The Sum of Our Parts: Race, Blood, and Genetics in Three Dystopian Young Adult Novels

ECU Author/Contributor (non-ECU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Sarah A Wise (Creator)
East Carolina University (ECU )
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Abstract: In the last decade, the young adult genre subset of speculative fiction has experienced growth in both publication and popularity. As the breadth of the genre has increased, more multicultural authors and characters have come to light in these types of books, utilizing the genre to focus on social and political issues related to diversity. This paper will focus on three such novels: Shadows Cast by Stars by Katherine Knutsson, Orleans by Sherri L. Smith, and House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer. These three texts focus on different ethnic groups within North America and issues of discrimination through racialization within those communities. All three texts imagine a dystopian future in which identity is biologically coded into human bodies, and that identity determines the usefulness and fate of those bodies. I argue that, through the dystopias each novel creates, the texts provide a critique of the dehumanization of peoples through race and its association with blood and genetics. The characters in each text confront this dehumanization by refuting the social identity ascribed to them and reclaiming their own individual identity through experience and communal interaction.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2016
science fiction
Identity (Philosophical concept) in literature; Race in literature; Discrimination in literature; Farmer, Nancy, 1941-. House of the scorpion; Knutsson, Katherine. Shadows cast by stars; Young adult literature; Smith, Sherri L. Orleans; Dystopias in literature

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