The Last Star Paperback Blitz: How to Write a Dystopian Novel

The Last Star Blitz Header

Why hello there my friends! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I did say in my last post that I was taking a hiatus, but now I can say that I’m officially back! This summer I’m making my blog a priority, and I have a lot of great ideas for some new posts!

All of that being said, I’m here today to talk about the release of The Last Star in paperback!! The awesome peeps over at Penguin Teen are hosting a blitz campaign today that I’m super excited to be participating in. Have you guys read The 5th Wave trilogy? Unfortunately, I can’t exactly say that for myself. I read The 5th Wave when it first released back in 2013, LOVED IT, immediately purchased The Infinite Sea when it came out, aaaaand proceeded to let it sit on my shelf for the next 3 years. It’s a real shame, I know. It’s currently staring at me from across the room, taunting me and whispering “Miaaaa…. whyyyy? Why have you neglected meee…???”

Oh, your books don’t talk to you? How peculiar….

Anyways, today is the exciting release of the final book in paperback! Which means you can now own the entire series in a beautiful matching set. If you’re anything like me, that is a very tempting reason to buy (and hopefully read) all the books!

In celebration of this alien-filled, action-packed series, I have compiled a list explaining how to write a dystopian novel just like The 5th Wave. Or rather, it’s really just a list of things that appear in YA dystopia a lot but that didn’t sound nearly as catchy in the title.

So here’s a short list of tropes/plot twists/random things that make up the common YA dystopian book:

1. Totalitarian Government

Well, duh. I’m pretty sure this is actually in the definition of dystopia. Think of every single YA dystopian novel that exists, and it probably has some controlling agency with a name like The Regime or The Authority. It usually will consist of one crusty old dude in charge that thinks he’s The Stuff along with a police task force of mindless cronies that the protagonists always have to run from.

2. Sketchy Side Character That Betrays Everyone

This one isn’t necessarily a must-have for dystopia, but thinking back on all the different ones I’ve read, it’s a common occurrence. Usually, the character is introduced as a friend, family member, or possible love interest of the protagonist. They’re likable for the most part, but will occasionally make side comments that hint at their devious plans with the enemy that will inevitably be revealed as a gasp-worthy twist later in the book/series. SPOILER ALERT but the first example that comes to mind for me is Caleb in Divergent.

3. Uncontrollable Organisms of Some Sort

Typically takes the following forms: super deadly pathogen (that at least one character loses their parents to); zombies (which may result from the former); alien race; or creepy creatures that evolved as a result of excess chemical contamination/pollution/etc. This acts as an outside challenge to the totalitarian government, and helps add to the rising stakes against the characters.

4. Underground Resistance that the MC Gets Captured By and Reluctantly Joins

Along with an oppressive ruler, a resistance movement is another staple of YA dystopia. At the beginning of the novel, the MC is suddenly and mysteriously captured by an anonymous group, which they will likely assume to be the police-like minions of the government. Then, they will proceed to spend the next five pages denying the very fact that there even is a resistance movement and that they’ve come face-to-face with it. Later, the revolution leaders smoothly appeal to the MC’s sense of humanity, and the suppressed feelings of resistance that they’ve ignored for so long. The MC will probably grumble about joining for one chapter, until an inciting incident compels them to take up arms.

5. The Discovery of Some Fancy Technology that Allows the Resistance to Overcome their Oppressors and Usually Just Blows Stuff Up

This, of course, is later in the book, when the protagonist has just suffered a heartbreaking setback (maybe they lost a good friend, or got captured by the government). In any case, when all seems bleak and impossible, a bright new discovery is usually made that will turn the tide in favor of the resistance. It typically involves some cool weaponry or strategy that is pretty trickstery and makes the reader go “AHAAA so that’s how the characters are gonna win!” It will also probably result in a heart-pounding climax with lots of explosions.

And that’s about it! Of course, this list was just a fun way to highlight all the reasons we love YA dystopia (or maybe all the reasons you don’t like it). There are plenty of books that don’t conform to the stuff on my list, but at least a few of them do!


Writing this post has really made me want to reread The 5th Wave and jump back into the series! If you guys want the chance to win a set of paperbacks yourself, check out this awesome giveaway hosted by Penguin Teen!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter for a chance to be one (1) grand prize winner and receive a set of The 5th Wave Collection in paperback, including The 5th Wave, The Infinite Sea, and The Last Star (ARV: $32.97), or to be one (1) of five (5) second place winners to receive The 5th Wave in paperback (ARV: $10.99 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on May 23, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 30, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about June 2, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

Meet the Author

Rick Yancey Author Photo

Rick Yancey ( is the author of the New York Times bestseller The 5th WaveThe Infinite SeaThe Last Star, several adult novels, and the memoir Confessions of a Tax Collector. His first young-adult novel, The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp, was a finalist for the Carnegie Medal. In 2010, his novel, The Monstrumologist, received a Michael L. Printz Honor, and the sequel, The Curse of the Wendigo, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. When he isn’t writing or thinking about writing or traveling the country talking about writing, Rick is hanging out with his family.

What are some of your favorite YA dystopias? Have you read The 5th Wave trilogy? What other aspects of dystopia would you include on my list? If you also participated in the blitz campaign, comment a link to your post!!

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7 thoughts on “The Last Star Paperback Blitz: How to Write a Dystopian Novel”

  1. oh my god! I love your post Mia! This is one of my favorite dystopians of all times. My 5th Wave review is coming up tomorrow. I love the first two books. I still have to read this one! I love Rick Yancey’s voice so much!

    1. Thanks!! I’m glad you enjoyed The 5th Wave, I really need to reread it soon!

  2. I love what you did with this post! It’s well thought out, and these are definitely some reoccurring elements in a lot of dystopian novels. Luckily, I kind of love them all!

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