The Top 13 Dystopian Novels for Teen Readers

A lot of teenagers are pretty cynical people and it is not always their fault. Teenagers can be bitter because many of them feel like they were born into a world messed up by their parent’s generation. They turn rebellious as a result, even when it concerns trivial things. For example, teenagers never like how their parents impose curfews or criticize table manners during family dinners. Here are the top 13 Dystopian Novels for Teen Readers to add to your collection right now!

Think of dystopian novels as a discussion of such problems, exaggerated to a great extent. More often than not, the stories are not just about parents-children relationships, but citizens-government issues and the restrictions of freedom of expression as well. A lot of the stories are heavily political and they even touch on sensitive issues like religion and domestic violence. Not everything is geared towards young adults. The good thing is that the literary world offers plenty of dystopian novels for teen readers, too.

The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins

Buy The Hunger Games Here!

Of all the teen-focused dystopian novels out there, The Hunger Games is one of the most popular series anywhere. It tells the story of Katniss Everdeen and her misadventures to survive in a harsh dystopian future. Her world is divided into 12 districts ruled by the wealthy and powerful. As a form of entertainment and punishment, the ruler demands that every district must send two selected teenagers to take part in a brutal cat-and-mouse competition called Hunger Games in which contestants fight to the death until one remains. Katniss volunteers to replace her sister.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Buy The Giver Here!

In a walled community in which everyone sees only black and white, Jonas enjoys a life of bliss without experiencing pain and sadness. He has never really thought about it because, at the same time, no one in the community can feel happiness or positive emotions of any sort. They don’t even have to make decisions as all things in life have already been set for them by the authority.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Buy The Maze Runner Here!

Everything begins in a strange place called The Glade, which is a small area surrounded by a massive stone maze. There are about 50 boys, aged between 12 and 18, live inside The Glade. None of them can remember anything about their previous years outside the maze, except their first names. Each month, a new boy enters The Glade with the same story or the lack of it. Things start to change when Thomas arrives, simply because he is much more curious than all others. He is determined to find a way out of the maze, but then a girl also arrives before he can do that. Predictably, the plot is all too happy to give complex twists and turns.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Buy Divergent Here!

The city where Beatrice Prior lives is divided into multiple factions. Each faction believes that a different bad human trait is responsible for the demise of the old world. Beatrice lives in the “selfless” one, based on Abnegation. An aptitude test shows that not only is she selfless but also knowledgeable and brave. Beatrice is a rare breed known as Divergent. Her traits allow her to move to a new faction and explore the unknowns, but it means she has to leave her family behind.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Buy Never Let Me Go Here!

Kathy comes to realize that her boarding school hides a lot of unsavory secrets behind closed doors. At the same time, she expresses concerns about a horrifying future waiting ahead on her path. Although she is now ready to accept her past and come to terms with history, it is unlikely she can escape a dreadful and lonely fate soon.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy

Buy The 5th Wave Here!

What if aliens are not the typical little green men with large dark eyes, but physically similar to humans and much smarter? For some reasons, Cassie Sullivan is convinced that she is the last remaining “true” human on Earth after an alien invasion in the past. Everybody else alive in the world today is not from Earth.

Feed by M. T. Anderson

Buy Feed Here!

Sometime in the future United States, everyone has an implant in the head that connects to a constant stream of information. It might seem like an all-beneficial technology, but Violet and Titans only begin to understand the downside of the implant. More importantly, they know they can resist and fight back.

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Buy Uglies Here!

Tally Youngblood belongs to the Ugly community of the world, but will be only until his 16th birthday that cosmetic surgery turns her into a Pretty. At 15, she comes across another Ugly named Shay. Unlike the eager Tally who cannot wait for the surgery, Shay doesn’t really want to undergo the operation. Shay runs away from the scheduled surgery and is sure that there are better alternatives to mere good looks.

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Buy Scythe Here!

A future with no disease should look like a perfect world. In Scythe, however, disease is not the only thing that has gone extinct. Different races and ethnicities are also gone, or at least being exterminated at a horrifyingly rapid pace, for the sake of so-called peace. An organization of “scythes” gets to determine who will live and die.

Matched by Ally Condie

Buy Matched Here!

A perfect gloomy world where a sinister ruler controls just about everything in life, including marriage. Some people who barely know you at all end up deciding whom you should marry. However, Cassia’s matchmaking process appears to be glitchy. She has doubts that the girly but great boy in front of her is the right person, after all.

Legend by Marie Lu

Buy Legend Here!

Events in Legend are set in the future in which the United States of America has split into two nations: Colonies and Republic. As everybody expects, the nations are at war with each other. Legend mainly revolves around the stories of June and Day, two teenagers from the Republic. The former is a celebrated prodigy, whereas the latter is a fugitive believed to have killed June’s brother. During a mission to track down the suspect, June discovers many dark secrets about the Republic and realizes that Day is perhaps not the real enemy.

The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

Buy The Marrow Thieves Here!

If dystopian in high-tech is not enough, The Marrow Thieves offers a much bleaker look at a dark future in which government agents hunt citizens who have special dream-carrying bone marrow. Frenchie and some other Indigenous people just have exactly what the government is looking for.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Buy Delirium Here!

According to the government, love is a dangerous thing and must be therefore eradicated. As soon as a citizen reaches 18 years of age, the person must undergo surgery to remove the ability to feel and express love. Believing the doctrine, Lena is very much looking forward to her surgery. She then bumps into a boy, and the two then decide to run away together from the government.

We think dystopian novels make for a perfect escape for teens’ rebellious nature, as they often tell stories of a dark place where no one is happy and without freedom. In a dystopian story, most teenagers can discover a world they know all too well. When teenagers feel restrained or sad, they put themselves in situations that make them feel worse, such as watching bleak movies or listening to gloomy songs. Reading stories about all the issues and struggles in a dystopian world should deliver the same enjoyable discomfort.

Have you read any of the dystopian novels mentioned above? Can you name some other novels of the same genre for young adults? We’d love to hear from you.

Other things you might want to know:

What exactly is a dystopia?

In simple words, dystopia is a society under oppression where all hopes of individual freedom cease to exist. It is a dark grim society ruled by a tyrannical government that oppresses any resistance with the use of violence, propaganda, brainwashing, or harsh punishment. Individual’s needs are no longer considered important, as every citizen works for and is almost totally controlled by the government.

What is the earliest dystopian novel?

While there are many works of dystopian literature published in the 18th and 19th centuries, it is generally accepted that the first true dystopian novel ever written is “We” by Yevgeny Zamyatin published in 1921.

What is Utopia?

If dystopia is a bleak society under complete control of authority, utopia is the exact opposite. It is a society marked by individual freedom, perfect equality, and peace. Sometimes, the term refers to an impossibly idealistic visionary reform.

Check out other articles by month: