Do you know what Dystopian Literature is?Don't feel bad if you don't know the meaning of Dystopian. You have probably been reading this genre and did not even know it!
What is?
Merriam Webster's online Dictionary defines dystopia as "an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives"-- in other words they live in an "anti-utopia".[1]

We can even break it down a little more....[2]
dys- prefix from Greek meaning bad, ill, difficultutopia - n. any ideal state, constitution, system, or way of life
Still confused? Think of it as the anti-utopia or the opposite of an ideal way of life. There is still a lot more....

"A Dystopian society is usually a futuristic one, in which the laws and morals that govern the people within it have regressed to the point of repression or loss of human rights, designed by the author to highlight and explore the flaws in his current society." [3] This quote is from Meagan Spooner's Journal. Find out what else she has to say.
Spooner's Blog
Spooner's Blog

A note on definition: while shambling, brain-eating zombies; nuclear holocausts; electromagnetic space pulses that knock out most of the population; or alien invasions all make for compelling reading, they do not necessarily fall into the category of dystopia." Here is what Horn Book has to say about what makes good Dystopian literature...[4]

Good dystopian

"A Dystopia is a ‘non-existent society described in considerable detail and normally located in a time and space that the author intended a contemporaneous reader to view as considerably worse than the society in which that reader lived. This style of writing is most often associated with science fiction due to the nature of a wholly new, imagined world necessarily being in the future or outside the common earthly experience. A desire for amelioration of the human race is a significant driving force in many dystopian narratives, with populations questionably ‘improved’ and often left homogeneous, impassive or robotic. In this way, it is often the quest for a utopia that brings about a dystopia, and we see this clearly demonstrated in the desire for improvement." [5]

Rachel Wilkinson teaches Dystopian literature to her consumer classes. "I teach Dystopian literature, which exaggerates our modern context so that we can challenge it. Providing for its readers a glimpse into a horrifying but fully possible future."[6]

You can even like Dystopian - the book genre on facebook.[7]

"Dystopian fiction is more popular than it has been in more than 50 years. Whether it's the result of political turmoil, global financial crises, or other anxieties, readers are craving books about ruthless governments and terrifying worlds. The new breed of dystopian novels combines classic dystopian themes of cruel governments and violent, restrictive worlds with a few new twists—badass heroines and romance." Check out the chart onGoodreads and see how Dystopian literature is gaining in popularity.[8]

"For all the impressive technology on display there, the major innovation in your state-of-the-art dystopia is love. The Tripod books had no subplots, romantic or otherwise, but the new trilogies have two narrative arcs each: the gray, dreary future isn't just a dire warning for the present; it's also the setting for romance. In The Hunger Games, Katniss spends all three volumes oscillating between two boys, the sweet baker Peeta and the angry but more conventionally manly Gale. The heroine of Delirium falls for Alex, a rebel boy who has managed to avoid being cured of love. And so on." Lev Grossman wrote a book review in Time called, Love Among the Ruins, where he compares his favorite Dystopian literature (The Tripod books) to today's Dystopian literature and the added romance they contain.[9]

  1. ^ Dystopian - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (n.d.). Dictionary and Thesaurus - Merriam-Webster Online. Retrieved May 29, 2012, from
  2. ^ Webster's dictionary library: six complete dictionaries in one volume.1984 ed. New York: Chatham River Press :, 19841980. Print.
  3. ^ Spooner, M. (2010, December 2). Meagan Spooner - What is Dystopian Fiction?. Meagan Spooner Writer ect. . Retrieved May 18, 2012, from
  4. ^ Spisak, April. "What Makes a Good YA Dystopian Novel? — The Horn Book. The Horn Book — Publications about books for children and young adults. n.d. Web. 18 May 2012. <>.
  5. ^ Cain-Gray, L. (2009). Longing for a life less ordinary: Reading the banal as dystopian in Sonya Hartnett's Butterfly.. Social Alternatives, Vol. 28(No. 3), 35-38.
  6. ^ Wilkinson, R. (2010). Teaching Dystopian Literature to a Consumer Class. English Journal, 99(3), 22-26.
  7. ^ Wikipedia. (2012). Dystopia. Retrieved May 29, 2012, from
  8. ^ Patrick. (2012, March 12). Blog Post: The Dystopian Timeline to The Hunger Games [INFOGRAPHIC].Goodreads Blog. Retrieved June 2, 2012, from
  9. ^ Grossman, L. (2012). Love Among the Ruins. time, 179(10). Retrieved May 10, 2012, from the Academic OneFile database.