18 YA Dystopian Book Series to Read

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The dystopian genre is nothing new; well-established classics like George Orwell’s “1984” or Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” laid the groundwork for its kind of storytelling. But around 15 years ago, the genre found a new audience within the growing market of young adult readers.

Mixing a variety of themes that explore societal, political, and personal issues within the context of a dystopian or post-apocalyptic world, the genre is about young people, teenagers on the threshold of adulthood who are faced with life-defining challenges that place them against the established order. You probably are already familiar with some of the most popular YA Dystopian series, but here is a list to explore the genre:

Here is our Selection of YA Dystopian Book Series

The 100 Books in Order

The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins – In the future post-apocalyptic nation of Panem in North America. The Capitol, a highly advanced metropolis, exercises political control over the rest of the nation. The Hunger Games is an annual event in which one boy and one girl aged 12–18 from each of the twelve districts surrounding the Capitol are selected by lottery to compete in a televised battle royale to the death. Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her younger sister Prim’s place when she is selected as District 12’s female tribute. Alongside her fellow tribute, Peeta Mellark, Katniss must navigate the deadly arena, facing other tributes and the Capitol’s manipulation and control.

The 100 series by Kass Morgan – Taking us into a future where Earth has become uninhabitable due to nuclear war, the surviving human population resides on a massive space station called the Ark. With only a slim chance of surviving, the Ark sends 100 adolescent delinquents to Earth to see if the planet is habitable. Following their landing on the former US East Coast, a group of people—including Bellamy Clarke, her older brother, Jaha Wells, and Clarke Griffin—lead to the realization that they are not alone on Earth and that it is possible to survive.

The Legend series by Marie Lu – Set in a violent, futuristic, half-flooded Los Angeles governed by martial law, The Legend series follows June Iparis, a prodigy from a wealthy family and a military prodigy, and Day (Daniel Altan Wing), a wanted criminal and the Republic’s most infamous fugitive. June is tasked with capturing Day after he becomes the prime suspect in her brother’s murder, but as they cross paths, they discover a web of conspiracies and uncover the truth about the Republic.

The Divergent series by Veronica Roth – Set in a post-apocalyptic Chicago where society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to a specific virtue–Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite–the story revolves around Beatrice “Tris” Prior who discovers that she is “Divergent,” meaning she does not fit neatly into any one faction and possesses qualities of multiple factions. She decides to leave her family’s faction, Abnegation, and join Dauntless, where she faces the challenges of initiation and uncovers a conspiracy that threatens the stability of the society.

The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld – In a future world where everyone undergoes mandatory surgery at the age of 16 to become “Pretty,” those who are waiting of the surgery are referred to as “Uglies.” Tally Youngblood is still an Ugly who eagerly anticipates her upcoming transformation into a Pretty, but she befriends Shay, another Ugly, who questions society’s ideals of beauty. When Shay escapes to join a rebellious group called the “Smokies,” Tally is faced with a choice: betray her friend and become Pretty or follow Shay into a life of uncertainty.

The Delirium series by Lauren Oliver – In a future world where love, referred to as “amor deliria nervosa,” is considered a dangerous and destabilizing force, the government of Portland enforces a mandatory procedure called the “cure” on all citizens at the age of 18 to eliminate the capacity for love and emotion. Lena Haloway awaits her upcoming procedure but starts questioning society’s beliefs when she meets Alex, a young man who challenges her perspective on love.

The Gone series by Michael Grant – In the fictional town of Perdido Beach, everyone aged 15 and above suddenly vanishes without a trace. The remaining children and teenagers discover that the town is surrounded by an impenetrable barrier, trapping them inside.
Sam Temple, along with other young survivors, must navigate the challenges of a town without adults, emerging supernatural abilities, and the emergence of dangerous factions.

The Maze Runner series by James Dashner – The story starts when a young boy named Thomas wakes up in a metal box, with no memory of who he is or how he got there. He soon discovers that he is part of a community of boys who live in a place called the Glade, surrounded by a massive and ever-changing maze. The boys, known as “Gladers,” have been trying to solve the maze for years, but their efforts are complicated by the arrival of a girl named Teresa and the sudden changes in the maze’s patterns.

