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I can still remember the excitement and hype surrounding the releases of the young adult, dystopian fiction novels in my pre-teen years, like The Hunger Games, Divergent and The Maze Runner – all of which I’ve had the pleasure of reading. I can still remember how I rushed to my nearest bookstore or school library to get my hands on the latest copy of each trilogy. At lunch or between classes, my friends and I would discuss the recent developments in these books as well as their movie adaptations. Now that I’m older, my taste in books has shifted to different genres and young adult novels like Divergent that once had a special place in my heart now sit on my bookshelf collecting dust. I’ve moved on, and I’m sure most of you who lived through the hype of these books have too.

But what made these books so special for us? Sure, they were marketed towards our age group to a certain degree and they all featured main characters around our age but was that all that made them special?

I’ve been contemplating on the answer to this question for a while and have a probable theory. As pre-teens, we aspired to be like these characters to a certain extent. Take Tris from Divergent as an example. She describes herself as plain and shy but also harbours a rebellious side. She’s not like other girls. We see this when we’re younger, a time where we are trying to find someone to identify with as we still discover ourselves and we settle for characters like this. And Tris isn’t necessarily a bad role model, she’s fierce and independent and isn’t afraid to speak her mind.

Though it is unrealistic to aspire to be like these characters, I can now see why I, my friends, and classmates chose to identify with these books so much. Although it was just a phase, thinking back to those YA dystopian novels leaves me with a sense of nostalgia for them (as I’m sure it does for many others). Even though I’ve moved on to better books, they will always have a special place in my heart.

Maddie Bhamjee

U Ottawa '25

Hi, my name is Madeleine or Maddie!! I am a first-year student pursuing a double major in political science and philosophy. You'll find me writing!
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