With the last Twilight movies on the horizon and mounting hype over upcoming movies like The Hunger Games and Divergent, many are left wondering if dystopia is the new vampire.
For those of you who don’t know, here’s a quick definition of dystopia from dictionary.com:
a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression,disease, and overcrowding.
an imaginary place where everything is as bad as it can be
[C19 (coined by John Stuart Mill ): from dys- + Utopia ]
In summary, it’s the opposite of utopia. And its increasing popularity is more than evident on the shelves.
So in the sense that vampires are slowly going out of fashion and dystopia is building quite the fan base, I’d say that yes dystopia is the new vampire. However. HOWEVER. There is an enormous difference between the two genres that I think will set dystopia apart from the vampire craze that flooded bookstores not that long ago.
Before I go on, I want to say first and foremost that I’m not dissing any vampire novels. They had (and some still do) a huge following and it appealed to a large base of particularly excitable pre-teens and teenagers who snatched up more than a few of them. They were entertaining and people liked them, which is why they became popular in the first place.
So I give Twilight and the rest of the vampire books out there a lot of credit. They caught onto something that really resonated with people.
The only bone I have to pick with vampire novels is that a lot of them are the same. I’m not saying they all have the same plot (that would be an unfair generalization) but the vast majority of vampire books I glanced at in the bookstores went something like this: girl meets boy. Boy (sometimes girl) is a vampire. Boy loves girl but is afraid to hurt her. Girl thinks boy is mysterious and doesn’t care about the danger. TENSION.
Entertaining? Absolutely. But I got a little tired of it pretty quickly.
And that’s where dystopian is different. Whereas there was only so much you could do with a vampire story, a large range of dystopian novels are emerging. What makes dystopian different is that each story has a different society. Every novel has new challenges and new obstacles to overcome. Are there similarities? Of course, but there’s potential for a lot of variety.
For example: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (c’mon, I couldn’t write a post about dystopian novels without mentioning The Hunger Games at least twice). Basic plot involves a competition in which two teenagers from each of the twelve districts are forced to enter every year. The competition? Survival of the fittest. Last one still alive wins.
Now compare this to Wither by Lauren DeStefano. There aren’t any competitions here, initiations or factions. Wither’s focus is on something entirely different: genetic engineering gone wrong. In this dystopian novel, scientists accidently triggered a time bomb in every human so that women only live to the age of twenty and men twenty-five. As a result, girls are married off in the early teen years and forced to bear children in order to keep humanity alive.
I don’t need to go on to explicate the difference between Wither and The Hunger Games.
So what’s the point Ava? They’re different, so what?
In my opinion the end of the vampire age is coming because people got bored. The stories became repetitive and readers wanted something different. I think the vampire craze is coming to a close not because of a lack of talent or anything like that, but a lack of variety.
Dystopian is different. There can be huge variations and still fit within the realm of dystopia. Of course there will be repetition, but I think there's much more potential for variety than the vampire craze was ever able to offer.
And that will give it the momentum it needs to carry forward.
What do you think? Is dystopia just another passing craze? Will variety make a difference?