Hey there!

I hope y’all are doing well! A while ago, I wrote a post about cliches and overused tropes in dystopian YA fiction because I had been reading so many dystopian novels with incredibly similar plots. I ended up also proving my point with some “typical” dystopian lines and in the end, the post ended up being terrible. The only thing I liked was the story element, so I scrapped the post and saved the story. When I was racking my brain and trying to figure out what to share on Bookish Serendipity today, this short story popped into mind. It is titled “Generic YA Dystopian Novel–Chapter 1.” Amazing title, right?

Before we get started, let me just clarify: I’m not saying that every single YA dystopian novel uses these tropes, although a fair number do. This is purely meant to be humorous, so please don’t take offense! Just imagine all dystopian tropes and cliches mixed together into one chapter, and that’s basically what the following is:


Today is the day that every 16-year-old will participate in the Very Important Choosing Ritual. I wake up early, and quickly dress in the uniform that the Society has ordered us to wear. I don’t bother questioning their orders, because they clearly want what is best for us. I glance at myself in the mirror. I have curly red hair and blue eyes, and I’m not much to look at. I turn away quickly, because I’m self-conscious. I head downstairs to join my quiet mother and my sister Perfectia at the breakfast table. My father died in mysterious circumstances and no one will talk about it.

After I finish eating, I head to the center of the city to continue the proceedings for the Very Important Choosing Ritual. Every year, all the 16-year-olds attend the Very Important Choosing Ritual and are assigned their futures. Today, I will find out not only the role I will take on the aid our nation, but also who I will become partners with, which is clearly just as important as, you know, my purpose in life. The Very Important Choosing Ritual has happened for as long as anyone can remember—since even before the historical societies were destroyed by wars, and plagues, and famine—and is administered by our council of elders. No one knows where the elders came from, but we do know that they want what is best for us, and so we follow their every command without question. Because logic. 

As we enter the city square in which the Ritual will be held, I notice several other 16-year-olds with their parents. On one side, I spot Fred O’Friendzoned, my best friend. Some people say the he has had a crush on me since childhood and despite his lovesick behaviour, constant swooning, and having confessed his undying love for me to other friends at least 920576 times, I don’t believe that. After all, love has been extinct for years! It probably died along with the polar bears and fingerless gloves. All the girls are in love with Fred, but I can’t see him as more than a friend. Then again, I never was like the other girls.

Don’t you love my illustration skills? Someone hire me, I’m clearly a pro.

A boy enters the square. The first thing I notice is his haunted green eyes. They look so sad and sorrowful that I can’t help but be intrigued as I watch him saunter over to the corner of the square. I release a breath I didn’t know I was holding. My heart pounds and even though I’ve only been in his presence for 9.371 seconds, I know that he is the one for me. I bet he’ll cause me to rethink all my views about the Society, and start leading a rebellion!

I gawk at him until the Very Important Choosing Ritual commences. Our chief elder, Cold McOpressive, comes onto the stage and gives a long speech about how history is bad, and the Choosing Ritual is intended to offer a better future to us. I know most of this already. Our ancestors a) died during the Great Kerfuffle, b) died due to the famine or c) were wiped out by the Big Bad Plague hundreds of years ago. That’s when the Society saved us all from impending doom and offered us a better future. We bow to their every whim now, because they want what’s best for us. Obviously.

The first 16-year-old goes onto the stage. Cold McOpressive tells his that she will become a Laborer, and has been paired with Random O’Whatever. She smiles and leaves the stage. There are a few more people before my turn, and my heart feels like it just might jump out of my chest!

Eventually, it’s my turn. My mother squeezes my hand comfortingly and I go up onto the stage. “Rebel Von Flawless?” Cold McOpressive says to me. I nod, and stand beside him. “You have been assigned as a—“ Cold McOpressive turns to face me, but stumbles over his feet. He regains his balance but not before a sheet of paper falls out of his pocket. I lean down to pick it up and hand it back but then I notice what it says: “TOP SECRET PLANS OF EVIL AND OPPRESSION FOR NO REASON”.


Cold McOpressive snatches the paper away and clears his throat. “You have been assigned to be a Society Warrior of Death. You have been paired with…Fred O’Friendzoned—.“ I gape. What? I glance out into the crowd, searching for Fred but instead my eyes lands on the handsome boy with the green eyes. The moment is see him, I know that I will end up having to choose between the two of them. He winks at me, and I swoon. Wow, he looks like a rebel. I might as well get in involved in a rebellion too. Who cares what it is about, as long as there’s lots of kissing, right?


I had WAY too much fun writing this, and I hope you enjoyed it!

Let’s talk:

  • What are your thoughts on the genre?
  • What is your most hated trope or cliche in dystopian fiction?
  • What an example of a dystopian book that did it right?


14 Comments on {Chapter 1} The Generic YA Dystopian Novel

  1. Jee Ann
    January 4, 2016 at 7:30 am (1 year ago)

    Love the new look and header! Anyway, this was fabulous! It was hilarious, funny, and yeah – I started to think of only one YA dystopian book, then thought about two more, and realized that the beginning/premise of the world fit all those three books exactly, haha. I’m not much of a dystopian-genre reader, though, but I do read them.

