Wednesday, May 12, 2010
There are certain books that I consider to be a measuring stick of the genre. The Chronicles of Narnia and the Harry Potter series are my measuring sticks for children's books; THE HERO AND THE CROWN is my measuring stick for fantasy; ENDER'S GAME is my measuring stick for science fiction.
In thinking about dystopia, I realize I have two measuring stick: one for children's/YA dystopia, and one for adult dystopia.
THE GIVER is a much quieter book than I usually prefer, but it's still what I consider to be the ideal model of young dystopian literature. The government isn't a powerhouse Big Brother, but it is still controlling and selective about the information it releases to the public. The hero isn't a fighter--but he's still a rebel.
And the end of the novel is that mix of triumph and hardship: the hero wins, but the battle's not entirely over.
Any time I read dystopia, I compare it unconsciously to THE GIVER. Not so much in style and plot, but in the feeling I get when reading it. THE GIVER reminds me to question the world, and that's what I seek in dystopian lit.
[Spoilers ahead--not too spoilery, but still: highlight to read]
So there you have it: my measuring sticks for dystopia. What are yours?