Links and Vuvuzelas

First: does the mullet make you less trustworthy? Consider the comical evidence of leaders and big-brainy folks mulletized for your examination. I think B-Frank rocks a mullet. (Thanks to Alea for the link).

Second, an article I’ve read and forgot to link to, which is way crap of me because Laura Miller rocks hard. The New Yorker looks at dystopian YA books:

The youth-centered versions of dystopia part company with their adult predecessors in some important respects. For one thing, the grownup ones are grimmer. In an essay for the 2003 collection “Utopian and Dystopian Writing for Children and Young Adults,” the British academic Kay Sambell argues that “the narrative closure of the protagonist’s final defeat and failure is absolutely crucial to the admonitory impulse of the classic adult dystopia.” The adult dystopia extrapolates from aspects of the present to show readers how terrible things will become if our deplorable behavior continues unchecked. The more utterly the protagonist is crushed, the more urgent and forceful the message. Because authors of children’s fiction are “reluctant to depict the extinction of hope within their stories,” Sambell writes, they equivocate when it comes to delivering a moral. Yes, our errors and delusions may lead to catastrophe, but if—as usually happens in dystopian novels for children—a new, better way of life can be assembled from the ruins would the apocalypse really be such a bad thing?

Do you think that same description of YA dystopian narratives applies to the romances of the same type? Romance is definitely not about the extinction of hope. Do you like dystopian YA or dystopian or post-apocalyptic romances?

Finally, an email I received today:

Is it OK that I think a vuvuzuela sounds like something I would have learned about on your website?

Yes. Yes, it is.

Also, “Dystopian Vuvuzela” would be a great name for a blog. As would “Dystopian Mullet,” come to think of it.


The Link-O-Lator

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Emily says:

    I love dystopian/romantic YA.  My favorite is The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins.  With a kick ass female protag, amazingly high life or death stakes, a wonderful male romantic interest, and great fast paced writing – I was thrilled through the entire book. 

    Other great dystopian/romantic YA – Unwind by Neal Schustermann and Feed by MT Anderson (no HEA in that one though).

    I’ll agree that the ending to most dystopian YA is much more hopeful than it’s adult counterpart.  YA readers don’t really need the hope sucked out of them.  We get enough of that on the news.

  2. 2
    Emily says:

    LOL!  I just read the New Yorker article.  They totally read my mind.  Collins is the best.

  3. 3
    cories says:

    I don’t particularly enjoy reading dystopian stories, adult or YA.  I have to admit that the Hunger Games trilogy isn’t as hope-sucking as some others: “The Dead-Tossed Waves” by Carrie Ryan (the happy ending is that they’re alive albeit on the run or in the clutches of the bad guys) and to a certain extent, “Tender Morsels” by Margo Lanagan (not quite post-apocalyptic although plenty dystopic).  I get enough post-apocalyptic dystopia from manga and anime; I don’t want to read it in books as well (yes, graphic novels are books but not quite the same thing, is it?).

  4. 4
    Lindsay says:

    I don’t read a lot of dystopias, but when I do I much prefer dystopian YA to dystopian adult novels, precisely for the hopefulness in the YA. I do take issue with Sambell when he says “they equivocate when it comes to delivering a moral.” This seems to me like just another incarnation of the “happy endings aren’t as realistic” myth. Thankfully, Laura Miller doesn’t take this stance in the article. In any case, I think the resilience of hope is an excellent moral.

    I haven’t read any of the newer dystopian YA, but I liked The Giver back in the day, and I really liked Monica Hughes’s Invitation to the Game and Devil on my Back.

  5. 5
    Suzanne says:

    Someone on the radio this morning said that the vuvuzuela sounds like Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber, when he does the most annoying sound in the world.

  6. 6
    Lara says:

    I read that Sambell book years ago (my to-read list grew exponentially!), and I remember agreeing wholeheartedly with her about YA dystopias. Teens don’t want to be told that they cannot escape the system, that the best they can do is flail, make some noise, and eventually be subsumed. Even if the world’s not saved, they’ve at least caused a change, or paved the way for the next generation to do the saving. That’s probably why 1984 and Brave New World hit me so hard when I read them as a teen, because there was no hope at all for Winston, Julia, and John.

    I find myself preferring YA sci-fi/fantasy to an extent right now, because I would so much rather have a hopeful ending. I can handle any sort of disaster as long as there’s hope. I’m happy to admit that McCarthy’s The Road is a remarkable piece of literature, but I will never ever ever EVER reread it. Whereas I own and have read multiple times the Hunger Games series, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, the Monica Hughes books mentioned by Lindsay, and armloads of classic Andre Norton and H. M. Hoover.

