Planet of the Apes: Ulysse escapes Soror with his primitive lover and child, offering the readers hope that all will be well, only to return home to find Earth has become the same hell he escaped. The couple in space who had the message in a bottle—again, hope for the human race—only end up throwing another disturbing monkey wrench into the works (yes, pun fully intended).
The point: Apes merely “ape,” and everything the readers see in the ape society represents humanity’s progress put eternally on hold; we only hold ourselves back, and when we fail to reach our potential, society as a whole pays for our failings.
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1984: Lovers Winston and Julia are discovered together by the Thought Police and are taken to the Ministry of Love for torturous, brainwashing “re-education.” They both betray one another during interrogation, and then suffer their greatest fears in Room 101, Winston nearly having his face chewed to ribbons by rats before having the horror differed instead onto Julia. Their love dissolves—actually transforms into contempt—as a result of their experiences, and both re-enter society as selfless drones who live to serve and love “Big Brother.”
The point: If we submit to group thought, essentially allowing others to think for us, and do not exercise our rights as individual human beings, we will lose all that makes humanity so exceptional and diverse.
Cat’s Cradle: Ice-nine, a frozen chemical that turns all liquid it comes into contact with into more ice-nine (which stays frozen even in high temperatures), falls into the ocean via the crash of a plane containing the frozen body of a dictator who had committed suicide by ingesting the chemical, and all of the oceans in the world freeze over, ensuring the extinction of virtually all life on the planet.
The point: The most selfish and ignorant of humankind will be the downfall of us all.
My point: There is a reason many of my works end in tragedy, and sometimes it takes a little brainpower to figure out why. I know some people read to escape and some people read to think, but those in need of escapism have no place picking up the good majority of dystopian works. When I read reviews that show contempt for the dark ending in my dystopia, all I can think of is, You obviously have not read enough to know what you’re talking about. Go back to your YA dystopia, the sugar-coated kind, and leave the real literature to the big kids. And, should you decide to pick up a novel that follows the classic dystopian trope, don’t complain if you leave without that warm and fuzzy feeling. It’s meant to stimulate your brain, not fulfill your escapist needs.
It's blunt and it's not nice, but it's also true.