Dystopian books are a sub category of science fiction. In my classroom, they are a hot YA book genre right now. Themes and common story lines in dystopian science fiction stories deal with apocalyptic events and often have a dark tone. Because the content is heavier, the books are for an older reader. Authors target middle and high school students. In dystopian books, the protagonist faces a big challenge that will possibly save the world. Our hero uses various skills and cunning to make that happen. The books are exciting and hook readers easily! Readers can describe key events. But, they might not be able to specifically name the elements that make the story a dystopian tale.
How do you know a book is science fiction?
- The story answers a “what if” question. What if we could time travel? What if we lived on Mars? Or, what if the temperatures on Earth rise significantly?
- Scientific or technological changes have a powerful impact on the people in the story.
- The setting is in the future or alternate universe.
What are specific dystopian book features?
- There is a division of citizens into distinct groups or classes.
- It will take place in the future.
- There has been a war or apocalyptic event to change society.
- Individuals have little power or information. Free thought is restricted.
- Corporate, bureaucratic, technological, moral, or totalitarian leaders maintain illusions of a perfect society.
- The hero/protagonist sees the problem with society and wants to change the system.
Include a dystopian book as part of your reading curriculum this school year. Then, have students think about the key elements for the book genre. Visit THIS BLOG POST for a freebie compare and contrast page that helps students identify dystopian book features. The blog post also includes a recommended book list for middle grades and up. If you are interested in another reading activity that explores character traits, CLICK HERE.