Wednesday, November 21, 2012

RANT: Dystopian Cliches

The Hunger Games. Divergent. Uglies. Delirium. Matched.

Besides all being popular and carrying the dystopian genre, there is one other similarity:


And as I write this, I want to let you know: I love all those books up there. Divergent is one of my favorites. But sometimes, cliches get boring and this is where this post starts.

Here are things I constantly, constantly see in dystopian books nowadays:

1. The main character is a girl. I realize right now that most main characters are a girl, so this cliche doesn't just apply to the dystopian range. In all of the books I've read, there had only been 1 or 2 main boy characters. And I don't know why this must have been; there are guy authors too, but I guess they choose to have a female main characters.

2. The girl is an orphan. I use the term orphan loosely in this case. Orphan usually means having no parents, but in most dystopian books, there are 3 cases:

  1. Both parents are dead/gone/missing or just not in the book.
  2. The dad is dead/gone/missing/not in the book while the mom is in the book.
  3. The mom is dead/gone/missing/not in the book while the dad is in the book.

Spoilers: In Divergent, Tris's parents both die. In Uglies, I don't think Tally ever mentioned her parents...? It's been awhile since I read that one, so I'm not 100% sure. But for The Hunger Games, Katniss's dad is dead while her mom is back at home, not in the book. So what is the deal with not having parents in dystopian books?

3. The villain is the government. This nearly applies for almost every dystopian book I read. In all of the examples I've provided above, it's always, always the government's fault. So ahem. Can there be a real villain for once? I know in Shatter Me, the villain is a guy named Warner, but if I remember right, he's working for or a part of the government.

4. The girl resists the government and rebels against it. Again, this is basically the main vague plot of all dystopian stories.

Spoilers: In Divergent, Tris rebels against Jeanine/the serum/Eric. In Uglies, Tally ends up in the wilds not wanting the plastic surgery. In Delirium, Lena falls in love and to hide her relationship with Alex, betraying their government. And so on....

5. The girl is special. Somehow, she is different than all the other people brainwashed by their society, and somehow she makes all the right decisions. So it's almost like she's perfect. And while this isn't a cliche I mind, some books try to make their main character sound like an over-the-top, amazing, beautiful person. It gets annoying once the details just keep on raving on how different and brave this girl is.

6. The girl meets the perfect guy and falls in love with him. In almost all dystopian stories (and regular comtemporary books), that guy is her first boyfriend. Which is nice if you think about it, because she doesn't have to go through all the heartbreak, but is it really realistic to think she'll marry her first boyfriend?

It's a sweet concept, but to be realistic, it's rare. Too rare to be happening in each dystopian book.

So that's the most popular cliches I find in dystopian books. And to be honest, I like a lot of these cliches. They all soften the harsh world of breaking up, being boring and a carbon copy of the others. It's just once you get past all those layers, you see more doubts of being realistic. And although I've just listed all the cliches, I still find myself having a soft spot for dystopian books. ^^;

What about you? Do you like cliches?

1 comment:

  1. Hey, I'm writing a dystopian novel myself. And yes my main character is a girl. And yes my villain is the government however it comes with a little twist. And yes she rebels against the government.

    However, the main character is not an orphan, for her parents are going to be alive and in the book. Also there is no love triangles and the only special thing about my main character is that she has bionic powers. And that all my characters are flawed and reflect the difference of our society today.

    And so yeah that's about it and well I donsort of like clich├ęs.