Aspects that I Like in Dystopian Novels:
1) World-building - This is the very first thing I look for in a dystopian novel. If the idea or the world of the novel is original and consistent, then it makes me excited to read it. Books with great world-building include Wither by Lauren DeStefano, Enclave by Anne Aguirre, and Possession by Elana Johnson. While some of these books aren't perfect, their world-building truly pulls you into another world.
2) A touch of realism - The reason why I like the books I like is because of the realism incorporated in them. If I don't empathize with the characters at all, I won't like it. Sometimes, I like to imagine me doing the things a character does but if the character is apathetic, then I won't be able to do that. For me, a touch of realism, no matter how small, is always important not just for a dystopian novel, but for any novel.
3) Romance - It doesn't have to be a concept that runs or paces a dystopian book, but if a dystopian novel is going to have romance in it, then might as well make it good! I have yet to encounter a dystopian novel completely void of romance so until I read one, this is a good addition to them. Novels like Divegent by Veronica Roth and Drought by Pam Bachorz are really good at this!
4) Well-developed characters - In dystopian and in any genre, well-developed characters are always a must for me. Without depth or layers, the character will remain flat and lifeless to me. If a character grows throughout the book though, it's even better. Books like Enclave where Deuce is an amazing warrior-woman type protagonist, are made of holy awesomeness!
5) Originality - Without originality, I wouldn't bother to read dystopian books. That's the reason why I'm loving them right now! Because of their originality! Even based on the blurb, if the concept of the book is original, nothing will stop me from reading it! Some upcoming books that I can already name solely based on the originality of their ideas are The Pledge by Kimberly Derting, Legend by Marie Lu, and many others!
Whew! That was some list! And that's only half of this cup of coffee with me! Now it's time for to touch on the place of controversial topics in young adult literature!
A few weeks ago, I finally read Wither by Lauren DeStefano after much debate. The reason why it took me so long was because I knew that the concept of polygamy was incorporated into the novel and I was kind of unsure whether I'd like such a book. Boy, I was right to read Wither! It was amazing.
People say don't judge a book by its cover, and I say don't judge a book by its topic; controversial or not. Polygamy, for me, is an intangible concept because I'm Catholic, but I'm not against reading it. I found it interesting how Lauren DeStefano used the concept and how she really integrated it into the whole world of Wither. It's a total win for me.
I've read other books that broached on controversial topics; the classic example being Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson that discusses the topic of rape or the recent example of The DUFF by Kody Keplinger. Many people think that this is too adult to be young adult, such as Wesley Scroggins. It's these people who don't think that young adults can't handle it, but in fact, they are handling it and are being exposed to it physically and emotionally in everyday life. These books give a strong message and if people choose not to read them, it's their loss. That's my opinion.