Monday, March 29, 2010
The Silver Lining
Dystopia's are huge right now. Everyone wants to see the end of the world. Publishers are throwing six-figure deals out like the world really is ending and they've got the cash to burn. I'm not sure why, but people are interested in seeing the end of life as we know it. But my fear is that without enough hope, people are going to burn out on this fast.
I really enjoyed Susan Beth Pfeffer's LIFE AS WE KNEW IT. I read the follow up as well. However a friend of mine refused to read the second because the first was so depressing. The relentlessness and the desperation got to her and, even after I told her that book three might feature a little romance she'd dig, she wanted nothing to do with the series. Her loss, I say, but it still illustrates the point.
THE HUNGER GAMES managed to deal with a dystopia and give us hope, but even I was a little worn down by the constant brutality of the world. But nowhere did this idea crystalize more than while I watched THE ROAD.
Let me first tell you that THE ROAD is a beautiful movie. Beautiful. There's something so moving between the father and son. However, it's a movie without hope. It shows us a world without plants or animals. A world where people resort to cannibalism. Where rape is not only common, but expected. And as I watched this story unfold--the man and the boy traveled to the coast--I waited for some sign that things might eventually get better. They never did. The movie is brutally hopeless. Despite the boy surviving, we aren't shown a world in which surviving is a good option. There is no silver lining here. Everyone in the world that I was shown will eventually starve to death and die.
I hope, as the wave of dystopian novels washes over us, that writers and publishers remember that dark and gritty makes for an intriguing premise, but it's hope that keeps us hanging on.