Lola’s Ramblings: Dystopia likes and dislikes

Posted November 27, 2014 by Lola in Dystopia, Lola's Ramblings / 20 Comments


Lola’s Rambings is a feature on Lola’s Review where I talk about me. Usually these posts are everything that doesn’t fall under any standard header, like blog tours, book blitzes, cover reveals or reviews. Lola’s Ramblings posts are are personal discussions of a certain topic. Sometimes about book related topics and sometimes about non-book related topics. If an Lola’s Ramblings post is about a non-book topic it gets the non-book content posts tag. This feature was previously knows as About Me. The banner for this feature is designed by Michelle from Limabean Design.

I haven’t been reading sci-fi books for too long, but as I found out that dystopia is considered a sub genre of sci-fi I actually have to reconsider that notion. Earlier I talked about my previously rocky relationship with sci-fi, but I always have liked dystopia books as I never realized those where sci-fi books as well. So that’s why I decided to talk about dystopia books and my likes and dislikes about this (sub)genre.

How did I first came in contact with the dystopia genre?

HUNGER GAMES, THEAs cliché as it sounds I was first introduced to the dystopia genre by the Hunger Games. While I mentioned I always liked dystopia books, it still took me some time before I picked up my first dystopia book. Since I joined Goodreads I kept hearing about this book called the Hunger Games and everyone loved it. I took one look at the blurb and thought “wut a book about people getting trown into some sort of games where they have to kil each other, this doens’t sound awesome at all”. For quite some time I kept steadfast to the notion that I wouldn’t read the Hunger Games, sure everyone loved it, but this didn’t sound like a book for me at all. I am not sure how exactly it happened, but eventually all those recommendations and praise for the Hunger Games got to me. I ordered the book and read it, I loved it and before I was halfway through I had ordered the next two books. Because this book was awesome and I had to read the rest of this series as soon as possible. After the Hunger Games I wanted more of these kind of books and started reading other dystopia books.

What do I like about dystopia books?

The dystopia genre has some elements I love and I think it’s one of the reasons I fell in love so easily with this genre and wanted more once I got a taste of it.

  • World Building. I just love world building and in my opinion a good dystopia book needs good world building. Usually they are reasons why the world is this way, things that are changed and I love learning more about the world the author has created inside these pages. In the dystopia genre you know you are going to find world building to some extent, although I can get frustrated and disapointed with dystopia books quickly when they don’t have good world building. Because I expect from dystopia books to have good world building, to create a world that makes sense and to explain that world to the reader.
  • The “What If” aspect. One of the things I love about dystopia books is that they make you wonder what if this really happens? Even though it’s fiction, it could become reality one day. That possibility is scary sometimes, but it also adds something exciting to the genre. It’s not too far away from relaity that you can easily diregard it as fiction, it has something that hits close to home as well.
  • Fantasy feel. When I read the Hunger Games I still very much believed contemporary romances weren’t for me. Dystopia books took place in real life, but I wanted to read fantasy, things that where far away from real life. And though dystopia books have that What If feel, they also have a bit of a fantasy feel. You know it isn’t real and the character have very different struggles then we have. I think that’s one of the reasons it was easier for me to get into dystopia then contemporary romance as it was still closer to fantasy.
  • Mystery and government conspiracies. I love the sense of mystery dystopia’s seem to have, how at first the world seems great and then those hitns that somethign isn’t right. It usually takes a while to figure out what’s going on. And for some reason I just love the government conspiracies plots. It’s kinda scary to realize how many power the government has and how they can abuse it.
  • Fast paced and filled with action. Most dystopia books feel fast paced, they might have a bit slow build-up, but usually they are pretty fast paced. I also like that there’s always something going on, there isn’t a dull moment. Although like I mention with my dislikes, that can alos bea bad thign sometimes.

What do I dislike about dystopia books?

fire countryWhen I read a lot of dytopia books, especially when I read them right after another, I tend to notice things I like less about this genre. And these are the reasons I usually take a break in between dystopia books.

  • Predictable. A lot of dystopia books follow the same themes and topics. Often there’s propaganda, a government that keeps things a secret, rebels or a war brewing, another hidden country or more to the world then they knew. They just tend to get a little predictable after a while. I always like dystopia books that give an original twist to the genre, like Fire Country by David Estes. Ofcourse certainly not all dystopia books are predictable, but I just feel like there are certian tropes and topics that often return in these books. It’s also one of the reasons I prefer not to rea dmultiple dystopia’s in a row as it’s easier to see the similarities then.
  • Despressing. A lot of dystopia books have a bit of a depressing feel and that can make it hard to read more the one dystopia book in a row. I like to feel some kind of hope in my dystopia books, that makes it more likely I will enjoy them. I sometimes get annoyed at the depressing feel many of these books tend to have.
  • Constant sense of danger. It seems like characters in dystopia books can never catch a break, there’s always something going on and usually there’s some kind of threat in the background or it feels like someone could die or be killed any moment. I soemtimes would like there to be some kind of break or a moment where everything’s alright. I can feel a bit on edge when reading a book where the characters can never catch a break and I feel it would be more realistic if they sometimes have more quiet times.
  • When things don’t make sense. I hate it when things don’t make sense or are unrealistic. Like I mentioned during my likes I like the what if feel, knowing that maybe this could one day be real. But sometimes they overdo it or a world isn’t realitisc enough, I loose that sense. Sometimes there are just situations or worlds that don’t make enough sense or are so out there that I know it will never happen. For me it must make sense how the world got at this point and when it doesn’t I can loose interest in the book.

