It would seem that the young adult genre has built its claim as a genre partially owing to the current production of dystopian fiction aimed at young adults: The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Giver as well as other work by such writers as John Green which deal with problems of this age group.
More and more, students seem to be choosing these materials as the subject of their Extended Essays. These essays are often quite limited in critical thinking, much less in the exploration of the novel as an aesthetic construct. Given that the IB program surely aims to develop more sophisticated thinking, (a study by Hayes et al, cited in John Guillory’s article in the PMLA journal (May 2015) indicates that ‘The texts students read in high school are mostly about the same level of complexity. . .as those introduced in the fifth grade, or at best, in middle school”), might it not be a good idea, when students want to focus on some of these recent dystopias to encourage a broader and more complex approach to the genre? Perhaps they could be advised to do a comparative study of these later works with some early ones, so that they can see the recurrent content and stylistic conventions that underlie the interest of the more popular contemporary works.
First, students might frame their works with a brief overview of dystopian fiction and then choose both an early work and a more contemporary one (1984 and The Giver, Brave New World and The Hunger Games) to explore. It would seem likely that such comparisons would enrich the student’s perspective and even add value to their appreciation of more recent works.
Here is a rather provocative Prezi that surveys dystopian fiction and a list of the “20 best” (which, of course is anyone’s guess):
Maybe the following would be a good place to start when a student shows an inclination in this direction. . . . How interesting it might be if a student were to explore one of the older texts in this list: