10 Intense Dystopian Novels For YA Readers

It's not always easy to be optimistic about the future. If you've ever been afraid of society being defeated by anything from a natural disaster to a zombie apocalypse, it can be both fascinating and cathartic to read stories set in dystopian worlds, where characters find ways to survive and thrive despite their bleak surroundings. The ten YA novels listed here each have a fresh take on this popular concept, and are sure to keep you glued to the pages. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

YA Dystopian Fiction: Our 10 Picks

Title Author
1. The Soul and the Seed Arie Farnam
2. Beware the Night Jessika Fleck
3. Ghost City Madeline Claire Franklin
4. Psion Beta Jacob Gowans
5. Recoil Joanne Macgregor
6. On the Edge of Gone Corinne Duyvis
7. The Limit Kristen Landon
8. Midnight City J. Barton Mitchell
9. I Am the Storm Tash McAdam
10. Untamed Madeline Dyer

Classic Dystopian Novels

The contemporary authors on our list are part of a long tradition of writers imagining a terrifying future. Here are a few classic works in the dystopian genre:

  1. 1984 by George Orwell
  2. The Iron Heel by Jack London
  3. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
  4. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  5. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Common Themes in Dystopian Literature

8 Great Dystopian Films

  1. The Hunger Games (2012)
  2. Westworld (1973)
  3. Metropolis (1927)
  4. Minority Report (2002)
  5. Logan's Run (1976)
  6. I Am Legend (2007)
  7. Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
  8. Gattaca (1997)

How Fictional Dystopias Suppress Story-Tellers

In Depth

Books that take place in dystopian settings give us a fascinating glimpse of what human society might end up like if it collapses or if an oppressive force takes over the world. If you're looking for stories that deal with bleak futures ruled by evil conglomerates or tyrants, you should consider checking out these ten intense dystopian novels for Y.A. readers, listed in no particular order.

First up, at #1, we have "The Soul and the Seed" by Arie Farnam. Aranka is a normal high school student living in La Grande, Oregon. One day, amidst reports of a spreading disease, she and a few of her fellow students are taken and forcibly tested at a nearby hospital. Aranka soon learns that she's part of an ancient race known as the Kyrennei, and her captors are the Addin, who have been in control of the world for centuries. With the help of a secret organization, she must fight for her freedom and the resurgence of her people.

Next, at #2, is "Beware the Night" by Jessika Fleck. In Bellona, the rich and influential Dogio rule over the lower-class Basso. Every year, The Dogio sacrifice one Basso citizen to appease their god, who, in turn, will protect everyone from the dreaded group known as the Night. When seventeen-year-old Veda's grandfather is chosen as the next offering, she sets off to unravel the truth behind their cruel society and the Night, who may not be as evil as she originally thought.

Every year, The Dogio sacrifice one Basso citizen to appease their god, who, in turn, will protect everyone from the dreaded group known as the Night.

At #3 is "Ghost City" by Madeline Claire Franklin. In a world where children are the only survivors of a mysterious cataclysmic event, a girl named Kiddo and her found-sister Princess live in the forest, where they provide refuge for fellow survivors. When a boy known only as the Saver takes them to his island city, Kiddo suddenly believes that the whole place will eventually sink, but she can't explain why. She'll have to regain her memories in order to understand what's really going on, why ghosts roam the woods, and what truth lies within the fire at the edge of the city called the Burning End.

Next up, at #4, we have "Psion Beta" by Jacob Gowans. Sammy is a teenager who accidentally discovers that he has strange abilities. He is soon recruited as a Beta, and must hone his newfound powers in order to prove himself as a worthy combatant in the war against the Thirteens. While out on a mission with his fellow trainees, something goes horribly wrong, leaving him with the sole responsibility of leading his group back to safety.

At #5 is "Recoil" by Joanne Macgregor. Several years after a deadly plague ravaged the United States, a gamer named Jinxy James is recruited as a sniper for a secret organization dedicated to fighting the terrorists responsible for the country's downfall. When she meets intelligence analyst Quinn O'Riley, she learns shocking truths about the government she's fighting for, making her question her allegiance.

When she meets intelligence analyst Quinn O'Riley, she learns shocking truths about the government she's fighting for, making her question her allegiance.

Next, at #6, is "On the Edge of Gone" by Corinne Duyvis. It is said that a large comet will hit the Earth in 2035. In order to save the human race, a generation ship is scheduled to leave the planet to colonize other habitable worlds. Denise and her family are assigned to hide in a fallout shelter to wait out the blast, but when she learns about the generation ship, she wants to do whatever it takes to secure a spot for herself and her loved ones. Will those in power see Denise's life as worth saving?

At #7 is Kristen Landon's "The Limit." In a world where children are taken away from their parents if their families exceed the government's debt limit, teenager Matt wonders if he'll ever suffer such a horrible fate. Unfortunately for him, his supposedly financially responsible parents make a mistake, and he's immediately sent off to a special workhouse until their debt is paid. When Matt's younger sister Lauren also ends up in the workhouse, he realizes he won't be able to count on anyone to rescue them.

Next up, at #8, we have "Midnight City" by J. Barton Mitchell. An alien race known as the Assembly has taken over Earth, controlling most of the adult population with a powerful telepathic signal and leaving children as the only group left that can resist the invaders. Bounty hunter Holt Hawkins has just captured a treasure hunter named Mira Toombs, hoping to cash in on the bounty. When a ship crashes near the pair, they decide to set their differences aside and rescue a young girl named Zoey, whose strange powers may be the key to finally stopping the Assembly.

An alien race known as the Assembly has taken over Earth, controlling most of the adult population with a powerful telepathic signal and leaving children as the only group left that can resist the invaders.

At #9 is "I Am the Storm" by Tash McAdam, book one in the Psionics series. Sam is a technopath who can control technology with his mind. He knows that the evil Institute will stop at nothing to get their hands on him if they find out about his powers. After one simple blunder, he finds himself hunted by countless soldiers and telepaths. Now, it's up to a rebel soldier named Serena to rescue him and recruit him into the Anti-Reprogramming Collective, sworn enemies of the Institute.

Finally, at #10, we have "Untamed" by Madeline Dyer. Seven is one of the last remaining Untamed humans in the world, and she's a seer who has the ability to see into the future. When she's captured by the Enhanced, who use chemical augmenters to suppress negative emotions, she must find a way to escape. Along the way, through a series of strange dreams, she realizes that she has the power to save her people, if she can first find allies to help her in the fight.