Life isn’t perfect, in fact often it is quite the opposite. Despite the efforts we make day in and day out, not everything goes our way. That is what makes dystopian novels and movies so intriguing and interesting. Its our world, but slightly off. It gives the possibility of ‘what if.’ Usually it’s something like a war, or sickness, or government battle that changes the world, but it is also something feasible, and that is why it is terrifying.
Dystopian and post-apocalyptic stories have been my favorite for as long as I can remember, and at the risk of sounding like a pretentious hipster, I was into it long before it became the guaranteed moneymaker it is in our current publishing and producing world. And I want everyone else to get out of my genre. Believe me, I know I sound like a self absorbed rich high school kid with thick rimmed unprescribed glasses, smoking an unfiltered American Spirit, thinking that I’m better than everyone around me, but hear me out.
Remember when Twilight came out? I don’t want to start on whether or not it was good (and it wasn’t), but what made Twilight even worse than the horrible writing, weak subplots, non-existent character development, and general lack of coherency; was what is did to publishing and production of the next few years. Vampires where everywhere for a few years, and while vampires as central characters are nothing new (Buffy, Anne Rice, Lost Boys, Dracula, etc.) suddenly they were inescapable. Vampire Diaries and True Blood were turned into television shows, Netflix and Redbox were flooded with crappy made for TV movies about vampires, and bookshelves seemed to overflow with novels about human/vampire love. Vampires were everywhere, but they were no longer scary, haunting, or even generally smart creatures, rather they were whinny, love struck, and stalker-obsessed with some random human. Twilight opened the door for this genre of pansy vampires, and authors started capitalizing on it. Hundreds of new books flooded the market, but they had no substance. That was the real problem, authors and publishers hoping to jump on the high vampire sales released absolute crap stories, and in the end that is what killed the genre.
This is what is starting to happen to my dystopian stories, and it all started with The Hunger Games. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Katniss- THG is one of my favorite series, and at the risk of sounding like a hipster, I remember when it first got published because I read Suzanne Collins first series (yeah, she has written other novels). I love Hunger Games, and I love that after the release of its third installment it became popular, leading to series like Divergent, Delirium and Maze Runner. 1984, Fahrenheit 452, and Brave New World were no longer just being read by fifteen year old who wikipediaed the plot while walking to class, but being read and reread by the masses. Honestly, I couldn’t have been more excited! My favorite genre was getting attention and new series were being released and funded, but it didn’t last long.
Just as in Twilight, publishers and marketing experts are capitalizing on the sudden interest of the dystopian market. More and more books are being released, unfortunately most of them now are awful. Publishers seem to take almost any dystopian novel, and without giving it to editors and asking for multiple rewrites, they are simply turning out as many books as possible. I have read four separate dystopian series in the last month (the joys of finishing school), and all of them have been horrible. Plots that don’t make sense, disconnect between the beginning and end of the story, characters that don’t have a story arc or that make a drastic change without reason, and endings that come out of nowhere and are forced on the reader.
Luckily, if we look at the Twilight model, this will all soon be over, dystopian and post-apocalyptic stories will be few and far between, but at least they will be well written and intriguing again.