I love dystopian novels – my favorite book of all time is Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid Tale. A while back, I made a list of dystopian books that I adore, but now I have some new ones to add to the list.  I’ve mentioned all of these books once or twice before; however, I think it’d be nice to put my recommendations in one post.


So – here you go.  Four great young adult series about dystopian universes.


Divergent Series (Divergent, Insurgent, and the upcoming Allegiant)


This book series takes place in futuristic Chicago.  Society has been organized into five factions along personality types in the hopes that such order will prevent unhappiness and war.  The first book follows the main character, Beatrice/Tris, through her initiation into one of the five factions.  Although the basic concept of the book is pretty far-stretched, once you accept it, the book is so engrossing.  I’m actually re-reading the series in anticipation of the third book, which comes out in October.


Divergent draws many comparisons to The Hunger Games, but I really like the action of Divergent (not that THG doesn’t have action, but you’ll see what I mean if you read the book).  And Divergent is being turned into a movie, which I find super exciting!


The Maze Runner Series (The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure, and the prequel, The Kill Order)


So, The Maze Runner will be turned into a movie, too!  This series was actually my least favorite of the bunch, especially towards the end, probably because it really puts the young into young adult.  But I still enjoyed it (and read all four books).  Without giving up too much info, a group of teenagers find themselves in a curious world, trapped by a complex maze and monsters that want to eat them alive.  I love the idea of the maze, and the main character (for once – a boy!) is likeable. 

The prequel (The Kill Order) was actually way better than the last two books in the series, although I realized about fifty pages to the end what was going to happen.


The Uglies Series (Uglies, Pretties, Specials, and Extras)


In Uglies, every teenager is born unattractive until they receive a special surgery at age 16 and become beautiful.  But everyone is equally beautiful, so no one envies others.  There is no jealously, cattiness, or unhappiness, and the world is a better place because everyone is beautiful.  Turns out that everyone is vapid, too.  And that’s where the trouble begins.


Readers told me to read this book because of the Operation Beautiful slant on the concept, and I did really like the ‘moral’ of the story in the end.  Like The Maze Runner, it’s a pretty young book, but still worth a read if you like futuristic worlds.  I didn’t read the fourth book, Extras.


The Legend Series (Legend, Prodigy, and yet-to-be-released Champion)

legend novel

The most interesting part of the Legend series is that the world is the closest to ours.  I really liked that part of Legend because, well, I could actually imagine it happen.  The United States splits into two divisions; at first, we only know of one new country, which is a repressive police state.  The main character (a girl) is considered a prodigy solider-in-training, but her universe is flipped upside down when she meets a boy who is also a prodigy… but he’s working against her beloved government.  Chaos ensues. Smile 


Have you read any of these books?  What are you reading right now?  Any YA recommendations for me (I love the genre!)?



  • cathy July 2, 2013, 4:12 pm

    I’ve read The first of the Legend series and really liked it. Stray by Andrea K Host is really good. It’s written in journal form which I liked. I’ve only read the first book in the series but it sucks you in.

  • Emily @ The Swallow Flies July 2, 2013, 4:34 pm

    Have you read Matched? I bought it last year and loved it — as did my ninth-grade students. I recently bought Crossed (its sequel) but have yet to read it. I need to read Insurgent first! Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is also wonderful. And although they’re not dystopian, my kids and I are loving all of John Green’s books right now. I LOVE YA books, too! 🙂

  • Alina July 2, 2013, 4:46 pm

    One of my favourite YA dystopian series (and one I feel draws the most comparisons to The Handmaid’s Tale) is Bumped, and the sequal Thumped by Megan McCafferty. It’s basically about a society in which only teenagers are fertile, kind of like The Handmaid’s Tale, so pregnancy becomes the revered thing, although there’s divisions on how the situation should be treated. Some of it feels a little “young”, but the themes behind it are actually quite mature/ thought-provoking, and definitely worth a read!

  • Hillary July 2, 2013, 4:58 pm

    Reading “The Selection” trilogy right now- amazing! It’s like futuristic dystopian society meets The Bachelor!! 35 girls are selected to compete to be the prince’s wife. It’s a little teenager-angsty but I got really into it by the end and downloaded the second book, “The Elite,” immediately after finishing. It’s a pretty entertaining read especially if you enjoy reality/dating shows like “The Bachelor.” I grew to really like the main characters and am looking forward to seeing how the authors resolves everything.

