Goodreads Blog

The Dystopian Timeline to The Hunger Games [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted by Patrick Brown on March 21, 2012


Dystopian fiction is more popular than it has been in more than 50 years. Whether it's the result of political turmoil, global financial crises, or other anxieties, readers are craving books about ruthless governments and terrifying worlds. The new breed of dystopian novels combines classic dystopian themes of cruel governments and violent, restrictive worlds with a few new twists—badass heroines and romance. To mark the movie release of the most popular of this new wave of books, The Hunger Games, we examined the history of the dystopian genre to see how it has evolved and why it's so popular today.

Comments (showing 51-100 of 141) (141 new)


message 51: by Linda (new)

Linda Excellent analysis and presentation of information. I just shared this infographic with my book club tonight as we discussed The Hunger Games. Luckily someone had an iPad!
I agree that The Giver and perhaps Shikasta should be on this list? Farenheit 451 is one of my all-time favorites...


message 52: by Lindsay (new)

Lindsay LOVE this! Dystopian/post-apocalyptic books are my absolute favorites. I can never get enough of the examination of the human psyche that these books present.

Although I absolutely adored The Hunger Games trilogy, I have to admit I was taken aback when I saw that it will most likely surpass 1984. I really hope that the enjoyment of the trilogy will inspire others to pick up Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451 and 1984--they are such amazing works and I would hate to see people miss out on them due to the popularity of authors who "stand on the shoulders of giants". :)


message 53: by [deleted user] (new)

I have to recognize I am a little bit worried about how The Hunger Games is as popular as 1984. 1984 is quite a remarkable book.


message 54: by Elisabeth (new)

Elisabeth I have read a few of these, but would definitely want to read them all. I read The Hunger Games trilogy and was accutely aware that the subject is not original, however it is still relevant and made accesable for teens. Which I think is great, even though they should still read the other books.


message 55: by Erika (new)

Erika Elisabeth wrote: "I have read a few of these, but would definitely want to read them all. I read The Hunger Games trilogy and was accutely aware that the subject is not original, however it is still relevant and mad..."
I couldn't have said it better myself.


message 56: by Benjamin (new)

Benjamin Hmmm...

I'm think we're seeing relationships that are not there in that graph. There's large dips in the middle of WW2. The cold war was a 40 year long event, which is not reflected. Events such as 9/11, the Cuban missile crisis and the 1970's oil shocks haven't had much effect at all.

The correlation is certainly not strong enough to draw any conclusions about the world today!

That said, there are some great books on the list!


message 57: by Natasha (new)

Natasha Chowdory I love this. If I make it to teacher-school I'm definitely going to crack this baby out with my students. :)


message 58: by Eric (new)

Eric Scoles Climate change is already there, it's just not mainstream yet. Bruce Sterling has been writing climate change stories since the mid-90s (_Heavy Weather_, _Distractions_, most of the stories in the "Bicycle Repair Man"/"Maneki Neko" future would apply), and Paolo Bacigalupi (_The Windup Girl_, "Yellow Card Man", "People of Sand and Slag") has lead a recent charge in that area. In SF, though, climate change is inseparable from globalisation (see anything by Bacigalupi, or "We See Things Differently" or _The Caryatids_ by Sterling).


message 59: by Nicolette (new)

Nicolette A popular series is not necessarily "bad" - and can easily be a gateway for niche genres and less well-known books. Why does there have to be such potent elitism about it?

As for originality, if we want to start mapping out archetypes, themes, genres, and stereotypes across history, we could likely connect every single novel published with another one. Every novel is a compilation of experiences and elements, and part of a person's experience is reading OTHER books.


message 60: by Eric (new)

Eric Scoles It's important to contextualise this: This is "us" talking about "then." This doesn't make any claims about what was popular at the time -- this only makes claims about what we look back at NOW and think was important.

Also, this is by nature an aggregate of opinions for a period of time, not stated. Since in the grand scheme of things, GoodReads hasn't been around that long, it's not a horrible aggregation -- but as time goes on it would be nice to be able to look at this same graph for slices of time (e.g., as compiled for rankings given in 2008 versus 2012).


New York Review Books Wait, no The Chrysalids? It should be. Young boy and girl, secretly working together to avoid death at the hands of a future totalitarian state....sounds like it fits to me.

Nick


message 62: by Linda (new)

Linda If anyone is interested in reading a couple of totally out-of-the-box dystopian books with mechanical/human hybrids and interdimensional beings with the themes of slavery, I recommend Darcy Abriel's Humanotica books, Silver, and Haevyn. Warning, though, they are extremely sexually graphic, but the world-building is fascinating.


message 63: by Pat (new)

Pat If someone asked me a year ago I would state that I had had enough of dystopian novels in my youth (Brave New World thru Clockwork Orange)and I resisted The Hunger Games for a long time...now I've just completed my second reading of the trilogy...(yeah, it's better the second time around).

