Date of Graduation

Spring 2015

Document Type

Honors Research Project



Research Sponsor

Dr. Mary Biddinger

First Reader

Dr. Heather Braun

Second Reader

Eric Wasserman


For the past few years, dystopian stories have ruled the young adult fiction aisles and the box office. Taking the reins from similarly popular predecessors like Harry Potter and Twilight, the genre has set itself apart by telling stories of action, war, and heroism that are often led by a young female protagonist. This project examines a variety of gender-related themes in six young adult dystopian novels, chosen for their popularity and subject matter. While it is not a comprehensive look at the genre, it is meant to analyze some of the most widely known works, which is important because their target teenage audience is constantly picking up messages from popular culture trends that they may not yet have the tools to critically view these works. Through analyzing these novels I found that the futuristic, dystopian setting allows authors to more easily change gender roles and presentation, write stories of empowerment and liberation, and examine modern day norms. Although the novels’ mainstream appeal makes it difficult for them to be truly subversive, their influence on young adult fiction and on roles for young women in popular books and films is notable.