    Bookmarking this thread to get more great ideas – I love dystopian YA fiction!!!

  • Tanya Patrice July 2, 2013, 5:21 pm

    I read them all and loved them! If you like where the World is familiar, because it could happen – try When She Woke by Hillary Jordan . Also, if you don’t mind a dark book then, Pure by Julianna Baggott is amazing.

  • Jessica R @ FromtheKitchentotheRoad July 2, 2013, 5:26 pm

    I put the first two on hold! My library doesn’t have the other ones. I recently loaded my Kindle with a bunch of Law & Order type books for a trip I am taking. I need lots of books for the flights!

  • Nancy July 2, 2013, 5:55 pm

    I (and my teen son) LOVED the Divergent Series and can’t wait for the last one to come out.
    I tried Maze Runner and found it too slow, but my son loved the whole series.
    We are currently waiting for the next book in Lorien Legacies by Pittacus Lore. Even my non-reader husband has been caught up in the story!
    Son is also reading The Chronicles of Nick Series by Sherrilyn Kenyon. He says it’s great, I’m waiting till he has them all to start! WARNING – I picked up one of The League series by the same author – definitely not YA – huge focus on sex.
    Think I’ll pick up The Uglies and see if my preteen daughter is interested.
    Great ideas.

  • Chantal July 2, 2013, 6:12 pm

    I just started The Maze Runner at your suggestion – saw it on clearance for under $5, so I couldn’t resist. I really want to read Divergent!

  • Angie @ Pint of Goals July 2, 2013, 6:33 pm

    I have only read Divergent, but I can confirm that all of these books are SUPER popular with teens (I teach high school English). I also really liked The Handmaid’s Tale, and recommended it to a male student after he read 1984. He didn’t care for it much, and I wonder if it was too “feminist” for him.

  • Ashley July 2, 2013, 7:04 pm

    In the summer I read YA novels like nothing and I will definitely be adding these series to my vacation reading list.

    I frequent the “fashion” blog Go Fug Yourself and they bloggers there wrote two books- Spoiled and Messy. While certainly not dystopian they are enjoyable!

  • Tricia July 2, 2013, 7:09 pm

    The Divergent series is on my list. I just read I Am Legend at a friend’s recommendation v and I was so disappointed.

  • Taylor July 2, 2013, 7:16 pm

    I read divergent and loved it!! Now I am reading The City of Bones part of the Mortal Instrument series, although it’s not a dystopian series it is really good half way through. It is also going to be turned into a movie!

  • Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) July 2, 2013, 7:26 pm

    I can’t believe “The Giver” is not on your list! It is SO good, but it is also banned in most elementary school (if not all) in the US. I read it to my Canadian students every year. So good!

    • Kim July 2, 2013, 9:25 pm

      Why is The Giver banned? I loved that book!

  • Katie July 2, 2013, 7:29 pm

    Loved the Divergent series! Can’t wait for the next book to come out!
    The Hunger Games was pretty good. I thought the first book in the series was the best though, but that is just my opinion! 🙂

  • Amy July 2, 2013, 7:42 pm

    I’m a librarian who reads a lot of YA books as well. I enjoy the Matched trilogy a lot. I also like the series that begins with the Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. Across the Universe by Beth Revis is good too. I know there are others but I can’t think of them right now. I just read an advanced copy of a book called The weight of souls that is really good too. I can’t wait til that one is released here (I believe it’s only being released in the UK in August).

    • Emily July 3, 2013, 1:21 am

      I loved The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. I strongly recommend it! I alao enjoyed Wither. It is slightly reminiscent of The Handmaide’s Tale.

  • Amber K July 2, 2013, 7:49 pm

    Man YA Dystopian novels are my absolute favorite! I just wish so many authors didn’t try to stretch them out into trilogies. I have read too many great books that end with a big dud.

  • Maggie @ Just a Couple More Pages July 2, 2013, 8:14 pm

    So many recommendations! Is it really obnoxious if I just refer to you my blog where I review YA books? Maybe, but I think I’m going to do it any way 😉

    I don’t read a ton of dystopians, but out of Divergent/Hunger Games type books I think Under the Never Sky is THE BEST. And it absolutely has the best sequel (Through the Ever Night) of all of them, IMO. I would also recommend The Program, which is about a society that’s a lot like ours, but suicide becomes an epidemic among teens and scientists create “The Program” to erase suicidal thoughts, but it also erases all memories.

