Day of Debate: The Hyped Dystopia

Day of Debate

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.

Design A

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?

Juan: Yes.

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?

Jasmine: Yes.

Juan: Take two.

Jasmine: No.

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

Juan: #imdoomed

Jasmine: Okay brah, let’s stop that.

Juan: Bra? What bra?

Jasmine: Okay, let’s stop that too.

Design A

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!



14 thoughts on “Day of Debate: The Hyped Dystopia

  1. Lol, I think it’s impossible to over hype Divergent, love that book! But I see Juan’s point re the Hunger Games – where’s the backstory? Cool discussion, I love your debates guys!

    • Haha I loved Divergent too! Cannot wait for Allegiant 🙂 The Hunger Games was a bit rushed in terms of back story, though it didn’t bother me much 😀 And thank you so much Annie!

  2. There’s not a lot of back story in Hunger Games (and similar dystopias) because the protag has only known their world, they weren’t there when it fell apart. Katniss Everdeen is worried about having enough to eat and not getting caught hunting and about her sister and mother. She doesn’t have time to contemplate her society’s broader circumstances. It’s Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. (And the school’s give them the wrong information anyway) Of course, in some dystopians this is written in, clearly, as a way to not have to explain what happened (because the author isn’t very good and never thought about how civilization would actually collapse). Good post!

  3. It’s funny because I often see people review dystopians and complain about the world-building or lack of backstory. I think it depends on the reader. For me, I just accept whatever the author gives me. If they tell me, great. If they don’t, great. I’m willing to believe the world is what they say it is, even without them telling me why, just because at that moment they the gods and what they say goes. It just never bothers me like others! Still, execution does make a big difference!

    And future topics? Um… series vs standalones? ereaders vs physical books? book vs movie (or something about movie adaptations)? Erm… those are some of the popular debates I’ve seen. Not sure if they’re any help >.>

    • Yeah, you and I are in the same boat! 🙂 I’m not bothered by lack of back story or world-building issues, but I do understand why a lot of other people are. I haven’t come across a lot of dystopian novels either, and so far, the ones I have have been pretty concise and great reads 😀 And thank you so much for the suggestions Asti! We’ll use one of these in the next post 😉

  4. I think both you and your brother made excellent thoughts. Here are my thoughts: I love true dystopia, the sinister future world that carries the message of what we can became if we continue down a certain path. And I personally don’t know if I can get enough of it. I mean, maybe if that was literally all I read forever it would be too much, but the point I was interested in that sort of story even before it became a big hit and I think I always will be.

    However, as your brother mentioned, the world building can make or break the whole thing. I don’t have to have the whole back story as to what happened, but I need understand what the world is like, an idea of how it happened, and understand of course the danger of it. Some of these “dystopias” that come out now are so weak and fluffy compared to the true definition of the word; it’s just another package for a dangerous romance or whatnot.

    I appreciate that there is a hype around a genre that interests me, but I don’t like it reaching the over- saturated point of them releasing stories with the label “dystopia” that truly aren’t.

    • Oh yes– I personally don’t believe that The Selection can be considered a real dystopian novel, at least not until they stress the importance of the rebel attacks and dig further into the origins of Illea. I am a bit bothered by books labeled wrongly, though I don’t have much of a problem with the true dystopias I’ve encountered 🙂 I really liked The Hunger Games (my brother probably loved it, and that’s why he’s hellbent on critiquing it HAHA he’s weird that way), and I loved the character of Katniss (you seem to do so too :D). I thought she represented her District pretty well! Though of course, I have to completely understand the circumstances to love novels as complex as dystopians– so yes, it’s crucial that the author introduces her world well, though she doesn’t have to go into the boring details. I like action in my novels, maybe a lot of romance, but for me to get impressed, it has to be so much more than “weak and fluffy”. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. I’m usually not prissy about world-building, but if it’s dystopia, I kind of need it to understand what’s going on. I’m the kind of person who wants to have everything answered by the end of the book/series, otherwise I regret reading said book(s). I see a lot of people complain about lack of world-building in dystopian books and I can agree. If the author doesn’t tell me how the story got to the point where it currently is, I’ll keep wondering and obsessing with it, until I can’t take it anymore and give the book a low rating because of that or just DNF it.

    • Yes, that’s the important bit. If the author wants to leave out the details earlier on, they have to be there in bits and pieces as the novel progresses, or maybe explained in depth by the end of the book. I won’t get any sleep if it isn’t there. Haha! Fortunately enough, I haven’t come across a DNF-able dystopian novel yet 🙂 Thanks for the visit Eve! 😀

  6. From all the dystopia I’ve read, I’ve yet to encounter one that lacks in backstory and/or world-building because as much as I love character-driven books, I’d feel as if the author is slacking on details if there isn’t much explained about the world the characters live in. Afterall, it is called dystopia pretty much because of the worst conditions that the characters live in.

    Still, I really like dystopian books and they’re a welcome option when one is tired of reading contemporary and fantasy/paranormal books.

    • I think that its important for the the author to be able to strike a balance between the character and the society. I agree that they have to explain it quite well what that society means to the character, before they can call it “dystopian” 😀 I’m more of a fantasy book reader, though yeah, when the story’s interesting, I usually don’t shy away from dystopian books 😀

  7. I’m kinda torn between the two opinions. I feel like sometimes I don’t care much for the world-building at all and just want some action. But sometimes I fee like world-building is really important as we would know what drives the MCs toward their goal. Hmm.. some dystopian novels are definitely over-hyped though..

    • Well then… I guess that does give you less of a problem, because you’re tolerant in a way to both our issues. Haha! I guess it really does depend on the writing. Except of course for the over hyped ones, which I do get bothered by. Lots of other books out there, not necessarily dystopians, are deserving of more reads and attention 🙂 Thanks for stopping by Ariella!

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