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List: dystopian young adult fiction

A perennial favourite of the sci-fi genre, dystopian themes are now becoming increasingly prevalent in young adult fiction. Below is a list of a range of classic and contemporary fiction that deal with dystopias.

declaration gemma malley List: dystopian young adult fiction
The Declaration by Gemma Malley (see our review)

Blurb: Anna Covey is a Surplus. She should not have been born. In a society in which ageing is no longer feared, and death is no longer an inevitability, children are an abomination. Like all Surpluses, Anna is living in a Surplus Hall and learning how to make amends for the selfish act her parents committed in having her. She is quietly accepting of her fate until, one day, a new inmate arrives. Annas life is thrown into chaos. But is she brave enough to believe this mysterious boy? This is a tense and utterly compelling story about a society behind a wall, and the way in which two young people seize the chance to break free.


pure julianna baggott List: dystopian young adult fiction

Pure'by Julianna Baggott (see our review)

Blurb:'Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe its his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.

When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.

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Possession'by Elana Johnson

Blurb:'Vi knows the rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even'think'about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the rules more than Zenn'and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.'But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they're set on convincing Vi to become one of them'starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can't leave Zenn in the Thinkers' hands, but she's wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous'everything Zenn's not. Vi can't quite trust Jag and can't quite resist him, but she also can't give up on Zenn.'This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.

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The Pledge'by Kimberley Derting

In the violent country of Ludania, the language you speak determines what class you are, and there are harsh punishments if you forget your place'looking a member of a higher class in the eye can result in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina (Charlie for short) can understand all languages, a dangerous ability she's been hiding her whole life. Her only place of release is the drug-filled underground club scene, where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. There, she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy who speaks a language she's never heard, and her secret is almost exposed. Through a series of violent upheavals, it becomes clear that Charlie herself is the key to forcing out the oppressive power structure of her kingdom'.

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Starters'by Lissa Price

In the future, teens rent their bodies to seniors who want to be young again. One girl discovers her renter plans to do more than partyher body will commit murder, if her mind cant stop it. Sixteen-year-old Callie lost her parents when the genocide spore wiped out everyone except those who were vaccinated firstthe very young and very old. With no grandparents to claim Callie and her little brother, they go on the run, living as squatters, and fighting off unclaimed renegades who would kill for a cookie. Hope comes via Prime Destinations, run by a mysterious figure known only as The Old Man. He hires teens to rent their bodies to seniors, known as enders, who get to be young again. Callies neurochip malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her rich renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, even dating Blake, the grandson of a senator. Its a fairy-tale new life . . . until she uncovers the Body Banks horrible plan. . . .


life as we knew it susan beth pfeffer List: dystopian young adult fiction

Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Blurb: No shops. No TV. No Electricity. No Daylight. No idea if your family is alive or dead. Could you survive? When a freak asteroid knocks the moon from its orbit, horrific tides engulf parts of the globe, and life on earth changes overnight. For 15-year-old Miranda, a desperate battle for her familys survival begins.


little brother by corey doctorow List: dystopian young adult fiction

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Blurb: After being interrogated for days by the Department of Homeland Security in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco, California, seventeen-year-old Marcus, released into what is now a police state, decides to use his expertise in computer hacking to set things right.


plague 99 by jean ure List: dystopian young adult fiction

Plague 99 by Jean Ure

Blurb: Almost overnight a plague has wiped out the population of England. The only survivors seem to be three very different teenagers. Together they must come to terms with the man-made devastation around them. Fran, Harriet and Shahid have the power to rebuild society, but do they have the courage? A winner of the Lancashire Book Award.


hunger games suzanne collins List: dystopian young adult fiction

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (see our review)

Blurb: Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. But Katniss has been close to death before and survival, for her, is second nature. The Hunger Games is a searing novel set in a future with unsettling parallels to our present. Welcome to the deadliest reality TV show ever


the chrysalids by john wyndham List: dystopian young adult fiction

The Chrysalids by John Wyndham (classic; see our review)

Blurb: David Strorms father doesnt approve of Angus Mortons unusually large horses, calling them blasphemies against nature. Little does he realize that his own son, his niece Rosalind and their friends, have their own secret aberration which would label them as mutants. But as David and Rosalind grow older it becomes more difficult to conceal their differences from the village elders. Soon they face a choice: wait for eventual discovery or flee to the terrifying and mutable Badlands. The Chrysalids is a post-nuclear story of genetic mutation in a devastated world, which tells of the lengths the intolerant will go to keep themselves pure.