    Now the obnoxious part, there’s a meme on book blogs called Top 10 Tuesday. Here’s my top 10 books of 2013 (so far): http://justacouplemorepages.com/2013/06/25/ttt-books-ive-read-so-far-in-2013/

    And here’s my top 10 lists of books I recommend the most (done a few months ago): http://justacouplemorepages.com/2013/03/26/top-10-tuesday-top-10-books-i-recommend-the-most/

    Happy reading!

    • Caitlin July 2, 2013, 8:36 pm

      Can’t wait to read your blog!!!

  • jess July 2, 2013, 8:28 pm

    OuI liked the book “cinder” by marissa meyer. The sequel “scarlet” is out too.

  • Angela July 2, 2013, 8:53 pm

    Have you ever read The Selection by Kiera Cass? It’s one I read after THG that I enjoyed. I am kind of a reality tv addict so it was right up my alley. The second book in the series (The Elite) just came out but I haven’t read it yet. I heard they might turn it into a TV show.

  • Trudy July 2, 2013, 9:06 pm

    Have you read any of Margaret Atwood’s other books? She has a really good short story collection called Moral Disorder. All the stories are entwined and it explores a lot of themes regarding what it is like to be a female in our society. You may enjoy it.

    Are you on Goodreads? I find it to be a great way to swap book recommendations with friends.

  • Michelle July 2, 2013, 9:10 pm

    Hi Caitlin! I’m not a dystopian lover (although I did enjoy The Hunger Games), but thanks for the recaps! Weren’t you working on a dystopian novel of your own at one time?

  • Elizabeth M. July 3, 2013, 1:01 am

    I recently picked up “Shatter Me” at the library which I later figured out was part of a series (I had like 50 pages left and I was like, there is NO way this is getting wrapped up!). It is somewhat in the future with the earth totally stripped of its resources. A girl has a “power” that she doesn’t know much about and it’s her story. There’s some type of revolution brewing too. It’s entertaining! I’m going to have to track down the next book in the series.

    • Jill July 3, 2013, 8:26 am

      Oh yes. LOVED Shatter Me. Another great one.

  • LeLi July 3, 2013, 6:47 am

    Hi Caitlin

    If I remember correctly you once mentioned something about maybe writing a YA novel yourself? I would really like to find out more about your future writing plans if you don’t mind to share some more about it.
    (I’m an aspiring author, that’s why I’m so interested:-))

  • Ashley July 3, 2013, 7:28 am

    I loved the Divergent Series! I’m ready for the last book to come out!

    I just finished the Host and it was pretty good. Not the best but decent. Now I’m reading the third book in the Bared to You series and it’s great so far.

  • Jill July 3, 2013, 8:25 am

    I read Divergent and loved it. I also loved The Maze Runner. I also liked Matched and Paranormalcy, etc etc…I’ve read a lot of them actually. I have not, however, read the sequels. There was always such a long time span for the next book to come out. I was going to take the bunch of them (the entire series of each) and others this summer to start reading, but I find it hard to read dystopian/fantasy in the bright, summer months. That might sound odd, but its true! So I shift toward lighter reads in all genres (not just YA) during this time instead.

    I did however read “Beautiful Creatures” a little while ago in only 2-3 days and liked it a lot. That’s a series you might also enjoy. Graceling is another good one you might like (I read that long ago).

  • Jessica July 3, 2013, 8:30 am

    This isn’t a dystopian novel, but one of my favorite FAVORITE books (and YA novel) is “Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson, Book 1)” by British author Louise Rennison. I laughed so hard I cried. It is most excellent.

    My favorite YA dystopian novel is “The Giver,” which I read to my 5th graders this year and they loved it.

    • Courtney Leigh July 3, 2013, 11:48 am

      I’ve got to second the Georgia Nicolson Books. I’ve read the first few and they were definitely laugh out loud. Great fast, summer reads. YA really is great for summer, isn’t it?

      I loved the Uglies books, and Cassandra Clare’s paranormal YA books as well. As for the comment about Sherrilyn Kenyon – I had NO IDEA she wrote YA novels as well. I’ve read some of her other books and yeaaaaaah…. ADULT is the proper term for them. I imagine some tween/teens could be highly surprised if they picked up the wrong series.

  • Amanda @ There Are 2 Sides July 3, 2013, 10:26 am

    How funny, I just posted about this today!
    I am reading Legend as we speak, so excited for it!!

