Tuesday, June 11, 2013


A conversation with Andrew brought something to light for me: dystopian and post-apocalyptic are separate genres. Previously I took post-apocalyptic as a sub-genre of dystopian since if you look it up in the dictionary, it’s defined as “a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding”. Post-apocalyptic societies, at least the ones I’m familiar with, generally fit the bill.

But! The literary definition of dystopian is different from the definition of the word. A literary dystopia is a place where a governing body enforces a warped idea of perfection. YA Highway had a really good post about the difference between the two.

So while I thought it was this…

It’s really more like this…
With examples! All YA of course.

I think THE HUNGER GAMES really is both—after an apocalyptic event, a dystopian society rose up. Although they don’t enforce perfection as much as they do obedience, I think it fits.

Anyway, post-apocalyptic does not equal dystopian, although I think it would make sense if it did. That is all.


  1. Great break down there. I always think of zombie attacks when I hear "post-apocalyptic" --blame it on my hubby. =)

  2. I don't think dystopian fits Hunger Games at all. The idea is that there is a Utopian -society-, and they don't have that in Hunger Games, only the one "perfect" city. Now, you could look at that city and say it's dystopian, because it's a paradise built on a lie, but, if you look at the world as a whole, there is nothing dystopian about it.

    Post-apocalyptical societies don't have to be full of squalor, etc. I can't remember the book right off hand, but there was one I read as a teen about this underground society. We find later that it's that way because of nuclear war on the surface. It was a notmally functioning society, though, only that no one was allowed to go out.

    There can, of course, be crossover as many people use an apocalyptic event as the reason behind their dystopian society (which you could say about Hunger Games), like in the movie The Last Chase.

  3. Great post, especially for us visual learners. :)

  4. Interesting. Hadn't really thought about it before, but this makes sense. Thanks for the info!

  5. At least until they find a new subcategory...

  6. I agree, they're definitely not the same. :)

  7. I like your breakdown and it makes sense. I haven't read Divergent, but it's on my summer reads list.

  8. Hmm, very interesting. I always thought they were the same, too. Thanks J!

  9. Great breakdown, and great examples!! They definitely are different genres. :)


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