I had an awesome vlog all ready to go. It was a tour of my dorm room--mostly my bookshelf--and I was all cute and clever behind the camera. But then my computer refused to read the video, so I sighed and gave up. Maybe sometime in the future. For now, instead of watching me, you'll have to read.
Sucks, I know. No one reading this blog likes words. Yuck.
So today we'll be dicussing the future. (I know what you're all thinking--"Oh my goodness, the future! That's such a surprise! It's not like that's the title of this post or anything!") More particularly, the future as it is described in books. I'm talking, of course, about the division of genres.
The main three futuristic genres in YA are:
1) Dystopian (duh.)
I am going to make a case that there should be more after describing each.
Dystopian. We all know what kind of book fits into this genre, but it's extremely difficult to define it. I'm going to use Scott Westerfeld's definition from this article: "a counter-utopia in which a twisted vision of perfection is imposed upon a populace." This describes Hunger Games, Delirium, and Matched. I am going to argue that it does NOT describe Wither.
Post-apocalyptic. Something awful has happened to earth, and most of the population is dead. Some may lump The Forest of Hands and Teeth in here, but that depends if you believe zombies could happen. For me, I'd say this sub-genre is for books like James Dashner's The Maze Runner.
Sci-fi. The classic future genre, sci-fi has yet to make a big impact on YA, but I've heard whispers that it is coming. (haha, that's punny. The future is coming!) Anyway. Here we have books which put emphases on science, like space ships or colonization of other planets. These are books like Ender's Game or Across the Universe.
And yet some books don't fit solely into one of those categories. I'm going to use Wither as my main example, and then move onto one of my projects (because I'm arrogant like that).
Wither is partly sci-fi, since science figures so strongly in creating the disease/cure which causes the short lifespans. But no one is calling it science fiction; instead it is labeled dystopian. Going off Westerfeld's defintion, I don't see the dystopia. There is no "twisted version of perfection." The government doesn't have a large role. That's what I see when I look at true dystopians: a government with a large amount of control. Wither barely mentions the government, if at all.
In Veronica Roth's Divergent, we see the populace organized by factions, each with strict roles to play and rules to follow. That's a dystopian. In The Hunger Games, each district is expected to follow certain rules and stay with what they were born to. Matched: the government controls whom you marry. Delirium: they take away your ability to feel emotions.
I could go on.
But Wither doesn't fit.
And neither does my project, Playing God, which takes place in a world with a fair, benevolent government. The only problem is that the world has been duped into believing religion is not only illegal, but also illogical. I guess it's technically a dystopian . . . but the government is not controlling.
So what do we do with these worlds? Do we merely call them "futuristic"? It's not sci-fi. It's not post-apocalyptic. They are only dystopian because the concept of a dystopia has been stretched away from its true definition.
Should we let the definition continue to stretch until it means something entirely different? Or do we come up with a new name for all futuristic-fiction and let the three categories listed above become sub-genres? Do you agree with my categories? I'm very interested to hear your thoughts on the matter.
(Wow, this got long.)