Amy Sturgis on the Youths' Dystopias


Anyone who has wandered by a bookstore or a movie theater lately knows the kids these days love a nice dystopia. Their heroes are Katniss from Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy, Tris from Veronica Roth's Divergent series, Thomas from James Dashner's Maze Runner novels. The number of English-language dystopian novels published from 2000 to 2009 quadrupled that of the previous decade, and not quite four years into the 2010s, we have already left that decade's record in the dust. For most of this century, literary critics have been proclaiming an "explosion" in the young adult (YA) category, and the trend shows no sign of losing momentum. Sales figures are buoyed, in part, by crossover readers-adult fans of books targeted at kids, part of the so-called "Hunger Games effect." Up to 55 percent of YA titles are currently purchased by adults for their own reading pleasure, writes Amy Sturgis. So impressive is these novels' success that even if only 45 percent of their readers are young adults, this would still represent a gain in readership over past decades.