The Giver series by Lois Lowry – In an apparent utopian community where there is no pain, suffering, or conflict, society is governed by strict rules and regulations. Twelve-year-old Jonas is selected to be the Receiver of Memories, a position that exposes him to the true history and emotions that the community has chosen to suppress. As he learns about the complexity of human experiences, he becomes increasingly disillusioned with society’s pursuit of sameness.

The Selection Books in Order

The Selection series by Kiera Cass – In the country of Illea, there is a monarchy divided into castes, with the royal family residing in the highest caste. America Singer is a young woman from the lower castes. When the opportunity arises for eligible young women to compete for the heart of Prince Maxon and the chance to become the future queen, America reluctantly enters the Selection. The story follows America’s journey through the competition, where she grapples with her feelings for Prince Maxon and her conflicted emotions about the society she lives in.

The Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi – In a world where society is under the control of a totalitarian government, Juliette Ferrars is being held in isolation due to her dangerous ability. Her touch can be deadly, and she has been considered a threat to society. When she is suddenly released, she finds herself in a world of political intrigue and rebellion against the authoritarian regime known as The Reestablishment. Juliette must navigate her powers, the complexities of a budding romance, and her role in the resistance.

The City of Ember series by Jeanne DuPrau – The underground city of Ember was built to ensure the survival of humanity in the face of an unspecified disaster. It is powered by a massive generator and illuminated by electric lights, but over time, resources are running out, and the city is in decline. The young Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow discover a set of mysterious instructions left by the city’s Builders. They believe the instructions provide clues on how to escape the city and find a way to the surface.

The Darkest Minds series by Alexandra Bracken – In a world where a pandemic called IAAN (Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration) has killed a majority of America’s children, while the survivors develop supernatural abilities classified into different categories. Ruby Daly is a teenager who possesses a dangerous ability and manages to escape from a government rehabilitation camp and joins a group of other young escapees. Together, they embark on a journey to find a haven known as East River.

The Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix – Luke Garner is a third-born child in a world where families are only allowed to have two children due to overpopulation. As a “shadow child,” Luke must live in hiding to avoid the Population Police. His life takes a turn when he discovers another hidden child living nearby.

The Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness – On the distant planet of New World, all men can hear each other’s thoughts in a phenomenon called “Noise,” and there are no women. A boy named Todd Hewitt discovers a secret so awful he is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl.

The Ready Player One series by Ernest Cline – In the dystopian year 2045, the world is facing economic and social decline. As a result, most people find solace in a virtual reality universe called the OASIS, created by the late James Halliday. He leaves behind a quest within the OASIS, promising his immense fortune and control of the OASIS to the person who can solve a series of puzzles and find the hidden Easter egg. Wade Watts joins the quest and becomes one of the “gunters” (Egg hunters) dedicated to finding the Easter egg. When he discovers one of the three keys which unlocks three successive gates leading to the treasure, things start to get very dangerous.

The 5th Wave series by Rick Yancey – During an alien invasion that unfolds in waves, each wave designed to systematically weaken and eliminate humanity, Cassie Sullivan struggles to survive especially because the alien invaders–known as “the Others”–are difficult to distinguish from humans. Cassie tries to reunite with her younger brother, Sammy, and navigate the dangers of an Earth on the brink of destruction.

The Matched series by Ally Condie – In a future world where Society dictates every aspect of individuals’ lives, including who they marry. Cassia Reyes is matched with her best friend, Xander Carrow. However, a glitch in the system briefly shows her another face, that of Ky Markham. Cassia begins to question the system’s choices and discovers the existence of a rebellion against the oppressive regime.

With more than a thousand articles published on HowToRead.Me, it is clear that navigating through the different reading orders is becoming a bit arduous. To try to help, why not try to sort the series by genre (or sub-genres)? This will take some time, but if you want to ask for a particular list, leave a comment.

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