After Suzanne Collins’ first novel in her best selling series, The Hunger Games, was released in 2008, the popularity of YA dystopian novels skyrocketed. Modern teens enjoy reading dystopias because they are not only interesting, but they also appear to take place in society very different from ours. Many would be shocked to know that some of the problems that take place in this novels are also affecting many people in present time. Let’s look at a few dystopias that show chilling parallels to our society today.
Matched, By Ally Condie
In Ally Condie’s Matched series everyone is “matched” with their life partner at the age of 17. Cassia Reyes, the novel’s protagonist, is matched with her best friend, but when Cassia receives her match information, another young man’s, Ky, picture is flashed across the screen. The novel takes us through Cassia’s journey as she grows feelings for Ky, who can’t be matched because his father committed an infraction. Cassia’s love with Ky is forbidden in the novel, just like LGBTQ love is frowned upon by some people in today’s society. Their family and friends may forbid them to be with the person they truly love.
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1984, BY GEORGE ORWELL
1984 by George Orwell dystopian science fiction novel Published in 1949 about a dystopian world set in the year 1984. In the novel, all Citizens of Oceania are monitored by a ruler named Big Brother through Mass Surveillance. We deal with Mass Surveillance today with the NSA. They have access to our phone records, can track our devices, and hack us wherever we are. Always beware, the NSA is watching.
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Legend, by Marie Lu
The Legend Series by Marie Lu is set in a future Los Angeles, ruled by the toleration Republic of America. In the novel, everyone is ordered to take a test on their 10th birthday called a trial. The trails test the children on aspects such as athletics and reading. Anyone who fails the test is taken by the Republic where they are experimented on by doctors before being left to die. As extreme is this is, it does reflect today’s society in that a lot of children and teens feel that intelligence and athletic ability determine their worth. A lot of this has to do with the pressure that is put on them by their teachers and parents.
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Uglies, By Scott Westerfeld
The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld takes place in a dystopian world in which everyone is considered an “ugly,” but then turned “Pretty” by cosmetic surgery at 16. Like in the novels, so much emphasis is put on looks in modern society. This causes many people to use make up today to make themselves prettier. A lot of people feel like they can’t be pretty without makeup. Many of them end up getting plastic surgery as well.
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The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margot Atwood is a dystopian novel that was published in 1985. Climate change and toxic chemicals caused most of the women in Gilead (which used to be known as the United States) to become infertile, making the country become a patriarchal society where all female bodies are viewed as objects. The women in The Handmaid’s Tale are basically at the mens’ mercy. They are unable to make their own choices about where they want their lives to go; society makes those for them. Sexism still takes place in 2021— wage gaps still exist and many men still treat woman and girls like objects. Everyone who is old enough today should read this novel, as it replicates society today in many ways. Like in the novel, many women today are slut-shamed and blamed for being sexually assaulted.
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