We love dystopian young adult fiction. Reading about our young heroes and heriones who rise from nothing and crush their dystopian overlords puts us in the same place, at least in our imaginations. (Seriously. Who would want to live in one of these societies in real life?) But what if, by some off chance, you find yourself unlucky enough to be stuck in Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, David Bernstein’s Influence, or Jenetta Penner’s Configured, these tips just might keep you alive and out of those comfy dystopian prisons.
1: Forget fashion. Think boots, tank tops, and cargo pants. That’s all you get, sorry. We have yet to see a dystopian heroine walking around in an expensive dress and high heels. Those just aren’t practical when you’re caught in a gunfight or traversing across some post-apocalyptic wasteland. Well, The Selection might be an exception, but that’s more romance than dystopian. Oh, and no bright colors. Your overlords don’t like individuality, so you’d better blend in.
2: Don’t tell a soul you’re special. We don’t care if you have some genetic mutation that lets you control the mental states of others (Influence) or the ability to actually feel some real emotions. Don’t tell your sister, your best friend, or your dog. If you value your life and freedom, you won’t even tell your friends you’re unique. That information will, through some freak means, always find a way to reach the overlords, who will either want to wipe you out without asking questions or worse, will want to capture you and force you to do their dirty work. No thanks.
3: Make sure you have more than one friend. This is because people will die thanks to your overlords. A lot. And eventually, one of them will be someone in your circle of friends. It stinks, but when bullets are flying and explosions are happening all around you, it’s sort of inevitable. You’ll need your other friends to lean on when things go south.
4: Keep your mouth shut. The moment you have some great idea on how to take down the regime, the rebel group you’re hiding out with is going to draft you the leader of some dangerous mission, and they won’t care that you’re not even old enough to graduate high school.
5: Don’t bother with feelings and relationships. Okay, so this one stinks almost as much as #3. It’s a sad fact that meaningful relationships ad emotions are usually frowned on by overlords. Emotions cause people to rebel, so we can’t have that! Poor Avlyn from Configured finds her life in danger for daring to be a person rather than just a functioning part of society. And you could too.
It’s fine to dive into a dystopian world for a while and feel grateful that we don’t live in such a world (yet.) Maybe the real reason we love YA dystopian fiction is that it makes our own lives seem way better in comparison and a lot less complicated. Relationships, fashion, and loss are difficult enough! We don’t need robotic overlords adding another layer onto the mess that life can be sometimes. So for now, let’s just enjoy watching our heroes and heroines kick butt from a distance, okay?