I could do without all of the romance in these novels...that is a part of the YA category that unfortunately turns away male readers... .

Why the change of heart around dystopia? I found it cathartic to visit a world where resistance succeeded in overthrowing the 'status quo' and bringing about a renaissance.

I'm now on Divergent.


message 64: by Jessica (new)

Jessica I've definitely noticed a heavy trend towards dystopian fiction that's coming out in my GoodReads groups that do reading challenges. It was an essentially untouched genre a couple of years ago, and now it shows up multiple times within the same challenge.

Unfortunately, as with anything that experiences a surge in popularity, more options flooding the market makes it harder to separate the wheat from the chaff. After the surge has been running for a little while it makes you yearn for the next thing to come for novelty's sake if nothing else.

I wouldn't be surprised to see the pendulum in YA fiction to swing toward magical realism next - from darkness to light!


message 65: by Melody (new)

Melody WOW! I LOVE DYSTOPIAN BOOKS!


message 66: by Mirelli (new)

Mirelli News from Bologna Children's Literature Fest is that dystopian books are on the way out.


message 67: by Megan (new)

Megan I feel like this list is missing The Year of the Flood and Ornyx and Crake. Or maybe that's too much Margaret Atwood? I love them all!


message 68: by Christine (new)

Christine patterson That is a nice point to deliver up. I offer the thoughts above as basic inspiration however clearly there are questions like the one you bring up where an important thing will be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if best practices have emerged around things like that, but I'm positive that your job is clearly recognized as a good game. Each boys and girls feel the impact of only a second’s pleasure, for the remainder of their lives.

- website translation


message 69: by Gary (last edited Mar 23, 2012 04:43PM) (new)

Gary Amazing. That definitely places things in perspective.


message 70: by Veronika (last edited Mar 24, 2012 04:51AM) (new)

Veronika Shouldn't Patrick Ness' Chaos Walking Trilogy be on here? I know it's not that popular yet and I also haven't read the books yet, but I heard it is just as good or maybe even better than The Hunger Games.

...and p.s. Am I the only person who read Divergent and didn't like it that much. I gave it 3 stars out of 5.


message 71: by Michael Hussey (new)

Michael Hussey You should add Atlas Shrugged (1957), a most definite dystopian novel, to your list of 1930s-1960s fear of state section. More than 7 million copies of Atlas Shrugged have been sold since it was published.


message 72: by Katie (new)

Katie There was romance in 1984, as I recall.


message 73: by [deleted user] (new)

Cormac McCarthy's The Road---where is it here? And I would argue quality of prose would always place 1984 above Hungar Games.


message 75: by Robina (new)

Robina What about the young adult book "The Giver" by Lois Lowery. Doesn't that fit here?


message 76: by Brando (new)

Brando Christo A beautiful book


message 77: by Melody (new)

Melody Robina wrote: "What about the young adult book "The Giver" by Lois Lowery. Doesn't that fit here?"

Isn't that a Utopian Book


message 78: by Pat (new)

Pat I must report that Divergent was a very big waste of time and $$$. Not in the same league as Hunger Games, et al. Just a 'knock off' catching a ride on the dystopian wave.

As a result, I am returning to works that have stood the test of time and have earned the respect of fellow writers (The Hugo and Nebula Award winners as one criteria, Newberry as another).

I'm currently reading "The Giver" and "The Handmaiden's Tale" -- both are well written, and as with the best dystopian fiction, encourage thought.

By the way, it's an interesting comparison to juxtapose one chapter of Huxley, Golding, or Orwell against the current crop of dystopias...easily done with e-reader software and free access to the beginnings of these works. It's been a long time since I read "Brave New World" but the first scene visiting the 'fertilization room' in the baby factory evoked as much horror as THG arena...


message 79: by Zakiya (new)

Zakiya LadyWings WOW! That's really amazing!!! I'll have to read the ones up there that I haven't gotten to yet. :D


message 80: by Veronika (last edited Mar 25, 2012 04:09PM) (new)

Veronika Pat wrote: "I must report that Divergent was a very big waste of time and $$$. Not in the same league as Hunger Games, et al. Just a 'knock off' catching a ride on the dystopian wave.

As a result, I am re..."


