Mothers and Murderers : Adults’ Oppression of Children and Adolescents in Young Adult Dystopian Literature

Alkestrand, Malin

265 kr


Since the publication of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games in 2008, there has been a boom in literature about dystopias with authoritarian regimes, featuring adults who oppress children and adolescents. Dystopian literature for young adults asks important questions about the consequences of the adult generation’s inability to deal with challenges such as discrimination and dictatorial tendencies. It also illustrates how young people can be oppressed by adults in non-fictional societies by exaggerating the power inequalities between children, adolescents and adults.

Mothers and Murderers explores power relationships between adults and the young, using a corpus of around one hundred Anglophone and Swedish dystopian novels for young adult (YA) readers. It highlights the power relationships that come into play when dystopian regimes force young characters to become killers. It also illuminates the relationship of power between children, adolescents and adults by analysing the motif of the adolescent mother. In this dystopian literature, adolescent mothers must be prepared to do whatever it takes to protect their child, even while being oppressed by adults. This book analyses how the power category of age relates to other categories such as gender, race, (dis)ability and class.

The genre’s problematisation of adult oppression of the young incorporates an educational potential that can be harnessed in the classroom. By exaggerating actual age-related power inequalities, it can support students and teachers in questioning assumptions about what the young generation needs and what elements of society it needs protecting from.

Combining text analyses of the motifs in the corpus, case studies with in-depth analyses of these motifs, and suggestions for teaching plans, this book is aimed at readers who want to explore dystopian literature for young adults, as well as teachers and trainee teachers who want to actualise the educational potential of this genre in the classroom.


Malin Alkestrand has a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Lund University, Sweden, and is assistant professor at Linnaeus Univer­sity, Sweden. She teaches and researches in the field of children’s and young adult literature, and she has published on fantasy literature and dystopian literature for young adults. Alkestrand is also a qualified secondary school teacher in Swedish and History. She educates trainee teachers in the school subject Swedish, with a focus on children’s and YA literature and how to teach these types of literature in the classroom.


Studies Published by the Swedish Institute for Children’s Books n:o 155

Ytterligare information






Danskt band