Where Did The Dystopian Fiction Go?

Last night, I finished a Brazilian Netflix show called 3%. It hasn’t been advertised much at all, and I haven’t heard a single person talking about it. I found it after scrolling aimlessly through the sci-fi section a few times. It didn’t look like anything amazing, but I read the word ‘dystopian’ and something inside of me cheered a little. Dystopian – I hadn’t read or watched anything from that genre for a while. And it got me wondering…where did YA dystopian fiction go?

There was a time (during the era of The Hunger Games hype) when YA dystopian was about all that I would read. After The Hunger Games, I must have devoured Delirium by Lauren Oliver, Legend by Marie Lu, The Maze Runner by James Dashner, Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, and Divergent by Veronica Roth, in rapid succession. Let’s be honest, I think a lot of us probably read YA dystopians to death, but is that just a figure of speech anymore?

I’ve seen few YA dystopian series really being pushed and publicised in the last couple of years, and only usually then because of their corresponding film franchises, which have not followed the Hunger Games train as well, I think, as anyone would have liked. Perhaps that’s it; perhaps The Hunger Games was too good a franchise to beat? Maybe the constant comparisons to the sacred trilogy, found on every new dystopian series’ front cover, simply highlighted the view that no new series had come along to join that sacred space.

I think there might be more to it, though. I had read and loved the dystopian genre so much, and for so long, that I needed a break. And I think that might have been the case for a lot more people. And perhaps it’s just me, but I’m certainly beginning to see the new trend in the many YA fantasy series that grace the shelves of the teen fiction shelves in bookshops. I’ve never given much thought to the idea that one day, this might fade into the background, like the dystopians we devoured, but there’s reason to believe that it could follow suit. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

When I started watching 3%, what would probably have been a pretty mediocre TV show had I watched it a couple of years ago, as the dystopian hype was dying down, I ended up finding that I appreciated it so much more having had a break from the genre. It was absolutely riddled with the common themes and even tropes of the genre, in many cliched ways. But I didn’t care, because I appreciated those themes in a way that could only come from having taken a break from them. I found enjoyment in the style of the story, and the structure of the plot. It felt refreshing again, not tiring, as it was beginning to feel a few years ago.

That’s not to say that YA dystopian novels have not been released in the past year, and it’s certainly not to say that there is no longer a market for them. There is definitely still a significant audience for these books. But it is clear that their rapid publication has grown a lot less rapid.

I would love to know your views on this. Have you noticed a lack of dystopian fiction on our bookshops’ YA shelves? Do you have any different thoughts on why? Let me know in the comments!



20 thoughts on “Where Did The Dystopian Fiction Go?

  1. I agree! I thought I was the only one who noticed that. But the thing is, it feels like the definition of Dystopian Fiction is very debatable. There’s no doubt that Divergent and The Maze Runner also fall under the Sci Fi category. But I can totally see where you’re coming from!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No, it totally does! I mean, who knew that Divergent had anything to do with genetic mutations while reading the first book? And that The Maze Runner was dealing with a virus? They all start as Dystopian Fiction and then turn into Sci Fi 😂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. My personal opinion is that romance has been over saturating the market lately putting everything else on the lower shelf so to speak. As for other dystopian (I think) shows you could watch — the 100 is pretty decent and also Firefly which is FANTASTIC! It’s more sci-fi but I get a dystopian feel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I have sort of seen that too. Even within fantasy, it seems that fantasy romance is what is most popular.
      I watched the 100 for a while, but after half way through season 2 I just got too confused (because the book and show storylines are so different) and gave up. I haven’t heard of Firefly – I’ll have to look that one up!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Omg. There is only one season of Firefly but it is the best season and after you finish it (and love it!) watch the movie Serenity which essentially closes those loose ends.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I also wanted to add that it’s quite interesting that romance is the booming genre considering it used to get the cold shoulder and stink eye. Generation change I guess?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It was a trend, unfortunately.
    I love speculative fiction. But every once in awhile, a new trend takes over. Right now it’s retellings. And sadly, they’ve made diverse books into a “trend” instead of a great addition to YA. Bc trends fade. And diverse reads shouldn’t be the “it” thing, it should be a conscious effort to be introduced into literature. But I digress.
    After the retellings trend, it will be something else. Dystopian lit still is around but it’s just not as popular bc people feel it’s all been done before. I love a book no matter how explored the genre is, and so I still look for good dystopian reads (like Unplugged by Donna Freitas).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Diverse books definitely shouldn’t be just a trend, and it’s sad that we are seeing that beginning a little. I wrote a post a couple of months ago about challenging myself to read more diverse books, but I really tried to convey it as a challenge in the sense that reading diverse is just reading more widely, and understanding more views of the world than your own – rather than a challenge just for the sake of challenging myself to read more of something currently on trend.


  4. Dysotopian has definitely been moved to the back burner, yet I am a big fan of the genre as well. I’ve gone back and forth deciding if my novel will be dysotopian , yet I’m left leaning toward the fantasy/supernatural genre. I’m a big fan of this genre and it is pretty popular now.

    I believe what makes fantasy books so special is the imagination that goes into it. Like Harry potter is a magical series about wizards and witches, yet it is also realistic dealing with youths. When most think of dystopian they think end of the world. I don’t think people want to think about that too much lol.

    Anyways great post. I’ll have to keep my eye out for 3%

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely do still like dystopian as a genre. I think it is one of the best genres for discussing a lot of those society issues in a life or death context. I just think after reading so many I grew quite tired of reading about them. Fantasy is definitely my favourite genre – I think there are so many Sub-genres that it would be difficult to ever tire it out completely.
      I would definitely recommend 3% if you can find it on Netflix. It was very enjoyable!
      Good luck with writing your novel too! I’m also writing a fantasy novel (although I’m re-planning it all right now, so it’s going to need a complete re-write – so perhaps I should say I’m currently planning the novel😂)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yeah I have noticed this trend died down in recent years. I actually agree that this is a shame, cos while I *really* don’t want anymore Hunger Games copycats, I actually liked this genre before Hunger Games came about (eg the Declaration trilogy, Uglies etc) so I do hope that this trend hasn’t ended up killing the genre in the long run. Really interesting post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For me, it was the Hunger Games that made me start liking the genre, so I think I probably got in on the genre when the trend was starting. I also hope it hasn’t killed the genre though – I’d love to see a big dystopian comeback!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I loved 3% because of the same reasons as you.

    I just haven’t seen as many dystopian books in bookstores anymore, as much as I love it, it has the same themes in every book I read. It gets old. I remember five years ago (Or more than) when it was a ‘new’ thing, it was good back then but now it seems less imagination is being put into it. Its boring when something happens over and over again in different books.

    Liked by 1 person

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