Ever since I read The Hunger Games, I have been caught up in the world of dystopian fiction.
Dystopian literature, at least what I have read, usually features a controlling government with oppressed people, presenting itself as a utopian society.
Other than Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series, which I read in high school, I hadn't spent much time reading about future worlds. As I'm sure it did for many, The Hunger Games opened up a new genre of reading for me, much like Twilight undoubtedly did for vampire books.
When one of my colleagues read the first Hunger Games books, she told me she didn't like it because to her, it didn't appear to have a bigger point to it, a moral of the story, so to speak.
At first, I figured it was because she didn't finish the series, which I did, and I loved it, but as I started to go deeper into the genre though, I realized she had a point.
In addition to rebellion and a love angle, most of the dystopian books I have read in the past few months have a deeper meaning. Perhaps the easiest to see was the theme in Delirium, by Lauren Oliver.
This trilogy, which I have yet to finish, starts by introducing us to a society where love is cured and careers and spouses are arranged. This future society deemed love unsafe because of what people will do with it, or without it.
I have only read the first book and without giving away too much, it is pretty clear that the theme of the book is that love is worth all of the insanity that it can bring along.
The series I began with, the Uglies, which if I remember correctly, is about a society where at a certain age, teenagers can erase their imperfections and become "pretties." The beauty comes at a price and the book has a storyline that pushes for freedom, questioning authority and not conforming at the expense of yourself.
I don't really know what it is that draws people, like myself, to the dystopian genre. Some of the ideas are incredibly far-fetched, but at the same time somehow relatable.
Take for example, the Divergent series by Veronica Roth, which depicts a society where people are broken up into five factions based on their personalities. Those in Dauntless are known for bravery; in Candor, for truth; in Erudite, for their pursuit of knowledge; in Amity for their kindness and in Abnegation for their selflessness.
Naturally, the five factions have different duties in the government, although the story gets more complicated. As it starts, Dauntless protects, Erudite teaches, Abnegation produces the leaders and so on.
As crazy as it sounds, that society isn't that hard to imagine. Not that I think it will happen in real life, but I think the appeal of dystopian books is that they present us with a future society that we can relate to.
What would life be like if there was a cure for love? I mean, crazy things have been done in the name of love, both good and bad. What would happen if we were separated based on our personalities?
Fantasy books are exactly that, fantasies, but there is a difference between thinking about werewolves and vampires existing than a future society with a controlling government and ridiculous rules.
It can be easier to imagine in some cases.
Through all the series though, there are messages of fighting for the greater good and hope, which I love to get wrapped up in.
Regardless of the criticisms of Hunger Games, including my own, I am grateful for the series that has become one of my favorites and opened up a new world of fiction for me.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun