YA Dystopian Binge

stack of dystopian ya books
Picture taken by me.

When I was little, I would walk around my neighborhood with a notebook “solving crimes.” I would write down my suspect list, interrogate the neighbors, and use ground up pencil lead to “fingerprint” the neighbors’ dogs and cats. I thought I wanted to be a detective, but what I was really doing was writing stories and doing research. It took me about 28 years and a Forensic Degree later to realize that I wanted to be a writer.

I’ve been recently trying my hand at writing. My work in progress is potentially a YA/Dystopian book, so I decided to read this stack of highly recommended books in this genre for research and inspiration purposes. I probably won’t ever end up publishing it, but the idea popped into my head and I just had to write it. Any other YA/Dystopian books you would recommend? Which one of these should I read first? Let me know in the comments!

Disclaimer: All opinions on this blog are my own. If you are interested in purchasing any of these books, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link by clicking on the pictures and/or links and I will receive a small fee, but your book will still cost the same.

unwind book one by neil shusterman
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Unwind (Unwind, #1) by Neal Shusterman

Goodreads Rating: 4.18/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state, is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

the maze runner book by james dashner
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The Maze Runner (The Maze Runner, #1) by James Dashner

Goodreads rating: 4.02/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.

Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Everything is going to change.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

Remember. Survive. Run.

under the never sky book one by veronica rossi
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Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky, #1) by Veronica Rossi

Goodreads rating: 4.00/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

WORLDS KEPT THEM APART.

DESTINY BROUGHT THEM TOGETHER.

Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she’s never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim.

Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He’s searching for someone too. He’s also wild – a savage – but might be her best hope at staying alive.

If they can survive, they are each other’s best hope for finding answers.

enclave book by ann aguirre razorland book one
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Enclave (Razorland, #1) by Ann Aguirre

Goodreads Rating: 3.92/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20’s. When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters–or Freaks–who seem to be growing more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings. And when Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave, the girl born in darkness must survive in daylight–guided by Fade’s long-ago memories–in the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs.

Ann Aguirre’s thrilling young adult novel is the story of two young people in an apocalyptic world–facing dangers, and feelings, unlike any they’ve ever known.

the fifth wave by rick yancey
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The Fifth Wave (The Fifth Wave, #1) by Rick Yancey

Goodreads rating: 4.05/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother-or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

the house of the scorpion by nancy
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The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

Goodreads rating: 4.10/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

With undertones of vampires, Frankenstein, dragons’ hoards, and killing fields, Matt’s story turns out to be an inspiring tale of friendship, survival, hope, and transcendence. A must-read for teenage fantasy fans.

At his coming-of-age party, Matteo Alacrán asks El Patrón’s bodyguard, “How old am I?…I know I don’t have a birthday like humans, but I was born.”

“You were harvested,” Tam Lin reminds him. “You were grown in that poor cow for nine months and then you were cut out of her.”

To most people around him, Matt is not a boy, but a beast. A room full of chicken litter with roaches for friends and old chicken bones for toys is considered good enough for him. But for El Patrón, lord of a country called Opium—a strip of poppy fields lying between the U.S. and what was once called Mexico—Matt is a guarantee of eternal life. El Patrón loves Matt as he loves himself for Matt is himself. They share identical DNA.

the program book one by suzanne young
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The Program (The Program, #1) by Suzanne Young

Goodreads Rating: 4.05/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

In Sloane’s world, true feelings are forbidden, teen suicide is an epidemic, and the only solution is The Program.

Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.

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Steelheart (The Reckoners, #1) by Brandon Sanderson

Goodreads rating: 4.15/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his will.

Nobody fights the Epics…nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart — the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning — and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

All My Favorite Series

All Pictures from Goodreads

Even though I do read a variety of genres, my favorite series are all in the Fantasy/ Paranormal/ Sci-Fi range. Maybe it’s because other genres tend to only include stand-alone books? Most of these are YA/Fantasy, with the exception of Illuminae which is considered YA/Sci-Fi and The Night Prowler series which is Adult Paranormal Romance. A Court of Thorns and Roses and the Throne of Glass series are considered High Fantasy, and they are not YA. There are other series I did not include here (Aurora Rising and Six of Crows to name a few) and this is because they are not completed yet; I’m still waiting on a few books to be released from those.

