Below you can find some of the best dystopian books for young adults.
What is a dystopia?
Whereas a utopia represents a perfect world, a dystopia is a dark and hopeless world where people live oppressed lifes. There is usually a totalitarian governmnet in place where the state’s needs surpass that of the individual—their individuality is slowly taking away.
So, why are dystopian novels appealing to young adults? (and adults, too.)
It’s likely that the characters in these novels are inspiring, performing ultimate acts against authority. That’s appealing for teenagers, who are in a time of their life when they’re trying to break free from the authority of their parents and create their own life.
On top of that, dystopian books send a message of hope: no matter how bleak things get, when you show courage and strenght, you can conquer any obstacle.
In the list below, I skip most of the classic and well-known dystopian books, as it’s very likely you’ve heard about them and even read them by now. This list is here to bring you some fresh, new ideas. So, scroll down for some of the best dystopian books for young adults.
The Best YA Dystopian novels
Blind the Eyes by K. A. Wiggins
We kick off with this first dystopian book for young adults.
Haunted 17-year-old Cole would do anything to shake her reputation as a failure. The only way to survive the nightmarish Mara is absolute obedience, and she’s down to her last chance.
But when a charismatic stranger shows up claiming to know her, and Cole discovers Refuge’s absolute control and guarantee of safety are both illusions, she realizes hers isn’t the only life at stake and goes on the run.
The Rax—Out of Darkness by C. G. Harris
If stories with aliens are more your jam, then this might be the book for you.
With Earth enslaved by a vicious alien race known as the Rax, hope hangs on a single savior—a blind runaway named Tael. His alien captors distill fear into a devastating weapon, but Tael and a small band of rebels discover an ancient super computer that holds the technology to defeat them. If Tael unravels its secrets, humanity may have a fighting chance. But only if they find the traitor hidden within their rebel ranks who threatens their extinction…
The Undying Tower by Melissa Welliver
This dystopian novel for young adults has an intriguing world and makes us question what it would be like if we never died.
When sixteen-year-old Sadie takes the fall for an attack by a rebel group, The Alchemists, she suddenly finds herself wrenched away from her quiet life and from her ailing father.
Armed with little help and even less knowledge, Sadie is thrust into a cold and cryptic ‘correctional facility’ – The Tower. Here she’ll have to rethink everything she’s been told about the Undying population in an attempt to save the life she knows, protect a group of unlikely friends, and give voice to the voiceless in a society on the brink of catastrophic upheaval.
These Violent Nights by Rebecca Crunden
What if the Earth was suddenly taken over by a race with magic?
Once upon a time, inhabitants of another world tore a hole through the universe and came to Earth. They called themselves Suriias, and rivalled humans in knowledge and skill with one great exception: they had magic.
War followed. Humanity lost. And three hundred years later, humans are on the brink of extinction.
Orphans Thorn and Thistle live in hiding. They are the last of their families, the last of their friends. But even under the brutal regime of the Suriias, there are places where humans can mingle in secret with magical sympathisers, and one night Thistle gets an unexpected offer of marriage from a Suriia with high standing and friends in all the right places. For Thistle, it’s a chance at safety and comfort; for Thorn, it’s a chance to find the ones who killed her parents.
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
For some alternate reality dystopia, check out this book. What if you were forbidden from falling in love?
In an alternate United States, love has been declared a dangerous disease, and the government forces everyone who reaches eighteen to have a procedure called the Cure. Lena Haloway is very much looking forward to being cured and living a safe, predictable life. She watched love destroy her mother and isn’t about to make the same mistake.
But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena meets enigmatic Alex, a boy from the Wilds who lives under the government’s radar. What will happen if they do the unthinkable and fall in love?
We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Meji
A dystopian novel for young adults where women are only good for two things: either giving birth or managing a household.
At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her bright future depends upon no one discovering her darkest secret—that her pedigree is a lie. Now that her marriage to an important politico’s son is fast approaching, she must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society, where famine and poverty rule supreme.
On her graduation night, Dani seems to be in the clear, despite the surprises that unfold. But nothing prepares her for all the difficult choices she must make, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio.
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
A very cool retelling of a popular fairy tale.
She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.
Want by Cindy Pon
Our final contender for this list of dystopian books for young adults is Want.
Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother, who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.
With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is or destroying his own heart?
My Pick of YA Dystopian Novels
Those were a few of the best YA dystopian novels I picked. I hope this list will give you some new books to read!
Any on this list you’ve read and would like to share your thoughts about?
Any books you feel should also be on this list?
Let me know in the comments!