Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Why there are no MG Dystopian Books

I did this post last Monday, and you guys had a bunch of things to say in the comments section.

Stephanie said:

"To me... the topic... is dark and complex when it is at it's best. It is a very gritty genre and is best suited for readers of higher age brackets.... I think if a writer could come up with a light-hearted dystopian tale, it could fit in with MG."

Stina also agreed, saying:

"I've heard that editors and agents are looking for them. Everyone's busy writing YA dystopian books. They're forgetting about the siblings of the teens who read YA. The same thing happened with YA paranormal. Eventually the smart MG writers decided to write the genre. :)"

AWESOME takes guys! I didn't know that the same trend occurred in paranormal -- hopefully it will occur in dystopian.
Here is my take on it.

I think the main reason is that the 'famous' dystopians, like THE HUNGER GAMES, and DIVERGENT, are all geared towards the YA genre. It's not like the authors decide not to go for MG, but seeing the YA around them, it's almost instinctive to go for a YA. With a YA, you can have:

  • a kick-butt (with all the details) protagonist
  • a REAL, cruel, wicked, gorey sense of injustice.
  • a lot more freedom in material
  • more exploration of the 'dystopian' nature of the world, without limitations
  • ability to create characters and laws that people will HATE
  • relative freedom, since, for the most part, teens pick their own books to read, and parents have more of a hold on what middle-grade children read. Dystopians can get quite scary for younger children.
  • YA has all the crazy (and awesome) teen fans -- why not go for the gold?
  • Parents don't want middle-aged children to be exposed to 'rebellion' and the such. I think this is a big one. 'Rebellion' is a BIG deal for teenagers -- just look at CATCHER IN THE RYE. For middle-aged children, they don't really feel the desire to rebel. Maybe this is the core, the burning desire which fuels dystopian sales -- the desire for teens to rebel.
Above are the reasons I think MG Dystopians are almost unheard of. But I seriously do believe that MG Dystopians CAN work -- people are people, no matter if their teenagers or younger, and they will enjoy the same material. It's not like once you turn thirteen, you get a new brain or something, although the last bullet point above does need to be considered.

To do a MG, just take a lighter tone with the dystopian, and have more fun with it. Add quirks, and humor, and funny characters. I mean, HARRY POTTER started off with a double-murder and a freaky guy in a black cloak who drank unicorn blood.... That's pretty scary. It can work if your voice is fun enough and it appeals to an MG audience -- JK Rowling obviously did it ;)

Hope you had fun discussing, and hope my reasons make sense! Do you guys agree?


  1. Fascinating! I never thought about why there's no dystopian in MG. I think you're right on with why!

  2. I think it would be really hard to do correctly. Kudos to anyone who even attempts to do this.

  3. I've read there aren't a lot of middle grade books for boys, so I think dystopian would be great for them. I was reading adult fantasy, science fiction, and horror at that age.