Monday, April 01, 2013

Dystopian Vs. WWII Fiction

I was pondering my malaise with some dystopian fiction, YA trilogies in particular.  First, the caveats, there are lots of dystopian novels.  Not all of them are YA, not all of them are trilogies, and not all of the YA trilogies fall into this pattern I am about to describe.  (And some that do, have or are delighting me, so, you know.)  Also, I read tons of things that others find formulaic and so, I am not at all stating that this is a bad pattern, I am simply noting that for me I have the ennui. 
So, the stereotypical (by which I mean I have read at least two that went like this) set up is this.  We are introduced to the universe.  Universe bad.  Things are bad.  Evil overlords are bad.  (They say they are good but they are bad.)  Protagonist suddenly realizes things are bad.  Super bad.  Usually when something happens to their parents/siblings/adult caregivers/favorite teachers.  Protagonist sets off on a journey to try to fix things or at least make them better.  Protagonist learns there are rebels.  (Actually, this is starting to sound a little like "Star Wars".  Hmm.)  Protagonist also meets/reunites with hot, smoldery love interest.  Or, if there already was a hot, smoldery love interest, now's a great time to meet the second.  Protagonist takes a stand, wins (or loses) battle and goes off into phase 2. 
Phase 2, also often known as book two.  Oh, whichever love interest got less time in book one will be front and center here.  Protagonist is conflicted.  They are off to see the rebels.  They join up with the rebels.  And wait, what?  It turns out rebels are people too and are imperfect.  (Say it ain't so.)  Rebels may also have a hint of evil overlord with different rebel type rules and restrictions.  Protagonist is conflicted.  (Not just about the love interests.)  Something very big happens and someone's life hangs in the balance. 
Phase or book three.  Life in the balance addressed. Protagonist starts to wonder if maybe all of humanity sucks.  Also love interests are hard.  Decisions.  Grand gesture made.  Love interest chosen.  Big battle.  Some people get to live happily ever after. 
So, I will spare you the meandering pathways of my brain (well, some of them at least) but I began thinking of my most favoritest Helen Macinnes story ever.  While Still We Live. And how it has many of these plot points.  And then I wondered if maybe my malaise wasn't that I had read too many dystopians (because I haven't) or that dystopians aren't my thing (they can be) but that I had already read so much World War II fiction that I was more attracted to the ones that did not follow this path.  Something to ponder.