Utopia is actually a Greek word for 'not place', but has come to be used as a term for a perfect society, something that has been explored in literature, although not nearly as often as dystopia (tragic, nightmarish world).
I've notice a huge trend in YA fiction featuring dystopian worlds, like The Forest of Hands and Teeth, the setting is a future where zombies plague the earth. Another popular dystopian novel is Unwind by Neal Shusterman set in world where it's acceptable practice to harvest body parts from unwanted teenagers. But I found utopian fiction a little scarce.
When utopian worlds are explored in fiction it is usually to question their validity. In H G Wells The Time Machine, the protagonist visits a future world that appears utopian, only to discover the idyllic gentle souls living in a state of euphoria were actually just food for the society that lived beneath the ground. Certainly the utopian suggestion by Cadburys that the world would be nice if it were chocolate is all fun and games in winter, but come summer...
I wonder if this method of questioning paradise is also a way of questioning religious beliefs about perceptions of heavens or afterlife. Perhaps it is a way of raising awareness of our own views of our culture, the way we think our practices are the acceptable ones. Then again, it might just be because without conflict, there would be no story.
The Sky Inside is a story of a utopian world (well, utopian until the conflict arrives) by Clare B Dunkle. I like the look of this one and might have to add it to my 'list of books I'm allowed to buy once I've actually read some of the ones I've already got'. Have you come across any recent utopian novels? Does all speculative fiction assume we're doomed?
I also have a new personal project. I want to find all the blogs hosted by kids and teens on writing and book reviewing so I can share their links and encourage their efforts (because I have been so humbled by the bloggers supporting Paper Dolls - my daughters' book review blog). Whenever you come across a blog you want to recommend, let me know!