I used to shy away from dystopian books because they’re dark. They have depressing endings. They scare the reader into being paranoid about the future. They show a bleak, senselessly violent world where God does not exist.
This is true….for most of the secular dystopian market.
When I first started reading dystopian novels, I didn’t like them. At all. They left me feeling disgusted and depressed. What happened to happy endings? Why didn’t we see the protagonist triumph not only over the Evil Totalitarian Government, but against their own personal conflicts?
Where was the hope and redemption? Where was God?
Then I picked up Anomaly by Krista McGee–the very first Christian dystopian I’d ever read. And I loved it. It depicted a future, harsh world like the secular ones. The protagonist is a teenage girl who realizes her society is messed up…like in the secular books. The story had romance, advanced technology, and unexpected twists like the secular ones.
The difference between Anomaly and the secular books I’d previously been dissatisfied with?
Anomaly showed the reader a glimpse of hope and redemption.
Now I personally love dystopian fiction (my current work-in-progress is the second book in a dystopian trilogy). I actively search for that genre when I’m perusing the library shelves.
Here’s three reasons why I love dystopian novels:
- Dystopian stories make you think.
It tends to be, in my opinion, a very deep genre. The theme is often the forefront of the story. The best dystopian novels, I think, aren’t the ones that leave the reader feeling terrified about the future (there’s a difference between thought-provoking and disturbing). The best ones are the stories that make the reader think. The ones that take a moral issue with our twenty-first century society and show what could happen if we let this issue grow out of control.
Freedom of speech.
The value of human life.
The danger of when science and technology are taken too far.
These are themes I’ve seen explored in various dystopian novels. I love how authors take an issue like one of these and presents a world that is like an exaggerated parable. What are the dangers of this kind of thinking? How would this change how we treat one another? How would the government change? Do the ends justify the means? Is “the greater good” worth sacrificing our sense of right and wrong for?
Dystopian novels are built on a trail of “what ifs?”. I don’t think they should scare us. But I do think they should make us think.
2. Dystopian stories inspire me to want to make a difference.
There’s a formula most dystopian novels seem to follow:
Teenage girl lives in messed up society. She either a) believe she lives in utopia, or; b) knows her world is far from perfect but doesn’t know how to change it. A certain event challenges her to reexamine her world and her role in it. She ultimately decides to do something to change her situation.
I love this message. I think even when we see a culture-wide moral problem, we don’t do anything about it. We often shake our heads and complain that one person can’t make a difference (at least I’m guilty of this). But dystopian fiction often reminds me that this is so untrue!
One person can make a difference. One small gesture of kindness can change another person’s life. One article, one book, one song can share a message with thousands. One person’s decision to take a stand can inspire others to do the same. God can use anyone to accomplish His will.
Even it is just one person.
3. Dystopian stories show that no matter how bad a situation gets, there is always hope.
Um…let me back up a little bit. They can show that no matter how bad a situation gets, there is always hope. I can’t tell you how many dystopian series I’ve read where it seems like the author chose to end things in the worst way possible.
All authority figures are shown to be corrupt, all the best characters die, and the protagonist has often turned in to someone the reader no longer wants to follow (the protagonist’s moral decline often ties into the theme, but it’s still depressing). The conflict may be over, but there’s still this lingering feeling that good hasn’t really triumphed over evil.
But I’m not talking about those books.
I’m talking about the books where good does triumph over evil. There’s something refreshing about watching what seemed to be a hopelessly corrupt world change for the better. And there’s just something so inspiring about a story where the protagonist’s faith in Christ shines through the darkness and stays strong despite trials.
Dystopian fiction should be about more than just revolutions against evil governments.
It should encourage people to want to make a change.
Do you like dystopian fiction? Why or why not?
What is your favorite genre, and why?