No, I’m not a cruel robot propagating the idea that humans should be subservient to machines (OR AM I?). Simply put, reading dystopian novels makes me happy. Before you judge me, hear me out.
In high school I was an outcast—as many book nerds unfortunately are—and I frequently felt unsafe and unwelcome. Reading was my escape from this reality. Stories about characters that overcame what appeared to be insurmountable odds bolstered my own confidence and put my suffering into perspective.
Brave New World and The Handmaid’s Tale impacted me the most during this time. Bullying was nothing compared to being forced into a predetermined role in society. The oppression I felt paled in comparison to women stripped of all their rights. These two stories taught me how to be empathic and self-aware. In a small way, because of what I read, I felt powerful instead of helpless.
As an adult, I happily faced new challenges while reading other dystopian novels. The Hunger Games nursed me through a devastating year at my undergraduate college. California challenged my perspective on sibling relationships. Unwind made me into a grateful daughter. Each new book I read, whether I liked it or not, allowed me to grow and—to my surprise—gave me a deep sense of satisfaction.
Do not misunderstand me; I did not revel in the pain of the main characters. In a lesser sense, I could relate to their struggles and hated the adversity they faced. No, what made me happy were their victories. Despite the chaos, at some point, the characters overcame the odds.