    This was a humorous take, though, so no pitchforks here 🙂 BTW, illustrations – cute!
    Jee Ann recently posted…Premade eBook Cover Designs on EtsyMy Profile

  2. Izel @ A Bookish Flower
    January 4, 2016 at 11:11 am (1 year ago)

    First, let me say that I ♥♥♥ the newdesign! The header is SO pretty!
    I’ve been thinking about clichés like these lately and you basically layed out every single one on my list. I find this so funny because right off the top of my head I can already think of a few books like this! I loved how you used phrases like “I swooned” or “Squeezed my hand comfortingly” or other typical phrases like that.
    My favorite part has to be the red hair, blue eyes “not much to look at” part because one of my bookish pet peeves is red hair plain janes!
    (Also drawings are fabulous….for a sec there I thought I was at an art museum)
    Izel @ A Bookish Flower recently posted…IT’S MY ONE YEAR BLOGOVERSARY and I’ve *finally* gone self hosted!My Profile

  3. Cat
    January 4, 2016 at 1:15 pm (1 year ago)

    Hahaha YES!!!! This was so accurate. Thank YOU for making me laugh. Following this blog forever. I’m getting so tired of the same tropes. Don’t author want to spice up the book scene? Sigh. I just read Atlantia and had this running through my head.
    Cat recently posted…Review: Atlantia by Allie CondiMy Profile

  4. Maya @ Suddenly Inundated
    January 4, 2016 at 7:29 pm (1 year ago)

    This is 100% accurate, in every single way, shape, and form. I LOVE IT. I also love you for making such a beautiful post! This is… just… so true! The (bad??) thing is I still enjoy these books… well at least most of the time. Somehow even though they are so stereotypical I love them anyways!!?? Does this prove that I am easy to please or something? xD
    Maya @ Suddenly Inundated recently posted…My Thoughts on Crown of MidnightMy Profile

  5. Sam @ Literary Lover
    January 5, 2016 at 7:58 pm (1 year ago)

    I love your new blog design! The color scheme is gorgeous. Also, this is so true yet so hilarious and I absolutely love it.
    Sam @ Literary Lover recently posted…FirstsMy Profile

  6. Jordan
    January 6, 2016 at 12:35 am (1 year ago)

    I laughed so hard at this I cried! The characters names are the best :D. I’ll be holding out for Fred O’Friendzoned in Generic Dystopian YA Novel chapter 2. (Go Fred!). Although he’s got some serious competition with Mystery New Dude :D. After all, romances formed in 9.371 seconds are totally longlasting and withstand any and all obstacles.

  7. Sunny Smith
    January 6, 2016 at 12:57 am (1 year ago)

    This was such a funny distraction from all the reading I’m SUPPOSED to be doing for school. I’m snickering out loud at the sheer accuracy of this and your pro illustrations. Everyone needs to read this! Going off to tweet it:P

    Hope you do more like this!
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  8. Ellie @ Spellbound
    January 6, 2016 at 8:47 pm (1 year ago)

    This is so accurate. SO ACCURATE. I love The Hunger Games, The Darkest Minds, Unwind, Legend…but then there are books like these.

    And I will definitely hire you as an illustrator if I ever get a book deal.
    Ellie @ Spellbound recently posted…1 Year Blogoversary!My Profile

  9. Wren
    January 7, 2016 at 5:48 pm (1 year ago)

    Wow. I absolutely loved this. I’m the type of person who used to read a lot of dystopian before I re-discovered fantasy and sci-fi. (Because I love a good magician.) And this is so true! Honestly reminds me of my awful attempt at a stereotypical romance. (A love triangle which had a special turn with the guys ending up together. I’m weird like that.)
    But this is sadly so true. I wish dystopian wasn’t like this. I used to enjoy reading it, but now…I’ve moved on.
    Amazing post.
    Love those drawings. I can’t do any better, and I’m supposed to design printed pages?!?!
    Wren recently posted…I’m That Weirdo Who Makes a Lot of Events: Things to Look Out For in 2016My Profile

  10. Sophie
    January 7, 2016 at 6:10 pm (1 year ago)

    It’s a good thing you tweeted about this post again because I had forgotten to write my comment!^^
    I simply love this idea Jess! It’s so fun, but most of all, so true! I always find at least half of the things you mentioned in every dystopian books I read. And your write so well!:O I enjoyed myself way too much while reading this!XD
    I really likes your drawings too! And what can I say about our poor Fred O’Friendzoned? He always comes second, behind McDreamy!^^
    Will we get a first chapter of the YA Generic Fantasy novel???
    Sophie recently posted…When I First Saw You #05My Profile

  11. Rana
    January 8, 2016 at 12:29 pm (1 year ago)

    LOL! I had too much fun reading this. I haven’t read many book of this genre, but it perfectly discribed each of them perefectly. Now I bet someone will use your very “creative” story as a guide for their next big hit. It was right on spot! Hope you will contiue this super funny masterpiece.

  12. Alexina
    January 8, 2016 at 12:51 pm (1 year ago)

    One of my favorite posts ever!! Are you going to be doing other chapters because that would be awesome. I feel like all of them fit this and it’s annoying but their all still good so for some reason I don’t care. Oh well!
    Alexina recently posted…Younger YA’s 2015 book Awards!My Profile


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