Does the majority of our society believe we are doomed? Our fascination with end of the world books seems to indicate that we do. Whether it’s the Mayan predictions of 2012 or the words of Nostradamus, prophecies about the end of the world have been debated in books, idealized in films and flooding our pop culture for some time. From scholars, intellects and religious leaders to readers of young adult novels, there is clearly a near obsession with an apocalyptic ending of the world as we know it.
Movies in recent years have depicted fantastical portrayals of what could happen in the event of an apocalypse. In Legion, God was fed up with the wicked ways of the world and sent his angels to earth to mercilessly destroy it. In Zombieland, an epidemic plague turned the majority of humanity into flesh-eating undead. In dystopian novels like The Hunger Games, society is divided into a harsh caste system where each of 12 districts send two of their young to battle to the death in an arena watched by the entire country. In Revealing Eden, most of the population is killed when the sun overheats, casting fatal radiation that those with light-skin cannot withstand. Young adult novels like these two are enlightening a younger audience of readers who devour books of this genre.
Clearly, pop culture is fascinated with doomsday. Sociologists say that the growing interest in end of the world books exponentially increases with catastrophes and negative times, such as earthquakes, tsunamis, war and economic recession. Perhaps there’s a sort of comfort readers take in reading about people in worse circumstances, or they can relate to the characters’ predicaments. Or maybe it’s the dystopian novels with hope that give them faith in the potential prospects for the future.
Whatever the driving force behind the current surge in popularity is, end of the world books and dystopian novels have been an object of fascination in our culture for hundreds of years. From Noah’s Ark and the flood that wiped out humanity and Mary Shelley’s Last Man, which was published in 1826, to modern day novels like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games and Victoria Foyt’s Revealing Eden, the appeal with the end of times reflects a hunger for meaning among readers of all ages.
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