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Top 10 Dystopian Novels For Young Adults

Updated on January 15, 2014

The Top 10 Dystopian Novels For Young Adults

Dystopian novels are all the rage for young adults, and even adults. With the popularity of "The Hunger Games" trilogy, readers are finding they are fans of the dystopian novel genre. According to Wikipedia, "dystopia is defined as a society characterized by poverty, squalor, or oppression." One of the things I find appealing about dystopian fiction is seeing how the characters in the novels adapted to their dystopian world and what they do, if anything, to rise about the bleak situation.

Here are my top ten dystopian novels for young adults. Don't worry, grown ups, they are just as entertaining if you are over the age of 18.

The Hunger Games Trilogy

In the country of Panem, the Capitol orchestrates the Hunger Games every year, selecting two teens, a girl and a boy, from each of twelve districts to essentially fight each other to the death live on national television. The series centers on Katniss Everdeen, who elects to participate in the Hunger Games in an effort to protect her younger sister, Primrose, whose name was initially selected for their district.

Battle Royale - by Koushun Takami

Battle Royale: The Novel
Battle Royale: The Novel

If you haven't gotten enough of kids fighting each other to the death from The Hunger Games, try out Battle Royale. This Japanese novel was released in 1999, nearly ten years before readers first met Katniss Everdeen. Battle Royale centers around a group of Japanese students who are kidnapped as part of the Program, where they are relocated to an isolated island and told they must fight each other to the death until there is a sole survivor.


The Giver Trilogy - by Lois Lowry

Twelve year old Jonas has been selected to receive training from the Giver. Jonas soon learns this training involves gaining knowledge and information unavailable to his family and community. He is torn between maintaining the Sameness he is accustomed to and learning what he has been missing.

The Giver received the 1994 Newbery Medal for Children's literature.

Uglies Series - by Scott Westerfeld

The young adult book series, the Uglies, takes place in a world where all teens are given plastic surgery at the age of 16 to become Pretty. The hero of the book, Tally Youngblood, decides to rebel against the establishment and remain Ugly. Currently, the book series includes the books Uglies, Pretties, Specials, and Extras.

As a fan of the Twilight Zone, I was aware of an episode with a very similar plotline, entitled "Number Twelve Looks Just Like You". The Uglies series expanded on this premise and the very ideas of beauty and being unique.

Young Adults Are Just For Kids?

Is it cool for adults to read books written for young adults/kids?

Matched Series - By Ally Condie

In "Matched", the Society makes all decisions for its citizens. Cassia had no problem with this, even at her Matching ceremony, when she was told who she would be marrying. In the middle of her Matching ceremony, the face of another boy flashes on-screen briefly, calling into question everything Cassia accepted about the choices being made for her.

Chaos Walking Trilogy - by Patrick Ness

Todd Hewitt is the sole boy in Prentisstown. A "germ" has killed the women, forcing all males to officially become men at thirteen. Over the course of the trilogy, Todd learns that what he has been told about his world isn't entirely true.

Delirium - by Lauren Oliver

Delirium: The Special Edition (Delirium Trilogy)
Delirium: The Special Edition (Delirium Trilogy)

Scientists have found the cure for love, and Delirium is set in a world where citizens must receive the cure on their eighteenth birthday. A matter of days before her eighteenth birthday, Lena Holoway falls in love.


The Maze Runner Series - by James Dashner

Thomas wakes up in a box. He discovers he has been transported into a mysterious place called the Glade. There is no way out. He learns that beyond the Glade is a Maze, and runners venture out to it daily in an attempt to map it. The maze changes regularly, and even the runners aren't always successful in returning. Thomas joins the group of runners, hoping to help find a way out for himself and the other teens trapped in the Glade like him.

The Water Wars - by Cameron Stracher

The Water Wars
The Water Wars

The Water Wars takes place in a dystopian future where water has become so scarce clouds are literally pulled from the sky for drainage. Vera, the story's heroine, meets a boy named Kai who seems to always have water. Then he disappears.


