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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Dystopia, Dystopia, Dystopia

Dystopias seem to be everwhere.The Hunger Games movie comes out next March, and pre-buzz is sending the books even higher then they once were.At least four books on the New York Times Besteller list for children and YA lists are dystopias. And more books are being sold every day -- for huge sums of money -- for hit new dystopias.

But what's so enticing about dystopians? These are three pitches from upcoming dystopian novels released in 2012.

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Exiled from her comfortable home in the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland—known as The Death Shop—are slim. In Reverie, she spent time with her friends roaming virtual environments called Realms. But in The Death Shop, even the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He’s wild—a savage. He’s also her only hope for survival.

A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry sees Aria as sheltered and fragile—everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he also needs Aria’s help; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, they come together reluctantly, and embark on a journey challenged as much by their prejudices as by cannibals and wolves. Their unlikely alliance will forever change the fate of all who live UNDER THE NEVER SKY.

The first book in a captivating trilogy, Veronica Rossi’s enthralling debut sweeps you into an unforgettable adventure.


Pure by Juliana Baggott

We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it's his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.

When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.

and finally,

A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan

Rosalinda Fitzroy has been asleep for sixty-two years when she is woken by a kiss. Locked away in the chemically induced slumber of a stasis tube in a forgotten subbasement, sixteen-year-old Rose slept straight through the Dark Times that killed millions and utterly changed the world she knew. Now, her parents and her first love are long gone, and Rose— hailed upon her awakening as the long-lost heir to an interplanetary empire— is thrust alone into a future in which she is viewed as either a freak or a threat. Desperate to put the past behind her and adapt to her new world, Rose finds herself drawn to the boy who kissed her awake, hoping that he can help her to start fresh. But when a deadly danger jeopardizes her fragile new existence, Rose must face the ghosts of her past with open eyes— or be left without any future at all.

Now, personally, I don't know if I would read those books. I've never been a huge fan of crazes, and all the dystopias are becoming similar. But today I'm going to read the pitches with an open mind --and decide, just what makes these books so succesful and become bestsellers. All three of the books are published by different companies (Never Sky will be published by HarperCollins; Pure St. Martin's Griffin; and Sleep by Candelwick) and all of them have been agressively promoted.

But there are some things that I noticed pop up in most dystopian novels published now, including these, just from the pitches. Some of them might be more "obvious" then others, but they usually are at the core of the story.

1. Heroine/Hero Escapes This is the catalyst for the story. They awake from a long sleep; are released into a new world; and escape the dome. This can happen at different parts in the novel -- sometimes it happens at the beginning, other times it takes our main character longer to become free. Usually the main character escapes from a cruel or oppresive society, although sometimes the fact is obvious and the character doesn't know. It's a common trope, and usually dystopias focus on what horror the character must escape from.

2. They Discover New Information The horrors of the society are revealed, usually by a mentor or a friend (someone who knows the secrets of the town and the main character trusts them). This can occasionally lead to info-dumping, and this part of the plot is usually when the author attempts to develop their society. Sometimes the information is good, if they've escaped a hatred world and entered a new one (though often times they escape a dystopia for another dystopia) but more often than not they are horrified. A lot of times it is by the deeds of their government, or what the citizens have comformed to.

3. They Start A Quest This trope is different. If the book is a series, usually this is the cliffhanger of the first novel. However, if it's a standalone, the "quest" aspect may be more crucial to the story. If it's a series, usually "war begins to brew" and if it's a stand-alone the main characters more often than not seem to have to fight against time to save the day (superheroes, anyone?). Usually this happens at the end of the novel, when everything is resolved or the story is set for sequel(s).

So that's usually the main plot of most dystopian novels. The main character escapes; they discover new (hated) information; and they begin a quest and either complete it or begin the quest to be continued in later novels. I'm not saying that all dystopias fit that guideline, but the majority of YA dystopian novels seem to.

Search "YA dystopia novels" and check out the hits on Amazon, GoodReads, or ARC sites like Netgalley. Read the pitches: they're all eerily similar. And there are hundreds of other books like them that I could have used for examples, but those were the first three I found.

Readers like adventure. Panoramal was huge until a few months ago, though its readers are slowly dying, and action and fantasy have also been huge the last few years. Realistic seems to be declining; I read a comment on an article about dystopias that said "When are the realistic fiction books coming back"?

My answer: when the readers are ready. Readers shift through phases, at least in the YA market. Fantasy is huge; realistic is huge for a while; panoramal and then dystopia. As more books in each genre come out, readers become hungry for more and catapult the books onto bestseller lists and send the authors into fame.

Publishers also aggresively promote the books because, let's face it, they need money. With print books starting to disenegrate, they need money in any way they can (e-books so far aren't huge sellers). They're willing to do whatever the readers long as it pays. There's a reason that so many people are starting to dislike the new trends: the publishers push them out until no one ever wants to see them again. Even agents, who submit to publishers, are accepting fewer and fewer "trend" novels excepting dystopias.

So who knows? In a year, a month, decades from now, the readership might change. Publishers listen to the readers, in a unique (and let's admit it: twisted) way, and what we read means that it's what they want us to read.

So read.


-End of Article; Footnote-

This is an interesting dystopia I found on GoodReads. It's already been released and is supposed to be amazing, getting a lot of five star reviews and starred reviews from publishers. I'm a bit wary of dystopias, but since there are a few good ones if I find the time I'll check this one out.  I didn't use it in the post because I am interested in it. Not all dystopias are bad. :P

Ashes by Illsa J. Blick

Alex has run away and is hiking through the wilderness with her dead parents' ashes, about to say goodbye to the life she no longer wants to live. But then the world suddenly changes. An electromagnetic pulse sweeps through the sky zapping every electronic device and killing the vast majority of adults. For those spared, it's a question of who can be trusted and who has changed... Everyone still alive has turned - some for the better (those who acquired a superhuman sense) while others for the worse (those who acquired a taste for human flesh). Desperate to find out what happened and to avoid the zombies that are on the hunt, Alex meets up with Tom - an Army veteran who escaped one war only to find something worse at home - and Ellie, a young girl whose grandfather was killed by the electromagnetic pulse. This improvised family will have to use every ounce of courage they have just to find food, shelter, while fighting off the 'Changed' and those desperate to stay alive. A tense and involving adventure with shocks and sudden plot twists that will keep teen and adult readers gripped
It should have been a short suspended-animation sleep. But this time Rose wakes up to find her past is long gone— and her future full of peril.

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