Fighting for a Fairy Tale: Elements of Dystopia and Fairy Tale in Young Adult Dystopian Fiction

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Young adult dystopian fiction seems to have combined the genres of utopian fiction and fairy tales as elements from both genres are present in contemporary young adult dystopias and interact with each other. The aim of this study is to find out how elements of fairy tales and dystopian fiction intersect in relation to gender in popular contemporary young adult dystopian fiction. The genres of dystopian literature and fairy tale are defined and the elements of the totalitarian regime, the young adult protagonist, the savage, the prince and princess, the quest and the happy end are analysed. To do this, passages from the young adult dystopian series Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Maze Runner by James Dashner, The Selection by Kiera Cass, and The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer are discussed. Four conclusions can be made. First, the fairy tale elements in young adult dystopias make the dystopian setting less cruel. Moreover, there is a distinction between The Maze Runner and the other series, as it has a male author and a male protagonist, and fairy tale elements are absent. Furthermore, there still is a reluctance to subvert all dominant mores as, it seems that the fairy tale norm of heterosexual romances, forming families and shunning sexuality are prevalent in this genre. Finally, although the totalitarian regime is of great importance in all series, this setting seems to influence in which way the fairy tale elements are incorporated. Key words: young adult dystopian fiction, young adult fiction, dystopia, fairy tale, gender
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