 List: dystopian young adult fiction

The Rosie Black Chronicles: Genesis'by Lara Morgan'(see our review)

Blurb:'Five hundred years into the future, the world is a different place. The Melt has sunk most of the coastal cities and Newperth is divided into the haves, the 'Centrals'; the have-nots, the 'Bankers'; and the fringe dwellers, the 'Ferals'.'Rosie Black is a Banker. When Rosie finds an unusual box, she has no idea of the grave consequences of her discovery. A mysterious organisation wants it ' and will kill to get it.'Forced to rely on two strangers, Rosie is on the run. But who can she trust? Pip, the too attractive Feral, or the secretive man he calls boss?'From Earth to Mars, Rosie must learn the secrets of the box ' before it's too late.

See also: Equinox (see our review)


z for zachariah by robert c obrien List: dystopian young adult fiction

Z for Zachariah by Robert C OBrien (classic)

Blurb: Sixteen-year-old Ann Burden believes herself to be the only survivor of a nuclear war. Living on a surprisingly lush and fertile farm, Ann is shocked to see a stranger arrive on her land. After secretly observing the man for several days, Ann comes to his aid when he falls ill from bathing in a contaminated stream. As she nurses the man back to health, Ann has no idea that he will soon become her most dangerous enemy.


the giver by lois lowry List: dystopian young adult fiction

The Giver by Lois Lowry (classic)

Blurb: Set in a completely controlled, soothingly pleasant society, THE GIVER takes readers into a world free of such things as conflict, hate, and disappointment. At age 12 all residents are given their Assignment, or their adult role in the communitysome are Nurturers who care for the young children, others are Laborers, still others are Doctors, and so on. Jonas, however, is given a very special Assignment; he is the new Receiver, which means that he will hold all the memories of life. The retiring Receiver, who will now be known as The Giver, will literally place these memories into Jonas mind. As Jonas receives memories from The Giver, he begins to understand more about the community in which he lives, and starts to question if a society without a true understanding of the complexities and realities of life is really so perfect after all. A reflection on individualism and freedom of choice, THE GIVER acknowledges and celebrates the importance of both the positive and negative experiences of a fully lived life. Winner of the 1994 Newbery Medal.


 List: dystopian young adult fiction List: dystopian young adult fiction

Animal Farm'by George Orwell (classic)

Blurb:'As ferociously fresh as it was more than a half century ago, this remarkable allegory of a downtrodden society of overworked, mistreated animals, and their quest to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality is one of the most scathing satires ever published. As we witness the rise and bloody fall of the revolutionary animals, we begin to recognize the seeds of totalitarianism in the most idealistic organization; and in our most charismatic leaders, the souls of our cruelest oppressors.


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20 Years Later'by EJ Newman

LONDON, 2012: It arrives and with that the world is changed into an unending graveyard littered with the bones, wreckage, and memories of a dead past, gone forever.LONDON, 2032: Twenty years later, out of the ashes, a new world begins to rise, a place ruled by both loyalty and fear, and where the quest to be the first to regain lost knowledge is an ongoing battle for power. A place where laws are made and enforced by roving gangs-the Bloomsbury Boys, the Gardners, the Red Ladys Gang-who rule the streets and will do anything to protect their own.THE FOUR: Zane, Titus, Erin, Eve. Living in this new world, they discover that they have abilities never before seen. And little do they know that as they search post-apocalyptic London for Titus kidnapped sister that theyll uncover the secret of It, and bring about a reckoning with the forces that almost destroyed all of humanity.


feed by m t anderson List: dystopian young adult fiction

Feed by M. T. Anderson

Blurb: In a future where most people have computer implants in their heads to control their environment, a boy meets an unusual girl who is in serious trouble.


knife of never letting go by patrick ness List: dystopian young adult fiction

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Blurb: Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown.'But Prentisstown isnt like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone elses thoughts in a constant, overwhelming, never-ending Noise. There is no privacy. There are no secrets. 'Or are there? 'Just one month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd unexpectedly stumbles upon a spot of complete silence.'Which is impossible. 'Prentisstown has been lying to him. 'And now hes going to have to run


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Bumped'by Megan McCafferty

When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society. Girls sport fake baby bumps and the school cafeteria stocks folic-acid-infused food. Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and have never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody's doorstep. Up to now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job. Harmony has spent her whole life in Goodside, a religious community, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody that pregging for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.'When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls' lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.

