Starting Revolutions in Dystopian YA: a 7-Step Guide

revolutions dystopia ya

Revolutionaries, are you secretly the protagonist of a YA dystopia? Find out by checking yourself against the symptoms below!*

You have always played by the rules. You know everything you do is for the good of society. You are going to do your parents proud. Your think your life is going to be nothing special, predictable, and you will probably marry your nothing-special, predictable best friend whom everyone thinks you are in love with for no apparent reason.

But you are Different. Nothing about your actions or thoughts suggest it, but you know it deep in your bones. You go along with the others, yet you are somehow…not like them. You try to quell this individuality. Because if you try hard enough it will go away.

You are about to come of age. Soon you will be that magic special number which means you are a functioning adult in society. A little like a debutante. In fact, you might actually be a debutante. During this coming-of-age-ritual, something important will probably happen in relation to your love life. (Because the government holds a deep interest in the love lives of teenagers.)

But now something has gone disastrously wrong and ripped a hole in your nice predictable life plan. The nice plan that you didn’t really trust anyway went wrong — how is this possible?!? Well, anyway, you have now seen the light and know that you’ve been living under oppressed rulers all your life. You have vowed to get out of that dark place.

The Different and brooding love interest — possibly the same as the ‘something disastrously wrong’ — has awakened a flame inside of you. Your latent Differentness has started to show itself. You are In Love, now the most beautiful and amazing couple anyone has ever seen. You are made for each other. Your love is far more powerful and Different and world-changing than any other teenage love. You are, of course, just like every other teenager in love.

Some fighting happened, but other people did it. You didn’t get to see that much actual revolution-ing. You were probably too busy making moon eyes at The Love Interest, or maybe feeling guilty about spending too much time with The Love Interest. Anyway, one of your dearest friends who you only met like a week ago died in the fighting. You have spent the required amount of time crying and being meaningful, and currently you are angry enough that you might even do something reckless. (Like the reckless thing everyone told you not to do.)

You have done the reckless thing and freed the country in one heroic blow. Despite not actually doing anything other than the reckless thing everyone told you not to do, you have been greeted as a hero. the whole world is free and peaceful and happy. Suffering will never again happen, all thanks to you. You said you were only doing what your instinct told you, and The Love Interest congratulates your modesty but says you really should get some kind of reward.

You finish on a bittersweet note, standing over the grave of tragic friend holding hands with The Love Interest as the sun sets. Finally, you realise that you need to get over the death of tragic friend and move on in your life. To show you have done this you kiss love interest. You ride off into the (improbably still setting) sun. The End.

*This is not a medically approved list. (It also does not apply to all YA dystopian novels ever.)