Thank you! Finally someone said it! I did not think Divergent was that good at all. I will read the second one eventually but that's only because I am trying to give the series a second chance to see if it gets any better. It is nowhere near as great as The Hunger Games!!!


message 81: by Pat (new)

Pat Hi Veronika, No you and I are not alone. Check out the reviews on the homepage under "updates" on this novel. Even people who gave it four stars wrote some startling negative reviews which they defend in detail delineating the problems with the novel's plot line and characters.


message 82: by Randy (new)

Randy Attwood If anyone would be interested in a dystopia in which the religious right has won, check out Rabbletown: Life in These United Christian States of Holy America. It's on Amazon for kindle users.


message 83: by Pat (new)

Pat That is the premise of The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. Among other prizes it took the Nebula Award. Also on Amazon...on my list for April reading.


message 84: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Rabalais Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut rounds out my 3 favorite dystopic books (Brave New World and 1984).


message 85: by Petra X (new)

Petra X Interesting. Cool icons.


message 86: by Benjamin (new)

Benjamin Cj wrote: "Cormac McCarthy's The Road---where is it here? And I would argue quality of prose would always place 1984 above Hungar Games."

"The Road" is a fantastic book, I agree! But it's not really dystopian; it's post-apocalyptic. Same is true for "The Crysalids".


message 87: by Randy (new)

Randy Attwood Nice interview about my dystopian work: Rabbletown: Life in These United Christian States of Holy America

http://riftwatcher.blogspot.com/2012/...


message 88: by Alec (new)

Alec Is this article a well crafted piece of viral marketing?


message 89: by John (new)

John Nelson I wrote Against Nature before the boom, but it was published in 2011. Good timimg!


message 90: by Taylor (new)

Taylor I've read both 1984 and Hunger Games, and I adore them both. While I do believe that 1984 definitely has more staying power and is a bit more well written then HG, Hunger Games isn't going anywhere anytime soon. It's more obvious about the wrongs of the government from the get-go and even kids can understand what's going on, so it's important, if not just as important, as 1984.


message 91: by John (new)

John Nelson It was sometime after 9/11 that I began writing Against Nature. The headlines were full of tales of secret prisons, torture, extraordinary rendition, domestic spying....and the list goes on. I thought it was all too Orwellian... It also inspired me to write a modern dystopian thriller set in the post-9/11 landscape.
It was published in 2011. I'm pleased the dystopia genre is taking off. It's a great genre to stoke the imagination and offer insightful social commentary.


message 92: by Randy (last edited Apr 01, 2012 06:31PM) (new)

Randy Attwood Have dropped price for Rabbletown: Life in These United Christian States of Holy America to $2.99

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005DLZZTM


message 93: by Sue (new)

Sue think UR spot on


ReadingDiva Book Reviews Awesome - I was wondering how other series within the same genre measured to hunger games. Thanks this is fantastic. I am sharing it!


ReadingDiva Book Reviews Ihaveshineyboots wrote: "What annoys me again and again and again is that people brand The Hunger Games as some amazing, unique, ground breaking masterpiece. No. It's Battle Royale for children, and I think it is a great s..."

I agree, it isn't the best but one give credit to where it is due. This is a great story, one that I say measures to The Running Man by Stephen King. I enjoyed both movies :)


message 96: by Alan (new)

Alan Hall Fascinating chart.
Is the data for the chart available? How many members contributed to the database? What was the methodology used to poll the members, for example, were they given a definition of "dystopian"?

Dystopia is nice to visit, but I wouldn't wanna live there.


message 97: by Robin (new)

Robin Davis Has anyone read Super Sad True Love Story? It seems quite dystopian to me; it discusses Fear of State and Biological Issues which are the criteria here.


message 98: by Randy (new)

Randy Attwood Robin wrote: "Has anyone read Super Sad True Love Story? It seems quite dystopian to me; it discusses Fear of State and Biological Issues which are the criteria here."

NO, but I wrote a super sad love story. It's my most downloaded book. One More Victim: http://www.amazon.com/One-More-Victim...


message 99: by Annabel (new)

Annabel Smith Rubber Gloved wrote: "Good summary, thanks... a couple of other great recent young adult dystopian novels which come to mind are "Feed" and "House of the Scorpion".

You asked about the next trend in this genre? What ..."


I'm writing a dystopian fiction about post-peak oil. But water/environmental catastrophe have got to be figuring heavily I'm sure.


message 100: by Annabel (new)

Annabel Smith C.S. wrote: "The Hunger Games isn't true dystopian fiction. The central theme(s) is the heroic journey. YA adventure set inside a dystopian frame that's barely explored. It may well surpass 1984 in popularity, ..."

I tend to agree. I think it will be a flash in the pan.


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