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The Line'by Teri Hall

An invisible, uncrossable physical barrier encloses the Unified States. The Line is the part of the border that lopped off part of the country, dooming the inhabitants to an unknown fate when the enemy used a banned weapon. It's said that bizarre creatures and superhumans live on the other side, in Away. Nobody except tough old Ms. Moore would ever live next to the Line. Nobody but Rachel and her mother, who went to live there after Rachel's dad died in the last war. It's a safe, quiet life. Until Rachel finds a mysterious recorded message that can only have come from Away. The voice is asking for help.'Who sent the message? Why is her mother so protective? And to what lengths is Rachel willing to go in order to do what she thinks is right?


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Variant'by Robison Wells

Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life. He was wrong. Now he's trapped in a school that's surrounded by a razor-wire fence. A school where video cameras monitor his every move. Where there are no adults. Where the kids have split into groups in order to survive. Where breaking the rules equals death.'But when Benson stumbles upon the school's real secret, he realizes that playing by the rules could spell a fate worse than death, and that escape'his only real hope for survival'may be impossible.


a wrinkle in time by madeleine lengle List: dystopian young adult fiction

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine LEngle (classic)

Blurb: Charless father is lost in time.'When Charles Wallace Murry goes searching through a wrinkle in time for his lost father, he finds himself on an evil planet where all life is enslaved by a huge pulsating brain known as IT.'The story of how Charles, his sister Meg and his friend Calvin find and free his father is now established as one of the great fantasy classics.


when the tripods came john christopher List: dystopian young adult fiction

When the Tripods Came by John Christopher (classic)

Blurb: When it comes to alien invasions, bad things come in threes.'Three landings. One in England, one in Russia, and one in the United States.'Three long legs, crushing everything in their paths, with three metallic arms, snaking out to embrace and then discard their helpless victims.'Three evil beings, called Tripods, which will change life on this planet forever.


tomorrow when the war began john marsde List: dystopian young adult fiction

Tomorrow, When the War Began by John 'Marsden

Blurb: When Ellie and her friends return from a camping trip in the Australian bush, they find things hideously wrongtheir families are gone. Gradually they begin to comprehend that their country has been invaded and everyone in their town has been taken prisoner. As the reality of the situation hits them, they must make a decisionrun and hide, give themselves up and be with their families, or fight back. An ALA Best Book for Young Adults.


i am the cheese robert cormier List: dystopian young adult fiction

I am the Cheese by Robert Cormier (classic)

Blurb: Adams father is in hospital and Adam has set off to visit him. Its a long, cold journey; as he travels along, Adam gets tired, and to take his mind off his exhaustion, he traces the events that led up to his father being taken to hospital. He had testified against government level corruption and the family became the subject of a government-orchestrated protection plan. The journey is a kind of odyssey, a search through the mysteries of the mind. Adam must unlock the past and really remember it if he is to survive.


parkland by victor kelleher List: dystopian young adult fiction

Parkland by Victor Kelleher

Blurb: Cassie has always been told that humans cannot survive outside Parkland, the huge fortress enclosure where humans and other apes are guarded by the mysterious keepers. But Cassie is sure that there must be life beyond the walls when she catches a glimpse of a wild boy.


never let me go kazuo ishiguro List: dystopian young adult fiction

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Blurb: Kathy, Ruth and Tommy were pupils at Hailsham an idyllic establishment situated deep in the English countryside. The children there were tenderly sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe they were special, and that their personal welfare was crucial. But for what reason were they really there? It is only years later that Kathy, now aged 31, finally allows herself to yield to the pull of memory. What unfolds is the haunting story of how Kathy, Ruth and Tommy, slowly come to face the truth about their seemingly happy childhoods and about their futures. Never Let Me Go is a uniquely moving novel, charged throughout with a sense of the fragility of our lives.


house of the scorpion nancy farmer List: dystopian young adult fiction

House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

Blurb: At his coming-of-age party, Matteo Alacran asks El Patrons bodyguard, How old am I?I know I dont have a birthday like humans, but I was born.'You were harvested, Tam Lin reminds him. You were grown in that poor cow for nine months and then you were cut out of her.'To most people around him, Matt is not a boy, but a beast. A room full of chicken litter with roaches for friends and old chicken bones for toys is considered good enough for him. But for El Patron, lord of a country called Opium a strip of poppy fields lying between the U.S. and what was once called Mexico Matt is a guarantee of eternal life. El Patron loves Matt as he loves himself for Matt is himself. They share identical DNA.


candor pam bachorz1 150x150 List: dystopian young adult fiction

Candor by Pam Bachorz (see our review)

