Young adult dystopian novels have long been taught in schools. From books like The Giver to Catch 22, these books are popular choices for curriculums across the country. However, in recent years YA dystopian novels have taken on an entirely new meaning.
Suddenly, YA dystopian books are no longer considered boring classroom reads. These book series have evolved into unputdownable books with fantastic characters who are relatable and likable.
We put together a list of the young adult dystopian novels that we love and we hope that you love them as well.
*YA Dystopian Novels Post contains affiliate links. Purchases made through links result in a small commission to us at no cost to you. Some books have been gifted. All opinions are our own.
Young Adult Dystopian Novels
What is a Young Adult Dystopian Novel?
A young adult dystopian novel is a book aimed at 12-18 years of age. The book often takes place in a future time in which the world has suffered from war, plague, or disaster from which it is recovering.
In a ya dystopian novel, there may be discrepancies between people and the way they live. In other young adult dystopian novels, things may first appear as if they are a utopia, but as the story unfolds, it reveals holes in the facade of the perfect world.
Best YA Dystopian Book Series for Young Adults
This is the first book in the Hunger Games series and it is epic! In the aftermath of what was once North America, there are 12 Districts surrounding the capital.
Each year, each district sends one boy and one girl to fight to the death in a competition called “The Hunger Games”. Katniss Everdeen volunteers as a tribute to save her younger sister, Prim, from certain death in the games where it is kill-or-be-killed.
This sci-fi book has everything but at its heart, it is a book about family, love, and survival. This young adult book has a heart while making you turn the pages!
We have talked about this series so many times for a reason. It is so much fun- think Hunger Games meets the Bachelor. It’s a reality TV royal match-making contest in a dystopian world.
But, in this case, the bachelor also happens to be the future king. Can you imagine if William held a contest to see who would be the future princess? This is one of our favorite books about royals. It also happens to be the reason that Beyond the Bookends exits, but that is an entirely different story.
Popular YA Dystopian Books
This Young Adult fantasy novel is the first book in a dystopian series that has taken booktok by storm. Juliette can kill anyone with a touch and has been confined to solitary confinement in prison ever since the day of a terrible accident.
Now, she has a cellmate who is no stranger to her. Is this a coincidence? She sees her power as a curse, others see her as the ultimate weapon.
I listened to this book and was very confused at first at the strange noise. It is the sound of her pencil scratching out something she wrote. Don’t give up, it gets so much better. This is just the beginning of an epic series.
In 2045, most people spent their days in the OASIS, a virtual reality world. When the elusive creator of the OASIS dies and leaves clues behind, the first person to solve the riddles will be in control of the entire OASIS and a massive fortune.
When Wade Watts solves the first clue, he might fight for his survival to win along with his group of misfit friends. Love, a fight for survival, and a group of loyal friends all give me Lunar Chronicle vibes.
Dystopian Fantasy Book Series for Young Adults
This four-book series is set in the future in a time of disease and war. This series is part twisted fairy tale, part dystopia, and part sci-fi fantasy.
Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel are re-imagined as you have never seen them before. All of them are smart and strong women far from the helpless damsels in distress we know them to be.
The first in this series of classic book retellings introduces us to Cinder. She is a cyborg (part human, part machine) who lives with her……..you guessed it….. two step-sisters and stepmother.
Thank goodness Hogwarts is nothing like this school. There is not a single first year that would survive. This magic school, The Scholomance, is bursting with magic that is very dark and unforgiving.
Losing a few classmates is nothing surprising. You either graduate or die. If you love the dark side of Harry Potter, you will love this YA fantasy book.
El, along with all other magical children are sent to the Schoolomnace because even though there is a chance they will die inside, they will almost certainly be killed on the outside. There are no holidays and no packages from home. El isn’t exactly worried because she has powers that make her the most dangerous thing inside the walls.
But Orion Lake keeps saving her life and she cannot understand why. All she knows is that she is supposed to stay away from him.
Amani is a girl who lives on a moon ruled by a cruel and ruthless empire. When she is abducted and taken to the palace she realizes that she looks almost identical to the Princess. Amani must start life anew as a double for the princess or face possible death.
But, as Amani starts a new life, she discovers more about herself and the royal that she must now become. She must immerse herself in the world of royal courts and politics while convincing everyone, including the princess’s fiance, that she is the princess.
