Since this post was originally published back in 2009, it has consistently been the most popular page on my site both in terms of hits and comments. I looked at the page for the first time in ages this last weekend and realised it was looking a bit tired and could do with a refresh.
The YA dystopian market has exploded over the years since I first posted this list, and I couldn’t hope to capture all the dozens and dozens of new series out there (although I am considering a small list of some of the significant ones as some point in the near future), but I have refreshed some of the book covers, and where a series has had further books released, I’ve tried to make sure I’ve added them. So even though I’ve not added really new stuff, this is now a list of 80+ books!
This is a list of Young Adult Dystopian novels that readers of Bart’s Bookshelf have recommended as being some of the best the genre has to offer.
You’re sure to find some gems if you pick any of the books in this list! However, I know there are even more great teen dystopian books out there! If you’ve read one not on this list then be sure to tell us about them in the comments.
The List of Young Adult Dystopian Books
The House of Power / Rivers of Fire / The Dark Planet by Patrick Carman
The Atherton Series Recommended by: Nathan:
…one of my favourite teen dystopians is the Atherton series, by Patrick Carman. “The Dark Planet” is the last book of the series and it features an amazing dystopian world.
From the creator of The Land of Elyon comes a riveting adventure set in an extraordinary satellite world – created as a refuge from a dying Earth – that begins to collapse and forever change the lives of its inhabitants!
The Knife of Never Letting Go / The Ask and the Answer / Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness
Imagine you’re the only boy in a town of men. And you can hear everything they think. And they can hear everything you think. Imagine you don’t fit in with their plans…Todd Hewitt is just one month away from the birthday that will make him a man. But his town has been keeping secrets from him. Secrets that are going to force him to run…
The Declaration/The Resistance / The Legacy by Gemma Malley
Recommended by: Lenore
Set in a future dystopian view of Britain. This powerful drama about a world in which human life has a transformed value, and ageing has long since lost its finality. Charismatic characters, action-driven plot and sublime writing combine to make this an unputdownable dystopian novel for teens.
The City of Ember / The People of Sparks / The Prophet of Yonwood / The Diamond of Darkhold by Jeanne Duprau
Recommended by Amanda
Many hundreds of years ago, the city of Ember was created by the Builders to contain everything needed for human survival. It worked – but now the storerooms are almost out of food, crops are blighted, corruption is spreading through the city and worst of all – the lights are failing.
A YA dystopian that would also be ideal for the younger YA/middle grade reader.
Exodus / Zenith / Aurora by Julie Bertanga
Set in 2099, this story is themed around the consequences of global warming where Mara, her family and community realize they are asylum-seekers in a world torn between high-tech wizardry and the most primitive injustice. To save her people, Mara must not only find a way into the city but also search for a new land and a new home.
Another British dystopian for the teenager reader.
Feed by MT Anderson
Recommended by: Lenore
Identity crises, consumerism, and star-crossed teenage love in a futuristic and dystopian society where people connect to the Internet via feeds implanted in their brains.
For Titus and his friends, it started out like any ordinary trip to the moon – a chance to party during spring break and play with some stupid low-grav at the Ricochet Lounge. But that was before the crazy hacker caused all their feeds to malfunction, sending them to the hospital to lie around with nothing inside their heads for days.
And it was before Titus met Violet, a beautiful, brainy teenage girl who has decided to fight the feed and its omnipresent ability to categorize human thoughts and desires. Following in the footsteps of George Orwell, Anthony Burgess, and Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Floodland by Marcus Sedgwick
Imagine that a few years from now England is covered by water, and Norwich is an island. Zoe, left behind in the confusion when her parents escaped, survives there as best she can. Alone and desperate among marauding gangs, she manages to dig a derelict boat out of the mud and gets away to Eels Island. But Eels Island, whose raggle-taggle inhabitants are dominated by the strange boy Dooby, is full of danger too.
More proof that Brits create some great dystopian worlds!
Flux / Fixed by Beth Gooble
Recommended by: Lauren (I Was A Teenage Book Geek)
Deep in another reality, while using her ability to travel to parallel worlds, Nellie uncovers a conspiracy to abduct children for an experimental
The Forest of Hands and Teeth / The Dead Tossed Waves / The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
Recommended by: WilowRaven, Foz Meadows, lisa-marie
Mary lives in a small village governed by the religious Sisterhood and bordered with a fence to keep out the Unconsecrated–a horde of the undead. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future–between the one she loves and the one who loves her.
