Monday, December 27, 2010

Teens and dystopian fiction

There's an discussion article today on the New York Times opinion page about "The Dark Side of Young Adult Fiction." A variety of writers and "experts" weigh in with some fairly vapid remarks, but I thought Steve Westerfeld, author of the Leviathan series, hit the nail on the head with his comment on teenagers today:

"Teenagers are at a stage of life where they must tangle with almost adult responsibilities — school, work, college applications — and yet they haven’t been granted many adult powers or respect. They’re encouraged to work, but generally at menial jobs, and when they show up to spend their money, they’re carefully watched, assumed to be shoplifters and loiterers.

Schools are places where teens are subject to dress codes, have few free speech rights, and are constantly surveilled, where they rise and sit at the sound of a bell. Is it any wonder that dystopian novels speak to them?"


Laurel Garver said...

He does make it seem like there's a very thin line between "realistic" and "dystopian." Very interesting.

Laura Canon said...

I'm not sure if it's really so hard to be a teenager today or if it's just perceived that way. But I do agree that teens are generally given a negative message by society, that they are unstable, dangerous, not to be trusted.
It's funny when you think of how in the 60s young people were regarded as future leaders, with a duty and wish to make the world a better place. Today we don't want to let teenagers anywhere near the world.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Thanks for posting this link, Laura. I forwarded it to others, because I found the various opinions so interesting.
Actually, the world we live in would be dystopian to someone in the 19th-century with the way technology rules much of daily life. I've always been fascinated with the imaginings of what could be, may be.