Skip to main content


May 19, 2014

Five Ways to Survive a YA Dystopia --- Guest Post by Georgia Clark


Georgia Clark’s new book, PARCHED, is a dystopian novel --- after Earth’s resources have nearly run out, the Trust created Eden, a walled city that has access to almost all of the food, water and money. Everyone in the surrounding Badlands, however, is resource-starved, thirsty and poor. Given the premise of her book, Georgia knows a thing or two about how to survive in a dystopian society, and decided to share her survival secrets with Because really, you can never be too prepared!

It’s going to happen eventually. Whether it’s the undead, Mother Nature’s wrath or the aftermath of a corrupt government who like to dress alike, a dystopia is in all of our futures. Here’s the best way to survive, as taught to us by the very best of YA fic.

Fall In Love. What’s that you say? Struggling to stay alive and protect yourself is the worst possible time to fall in crush? Nu-uh. You may think that brooding hottie with the piercing green eyes is far too infuriating and/or distant to be your beau, but you better think again. The object of your affection is actually the key to your survival, and I’m not just talking about badass weapons. They’ll teach you that love is actually the best tool in your belt, and they’ll probably save you on more than one occasion. You’ll save them too. It’ll be sweet.

Case Study: DELIRIUM. See, falling in love is the best thing to do even when it’s the LAST thing you’re supposed to do!

Ditch Your Siblings. Seriously. They are your emotional Achilles Heel, and if wasn’t for them, you probably wouldn’t be in this mess to start with! I don’t care how cute and loving they are, they’re just holding you back! Oh, you can’t turn your back on family? Well, you just made things a lot harder for yourself. And you also became noble, brave and likeable. So, good job, I guess.

Case Study: The Hunger Games. If it wasn’t for Prim, Katniss would still be taking potshots at rabbits with Tall Gale.


Never, ever, ever trust the Government. Ever. I don’t care if you’ve trusted them your whole life. I don’t care if a member of your freakin’ family works for them. You can’t trust The Man. The Man wants society to be uniform. The Man is greedy. And cruel. Look, it’s probably not a good idea to trust anyone at this stage. But you especially need to be wary of anyone dressed in a uniform. Trust.

Case Study: MATCHED. Sure, it SEEMED like a good idea that the Society took care of matchmaking for you. It totally wasn’t.

Learn How to Use a Weapon. Because you’re going to be fighting. A lot. You’re probably even going to have to kill someone. Or at least mess them up pretty bad. There might not be a lot of guns around in your YA dystopia, but if there are, learn how to use one. Failing that, a knife or bow and arrow are also a good bet (because guess what? You’ll also need them to kill and skin food. Fun, right?). Failing anything concrete, just learn to fight. Yeah, kid: you ARE the weapon! Just never fight dirty. This may be a dystopia, but fighting dirty is bad karma, and will end up biting you in the ass.

Case Study: Divergent, aka Tris Fights A Lot. Beatrice would not have gotten far if she was afraid to break a nail.

Hang Out With Nerds. Even if they’re not your regular cup of tea, a nerd gang is a must-have for every kind of dystopia. Why? Sure, they might not be so much with the brawn, but nerds have book smarts, and you need book smarts right now. You’ll be creating escape plans and plans of attack, you’ll be rigging up ways to live, to survive, to trap food, to fight baddies. You need brain power! Plus, nerds have a funny way of being, well, funny, and endless days of running and fighting won’t be as interesting if you don’t have someone making with the funnies every now and then.

Case Study: PARCHED. It’s so much easier to go up against the powers that be with nerd boy extraordinaire Achilles in your posse! Nerds unite!

Georgia Clark is the author of two YA novels, SHE'S WITH THE BAND and PARCHED, a sci-fi romance. Kirkus Reviews called PARCHED a "bold futurist adventure with unusual romance, riveting action and ominous ecological red flags." Check out more at or follow her on Twitter at @georgialouclark.