You may have heard it a thousand times, but in dystopias, it’s true: things aren’t always what they seem. And for the characters in these books, that always seems to be a lesson learned the hard way. In dystopian books, characters live in completely different worlds with completely different rules. Pick up one of these dystopian novels and join the characters in discovering what makes their worlds far less than perfect.
(Just a heads up—because of the themes in dystopian books and the alternate worlds in which these characters live, some of these titles are prone to mature content.)
- Anderson, M.T. Feed. YA AND. In Titus’s futuristic world, everyone is constantly bombarded with information through their feeds, which are computer brain implants that stream ads and commercials all day long. Titus meets a rebellious friend, Violet, whose feed is shutting down. As her feed shuts down, so does her mind and body—and no one is willing to save her.
- Bacigalupi, Paolo. Ship Breaker. YA BAC (new). Living in a world with depleted fossil fuels and drowned cities, 15-year-old Nailer salvages scrap metal from oil tankers in order to make a living. When he discovers a survivor from the wreck of a wealthy ship, Nailer must decide whether to save the girl or take the valuables and run.
- Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. SCI-FI BRA. Guy Montag is a fireman who burns books and loves it. But everything changes for Guy when he meets a young girl who mysteriously disappears, forcing Guy to reconsider everything he thought he knew about his society and what he believes.
- Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. YA COL. Katniss lives in Panem, a nation with a cruel yet shining Capitol and twelve other districts. Based on the Capitol’s ruling, each district must send a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to the Hunger Games, a brutal competition and a literal fight to the death—and it’s Katniss’s turn to play.
- Condie, Allyson. Matched. YA CON (new). In Cassia’s world, Society is the ultimate—and only—matchmaker, dictating who belongs with whom for the rest of their 80-year lives. It’s Cassia’s turn to be matched, and she’s shocked to see she’s been matched with not one, but two people. Who’s her real match, and how did Society make such a mistake?
- Dashner, James. The Maze Runner. YA DAS. What would you do if you woke up in the middle of a maze with absolutely no idea how you got there and no clue how to leave? Welcome to Thomas’s life.
- DeStefano, Lauren. Wither. (audio book) CD BOOK YA WEST. When scientists genetically engineered perfect children, everyone was sure it would work out brilliantly. Wrong. Now, because a virus causes almost all females to die at the age of 20, girls are kidnapped, sold, and married off to repopulate the world—and that’s exactly what happened to 16-year-old Rhine.
- Farmer, Nancy. House of the Scorpion. YA FAR. When Matt first interacts with the outside world at the age of six, he discovers that he’s a clone living in a world that despises clones. Matt’s not just any clone either...he’s the clone of El Patron, the leader of an enormous drug empire.
- Grant, Michael. Gone. YA GRA. Strange things happen in Sam’s world...everyone over the age of 14 disappears, and everyone left develops strange, supernatural, often unwelcome powers. Not to mention the mutating animals and giant, impassable wall that encircles his community. Now, Sam has to figure out what’s going on before his upcoming 14th birthday.
- Lanagan, Margo. Black Juice. YA LAN. In this set of ten short stories, the author takes readers through significant events in peculiar worlds that are sometimes filled with more evil than good and more darkness than light.
- Lowry, Lois. The Giver. YA LOW. After turning 12, Jonas is ready to receive his lifetime assignment, an occupation he’ll have for the rest of his life. At the Ceremony, Jonas is named Receiver, the keeper of the community’s memories. Through an intense training process, Jonas starts to learn that the world he lives in may not be as great as he thought.
- O’Brien, Caragh M. Birthmarked. YA OBR. Sixteen-year-old Gaia lives and works in an outside community called Enclave. Being a midwife, Gaia’s job is to send babies to privileged families who live within the walls. While she doesn’t have as many luxuries as those people inside the walls, Gaia has been loyal to her community; that is, until her parents disappear and she discovers startling secrets about the Enclave.
- Oliver, Lauren. Delirium. YA OLI (new). Lena is afraid of catching a terrible disease: love. In her world, love is an awful delirium that leads to nothing but bad things. So, young people get an operation to cure the illness. Days before her surgery, Lena experiences what she dreaded—she falls in love.
- Orwell, George. 1984. YA ORW. In this classic dystopian tale, Winston Smith knows that Big Brothers is watching, yet he rebels against his strict, totalitarian government and is arrested by the Thought Police.
- Rosoff, Meg. How I Live Now. YA ROS. After 15-year-old Daisy moves to London with her aunt and cousins, war breaks out—without warning and without mercy. With her aunt out of the country, it’s up to Daisy and her cousins to survive. But, among all the war and violence, Daisy may find love where she least expects it.
- Roth, Veronica. Divergent. YA ROT (new). The Chicago where Beatrice lives is not the Chicago we know. In her world, citizens must belong to one of five factions; without belonging to a faction, you might as well not exist. After a test reveals some rare information about Beatrice, she joins a new faction—Dauntless. To prove her recklessness, Beatrice must go through an intense, brutal initiation competition.
- Westerfield, Scott. Uglies. YA WES. Tally is almost 16, which means she’s about to have the same surgery everyone gets at that age, an operation to turn her from an Ugly to a Pretty. But, when a friend decides to run away and not become a Pretty, Tally is forced into following, leading her down a path of secrets and betrayal.