dystopian fiction
Hunger Games
December 3, 2013

Books and the Economy


Maggie: Nearly $4 million of young adult novels were sold last year. In this next story, Keith Kocinski checks out how many of these novels share a real-life theme.

Teen: My favorite types of books are adventure.

Teen: Sci-fi and fantasy.

Teen: Sci-fi and adventure.

Keith: Sci-fi novels featuring young people are topping the best sellers list. In fact, Veronica Roth’s novels Insurgent and Divergent spent nearly 50 weeks on the New York Times top ten young adult novels list and The Hunger Game series about Katniss, a teenager who is struggling to survive, sold nearly 30 million copies in 2012 and has been turned into movies. But those sci-fi novels have one thing in common.

Alexander Mildener: The events are still fantasy.

Keith: That fantasy is based on reality, according to some book critics who say underlying themes center around economic anxiety, worries about money and stability. Writers say teens are not only reading about economic anxiety, they are also living it.

Brais Sampedro: Once I graduate, will I be able to get a job? Will I be able to support myself?

Rita Cinquenani: Well, I do have one friend who is facing an economic hardship and, in a way, she reminds me of Katniss because she sort of has to struggle each day of her life to make sure that she gets to work on time and make sure that she has food on her table, because she is pretty much supporting herself.

Keith: Many young people today are still feeling the effects of the 2008 financial crisis, when millions of Americans lost their jobs or even their homes. In fact, the four years before the release of Divergent, the number of children in poverty grew by 3 million with birth rates at a historic low.

I sat down with book critic Marcela Valdes to find out why she thinks economic anxiety is in teen books.

Marcela Valdes: The things that we choose are things that resonate with us generally, and I think that the issues in these books that are below the surface are the ones that are resonating with these readers. And they are resonating with them because we are living in a really difficult economic climate.

Keith: She points to the Divergent series.

Valdes: I was just blown away by how much of it is about economic anxiety.

Keith: Not to give away too much about the book for those who haven’t read it, but the teens in the novel are required to take a test deciding what faction or class they will be in for the rest of their lives.

Valdes: The pressure that these young people feel about this upcoming test is so extraordinary that it sort of mirrors how a lot of high school students would feel about SATs, which determine, of course, which colleges they get into.

Keith: Book critics say many teens today are like the protagonists in these novels. They are angry about the their situations and want change. Brais Sampedro says he is motivated by characters like Katniss in The Hunger Games.

Brais: She is 16 and she going through something much tougher than we are right now, and she is able to fight through it.

Keith: When looking at these novels, I know they can be heavy, but is it all doom and gloom?

Valdes: As gritty and violent and scary as they can be, they are in some way tremendously hopeful and tremendously inspiring.

Keith: Inspiring the next generation to overcome their hardships and make a better future.

Keith Kocinski, Channel One News.

Maggie: And if you are looking for some new additions to your book list, you have got to check out the Book Selection page over at


3 comments on “Books and the Economy

  1. SCM

    You guys should also read ‘THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS’ by Cassandra Clare.

    PS: LOVE the Hunger Games!! Go Katniss and Peeta!


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