Orwell does not own the rights to Dystopia.
The books you're talking about have a very "fight the power" feel to them. It's more wish-fulfillment than anything else. The lone teenager rallying the paper-thin archetypes around his or herself against a system set up by adults is popular for a reason.
I don't think that the plots of those book are that similar. And why wouldn't there be multiple dystopian stories?
I don't think the plots are similar at all. These YA books you talk about are more about normal teens that become heroes. It's all about anyone can be a hero so that it's easier for readers to identify to the main character.
I actually don't see any common point between these books and 1984 except for the dystopian part of it...
Because kids love to feel like the whole world is against them. And so they read these books, and so the books make profit, and so the publishers try to publish similar books.
Dystopia is in fashion right now. For a while, it was vampires. Give it a few years, it’ll be something else.
Helps fuel teen angst
They're not, they're trying to be Suzanne Collins.
But, honestly, looking at the political state of the western world right now... Dystopia is something that is on the minds of a lot of the target audience right now.
I look forward to a time when teenagers' reading matter of choice consists of volumes of witty and insightful essays.
So, I read the Hunger games 2 times, and I love them. I just finished 1984, which is an absolute masterpiece, but I don't think HG was trying to copy it... Not even close.
For the first 2 books, there aren't even clear themes, in the last one, the physical consequences of warfare becomes a clear thread. If you're looking at the franchise as a "oh look isn't our society totally like this" type of book, I think you're doing it wrong.
Sure, there may be some attempts at drawing some parallels, but I don't think that even comes close to being the whole point of the books.
It's not like Orwell invented the concept of a dystopia. And I fail to see how these recent YA books are trying to be like Orwell. They have their similarities, but that's to be expected with books of the same genre. Lots of other classic dystopian novels have similarities to Orwell works as well. That's like saying Game of Thrones is trying to be Lord of the Rings because they both have magic.
When you think about it, it's really not all that surprising that dystopian work would appeal to teens anyway. Teenagers are usually hitting the point where they're really noticing the bad things about the world, and how crappy the system can be, and how adults in power can do stupid or terrible things. It especially hits hard for those of us who grew up in a post-9/11 world, we just constantly saw war and chaos and hatred on the news even before we were able to fully comprehend it.
What's more, dystopian novels written in different eras will share a lot of similarities, but they're also going to reflect issues that are bigger concerns of their time, and that's super interesting. In The Hunger Games, there's a lot of focus on media, celebrity, and image. This reflects both the rise of reality television and to a lesser extent, internet stardom. The books also reflect the growing wage gap in the US, most of the people in Panem are either super poor or super rich, very little in between. 1984 was largely focused on thought policing, free speech, and surveillance. Those things come up in HG (they come up in a LOT of dystopian novels) but they're not as prominent as in 1984. HG probably won't be considered a great literary classic, but maybe it will be looked at as a good reflection of the time it was written in. Really, I feel that way about most popular media.
The Hunger Games was pretty unique. It had a lot of commentary on societal problems we face today. (More the books, not the movie.) also the entire point is for the characters to be plain. They’re normal everyday people chosen to fight for their lives while the Capitol mocks them.
Rags Vs. Riches
I feel like you’re looking at these books at face value rather than admitting that they serve a purpose.
They’re better than the vampire craze, at the very least.
Literature goes through phases. For a while there, everyone wanted to be Sylvia Plath or Dan Brown.
Art imitates life. Orwell wrote about dystopian societies because one of the two major world powers was a communist dystopia.
Modern America is an oligarchic dystopia (or at least on it's way to one), though we're probably closer to a Brave New World type of dystopia than a 1984 type.
People are wrestling with the role of the individual in a larger society that does not value the individual. I don't think that Orwell or Huxley were the only people wrestling with these ideas (Solzhenitsyn was, though he wrote non-fiction), but they were the ones that were most effective at it.
We'll stop seeing dystopian tropes in our literature once people are no loner worried about dystopias.
If the bad guy is just a guy that limits the scope of the conflict. If the bad guy is literally the government the stakes are sooooooo high.
Stories, movies, games and whatnot are a form of escapism. To offer something else than one's own life events, new experiences to supplement one's own.
When times are tough, stories are hopeful, optimistic, fun, easy going etc. And when all is good, the stories are about fear and hopelessness. Escapism contrasts the mundane life. Otherwise it wouldn't be a contrast (nor escapism for that matter)
So be grateful that dystopian stories are a thing now, it tells that all is going well.
Because the dystopian society represents a common fear that's been gaining popularity in recent years, especially among teenagers.
It's better to understand these things in terms of instincts and unconscious motives. Everything I'm talking about happens instinctively and unconsciously without people really thinking about it. Not that it can't happen for someone to consider these things consciously and rationally, just that it's extremely rare for someone to do so. So...
I don't think it's a matter of people trying to copy anyone, as much as it's people being fascinated by technological tyranny because we are fascinated by all possibilities of tyranny. The likelihood of it happening doesn't need to be high because we are just trying to gain material for our brains to work with. It's also usually better to err on the side of caution when we detect dangers like tyranny.
Technology also doesn't fit our instinctive notions of danger, yet we see the danger rationally. A mismatch between instincts and rational thought is often popular story material because, no matter the horror, we also instinctively want to be informed about danger we aren't aware of. It's extra mentally penetrating when a mismatch like that is either revealed or "storified" for us, because it potentially lets us know how wrong or ignorant we were.
Normally, people fight against being shown as wrong or ignorant, but stories seem to reverse this. With a story, we actually go away enthusiastic to explain how wrong or ignorant we were before hearing it, and the more we believe the story showed us to be wrong or ignorant, the more zealous we are about it.
I´m actually impressed at how diverse these responses are, and how mixed people are about this post, but I feel like that´s a good thing because getting to see other´s opinions helps us appreciate the world´s diversity!
Dystopia is a subgenre (or a theme, depends on how you view it). Orwell himself was influenced by Zamyatin's "We".
It's a very interesting subgenre that explores the fantastic "what if..." possibilities that, unlike in sci-fi, are rather tied to social, not technological differences from our world. Obviously most of these books have something to tell us, in an indirect fashion, about our society as well. Why not?
(That said, Hunger Games is a mediocre book, sure.)
The more obvious question is why so few readers even recognize that the world is turning into an Orwellian nightmare. Have you ever watched any of the G-20 summits on television or the internet? It's downright terrifying how eager all of these world leaders are to lock themselves into global banking laws, industrial laws, labor laws, immigration laws, etc. If anything the arts should be covering more of these topics rather than the usual dystopian cliche of one hero versus everybody else.
Uncreative writers riding on the coattails of popularity. Maybe that's a bit harsh, but I think it's true.
You see it in games and movies these days too. I guess it's just safer to rehash something until it's driven into the ground, because they can know exactly how much money it's going to make them.
Because we're at war with Eastasia and we've always been at war with Eastasia...
This is not a new trend. Kurt Vonnegut, Philip K. Dick, Yevgeny Zamyatin, H.G. Wells, hell, even Ayn Rand all dealt with dystopia. There are scads more. I would argue one of the main functions of science fiction is to warn readers (and the population in general) of possible negative future socio-political scenarios.
i'm curious whether any YA dystopian novels end in the same way Nineteen Eighty-four does? the series I've read have some kind of victory at the end, even if a sad or hollow one. Nineteen Eighty-four doesn't. not at all. (but on second thought, rereading it, there IS a twisted, disgusting victory for the protagonist at the end, but it's one that will horrify your typical reader.)