The Giver Author Lois Lowry Says Dystopian Fiction Is Passé
Are dystopian novels going out of style? Lois Lowry, who wrote what many hail as the first dystopian novel for young adults, told Variety in an interview that bleak projections of the future, particularly in YA literature, are rapidly wearing out their welcome.
"People in the know say 'The Giver' was the first young adult dystopian novel... I'm not sure what happened between 'The Giver' and maybe 15 years later when these others suddenly burst forth... But I'm glad it happened. Although there's too many of them now. But I think that trend is ending. We'll go on to the next trend and we all wish we knew what that was so we could go out and write it. Dystopian fiction is passé now."
Dystopias do seem to be all the rage lately, considering the massive, sensational popularity of young adult series like The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner. Even Harry Potter somewhat resembled dystopian fiction by the sixth book or so, with all of the Holocaust parallels and whatnot. And considering the continued financial and often critical success of these books' film adaptations, it's likely an exaggeration to say that dystopian fiction is already "passé." However, it is likely that pop culture will become oversaturated with it and that a weariness will begin to settle in at some point. And while these franchises all have a built-in fanbase, it may soon become difficult to get another YA dystopian series off the ground. It's also possible that the dystopian trend will shift from YA literature to high-brow literary fiction, as relatively recent novels such as Cormac McCarthy's The Road and Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go have been met with critical acclaim, accolades, and successful film adaptations.
In her interview, Lowry also gave several more details on the long-awaited film adaptation of The Giver, which will be released on Friday. Since production began nearly twenty years ago, Haley Joel Osment was considered for the role of Jonas, and Lowry thought "he would have been great." David Yates was set to direct at one point, but dropped out to direct the third Harry Potter film. When asked if the film improved on any aspects of the novel, she responded: "I wish I could go back and rewrite the book and beef up the character of the Chief Elder. It was beefed up by the writers and then blown sky high by Meryl Streep's performance. She's become a complex character, which she was not in the book. There is no conflict between her and The Giver in the book. And there's so much in the film, and it's riveting."
She also claimed that there have been "murmurs" about adapting the three sequels to The Giver, depending on how well the film performs at the box office, so hopefully dystopian fiction isn't as "passé" as she thinks.