Dystopian novels inspire Gen Z to confront global issues

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By Sam Reeves, Online News Editor/Webmaster/Social Media Director

Generation Z is without a doubt one of the most politically active and thoughtful generations out there. Teenagers around the world are proving themselves to be fearless revolutionaries as they fight for the lives of each other and future generations.

But how did this generation become such fearless leaders? Why are teenagers nowadays so heavily involved in our world? The answer is actually quite simple, and maybe a bit surprising.

We were raised on dystopian novels. Not only did these novels show us what mistreatment and corruptness look like, they gave us heroes and role models to look up to and follow.

This genre of young adult novels really took off in the year 2008, when the first installment of The Hunger Games series, written by Suzanne Collins, was published. This book series started off humbly with a 200,000 first print run and has had sales grow exponentially since its release, selling more than 23.5 million copies in the U.S. alone.

The series features a young female protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, who lives in a world run by a corrupt government. Every year there is the infamous Hunger Games tournament, where two children from each of the 12 districts must battle until there is one lone survivor. When her sister’s name is drawn in the picking for the tournament, Katniss quickly volunteers to go in her place.

The trilogy follows Katniss as she competes in the games and later fights against the corrupt leaders in control of her world. While The Hunger Games certainly isn’t the first novel published that shows a dystopian society where a character fights against the government, it’s the first one teens in wide scale could relate to.

Collins provided a strong young character that teenagers connected with. Seeing themselves in the book allowed for them to relate more to the story whereas if they read another novel such as Fahrenheit 451, they would have trouble relating to the story because the protagonist is an older gentleman.

Media and entertainment have always been strong influences in people’s lives; they help people find inspiration and to learn to think and navigate the world. Books such as The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Ender’s Game have fueled young minds in this generation. They give us hope that we can be strong leaders too, leaders that have an opportunity to change this world.

With fire in our hearts and courage in our minds, Gen Z will continue to stand up in this crumbling world. We will continue to fight for what is right, for what will keep our planet alive. Our yearning to save and preserve the Earth will keep us going, and the stories and legends we grew up on will continue to inspire for many years to come.