Dystopian and Zombies!
Genesis by Bernard Beckett
Recommended by: Mandy
A fourteen-year-old Anax thinks she knows her history. She’d better. She’s sat facing three Examiners and her grueling five-hour examination has just begun. If she passes, she’ll be admitted into The Academy – the elite institution that runs her utopian society.
Utopian or dystopian? That is one of the questions in this one.
Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines
Recommended by Aly
Lyn is a modern gladiator’s daughter, and the rules of the sport are second nature to her family. However, the rules turn against the family after a gifted young fighter kills Lyn’s father and captures Lyn’s dowry bracelet–which means Lyn must marry him. To win her freedom, she must face her father’s killer in mortal
The Giver / Gathering Blue / Messenger / Son by Lois Lowry
The Quartet Series Recommended by: Valentina & Nathan
When Jonas turns 12, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. Now, it’s time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back. /
Living with a twisted leg in a world where the weak are cast aside, Kira fears for her future until she is spared. A gifted weaver, Kira is given a task that no other community member can do. /
For the past six years, Matty has lived in Village and flourished under the guidance of Seer, a blind man, known for his special sight. Village was a place that welcomed newcomers, but something sinister has seeped into Village and the people have voted to close it to outsiders. Matty has been invaluable as a messenger.
Now he must make one last journey through the treacherous forest with his only weapon, a power he unexpectedly discovers within himself.
One of the classic dystopian series for young adults.
Gone / Hunger / Lies / Plague / Fear / Light by Michael Grant
Recommended by: Anastasia
In the blink of an eye, the world changes. The adults vanish without a trace, and those left must do all they can to survive. For Sam and Astrid, it is a race against time as they try to solve the questions that now dominate their lives. What is the mysterious wall that has encircled the town of Perdido Beach and trapped everyone within?
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Daisy is sent from New York to England to spend a summer with cousins she has never met. She’s never met anyone quite like them before – and, as a dreamy English summer progresses, Daisy finds herself caught in a timeless bubble. But their lives are about to explode. Falling in love is just the start of it. War breaks out – a war none of them understands, or really cares about, until it lands on their doorstep.
The family is separated. The perfect summer is blown apart. Daisy’s life is changed forever – and the world is too.
This is an amazing and surprising teen YA novel.
The Hunger Games / Catching Fire / Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games Trilogy
Suzanne Collins fantastically popular series following sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen who 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…
One of the biggest YA dystopian series there is!
Little Brother / Homeland by Cory Doctorow
Recommended by: Fyrefly
The ultimate tale of teen rebellion — one seventeen-year-old against the surveillance state. Big Brother is watching you. Who’s watching back?
A more reality based dystopian novel.
The Maze Runner / The Scorch Trials / The Death Cure / The Kill Order by James Dashner
The Maze Runner Series Recommended by: Kasey, Aly, lisa-marie
When Thomas wakes up, he’s surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade–a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls. Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got there. The next day, a girl arrives with the surprising message that Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess.
Just like Thomas, you’ll never be quite sure of the truth in James Dashner’s YA novel series.
Life As We Knew It / The Dead And The Gone / This World We Live In / The Shade Of The Moon by Susan Beth Pfeffer
The Moon Crash / Last Survivors Quartet
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. Communications and food supplies start to break down, and a desperate battle survival begins.
The dystopian world Susan Beth Pfeffer depicts in this series for young adults is ofter truly frightening…
Fever Crumb / A Web Of Air / Scrivener’s Moon
Mortal Engines / Predator’s Gold / Infernal Devices / A Darkling Plain by Phillip Reeve
The Mortal Engines Quartet / Hungry City Chronicles
”Mortal Engines” Philip Reeve’s brilliantly-imagined creation, the world of the Traction Era, where mobile cities fight for survival in a post-apocalyptic future. The first instalment introduces young apprentice Tom Natsworthy and the murderous Hester Shaw flung from the fast-moving city of London into heart-stopping adventures in the wastelands of the Great Hunting Ground.
