An infographic from Goodreads, showing the popularity of dystopian fiction.
The graphic is here.‘
Now, a question immediately arises: Is it true that dystopian fiction is super-popular right now? Or is it possible that because THE HUNGER GAMES was such a breakaway hit (and deserved to be), and because of a handful of other successful, popular dystopian titles published around the same time . . . we are now seeing a major trend to DESCRIBE a book as dystopian? A book that might very well simply have been called “science fiction” five or ten years ago?
How about INCARCERON? Dystopia? Or SF? (Or fantasy-SF blend?) Sure, TODAY it is called a dystopian novel. But is that how you would have thought of it five years ago?
How about I AM NUMBER FOUR? Nothing about that strikes me as dystopian — it’s straight up science fiction. But it was published recently! So hey, must be dystopian because that’s what sells!
Goodreads has a list that includes ENDER’S GAME as a dystopian novel. Are you kidding me? It’s a great story, but a dystopia? No way. Here the current preoccupation with dystopias reaches backward to claim victims from the past.
You know what I think is totally, utterly crucial to a dystopian novel? You have just GOT to have a truly oppressive society. You MUST. And if the surrounding society does not fit the bill, then what you have is NOT a dystopian novel.
I’d even separate out post-apocalyptic novels: a society that has just totally collapsed, leading to anarchy and horror? NOT a dystopia.
So if it were me . . . I’d want to see the data that infographic is based on. I’m sure the WORD dystopia is a lot more common today than a few years ago. But not so sure dystopian novels are really through the roof to quite that extent.