Divergent Author Veronica Roth Imagines Terrible Utopian Fiction


We’re on the home stretch of Dystopian Week here on TheFABlife, Hollywood Crush and NextMovie.com, but we couldn’t leave without hearing more from one of the hottest authors on the scene — if there is a dystopian “scene” — Veronica Roth. Her badass Divergent reads so cinematically, we can already imagine how awesome the upcoming Summit flick is going to be. While we eagerly await the trilogy’s book two, Insurgent, due in May, we asked Veronica to play a little imagination game with us: What if you wrote utopian fiction? Here’s her answer:

If utopian fiction became the new trend, I wouldn’t read it.

If you actually succeed in creating a utopia, you’ve created a world without conflict, in which everything is perfect. And if there’s no conflict, there are no stories worth telling — or reading! It would be all, “Jenny thought she might not be able to attain her lifelong dream of marshmallow taste tester for a little while … but she did!” and, “John’s dad said he couldn’t go to the movies, so John asked really nicely and his dad changed his mind.” I’m bored already.

But if I were going to create a utopia, I would make a world in which everyone is focused on their personal, moral obligations, and strives to be the best possible version of themselves. They would be allowed to choose whatever path they wanted in life. They would know what was expected of them, they would have a clear purpose, and they would have a strong sense of group identity and belonging. And there would be five factions…

Oh, wait. I tried that already.

But seriously: Divergent was my utopian world. I mean, that wasn’t the plan. I never even set out to write dystopian fiction, that’s just what I had when I was finished. At the beginning, I was just writing about a place I found interesting and a character with a compelling story, and as I began to build the world, I realized that it was my utopia. And then I realized that my utopia was a terrible place, and no one should ever put me in charge of creating a perfect society.

Maybe it’s a little depressing to think that my vision of a perfect world is actually so messed up, but I think it means that I don’t really understand what “perfect” is. To me it’s all about virtue and responsibility; to someone else it would be about happiness and peace, and happy drugs would be pumped into the water supply — but that sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it? Because both of us are wrong about perfect. We have no idea what it would look like, and our approximations of it are incomplete.

And that gives me a lot of hope, because if I don’t know what perfect means, it’s not something I can reach on my own. Which means that I can stop trying to be perfect and just try to love the people around me and the things I’m doing. And strangely enough, that’s Tris’ journey. She tries selflessness on for size, and then she tries bravery, but at the end, it’s what she does out of love that’s more important than any virtue.

I think maybe utopian fiction would actually look just like dystopian fiction, depending on who you are. To the heartbroken person, a world that eradicates love (Delirium) might be a utopia; to the rest of us, it isn’t. To the person who doesn’t have a plan, a world in which everything is planned out for you (Matched) might be a utopia; to those of us who like to choose our own adventure, it’s definitely not.

So maybe I’ve changed my mind — maybe I would read utopian fiction. Or maybe I already am. What a scary thought.

More from Dystopian Week:
‘Matched’ Author Ally Condie’s Guide To A Dystopian Holiday
Why Dystopia? Author Dan Wells Explains The Importance Of Hunger Games, 1984 And More
Is Dystopia Really The New Vampire? Editor-Writer David Levithan Weighs In
Your Dystopian Survival Guide
Dystopia Is the New Supernatural
Exclusive: First Look At The Hunger Games Movie Tie-In Books!
Shatter Me Author Takes Things “To Extremes” For Dystopian Week
Watch Out, Katniss, Legend’s Formiddable Dystopian Heroes Are On Your Heels
‘Shatter Me’ Author Tahereh Mafi Talks ‘X-Men’ Comparisons
How Will Delirium’s Love Cure Translate To The Screen? Dystopian Week Begins!
5 Questions With ‘Divergent’ Writer Veronica Roth
Marie Lu Imagines A Teenage, Dystopian ‘Les Miserables’ In ‘Legend’
‘Delirium’ Author Lauren Oliver Talks Sequel ‘Pandemonium’

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