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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

[The Glimpse Blog Tour] IS IT ALL ABOUT THE HUNGER GAMES? A brief look at the wave of YA dystopia by Claire Merle

Hey everyone! As part of The Glimpse's blog tour, I have Claire Merle on the blog today! You might want to check out her guest post below. It will make you think about the dystopia genre a little bit more closely and read some insights from other authors writing in the genre as well. It's worth your time!


My love of dystopian and apocalyptic fiction began in school after reading The Handmaid’s Tale, Brave New World and Z for Zachariah. Fascinated by images of what our world could look like in the near future, and how these ideas reflect and warn us about trends in our current society, I went on to read books like 1984, The Children of Men, and Anthem.

In spring 2009, when I began working on The Glimpse – set in a near future where people are segregated according to a genetic test for mental heath issues – I hadn’t actually heard of or read The Hunger Games, (released in September 2008). But a year and a half later, when I was preparing to query for an agent, young adult dystopias had become ‘the next big trend’, with fans of the now massively successful Hunger Games eager for more.

At this time, I slowly grew aware of a feeling among some readers and reviewers that authors were attempting to ‘cash in’ on this new trend and choosing to write dystopian books simply because they had become popular. Instinctively, I felt myself balk at this idea. Dystopian literature goes back to the 19th century and has been an important part of the way we examine our culture, particularly the rapidly changing scientific and technological advances which have become more and more dominant in our lives, while progress along the lines of humanity’s spiritual evolution has been somewhat eclipsed.

I think part of the genre’s growing appeal to young adults is that is taps into their awareness that our society has plenty of problems which they will inherit, while also reflecting a period in life where you start to question and even disagree with the values, worldviews, or beliefs that you’ve been taught while growing up.

My own feelings on the subject made me curious as to whether other YA authors with dystopian books coming out in 2012 were, like me, oblivious to The Hunger Games when they began working on their novels. So I asked a few of them!

My Question: Had you read the Hunger Games before you began working on your book?

“No, I hadn't even heard of it. I began Slated in Sept 2009. Somewhere along the way someone said I should, and I know exactly when I read Hunger Games as I got it out of the library so it is in my library records: 27 Oct 2010! By then I was still working on Slated but it was mostly plotted out.” Teri Terry, Slated, (2012)

“I actually hadn't even heard of it. That tells you how long ago I started Struck! The Hunger Games had just barely been published, and I don't think anyone had actually heard of it yet. The era of dystopia was still a couple of years away.” Jennifer Bosworth, Struck, (2012).

“Yes. I was reading a lot of YA.” Lissa Price, Starters, (2012).

“I had not! I have read it now, of course!” Kristen Simmons, Article 5, (2012).

Personally, I wonder if there’s some sort of collective consciousness that has drawn authors to dystopian and apocalyptic stories in the last few years. The Hunger Games certainly wasn’t the first successful YA dystopia – there was the Uglies trilogy, Feed, The City of Ember, Noughts and Crosses (to name just a few). While I do think the success of the Hunger Games has made young readers search more actively for dystopian novels, and has perhaps encouraged editors to buy more books in this genre, I’m still convinced that most authors write the story that they feel they ‘have to write’ at that point in their lives. As Teri Terry, author of Slated said: I didn't make a conscious decision to write in this area: if I'm honest, I didn't really know at that point what 'dystopian' meant. For me, story always begins and ends with character.

(List of books referenced: The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins (2008), The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood (1985), Brave New World, Aldous Huxley (1931), Z for Zachariah, Robert C. O’Brien (1974) Nineteen Eighty-four, George Orwell (1949), The Children of Men, P. D. James (1992), Anthem, Ayn Rand (1937) Uglies Series, Scott Westerfeld (2005) Feed, M. T. Anderson (2004), The City of Ember, Jeanne DuPrau (2003), Noughts and Crosses, Malorie Blackman (2004), Slated, Teri Terry (2012) Struck, Jennifer Bosworth (2012), Starters, Lissa Price (2012), Article 5, Kristen Simmons (2012).

Note: Though STRUCK is often considered a dystopian, Jennifer Bosworth told me that she thinks of her book as post-apocalyptic with supernatural tendencies.)

Check out the teaser trailer for the TAMSIN DIARIES:

The Glimpse by Claire Merle

In a near future, society is segregated according to whether people are genetically disposed to mental illness. 17-year-old Ana has been living the privileged life of a Pure due to an error in her DNA test. When the authorities find out, she faces banishment from her safe Community, a fate only thwarted by the fact that she has already been promised to Pure-boy Jasper Taurell.

Jasper is from a rich and influential family and despite Ana’s condition, wants to be with her. The authorities grant Ana a tentative reprieve. If she is joined to Jasper before her 18th birthday, she may stay in the Community until her illness manifests. But if Jasper changes his mind, she will be cast out among the Crazies. As Ana’s joining ceremony and her birthday loom closer, she dares to hope she will be saved from the horror of the City and live a ‘normal’ life. But then Jasper disappears.

Led to believe Jasper has been taken by a strange sect the authorities will not intefere with, Ana sneaks out of her well-guarded Community to find him herself. Her search takes her through the underbelly of society, and as she delves deeper into the mystery of Jasper’s abduction she uncovers some devastating truths that destroy everything she has grown up to believe.

Find out more about the prelude story for THE GLIMPSE here:


  1. This is really interesting! I loved it. I'm really fascinated as well about Jennifer Bosworth and her novel being more post apoc rather than dystopian - I was having a great chat with someone about the difference just the other day!

  2. Odd, never heard of The Hunger Games while writing your book. Hey, don't feel bad. I started reading them a year before the movie came out. :D

  3. I'm in the minority that STILL hasn't read The Hunger Games! One day I will but I saw the film and wasn't overly impressed.

  4. I enjoyed reading this! The dystopian genre really has taken off recently, so it's interesting to hear what some authors of dystopian books have to say about their books and the genre in general. Dystopian books have been around for a while, but I feel as though the current craze is definitely YA-centered, whereas before it was more for adult fiction (although there were definitely a few exceptions). Another great dystopian book is The Giver by Lois Lowry.

  5. Great post on overlooking the history of dystopian lit, especially referencing Atwood! :) It's funny how interested people are in ideas about troubling visions of the future! Another WONDERFUL dystopian writer (or at least of her "Parable" books) is Octavia Butler!

  6. I've loved Dystopian fiction since I read The Giver nearly 10 years ago when my daughter was in elementary school. At that time there were few other such books to be found so I have loved this influx of Dystopian fiction.


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