It would be very hard for me to pick a certain favorite out of all of these or to number them in most favorite to least, so I decided to talk about them in no particular order. Also, I cannot summarize any of these series accurately without giving away a whole lot of spoilers, so I’m posting a synopsis of the first book for each of them, and giving you a mini review for each. These are the books that I proudly display on my shelves and own in several formats. Their quotes fill the walls of my home, my journals, and my phone. If you haven’t read these I hope you give some of them a try and then let me know what your thoughts were. If you have read them, let me know your opinions in the comments!

P.S. I’ve talked enough about the Harry Potter series so I didn’t include it here. We all know Harry Potter is life. (click on the link to read my Harry Potter Booktag post)

Disclaimer: All opinions on this blog are my own. If you are interested in purchasing any of these books, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link by clicking on the pictures or links.

Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas

throne of glass series by sarah j maas
Picture taken by me. Buy these books on Amazon

For fans of: Game of Thrones, Assassin’s Creed, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Cruel Prince

Rating: 4.21/5 on Goodreads

This series is comprised of seven amazing books. Empire of Storms (#5) is my favorite out of all of them, as it’s the one where Celaena (the main character) has the most character growth and there is also a lot of action. I did hate the cliff-hanger ending since I had to wait more than a year for the last book, Kingdom of Ash, to be released. The book I did not care much for in this series was Tower of Dawn (#6) because it was about my least favorite character, Chaol. Maas did do a great job with the series finale, giving every character and side story the necessary closure. I enjoyed the different character points of views, the playful banter and dialogue, and the complex plot. Be warned that even though this series seems to be advertised as YA, it’s NOT, as it includes very explicit sex scenes.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass—and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

A Court of Thorns and Roses Series by Sarah J. Maas

a court of thorns and roses series by sarah j maas
Picture taken by me. Get this series on Amazon

For fans of: Fairy Tale retellings, Beauty and the Beast, Game of Thrones, High Fantasy

Rating: 4.24/5 on Goodreads

Since we are already on the topic of Sarah J. Maas books here is another one of her series which has become one of my favorites of all time. The series includes three books and a short novella. My favorite book of the series is A Court of Mist and Fury (#2) since this is the one where the main character Feyre has the most character development and revelations. There is also a major plot twist in this one, and we are introduced to a group of amazing characters who improved the story tremendously. I enjoyed the entertaining dialogue in between the characters, the romantic aspect, and how each character was unique and could probably star in their own story. Maas is actually releasing a spin-off of this series in the near future, which will star some of these side characters that I fell in love with. Be warned that even though this series seems to be advertised as YA, it’s NOT, as it includes very explicit sex scenes.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jeweled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Picture taken by me. Get this series on Amazon.

For fans of: Fairy Tale retellings, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Snow White, Star Wars

Rating: 4.15/5 on Goodreads

This series is comprised of four amazing books and three novellas. My favorite book in the series was Cress (#3) because Cress is such a sweet endearing character and I just wanted to root for her. Also, my favorite male character was Thorne, or Captain Thorne, as he liked to be called. I really enjoyed the group dynamics between the eight main characters, how the stories were all interconnected, and the different points of views.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder’s brain interference has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it “a matter of national security,” but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on.

Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived.

But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.

The Folk of the Air Series by Holly Black

the queen of nothing book three in the folk of the air series by holly black
Picture taken by me. Get this series on Amazon.

For fans of: Dark fairy tales, Game of Thrones, court scheming tropes, enemies to lovers trope

Rating: 4.14/5 on Goodreads

I wrote a review of the second book in this series, The Wicked King, and of the last book (my favorite of the series) The Queen of Nothing. The Wicked King was a terrible cliff-hanger. I remember writing “I need therapy” on a sticky note when I was done, and it took me a while to type up my review into coherent sentences and thoughts. I really loved how dark these books were, how strong the human main character Jude was, and I am a big fan of the enemies to lovers trope.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.


Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

The Night Prowler Series by J.T. Geissinger

Picture from Goodreads. Get series on Amazon. Also available for free on Kindle Unlimited.

For fans of: Dark Paranormal Romance, shape shifters, super powers, ancient tribes, alphas and mates trope

Rating: 3.82/5 on Goodreads

This is one of those underrated series that I never hear anything about, but I was completely captivated by it. It includes six books, but they are on average 300 pages each. Be warned it does contain explicit sex scenes. I enjoyed the different points of views, the fact that they shape shifted into panthers (which was very unique), the romance aspect, and the non-stop action. I’m really upset that after writing this series J.T. Geissinger switched to writing Romance and never wrote anything resembling this again.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

2013 winner Fantasy, Futuristic, & Paranormal’s Prism Award for Published Authors—Best First Book

Deep within the primeval forests of southern England, a race of beautiful, savage shape-shifters lives hidden from the everyday world. Bound together by ancient bloodlines and a ruthless code of secrecy that punishes traitors with death, the Ikati send their leader Leander on a mission to capture one raised outside the tribe before she can expose their secret. When Leander tracks the unsuspecting outsider to Southern California, the hardened warrior is prepared for a fight—but not for the effect the sensual young beauty has on his heart.