Ship Breaker - by Paolo Bacigalupi

The world's fossil fuels have been stripped. Nailer is a teen boy who works hunting for scrap metal on grounded oil tankers. Fate has him find a recently beached pristine clipper and is torn between stripping it of its massive wealth or rescuing the ship's sole survivor.

The sequel to "Ship Breaker", titled "The Drowned Cities" is scheduled for release in 2012. You can pre-order it from below.

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What's Your Favorite Dystopian Novel For Young Adults?

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      The Legend series!!! And the Darkest Minds! Both AMAZING series

    • dancingdiva02 profile image


      5 years ago

      The trilogies of Divergent and the hunger games ! (:

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Divergent and it's follow up, Insurgent, both by Veronica Roth.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      In school my Language Arts class read the Giver. We all found the book and its sequels very interesting. I also found the Giver to be a great discussion book. I have also heard Divergent to be a great novel.

    • JoshuaBonilla profile image


      7 years ago

      A recent release, Sky of Dust: The Last Weapon is now a top recommended book for The Hunger Games on Amazon.

      It is a young adult, dystopian, action, adventure, and more.

      It takes place in the future after the government was overthrown by the people. Little did they know, they had been manipulated by a group of arms dealers. The arms dealers took power (The people did not know they were arms dealers) and began to use the people as mercenaries (Agian, the peopl did not know).

      It also has the nice twist of abilities/mutations.powers thrown in.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Divergent and the hunger games were good.

    • katemiya profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @anonymous: Yeah, I'm slacking on updating the recommended products. Please forgive me!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      "Just Johny in the Underground" - was free on Kindle last week, a couple of quid now. Paperback available on i think, and possible elsewhere. Check it out.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      divergent is a very good one

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      ender's game is still my fave... even after all these years. Although Hunger Games is pretty close!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Enclave and Outposts by Ann Aguirre are my personal favorites with a 3rd book horde on the way. The story is more captivating then any other I have read took my favorite reads above hunger games shipbreaker and drowned cities. Each book created a vivid picture of the world around while giving detail to every moment amazing character depth you truly fall in love with the characters. The book keeps action coming and suspense building. It's truly a masterpiece.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      The GONE series by Michael Grant, it is sooooo goood. You guys must read this, especially if you liked The Maze Runner. It is VERY good:

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Ender's Game and The Giver, games down.

    • krakensquid profile image


      7 years ago

      I couldn't tell you a 'favourite' as I like a lot of them but the Hunger Games for one really is a good book. An amazing selection by the way, you have great taste in literature! :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Hunger games trilogy is great but I know everyone else would pick that so second best is the Dark life series.

    • PocketfulofParis profile image


      7 years ago

      My favorite is the giver, it is so interesting and really makes you think

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I like the Hunger Games and the Uglies series.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      @cal17mom: Read Divergent. It's even better

    • cal17mom profile image


      8 years ago

      It has to be the Hunger Games. That trilogy is one of my all-time favorites, even among adult novels.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Days Like This by Alison Stewart. Just read this; saw it on Goodreads. It's absorbing and exciting, set in Sydney, Australia. Terrific list. Read most of them but you can't go past The Giver.

    • jenniferteacher1 profile image


      8 years ago

      The Giver is my favorite of these.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Uh, I got a bit late! But still can give you a second blessing:)

    • Timewarp profile image


      8 years ago from Montreal

      Great book selections, blessed!

    • CruiseReady profile image


      8 years ago from East Central Florida

      Having just heard of this genre on your page, I can't exactly choose a favorite. But, I can tell you that, from reading the summeries, most of them sound awfully depressing. Perhaps I'm missing something.

    • emmaklarkins profile image


      8 years ago

      Great list! A Boy and his Dog is another good one.

    • kislanyk profile image


      8 years ago from Cyprus

      I've read many of these novels, but not quite all, so I have some more reading to go (I love young adul tnovels, and I'm not a young adult, lol).

      P.S. Hope your migraines are gone!


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