The Hunger Games, a story about children killing children, is currently breaking box office records. Some adults agonise over its violence and cruelty, and wonder if it is bad for their children.
There has been a run of popular books in the same vein, many of them prize winners. The Carnegie medal winning Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness for example and last year’s Costa Award winner Blood Red Road, as well as popular books by Michael Grant, Scott Westerfeld and Philip Reeve.
So popular are they, that a quick search in our catalogue for booklists of dystopian fiction brings up twelve pages of lists, mainly for young adults and including one for our own library network by Zackids .
Arguments abound as to why this is so. Does it simply reflect a need by teenagers to deal with their anxieties through literature? Are their anxieties worse than ours were? Or is it a backlash against the tight control which has enveloped this generation of children? Is it redemptive, or an indication of despair? Or is just about a good exciting story?
Some point out that dystopian fiction for this age group is hardly new. Previous generations have enjoyed classics like Salt by Maurice Gee, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L Engle and Lois Lowry’s The Giver.
What do you think? What do your kids think?