Blurb: In the model community of Candor, Florida, every teen wants to be like Oscar Banks. The son of the town's founder, Oscar earns straight As, is student-body president, and is in demand for every club and cause.
But Oscar has a secret. He knows that parents bring their teens to Candor to make them respectful, compliant'perfect'through subliminal Messages that carefully correct and control their behavior. And Oscar' s built a business sabotaging his father's scheme with Messages of his own, getting his clients out before they're turned. After all, who would ever suspect the perfect Oscar Banks?
Then he meets Nia, the girl he can't stand to see changed. Saving Nia means losing her forever. Keeping her in Candor, Oscar risks exposure . . . and more



if i could fly hucklesby List: dystopian young adult fiction

If I Could Fly by Jill Hucklesby (see our review)

Calypso Summer. Yeah, that really is my name. A girl with such a name is on a journey. She will have adventures, my mother used to murmur in my ear. And I now I am on a journey. Im running from something terrible but I dont know what. Its like my brain has blocked it out. For now, Im learning to survive: to break the System and not get caught. Ive found a friend I can trust. Next stop, freedom. Somehow, somewhere


0.4 mike lancaster1 List: dystopian young adult fiction

0.4 by Mike Lancaster (see our review)

Kyle Straker volunteered to be hypnotized at the annual community talent show, expecting the same old lame amateur acts. But when he wakes up, his world will never be the same. Televisions and computers no longer work, but a strange language streams across their screens. Everyone's behaving oddly. It's as if Kyle doesn't exist. Is this nightmare a result of the hypnosis? Will Kyle wake up with a snap of fingers to roars of laughter? Or is this something much more sinister? Narrated on a set of found cassette tapes at an unspecified point in the future,'Human.4 is an absolutely chilling look at technology gone too far.


delirium lauren oliver List: dystopian young adult fiction

Delirium by Lauren Oliver (see our review)

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn't understand that once love the deliria blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she'll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy. But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.


birthmarked carah m obrien List: dystopian young adult fiction

Birthmarked by Caragh OBrien (see our review)

After climate change, on the north shore of Unlake Superior, a dystopian world is divided between those who live inside the wall, and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone, who live outside. It's Gaia's job to 'advance' a quota of infants from poverty into the walled Enclave, until the night one agonized mother objects, and Gaia's parents are arrested.'Badly scarred since childhood, Gaia is a strong, resourceful loner who begins to question her society. As Gaia's efforts to save her parents take her within the wall, she herself is arrested and imprisoned.'Fraught with difficult moral choices and rich with intricate layers of codes,'Birthmarked explores a colorful, cruel, eerily familiar world where one girl can make all the difference, and a real hero makes her own moral code.

See also Prized (see our review)


ship breaker bacigalupi List: dystopian young adult fiction

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Set initially in a future shanty town in Americas Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being dissembled for parts by a rag tag group of workers, we meet Nailer, a teenage boy working the light crew, searching for copper wiring to make quota and live another day. The harsh realities of this life, from his abusive father, to his hand to mouth existence, echo the worst poverty in the present day third world. When an accident leads Nailer to discover an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, and the lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl, Nailer finds himself at a crossroads. Should he strip the ship and live a life of relative wealth, or rescue the girl, Nita, at great risk to himself and hope shell lead him to a better life. This is a novel that illuminates a world where oil has been replaced by necessity, and where the gap between the haves and have-nots is now an abyss. Yet amidst the shadows of degradation, hope lies ahead.


divergent veronica roth List: dystopian young adult fiction

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Blurb: In Beatrice Priors dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue'Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is'she cant have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.'During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are'and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life shes chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one shes kept hidden from everyone because shes been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves' or it might destroy her.


matched ally condie List: dystopian young adult fiction

Matched by Ally Condie

Blurb: Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xanders face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markhams face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. The Society tells her its a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life shes destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia cant stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Societys infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life shes known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.


 List: dystopian young adult fiction List: dystopian young adult fiction

Article 5'by Kristen Simmons

Blurb:'The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.'There are no more police'instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behaviour'instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually dont come back.'Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren't always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it's hard for her to forget that people weren't always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It's hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.'Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow. That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings'the only boy Ember has ever loved.


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Under the Never Sky'by Veronica Rossi

Blurb:'Since she'd been on the outside, she'd survived an Aether storm, she'd had a knife held to her throat, and she'd seen men murdered. This was worse.'xiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland'known as The Death Shop'are slim. If the cannibals don't get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will. She's been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He's wild'a savage'and her only hope of staying alive.''hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile'everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria's help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must accept each other to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.


  1. What a great list! Old and new books, too.

  2. Steph /

    Thanks, Kimberley. Theres an amazing amount of great stuff out there. Im currently reading Pam Bachorzs Candor, which at a stretch might also fit under the dystopian genre.