s The Giver, I’ve never been able to finish Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games (even though I’ve tried to read it several times), and though I’m a big fan of his other work I’ve never been able to get into Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series, either. Shameful, I know.