YA Dystopian Novels: Strange Tales of Youth

Of late I’ve entered the ranks of those who enjoy the YA Dystopian Novel. They offer strange new worlds for our dystopic reflections on love, politics, philosophy, society, media, etc. It seems that such fiction, written for teenagers, is becoming a wide-spread social phenomena and drifting into the academic world as well. Several years ago I began noticing works by writers such a Cory Doctorow whose fictions typify some of the best philosophical interplay of social criticism and dystopic reflection in the troposphere. His current novel, Homeland, features the ‘war of terror’ as permanent emergency:

A couple of years ago, it occurred to me that the emergency had become permanent. Declaring war on an abstract noun like “terror” meant that we would forever be on a war footing, where any dissent was characterized as treason, where justice was rough and unaccountable, where the relationship of the state to its citizens would grow ever more militarized.

Dystopia has become one of the most popular teenage genres. This sudden rise in YA Dystopian literature has gained as much criticism as praise. Reactionary conservatives within the neo-liberal world seen in these decadent fictions of dystopic mayhem a form of post-modern relativism and nihilism. While radical critics see the emancipatory visions of a post-capitalist vision of theory and praxis working its self out in the young minds of those who will inherit the wastelands of neoliberalist collapse. Young adults are the future leaders of the world and books that are written for them always have a specific purpose. YA Dystopian literature’s purpose is to teach teenagers about the real world by using young protagonists. These books are very didactic; their message depends on the real world truth that the author wants to teach. Because of this dependence on the author’s purpose, this genre changes a lot to keep up with the times. Yet, for all their didacticism what we discover in them is not a message to be learned so much as the possibility of a new mode of life, one beyond our present neo-liberal world of nightmare visions and re-visioning of collapse, waste, and dispersement into voidic voids economic slavery by a corporate socialism turned fascist. In these youthful expenditures of excess we learn how to transgress the frozen modes of this neo-liberal delusion and begin formulating other desires, other adjacent modes of life, a ‘vertigo of immanence’ that can at last give us hope of real change

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