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This article was originally published as:

Morton, L., & Lounsbury, L. (2015). Inertia to action: From narrative empathy to political agency in young adult fiction. Papers: Exploration into Children's Literature, 23(2), 53-70.

ISSN: 1837-4530


200506 North American Literature| 200525 Literary Theory| 200526 Stylistics and Textual Analysis| 200599 Literary Studies not elsewhere classified

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Dystopic and post-apocalyptic fiction creates a false society in which youth have actual physical power to act, create and control their own destinies. While YA fiction is often lauded for modeling agency through its protagonists, here it is argued that dystopic scenarios provide a false sense of empowerment. This allows a teen protagonist not only a chance for—often violent—action, but also the chance to prove him or herself against adult authority and corruption. In YA novels such as The Hunger Games, The Maze Runners and Divergent, adult power must be destroyed and current social norms disrupted to provide a legitimate place for teen power. This paper explores the notion that dystopic YA fiction provides empowerment for its teenager readers and examines if, in fact, that fictional power creates any lasting change in the inertia of current young adulthood.


Used by permission: Editors, Papers: Explorations into Children's Literature

This is an open access article.