Banned Books in a Dystopian World
FAHRENHEIT 451: Books of all kinds are banned--in fact, Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature at which books are burned, hence the title.
DELIRIUM: Only approved works are allowed to be read--and often books are interpreted differently from how we look at them now, such as ROMEO AND JULIET, which in this world is considered a tale of warning about the madness love brings.
MATCHED: While grandparents might recall some banned works fondly, the kids being raised in this society are kept sheltered from literature so much that there is a list of 100 approved poems...and those are the only ones acceptable to read.
And on and on and on. Sometimes, it's simply a matter that the characters don't have time to read--they're too busy fighting to save the world. But in many, many cases, books and literature of all kinds are targeted specifically by the government and banned...often times with the caveat that reading such banned literature will result in your death--or worse.
So why are banned books so often wearing a bright red-and-white target symbol on their covers in dystopian worlds?
Because books are dangerous.
Look at that pile of bound paper on your bookshelf. Every single page is a bullet, every cover a holster. Books are possibly the most dangerous weapon in the world.
Because books are ideas.
Every book--the ones you love, the ones you hate, the ones you love to hate--every book has ideas in it. Every word, every comma, every "the end." Ideas. Ideas. There are so many ideas that they leak off the page and right into your head. There are the ideas the author intends to write. There are the ideas that author didn't intend to write, but are still there. There are the ideas that the reader thinks of as he's reading. There are the ideas the reader thinks of for long afterwards, little seeds of ideas that plant themselves in the gray matter of your brain and grow and grow and grow and grow and never, ever quit.
And ideas are dangerous.
That--that--is why books are banned in dystopian worlds.
And honestly? It's why books are banned in the real world, too.
People--not all people, but some very narrow-minded, angry, scared people--they know that ideas are dangerous. And they don't want people thinking them. It might be because they disagree with that idea and don't want that idea to grow like a tree in other people's minds. It might be because they just don't like ideas at all. But either way, the simple fact remains. When book-banners attack books, they aren't attacking the paper or the ink. That would be silly. They are attacking the ideas. Book-banners are idea-banners. Thought-banners. Individuality-banners.
And that is why I fight them. That is why they are wrong. That is why I will never be in favor of banning books.
Because I love ideas.
The League of Extraordinary Writers is a group of debut YA authors who write science fiction and dystopian works. The ten of us have works that run the gamut of near-future mind control to far-future space travel, but they do have one thing in common: a future where the Earth we know now is twisted, gone.