The young adult fantasy novel is fast-moving and twists and turns throughout. It is part sci-fi, part fantasy, and part romance for young adults/ new adults. I love the character development and the drama that is so typical of any 18-year-old – especially if you are a spoiled brat, entitled princess.
Dystopian Romance Books for Young Adults
I have been on some weird dystopian kick recently – which is funny because I had to be forced to read the Hunger Games. Now I can’t seem to stop! I’m sure I’ll switch gears this summer, but I love this young adult fantasy novel.
In this world, those with red blood are common and those with silver blood are elite with superhuman abilities. In the war against Silvers and Reds, Mare Barrow is special and so is this book. The ending was a total shock! I couldn’t put it down.
In this trilogy, Chicago society is divided into factions dedicated to a particular virtue: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. On a selected day, all 16-year-olds gather to choose their faction.
Beatrice must choose between staying with her family and becoming who she was meant to be. This first book in the trilogy is unlike anything I had read. It drew me in and kept me turning the pages until the end. Of course, nothing is as it seems in this dystopian YA Fantasy.
Think of matched as The Giver with a love triangle. In the future, Officials choose who you will marry according to who will be your perfect match.
When Cassia’s match comes in, she sees Ky Markham’s face on the screen before it turns black. She is told it was a glitch and is given another name as the person who is her ideal match.
Cassia slowly starts to doubt everything she has been told about her perfect society and falls in love with Ky. It causes her to reconsider everything she knows about her world and its rules.
Must-Read YA Dystopian Novels
Tally is about to turn 16, the time when every teen will undergo radical and high-tech surgery to make them unnaturally beautiful. Before the surgery, teens are sequestered because of how ugly they are to look at.
When Tally’s best friend runs away to live with a group of people who have rejected the surgery, her life takes a spin. She must choose to track down her friend and betray her or live as “an ugly” for the rest of her life.
It took me a while to wrap my head around just how messed up this society is but I couldn’t stop turning the pages.
Thomas wakes up surrounded by a group of strangers. They are all boys like him who remember nothing about themselves except for their names. They are stuck inside a maze.
The only way out is through the ever-changing maze from which no one has ever escaped. When a girl arrives with a message, the first girl ever, she must head her message and “remember, survive, run”. This book reminded us a little of The Hunger Games because of the nature of the maze. It is all one big, deadly game.
This book is part fantasy and part sci-fi in a world of predator cities. Giant cities chase small towns and devour them in an effort to survive. Of all the urban fantasy books, this one closely resembles sci-fi.
Classic YA Dystopian Books
Set in a dystopian world, the main character Jonas is special because he is the receiver. In his Idyllic community, he is the one who holds the secrets.
This Newberry Award-Winning classic book for kids is one of the most influential novels of our time and one of the best sci-fi books of all time. Interestingly, the Hunger Games has been added to many curriculums to look at dystopian worlds in addition to this sci-fi book. If you love classic sci-fi books, this pick is a must-read.
Stand Alone YA Dystopian Novels
The Hunger Games meets The Handmaid’s Tale in this haunting and disturbing tale. At the age of sixteen, all women must go into the wild for a year to release their magic. The people of Garner County call this the Grace Year and speaking of it is forbidden.
As Tierney James Grace Year approaches, she dreams of a world in which women aren’t pitted against each other in a battle to survive. This dystopian YA fantasy book is eery and completely creepy. I could not put it down.
Find this book in Young adult dystopian novels
Set 100 years in the future in a 1000-floor tower, New York’s privileged elite navigate romance, privilege, and temptation in this sci-fi YA novel.
It gave me gossip girl vibes with a futuristic feel except it opens with someone falling from their death from the top floor. Avery Fuller is genetically designed to be perfect but is her life as perfect as it seems? If you love sci-fi, forbidden love stories, and the fight for survival of the Hunger Games, this book is perfect for you to read.
FAQ About Young Adult Dystopian Novels
What is the most popular Young Adult Dystopian Novel
We think that the most popular YA dystopian novel is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. In recent years, schools have even started to include this book in their curriculum.
If you love YA dystopian books, you will find more on this fantasy list carefully divided them into sub-genres.
If you love young adult dystopian novels and you are looking for more, check out this list of books like The Hunger Games.