What do you like and dislike about the Dystopia genre?

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20 responses to “Lola’s Ramblings: Dystopia likes and dislikes

  1. I think I more or less feel the same way. I love the fact that I encounter new worlds, every time, because it’s always something different. However, if the world-building doesn’t make sense (e.g. Wither by Lauren DeStefano – there was a nuclear war and only North America survived. That was a bit too convenient for me), then I’m put off. I also don’t like it if they focus more on the romance than on the dystopia. I read dystopia because I want to know what happens if this and that, not how you can fall in love with two guys when your life is at stake.
    Inge @ Bookshelf Reflections recently posted…Review: Gone Girl by Gillian FlynnMy Profile

    • I haven’t read Wither, but sounds a bit weird indeed that only north america survived, that doesn’t make sense. Romance in dystopia is a difficult issue as well, I like romance in my books and especially in the dystopia’s with less danger it can be convincing. But in others it’s a bit weird, because like you said they are in danger, when do they have time to fall in love. But who knows maybe under those conditions you really just want someone to spend the last bit of your life with? I do think that you can have a good dystopia and romance, but it depends a bit on the world and the story.

  2. I love the different ‘feel’ to the world, and the world-building! I also really enjoy it if the characters have somehow evolved and are something ‘more’ than we are. This is one of the reasons I love the Shatter Me series so much.
    I agree with Inge, if there is only North America left in the whole world, it doesn’t make sense to me at all! It would make a lot more sense if only the center of each continent would continue to be inhabited… or at least some part of each continent.
    Great post, Lola.
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews recently posted…Review: Coming for You – J.A. HussMy Profile

    • I am one of the few people who didn’t like the Shatter Me series, I couldn’t stand the writign style and DNF’d the first book. I do understand what you mean with people evolve, in the Debt Collector series and Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn that’s the case as well. And indeed the different feel of the world and learning what is normal in their world now, it’s so interesting!
      I agree if a nuclear war would break out it would make more sense if part of each continent would survive.

    • Indeed I prefer it when the characters act realistic, in some books I wonder if normal people would really act that way in such a situation. I usually prefer characetrs and the world to be realistic and make sense as else it will just rub me wrong the whole time.

  3. Great post Lola 🙂

    I was first introduced to dystopias at school, we did a comparison of dystopian literature (1984 and another book of our choice, I chose the Handmaid’s Tale) so my introduction was to adult rather than YA dystopias. I used to read a lot of them but that tailed off a bit now.

    MY MAIN HATE: With dystopias is the existance of love triangles. This is probably more YA dystopia, but they frustrate me so much that I try and avoid them. The worst love triangle I read ended in the girl not having to make the choice because one of them (and in my opinion the wrong one) died.

    The what ifs you meantioned…I really like them, but I also find them scary as hell!
    Laura @ trips down imagination road recently posted…Blog Tour: Claiming Carlos by Rachelle AyalaMy Profile

    • When I first found out about dystopia books I used to read a lot of them in a row, now they are just intermingled with the rest, although I am currently reading my second dystopia book this month, guess I wa sin the mood for them.

      I am not a fan of love triangles either, although my opinion has become a bit more tolerant lately. I recently read True Calling by Siobhan Davis that had an unique love triangle that was done pretty well! And I prefer if the girl at least makes a choice, letting one of the boys die is just an eays way out.

      I agree the What If’s are enjoyable and make the book more fun to read, but it’s also a bit scary imagining that it could be one day real.

      • I was the same! When I first started blogging I found myself reading loads and loads of dystopias, but my tastes kind of evolved so now I read more rounded genres (or at least I hope so! I feel I’ve read a good mix this month at least).

        Some love triangles I think are pulled off well. I liked the resolution to the love triangle in the Selection, but I hated the love triangle in the book I mentioned above (because it was a cop out, and I unashamedly was wanting the dead-guy to win the girl). I don’t know if you’ve read The Woodlands by Lauren Nicolle Taylor (book 1 is free on amazon btw) but I loved that dystopia, it was mature YA but more complex (and gave a complex love story without having a love triangle). Outside by Shalini Boland was the same, no love triangle made it more enjoyable!
        Laura @ trips down imagination road recently posted…Blog Tour: Claiming Carlos by Rachelle AyalaMy Profile

    • I am all for a unique world as well. While I still like the oppressive government idea, I agree with you that they do get over used a bit. It would be nice to see some more original ideas in dystopia’s.

  4. I think the depressing aspect of dystopians is my let favourite. I can never read too many of them at once, because then I feel like the doom and gloom really gets to me, so I need to take a break.

    Although, on the flip side, some dystopians are quite hopeful, because the characters want to get rid of the oppressive government/regime.

    But I still find that I cannot read too many dystopians, otherwise I feel very “doom and gloom”.
    Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity recently posted…My Con LifeMy Profile

    • Same here, the despressing feel can really get to me. Although most dystopia’s manage to have hope as well, which can balance it out sometimes. But still I just need a break in between dystopia’s. I am reading a dystopia now and I know my next read will have to be something happier.

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