  • Heather July 3, 2013, 11:35 am

    One of my favorite dystopias is “The Postmortal” by Drew Magary

    Also “A Year of Wonders” by Geraldine Brooks which is about the plague actually, but how a whole village cuts itself off to stop the spread so it is not exactly dystopian, but there are interesting changes that occur in the village without outside influence.

    I think I need to go to the library and get some of these books! Thanks for the topic, Caitlin!

  • Deanna July 3, 2013, 11:59 am

    I also loved the Delirium series by Lauren Oliver – Delirium, Pandemonium and Requiem. I found them all to be enjoyable reads. Have also read all the books on your list and liked the delirium series just as much.

  • Rachel July 3, 2013, 12:57 pm

    I love dystopian novels also, but I’m starting to get sick of them–there are too many! I’ve read the Divergent series (like) and the maze runner series (love), but I haven’t read the 3rd one you mentioned. I’ll have to check it out. Surprisingly I disliked The Kill Order while you liked it more than the series. The Kill Order was too heavy on action and too light on character for my taste, but to each her own!

    I recommend the Delirium series. It is about a world where love is a disease. Even though the concept sounds silly, the writing and story are excellent. It is probably my favorite YA dystopian series.

  • Jackie July 3, 2013, 2:21 pm
  • Avery July 3, 2013, 2:21 pm

    I absolutely heart dystopian novels. My first one was actually Atlas Shrugged… talk about starting intense! :O

    I’ve actually heard some really good things about the maze runner, maybe I’ll check that out after finishing my current read! I hope the public library has it in though. 🙂

  • Michelle H. July 4, 2013, 4:45 pm

    Check out the “City of Ember” series by Jeanne Duprau.

  • Jacquelyn @justjacq July 5, 2013, 4:52 pm

    I love dystopian too. Check out Lauren DeStefano. Her series is pretty good. Slightly juvenile, but a quick read.

  • Courtney July 6, 2013, 6:27 pm

    Love this thread! I’m pinning it for future reference!

    Arena by Karen Hancock is a good one! Kind of reminds me of Hunger Games. Good stuff!

  • Jennifer July 7, 2013, 10:15 am

    I promise you would love a series nicknamed ‘The Ellie Chronicles’. It’s about a group of Australian teenagers that must fight against an enemy country that is envading theirs. The first book is Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden.

    • Laura July 8, 2013, 2:29 am

      I agree, was also going to rec the Tomorrow, When the War Began series.

  • Suzanne H July 8, 2013, 4:10 pm

    I love the Legend series. These two are tied with it at the top of my list right now: Partials series by Dan Wells and Under the Never Sky series by Veronica Rossi.

    I also like (not all dystopian):
    The Hourglass Door series by Lisa Mangum
    Ashfall series by Mike Mullin
    For Darkness Shows the Stars series by Diana Peterfreund
    Mara Dyer series by Michelle Hodkin
    Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi
    Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer
    Across the Universe series by Beth Revis

  • Summer July 17, 2013, 1:27 pm

    Just catching up on my reader and saw this post — you really need to check out Unwind by Neal Shusterman. It’s… disturbing. Incredibly good, but a crazy concept.

  • April C August 22, 2013, 4:22 pm

    Please do not just pass this comment by, eventhough I myself would scroll pass a long comment like i have written, please just give it a chance. 😉 A few must reads, I’m sure thoes that are into the dystopian theme will have heard of them already, along with Divergent, (which i totally back you up on the fact that it’s a must read… two or three times), there are two more must reads. A good one is Delirium, which is a great action book with tints of the best kind of romance, forbiden. But, another amazing trilogy is Graceling. It was my favorite trilogy before reading Divergent. Again it has great action and a great romance which is realistic and relateable. Reading the reviews for the book, I was unsure of the plot. Would it be to unrealistic? Could this storyline be too childish and unrelatable? The answer to the first question is Yes, it is slightly unrealistic but reading it takes you into their world and you soon become entranced in the vivid surroundings. To answer the latter question, No. The plot is definitly not childish or unrelatable, you become unseperable with the characters and cry at the end, partly because the story ends bittersweet and partly just because the book is now out of pages for you to read. And so you read it over again and cry just the same when you reach the final pages of the book. I hope this helps and i hope you weren’t turned off by my slightly long comment. 🙂 Thanks for reading.

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