Quiz: Dystopia, Headline, or Both?

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Kate Krug


Kate is a 2011 Drake University grad, where she received her BA in magazine journalism. A hopeless romantic with a cynical heart, Kate will read anything that comes with a content warning, a love triangle, and a major plot twist. Twitter: @katekrug Blog: http://snarky-yet-satisfying.com

We’ve lived through some *sigh* unprecedented times. And there have definitely been moments throughout the past few years where it has felt like our favorite dystopian novels that we used to think could never possibly come true have indeed become our reality.

But have we gone full dystopia? A “dystopia” is an imagined or fabricated world or society where its citizens are suffering an injustice — commonly brought on by an apocalyptic disaster or totalitarian government. We live in the real world, obviously (or do we? Okay, not getting into that here), so by its definition, we cannot be living in a dystopia. Still, we cannot deny there being similar aspects and that perspectives differ for every person. 

A global pandemic. Senseless violence and bigotry. Painfully divided politics. Is it time to take up our swords? I mean, by all counts, we’re already fighting back. 

So, let’s put it to the test. Can you figure out which is a book plot, a news headline, or the scary instance when it’s both? Test your knowledge with our quiz! 

As my girl Effie would say, “May the odds be ever in your favor.”

Want to brush up on your skills? Here are the books mentioned in this quiz, to increase your dystopia knowledge.

Both Dystopia and Real Headline:

Politician promises to ‘Make America Great Again'”

Parable of the Talents cover

Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler

In her sequel to Parable of the Sower, Parable of the Talents, Octavia Butler introduces us to a future state where a Christian fundamentalist denomination has overtaken the United States. Led by President Jarret, the Christian America party seeks to restore American power and prestige by making America great again. Got chills? You should.

“Book ban battle plays out as more novels are pulled from shelves.”

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury book cover

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

In Ray Bradbury’s classic 1953 novel, Fahrenheit 451 depicts an American society where books have been completely outlawed. It’s the job of citizens known as “firemen” to burn any books that are found by the government.

“Male politicians push for women who have abortions to be punished with prison time.”

Red Clocks cover

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

There are a handful of books that predicted this bleak future, including Red Clocks by Leni Zumas. The novel follows several women at different points in their lives as they navigate life in a world where abortion is completely illegal, along with IVF. Gin, an herbalist, is arrested and put on trial for providing different services for the aforementioned women.

Fake Headlines

“Pandemic kills citizens through mindless routine.”

severance book cover

Severance by Ling Ma

Candace is in a period of transition and spends her days just going through the motions. So when the Shen Fever spreads, which essentially turns humans into solely creatures of routine and habit, it’s barely noticeable to her. But the world suddenly comes to a stop, and Candace finds herself one of the only “unfevered” left in New York City.

“Boarding school revealed to be cover-up for a questionably ethical operation.”

A graphic of the cover of r Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Set in a dystopian version of late ’90s England, Hailsham is a very secluded and exclusive boarding school, where its students are put under very strict and unusual rules that they are expected to adhere to. It is also universally understood amongst the students that Hailsham is only a stop on their journey and at some time in the future they will all be required to leave. But they don’t know why.

“Reservation survives natural disaster by building walls around city limits.”

cover of Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

While most of the world has succumbed during an unexpected climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) only gains power, having survived due to their massive walls built by citizens and gods. Maggie is a Dinétah monster hunter who is called to a small town to help find a missing girl. Through a reluctant alliance, Maggie begins to dive into ancient legends to defeat the monster.

“Woman flees arranged marriage by joining fleet of traveling librarians.”

cover of Upright Women Wanted; image of people standing in old west dress against a blue sky

Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

Esther is attempting to escape the current fascist regime in an alternate future dystopian western world. She joins a band of traveling Librarians who are secret rebels helping other women, like Esther, escape the corruption and oppression and learn how to fight back. (Note: queerphobia and classist oppression are present but are addressed.)