This is a feature my brother came up with— wherein we tackle certain topics on books, young adult or not, and give you guys the low down on our opinions of them (which, mind you, generally differ). I’ll be encoding our conversation, and if you guys have any opinions of your own on the topic, or on the heated discussion, feel free to once again make my day and comment!
My brother is seventeen, a college sophomore, approximately one year and two days older. His name is Juan (that’s pronounced like the number, one), and he’s my best friend. No matter what anyone else says.
Jasmine: Hey there brudda!
Juan: Hello, you.
Jasmine: Where were you yesterday? I promised my viewers a debate, and you didn’t show up. Any number of un-Juanlike scenarios were rolling in my head. Was it a date? GASP!
Juan: Yeahhhh, no. I was in a hospital. It was an outreach activity. It was fuuuuun.
Jasmine: Oh… so you were in touch with your vocational side. You make me proud *beams*.
***my brother, by the way, is taking up BS Social Work at the University of The Philippines***
Juan: And you now will be witness to my literary genius! Such luck.
Jasmine: What genius? Haha! So, for this week’s feature, we’re discussing quite the prevalent genre in young adult fiction nowadays. Drumroll please!
Juan: Uhm…hmm… Insert drumroll here?
Jasmine: Dystopian novels! To name a few, The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Selection series. Before anything else though, let’s match the word to a definition. ‘Utopia’ is basically the ideal society– contrapositive to that, a ‘dystopia’ is utopia rotating on its axis in the wrong direction. Metaphor aside, it’s a world with a single, far-reaching predicament out of line with the mass motivation.
Juan: Well, well, well. That took some time to absorb.
Jasmine: Yes, take it aaall in. This is the part where you tell me where you stand. Do you think they’re over-hyped?
Jasmine: Aha! That’s where we disagree. But I’ll let you explain yourself. Go on, go on.
Juan: I personally think that too many of them are too straightforward and don’t give enough of a back story. Sometimes I ask myself, “How the hell did it get to this point anyway?” Too many of them skip that part, when it’s in fact the most essential piece of information in the entire book.
Jasmine: Understandably so! After all, I’ve gotten flummoxed once or twice by scenes that greatly lack in explanation. However, the fact that they leave out the details on the etymology makes it all the more bracing. It actually entices me to read on, for the sake of curiosity, as well as other things inherent in my reader self. You get it in the end anyway—they usually answer the questions for you as the novel progresses, which to me is effective, because you’re kept on your toes in that way. Most of the action is approvable, and I don’t usually concern myself with world building, so I guess I’m personally impartial to that matter of contention.
Juan: I understand your point. However, if they presented the back story, they’d elucidate the ideology that the characters are fighting for, or against. I don’t think it’s favorable if the stories only feature the characters’ perspectives, because they’re supposed to think about not only themselves, but for the population they represent. Maybe it’s because many of them are teenagers. However, many people buy, and consequently, hype these novels because the appeal is that they’re smart. Would you buy yours if you didn’t think they could set the wheels of your brain in motion?
Juan: Take two.
Juan: Good job. In that case, there is no excuse for significant technical flaws in the writing. The reason it became a ‘dystopia’ in the first place is because almost everyone else adopted an ideology, and there has to be something there that makes it believable. I apologize for being uptight. #justbeingme. Lawl.
Jasmine: BAHAHA. So yeah, like I said, you have a world-building problem, which you think contributes to fallacious character development and an erroneous plot that would otherwise have been acceptable if superimposed into a non-dystopian world.
Juan: Yeah, that makes some sense. You get the gist of it.
Jasmine: This brings us back to the author doesn’t it? And since you asked, I believe it still greatly depends on the way the book was written. I disagree because you just generalized that ‘dystopia’ as a genre is practically transparent, and implausible. That’s not the case though. I’m not against all the hype, because I have come across many dystopian novels that seem astonishingly concrete and believable. The fact that these characters are banding against a common, seemingly undefeatable opponent also adds to the tension within the book, and to the eagerness stirring within me to yes, flip that page. I don’t necessarily shy away from dystopian books, unless I happen to find the whole plot nothing short of flimsy. After all, there must have been a reason behind the hype. It’s impressive to me how all these different authors know the ropes enough to twist the circumstances into the beginnings of a complex, elaborate cosmos. I don’t think I’ve explored the genre completely, as a matter of fact. So I say, bring them dystopian novels on!
Juan: I’m not saying the premises aren’t interesting. It’s just that I have problems with the execution. You said that these characters are fighting against a seemingly undefeatable opponent—and believe me they are, minus the undefeatable. I just don’t feel it, and they’re not stressing it enough. They’re going about it in a very show and tell way. And yeah, minus the show.
Jasmine: Oh, so it’s that thing with making you cry, isn’t it? Something about not going into depth when it comes to the ‘dark side’, and then you find something like ‘You are evil and must be vanquished! Feel my wrath!’ In that case, I know the perfect solution. Read some more of my books! I thought they were memorable enough to deserve the hype. I’d like to see if for once, I can change your mind. #igotyoumwahaha
Jasmine: Okay brah, let’s stop that.
Juan: Bra? What bra?
Jasmine: Okay, let’s stop that too.
So what do you think? Have any suggestions? Criticisms of the constructive variety? Life changing praise? Comment if you do! 😀
P.S. We’d appreciate suggestions on future topics!