  7. 7
    cories says:

    “The Dead-Tossed Waves” is the sequel to “The Forest of Hands and Teeth” and there will be one more book in the series.

  8. 8
    becca says:

    I don’t read dystopian books of any type. If I wanted hopelessness, I’d follow the news more closely.

    I read romance to get *away* from dystopias, thank you.

  9. 9
    Mara says:

    Not a romance but one of my favorite dystopias (besides Willam Sleator’s House of Stairs which was mentioned in the article) was Anna to the Infinite Power by Mildred Ames which is, unfortunately, out of print.  Although I see now on Amazon that they made of movie of it.  O.T. Nelson’s The Girl Who Owned a City is also good.

  10. 10

    I write dystopias—well one specific one—sometimes with what my editors call romance involved. I read too much 1984 and Brave New World in my formative years. (I always thought BNW was very cool, actually, not dystopic at all) I don’t believe in destroying hope. I think people can adapt to anything.

    I like good worldbuilding, and some of the YA dystopias skimp. I’ll take an adult dystopia or post-apoc.
    The Stand and The Handmaid’s Tale are two that have hopeful endings.

  11. 11
    Kirsten says:

    I disagree that adult dystopias necessarily crush all hope, or that YA dystopias are necessarily going to have a happy ending. Fahrenheit 451 is dystopian, and has a hopeful ending, and so is David Brin’s The Postman. Neither of them has an HEA but there is certainly hope. I also remember being blown away by House of Stairs, which is a YA book that definitely has no happy ending, and by Robert Cormier, whose books are appallingly hopeless. I will say that I think there’s a much more romantic angle to dystopian/zombie/apocalyptic fiction than in the adult books.

    Dystopian and apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic fiction are different critters. While I am not a fan of the zombie/apocalyptic subgenre in horror, I can tell you that the fanatic readers of this stuff aren’t reading it because of its hopelessness. Some of them read it because they like the formula, and some people read it because it’s ugly out there and it helps to know that there are those who can survive incredible odds.

    But mostly, in both adult and YA fiction, if you asked the authors what they’re trying to do, well, they’re trying to tell a great story.

  12. 12
    Meganb says:

    I read romance to get *away* from dystopias, thank you.

    I largely agree with this sentiment, but I think it’s important to note that what we see as dystopian is seen through our own reality.  If that reality came to pass it might not seem so bad to the people living it.  Have you ever noticed that the protagonists in dystopian novels are always trying to recapture some reality we have now?

    The only example I can think of is from the 2176 series (mutli-author: Susan Grant, Kathleen Nance, Patti O’Shea, Liz Maverick).  The point of the series is to return the US to the same freedoms we have today.

    Which they did, which is why I like it.  I want my dystopia with it’s HEA, idealized or not.

    Well, generally I prefer idealized, hence the obsession with romance.

  13. 13
    Hydecat says:

    I haven’t read enough YA or adult dystopian fiction to say whether or not one is truly more hopeful than the other. But, this taps into something I was thinking about the other day—how paralyzing bleak books can be. I understand their importance in literary culture and society, but I disagree that pushing events to their bleakest extreme is the right way to motivate people to change things. In order to make change work, I think you need hope. Otherwise, your motivation is all fear. If there is more hope at the end of YA dystopian fiction, I think that’s a great thing because it gives them a model of positive reconstruction and a way to creatively work through fear to a better future.

    That mini-theory goes hand in hand with why I read romances – I love reading about hopeful people with positive outcomes. Reading a good romance with smart protagonists who grow and change can be great inspiration to re-tackle and re-appreciate the relationships in your own life.

  14. 14
    Rosa says:

    Okay, The Road is bleaker than just about any other novel, ever. If you take it out of the equation, and maybe a couple other literary dystopias, and just look at the genre ones, I don’t think adult dystopias are necessarily less hopeful than YA ones.

    Or maybe I’m mixing up dystopias with post-apocalyptic novels. Because most of them have at least slightly hopeful endings.

    Can anybody name some romantice dystopian/post-apocalyptic novels? I would love to read them.

    p.s. has everybody read Life as We Knew It or The Dead and the Gone? I really liked them (YA post-Apocalypse) but I thought the third one, with the romance in it, was pretty weak.

  15. 15

    “If there are grounds to do so, yes,” he said, asked if a ban was an option.”

    I know that the sentence is simple but I can’t understand it.

    This sentence is from yahoo news and the link for it is:

    Thanks facebook backgrounds

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