Could you handle being the heroine in a YA dystopia? I ask only because I know I certainly could not. I would be the person who cries during the annual Reaping in The Hunger Games, the person who would never remotely consider becoming a Dauntless in Divergent.
At this point in my life, I'm self-aware enough to know that I would be, at best, the good guy's henchman; at worst, a passive bystander. Luckily, these stories all feature adolescent girls who are capable of toppling their grim empires, and the steely, suit-clad adults at their helm. The rest of us can count on a Katniss Everdeen to save us.
This isn't to say that all YA dystopias are identical. They certainly vary in terms of premise, writing style, character, and devoted followings. But if you read or watch enough dystopias, you'll definitely be able to identify a pattern in their structure — and in the heroines' qualities. Because clearly, this structure sells. The Darkest Minds, written in 2012, is the latest YA dystopia series to get a big-screen adaptation. At the end of the The Darkest Minds, Ruby, played by Amandla Stenberg, makes a gesture that echoes Katniss Everdeen's. And so, The Darkest Minds is connected to The Hunger Games under the grand YA dystopia umbrella, which is still steadily chugging along, despite all rumors that the genre is dead. Tomi Adeyemi's new series, Children of Blood and Bone, was recently signed in a massive seven-figure book and movie deal.
The formula isn't necessarily a bad thing. It works. The books celebrate through-and-through Gryffindors, struggling to balance growing up with saving the world. They are badass. But they are alike. If you're writing a YA dystopia, these are the qualities your central character must have. Though who knows what trend, with all its defining formulas, is up next?