Dystopian and steam-punky what more could you want?
Obernewtyn / The Farseekers / Ashling / The Keeping Place / The Stone Key / The Sending / The Red Queen by Isobelle Carmody
The Obernewtyn Chronicles Recommended by: Cat
Born with enchanted powers that brand her a Misfit in her paranoid post-holocaust world, Elspeth Gordie gets herself sent to Obernewtyn, where, rumor has it, a reclusive doctor is developing a cure for Misfit abilities. But Obernewtyn is not what it seems, and Elspeth must grow up quickly learn to control her powers.
A teen dystopian series from Australia. (There is some differences in how the series is published across the world, see this post from Isobelle Carmody’s site for more information.)
The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman
Recommended by: Lenore
Earth Mother is always watching… And one brave girl is about to find out why.
Skin Hunger / Sacred Scars by Kathleen Duey
A Resurrection of Magic Series Recommended by J A macTavish, who had this to say:
…the first in “A resurrection of Magic” series by Kathleen Duey, was a very compelling YA dystopian novel, with the twist being that one dystopian society evolves into an equally maladjusted society, only different. One assumes that things are set at least nominally to rights in subsequent novels!
The Secret Under my Skin by Janet McNaughton
Recommended by: Lauren (I Was A Teenage Book Geek)
In the year 2368, humankind must struggle to survive under dire environmental conditions and strict government control. In this startling and dystopian world, one brave young woman begins to unravel a web of lies about life on Earth that will empower her to discover, at last, who she really is. McNaughton vividly imagines an all-too-believable future and celebrates the impact that one person can make on the world.
Among The Hidden / Among The Imposters / Among The Betrayed / Among The Barons / Among The Brave / Among The Enemy / Among The Free by Margaret Peterson Haddix
The Shadow Children Sequence
The Shadow Children dystopian series is a series of seven dystopian YA books by Margaret Peterson Haddix about a futuristic, overpopulated, resource-deprived Earth, and the effects of the government’s attempts to quell overpopulation. The Population Police enforce the government’s Population Law, killing or imprisoning “shadow children,” any third child in a family.
The Sky Inside / The Walls Have Eyes by Clare B. Dunkle
Recommended by: Lauren (I Was A Teenage Book Geek)
Martin lives in a perfect world. Every year a new generation of genetically-engineered children is shipped out to meet their parents. Every spring the residents of his town take down the snow they’ve stuck to their windows and put up flowers.
Every morning his family gathers around their television and votes, like everyone else, for whatever matter of national importance the president has on the table. Today, it is the colour of his drapes. It’s business as usual under the protective dome of suburb HM1. And it’s all about to come crashing down. Because a stranger has come to take away all the little children.
A mix of science fiction and dystopian that challenges her characters – and her readers – to look closer at the world they take for granted.
Uglies / Pretties / Specials / Extras by Scott Westerfeld
The Uglies Trilogy +1: Recommended by: JA macTavish & Me!
Tally lives in a world where your sixteenth birthday brings aesthetic perfection: an operation which erases your flaws, transforming you from an ‘Ugly’ into a ‘Pretty’. She is on the eve of this important event, and cannot wait for her life to change. But then she meets Shay, who is also fifteen – but with a very different outlook on life. Before her operation she plans to escape to a community in the forest – the Rusty Ruins – where Uglies go to escape ‘ turning’.
Tally won’t be persuaded to join her, as this would involve sacrificing everything she’s ever wanted for a lot of uncertainty. When she is taken in for questioning on her birthday, however, Tally gets sent to the Ruins anyway – against her will. The state wants her to go on an undercover mission and report back about the location of the community; otherwise she will forfeit her birthday operation.
What she discovers in the Ruins reveals that there is nothing ‘pretty’ about the transformations…
Scott Westerfeld’s hugely popular dystopian series.
Unwind / UnWholly / UnSouled / Undivided / + Unstrung by Neal Shusterman
The Unwind Dystology: Recommended by: Mandy
In this futuristic thriller, Neal Shusterman creates a world that blurs the line between life and death and challenges ideas about what it means to be alive.
A chilling mix of sci-fi and a dystopian future.