Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi: Dystopian Lit 101

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi is just the latest in a string of new dystopian novels to hit store shelves in the last year or so. The genre has sort of had an explosive year, especially as fans of The Hunger Games clamor for more books with similar themes. So as we’ve done in the past with dystopian novels featured here on Novel Novice, we thought we’d offer you a crash-course in the genre.

What is dystopian?

The idea behind a dystopian world is this: the people in charge think they’re making a “utopia” (ie, a perfect world). But for those living in the world, it’s anything but perfect.

Dystopian societies feature different kinds of repressive social control systems, various forms of active and passive coercion. (source)

A piece of dystopian fiction typically seeks out to explore why things have gone so wrong — and in YA dystopian, the protagonist(s) often seek out a way to change their world and make it actually better.

In some cases the dystopian world is the result of people abusing technology. In others, people are oppressed under totalitarian governments. In Shatter Me, it’s a combination of political totalitarianism and abuse of our environment that forms the basis of Mafi’s world-building.

Think of a world in which things go badly. Very, very badly. You’ll find the beginnings of a dystopian society:

Where can I learn more?

We’ve featured dystopian lit plenty in the past. Here are some of our other posts that go further into the subject matter:

I want more dystopian lit!

Here are some of our favorite recent dystopian releases:

  • Blood Red Road by Moira Young
  • Matched and the sequel Crossed by Ally Condie
  • Divergent by Veronica Roth
  • The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

More dystopian reading lists:

For the comments: What are some of your favorite dystopian novels?

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