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.
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!
- 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?