With both the Maze Runner and Mockingjay (part 1) films being released, interest in dystopian books will be high and they could be an attractive Christmas present. So what is out there, what is new and who would the books suit?
Maze Runner series by James Dashner – the film that has come out covers the first book in the Maze Runner series. If someone has seen the film but not read the book they could safely pick up the second book. They will be able to follow the story, they will simply be missing out some of the details that the first book contained but couldn’t be squeezed into the film. The series consists of three books – The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure. There is a fourth book which is a prequel, The Kill Order, but this should be read after the series has been read. This series will appeal to readers who like action an adventure, there are some zombies to contend with and there is a bit of boy/girl romance but it is not overpowering. Suggested age: 12+
Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins – this is a very good series with adventure, action, romance, heartbreak and plenty of cruelty too. The series consists of three books – The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay. So far the first two books have been turned into films. The third book is being released as two films, with the first film out any day now. If you have watched the first two films, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend picking up the third book. It is the weakest in the series and not the best place to start reading. Instead go back and read the series from the beginning because the books are so good. Suggested age range 12+ but do bear in mind that episodes in the book are violent and brutal.
Red Rising by Pierce Brown – the story is set far in the future where humans have colonised planets and the worlds inhabitants have been organised into groups by colour, reflecting their status, their colouring and their work. Darrow is a Red but he is pretending to be a Gold. He is trying to help overturn the order of this cruel world he lives in. This is a brutal and dark story but it is also full of hope and love and friendship. It will appeal to readers who enjoy action adventure books and who do not shy away from violence. So far only one book in the series has been published. Suggested age 14+
Dustlands series by Moira Young – the story is set in a future world where water is scarce and people have turned on each other. There are three books in the series, Blood Red Road, Rebel Heart and Raging Star. Saba is a strong and determined girl and her original plan to find and save her brother changes and she finds herself fighting to save the ordinary people who are suffering in this hard and unforgiving world. There is plenty of action and adventure and romance is a large part of the book too. The book has a distinctive style which may take readers a while to get into. Suggested age 13+
Divergent series by Veronica Roth – this series was very popular in book form and a film was released of the first book in the series although it does not seem to have been an unqualified success. The books are good. The story in set in a dystopian future where the population has been restricted to a zone and the people within it are divided into four factions which reflect their personality traits. The problem is that some people don’t fit into just one personality trait and they are deemed to be dangerous. There are three books in the series, Divergent, Insurgent and Allegiant. The books are a compelling read, full of action and adventure with romance and some brutality thrown in. Suggested age 13+
MetaWars series by Jeff Norton – the story is set in a future world where resources are scarce and people can plug themselves into computers and spend time in a virtual world. However, just as the real world is fought over so is the virtual world being fought over and Jonah finds himself having to make some difficult decisions. There are four books in the series Fight for the Future, The Dead are Rising, Battle of the Immortal and The Freedom Frontier. These books will appeal to readers who like action, adventure and virtual worlds, Suggested age 12+
If you are not keen on the idea of a series then try:
Shipbreaker by Paolo Bacigalupi set in a world where resources are scarce and people scavenge for copper from grounded oil tankers. When Nailer finds a destroyed clipper ship and a rich girl, he decides to help her, leading to action and adventure and plenty of danger. Suggested age 12+
Memory of Water by Emmi Itaranta – set in a future world where fresh water is scarce, Noria watches her family fall apart and their secret threaten her life. Beautifully written, this is an enthralling read and is ideal for readers who enjoy lyrical language. Suggested age 14+
Echo Boy by Matt Haig – set in a future world where robots are increasingly taking over from humans, Audrey finds her life turned upside down by a rogue robot and then further confused by a boy who seems to have feelings but is nonetheless a robot. Suggested age 12+
There are many more dystopian books available and this list will give you access to reviews of a number of other dystopian books that are on the Books Teens and Magazine website.