What I Learned About Getting Married From Dystopian YA

By: Margaret Bristol

For years, I have been a loyal fan of dystopian young adult novels. I’ve spent more than a few late nights wide awake reading books, so engrossed with a futuristic story that I was willing to sacrifice any semblance of a good night’s sleep. From the epic fights for freedom to the swoon-worthy romances, I was often transported from the real world into a place where my own troubles seemed laughable. But while I was reading the books for sheer escapism, I never realized I would actually be able to apply some of the lessons to my adult life.

This past spring, as I planned and prepared to get married, I was pretty floored at how much I had retained from some of the great dystopian YA novels with their radical marriage customs. We think weddings are dramatic now? In the future, we’re looking at young women getting auctioned off like cattle or competing in reality competitions to win a prince’s hand in marriage. All of these books provided vital lessons as I walked down the aisle. Some were surprising, some were helpful and some helped me steer clear of being a bridezilla.

1. The Selection

Marriage lesson: When you open yourself to new experiences, you never know what you might find. America would have never have met handsome prince Maxon if she hadn’t signed up for a “Bachelor”-style competition for his hand in marriage. While Mer is totally resistant at first, the warmest parts of this novel are when Maxon starts winning her over.

2. The Registry

Marriage lesson: It’s really nice to have choices–that is, to not get stuck being raised to be a bride and sold to the highest bidder like the gals in this book. All I can picture is me standing on a block at Sotheby’s staring out at a bunch of toothless old men. I do not blame Mia for running for the hills. Not. One. Bit.

3. Requiem

Marriage lesson: A marriage without love is terrifying. Just ask Lena, who risks her life to pursue her freedom to choose love.

4. The Giver

Marriage lesson: Within seconds of getting married, somebody is bound to ask when you and your brand new spouse plan on having children. (Side note: If you are this person, stop it.) Unfortunately, I don’t have the option of saying, “When the government mandates that I take care of a baby that was birthed by a teen girl who was raised specifically to make babies.”

5. Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)

Marriage lesson: Never marry someone involved in politics, because your marriage will be put on display. But if you must, and you find yourself in a sticky situation, give them the old razzle-dazzle and fake a pregnancy. It will at least win you sympathy.

6. Uglies

Marriage lesson: Beauty is only skin-deep. As much as you tuck, pluck and cinch–like the protagonist Tally–you will eventually age. It’s an old cliché, but when you decide to spend the rest of your life with someone, make sure you’re as attracted to their inside as you are to their outside.

(Reprinted with permission from Bookish.com)




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