Jenna spent her childhood in hiding, on the run from someone—or something—her parents refused to discuss. She trusts no one, not since her father’s mysterious disappearance, not since her mother’s sudden death, and definitely not since she began exhibiting strange, superhuman abilities. When handsome, enigmatic Leander appears, promising answers to the mysteries that shroud her past, she knows she shouldn’t trust him either. But their connection is undeniable, and as powerful as the enemy hell-bent on destroying every one of their kind…

Nevernight Series by Jay Kristoff

nevernight series third book darkdawn by jay kristoff
Picture taken by me. Buy series on Amazon.

For fans of: School/training tropes, competition tropes, Harry Potter, Throne of Glass, Assassins Creed, dark fantasy, revenge trope

Rating: 4.28/5 on Goodreads

I thought I loved the books Jay Kristoff co-authored with Amie Kaufman, but this series written by him alone is absolutely amazing. The series includes three great books in which we get to witness the evolution of the main character, Mia. I really enjoyed how dark this series was, the animal companions, the witty dialogue, the sarcastic narrator, and the little history lesson footnotes along the way. Also, check out the audio books if you have the chance, they are narrated by my all time favorite narrator: Holter Graham. Here are the links to my reviews of Nevernight, Godsgrave, and Darkdawn.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

Illuminae Series by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

illuminae series book one by jay kristoff and amie kaufman
Picture taken by me. Buy series on Amazon.

For fans of: Star wars, space settings, YA/Sci-Fi, virus/contagion tropes, artificial intelligence

Ratings: 4.3/5 on Goodreads

This was such a unique series and the one that introduced me to the world of Sci-Fi, I had never read anything like it before. It is comprised of three books, and each book is made up of video transcripts, messages, emails, and various other files. I can’t really pick a favorite book in this one, but my favorite character was definitely AIDEN, the artificial intelligence in charge of the ships. Honestly, if these authors can give an A.I. a personality you can fall in love with then you know they can do anything. The format is really different, so I suggest the audio books if you have trouble adjusting. I enjoyed the unique formatting, the witty dialogue, the group dynamics, and the non-stop action.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the worst thing she’d ever been through. That was before her planet was invaded. Now, with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra are forced to fight their way onto one of the evacuating craft, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.
But the warship could be the least of their problems. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their biggest threat; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady plunges into a web of data hacking to get to the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: Ezra.
Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents–including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more–Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

the infernal devices series by cassandra clare
Pictures from Goodreads. Buy on Amazon.

For fans of: YA/Fantasy, Shadowhunters, love triangle tropes, books set in London and the late 1800’s

Rating: 4.33/5 on Goodreads

I love all the Shadowhunter books by Cassandra Clare, but this series has always stayed with me. I have quotes from these books all over my house, notebooks, and my phone. This series is comprised of three amazing books, and I cannot pick a favorite. I also cannot pick between Will and James, and admit Tessa had a very tough choice to make. I enjoyed the poetic language, the slow burn romance, and the friendships.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them…

Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor

daughter of smoke and bone series by laini taylor
Picture taken by me. Buy on Amazon

For fans of: Angels and Demons, enemies to lovers trope, Fantasy

Rating: 4.02/5 on Goodreads

This series is comprised of three wonderful books. I can’t really pick a favorite book or favorite character. I loved ALL of it and I cannot recommend it enough. I enjoyed the friendships between the main characters and side characters, the romance, and the unique world building.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Strange the Dreamer series by Laini Taylor

strange the dreamer series by laini taylor
Picture taken by me. Buy on Amazon.

For fans of: Hercules, Gods and humans trope, nightmares and dreamscapes, Fantasy

Rating: 4.32/5 from Goodreads

Laini Taylor’s writing is so hypnotic and poetic that it has made me fall in love with all her series. This story is a duology. Both books were perfect, but my favorite was the first one. It was fun being introduced to this stange world and trying to piece the story together as I went. I enjoyed the mystery, the quoteable writing, and the romance.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep.