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
Buy on Amazon

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
Buy on Amazon

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
Buy on Amazon

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
Buy on Amazon

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
Buy on Amazon

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
Buy on Amazon

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
Buy on Amazon

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.

Buy on Amazon

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.