I have to admit that I’ve been reading a lot of YA (young adult) dystopian novels. Dystopian fiction, or apocalyptic literature, depicts a horrible or degraded society characterized by a focus on mass poverty, squalor, suffering, or oppression. In these novels the main characters are often faced with terrible danger. To me, they are a refreshing change from young adult books about sparkling vampires and rich, spoiled teens.
The young adult dystopian novels that I have found most compelling are the ones that I could actually see occurring. Some of my favorite novels and series, in no particular order, are:
1. The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins – In a post war future, citizens are separated into different districts based on the type of industry that they specialize in. To control the citizens after a rebellion, the government gather one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen from each district each year, to take part in The Hunger Games, where they have to fight to the death until only one participant, or tribute, remains. This violent, yet compelling story, follows what happens to the heroine, Katniss Everdeen.
2. Gone by Michael Grant – In this six book series, all persons 15 and over in Perdido Beach disappear. They are gone and the town and surrounding area is encased in a giant bubble. Some of the children left behind develop “super” powers. The protagonist, Sam Temple, is set up as the leader of the children. During the series, the children must deal with hunger, disease, bad guys and an evil entity called the Gaiaphage. This series caught my attention and kept me involved right up to the end. It does have a lot of violence and there is a hint of teen sex, which is not graphic.
3. Starters by Lissa Price – This two book series tells the story of Callie and her brother Tyler. They are “starters” or young people whose parents both died in the Spore Wars. With no grandparents to take them in, they are considered “unwanted”. In order to obtain money to take care of her sick brother, Callie signs on as a “body donor” with Prime Destinations. This company allows the older generation, or Enders, to rent out the bodies of the Starters for some fun by using a chip implanted in the Starters brain. The owner of Prime Destinations has a sinister plan and Callie must figure out what that plan is before it is too late. The story continues in the follow up book Enders.
4. Divergent by Veronica Roth – Currently being made into a movie, Divergent tells the story of a future society where the public is separated into groups or “factions” based a particular virtue. At the age of 16, teens are allowed to select the “faction” they would like to belong to, the one they grew up in or a different one. The main character Beatrice, or Tris, has a secret to hide which can be deadly. In Divergent and the two follow up books of the series, Insurgent and Allegiant, the war between the factions heats up and comes to an unpredictable conclusion.
These are just some of the YA dystopian books out there. While not great literature, they are generally a good read.
Thanks for reading.