Young Adult Dystopian Literature: Matched, Hunger Games, and MacGuyver

When I’m pregnant, postpartum, breastfeeding — basically anytime at any point in my cycle — I am sensitive to topics that fall under the category of “tragic.” Ergo, I have a difficult time reading contemporary fiction, since it revolves around tragedy. I love reading, and yet every time I pick up a book, the blurb always begins with

Trying to pick up the pieces after her 30-year-old husband’s sudden death by tractor mauling…

Since her infant daughter’s death from elephant asphyxia…

After her husband, children, parents, grandparents, and beloved pet parrot perished in a freak Kansas City tsunami…

Good grief — can’t anyone just, like, exist without some epic struggle through mourning? However, I can’t not read, so I’ve been reading Young Adult Dystopian Literature: Matched by Ally Condie, The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins, and The Giver by Lois Lowry.

Here’s a breakdown:

1. World I’d Most Enjoy Living In: The Society in Matched. There seems to be slightly more free will than in any of the other books.

2. World I’d Least Enjoy Living In: The Districts in The Hunger Games. Hunger, sickness, misery and government workers who make Sarah Palin look perfectly sane and reasonable.

3. Best Book for Truly Young Young Adults: The Giver. It’s a much better intro to dystopian literature than, say, 1984 or Farenheit 451, which I read in school and hated. (Looking back, I think I’d like to reread Farenheit 451 and see if I get more out of it than I did as a teenager.) The Giver is a very basic introduction to dystopian society: everything is arranged, human emotions don’t exist, and everything works out in a very neat and orderly fashion.

4. Best Book for Truly Adult Young Adults: The Hunger Games. Okay, yes, there’s a definite love triangle, but perhaps because the Districts are so awful, Katniss is very mature for a teenager. She’s not concerned with clothes, looks, or boys (really), but with keeping her family alive. It’s also the most complicated — although Matched is supposed to be part of a trilogy as well — story of all, with a lot of characters.

5. Book I enjoyed the Most: The Hunger Games (the actual book, not the entire trilogy). It’s well written, the plot is fast paced and intense, and who doesn’t love Gale? Catching Fire (second book) was also good, but Mockingjay (final chapter) felt a little rushed.

6. Book I enjoyed the Least: The Giver. Just because I’m not 12. However, if I was 12, it would probably be my favorite.

Matched was truly mediocre, in terms of writing and story — the main character reminds me a little of Bella in Twilight, which is never a good comparison. She was so blah and forgettable. But the plot was interesting and I look forward to reading the sequel and the final chapter.

I also enjoy reading non-fiction for its tragedy-avoiding plotlines.

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3 Responses

  1. Try Margaret Atwood.

    • I couldnt agree with these more. I thought Matched was really poorly written and had more story potential with the set up. I LOVED the first Hunger Games book and enjoyed Catching Fire but felt that Mokingjay was like when you’re trying to finish the end of the story and just try to move it along as fast and possible.

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