22 Dystopian Novels For Teenagers to Read | 2023

22 Dystopian Novels for Teenagers to read in 2022

I bet you must have watched movies named Elysium, Matrix and Never let me go. They were thrilling, exciting and some of the best dystopian movies. Do you know you can get the same thrill by reading dystopian books as well. Well, if you don’t know, you can and you will and for you I have listed here 22 of the best dystopian novels for teenagers.

Though I am not a big fan of reading dystopian books and haven’t read a lot but one or two and they have changed my perspective regarding them. It was only until 2021 when I started reading this genre and started with divergent and really liked it.

Dystopian Novels refer to novels set in or mention the dehumanizing and frightening fictional settings. This can include a scenario of mass killings, destruction, apocalypse, and more fictional settings like this. Dystopian literature began to respond to Utopian literature, which means a ‘perfectly peaceful and serene society.’ Dystopian Novels can be pretty frightening but are quite addictive, even more than Utopian novels.

I won’t say I’ve read all of the books mentioned, as I already told you that I started with the genre very recently, but yes, I have read only a couple of them and the rest are on my read list or recommendations of many other readers. So without taking any further time, let’s discuss these novels.

Top 22 Dystopian Novels for Teenagers

As with any other novel genre, this one is also divided into what sect of readers would suit the best. The list of books mentioned here is best suited for teenagers, but no one’s stopping you from reading it, even if you’re an adult.

1. Divergent

divergent | 22 Dystopian Novels For Teenagers to read

Full Title: Divergent

Author: Veronica Roth

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Publishing Date: 26th April 2011


Beatrice Prior lives in a Dystopian Chicago world where the society is divided into five sects, each of which is dedicated to a particular virtue. There are the honest, the selfless, the brave, the peaceful, and the intelligent, one of which each person must belong, and the choice is given to them once they turn 16.

Beatrice was also given such a choice, but she struggles to choose between being with her family and being who she is, as a result, she ends up making a choice surprising everyone, including herself. This book revolves around her as she endures the harsh physical and mental tests to live out her choice.

2. Want

want | 22 Dystopian Novels For Teenagers to read

Full Title: Want

Author: Cindy Pon

Genre: Paranormal Fiction

Publishing Date: 2009


Have you ever imagined a world where you can buy more life with your money? That’s exactly the type of world Jason Zhou lives in, where the rich live longer and the others live shorter lives.

The wealthy wear special suits to protect themselves from pollution and viruses that spread across the city, while the others suffer from illness and die early. Jason is sick of this division and has had enough of it as he has lost his mother due to this system.

3. We Set Dark on Fire

we set dark on fire | 22 Dystopian Novels For Teenagers to read

Full Title: We Set Dark on Fire

Author: Taylor Kay Mejia

Genre: Fantasy Fiction

Publishing Date: 26th February 2019


After being recruited by rebel spies, Dani has a great awakening. Daniela Vargas ‘Dani’ lives in a polarized society where the Medio School for girls. Trains distinguished girls to fulfil one of the two roles in the society that is either running their husband’s household or raising his kids, both of which offer them a life of comfort and luxury.

Dani is the school’s top student, but her prodigy is a lie, and the truth must be hidden or else she would be sent back to the fringed society she came from. The school teaches her everything but not for the difficult situation where she must make a choice that could change everything in her life after graduation.

4. Red Queen

red queen | 22 Dystopian Novels For Teenagers to read

Full Title: Red Queen

Author: Victoria Aveyard

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Publishing Date: 10th February 2015


Mare Barrow, a 17-year-olf girl, lives in a world divided into people having red blood and silver blood, with red being the commoners and silver being the elites for whom the red-blooded people work.

Mare is such red blood from poverty-stricken Stilts who finds herself working at the silver palace, among the people she hates the most, the silvers. But despite being red, she has special abilities of her own that can disrupt the entire system, and the silvers are determined to make her one of them while she conspires against them to lead them to their fall.

5. Legend

legend | 22 Dystopian Novels For Teenagers to read

Full Title: Legend

Author: Marie Lu

Genre: Science Fiction

Publishing Date: 29th November 2011


The western United States is home to the Republic, which is at war with its neighbours. June is a 15-year-old girl born in the Republic’s wealthiest districts, and Day is another 15-year-old born in the slums and is the most wanted criminal in the country.

Day and June cross paths when Day becomes the prime suspect responsible for June’s brother’s brutal death. Both are trapped in a cat and mouse game, with Day struggling for his family’s survival while June seeks revenge upon her brother.

6. Noughts and Crosses

noughts and crosses

Full Title: Noughts and Crosses

Author: Malorie Blackman

Genre: Political Terrorism

Publishing Date: 2001


This thought-provoking novel about racism and prejudice is set in an alternative reality. Society is divided into two the Noughts and the crosses. Noughts are the underclass’s colorless members, and the Crosses are the dark-skinned ruling class.

Callum is a Nought, and Sephy is a cross, both childhood friends. Despite knowing that they can’t go further as in their society, Noughts and Crosses can’t mix, and a romance starts brewing between them, which can easily be turned into terrible life-threatening danger.

7. Uglies

uglies | 22 Dystopian Novels For Teenagers to read

Full Title: Uglies

Author: Scott Westerfeld

Genre: Fantasy Fiction

Publishing Date: 2005


The world we live in and the world Tally lives in aren’t that different but still are different. The world is divided into the Uglies, and the pretties and Tally can get herself operated on to become pretty once she turns 16, which isn’t very far.

Tally wants to turn pretty and enjoy the high-tech paradise she has always imagined, but her thoughts start to waver after meeting Shay, her new friend who doesn’t want to turn pretty like everyone else and shows Tally the not-so-pretty side of the pretty world.

It has come to such a point that Tally must either turn her friend in or give up on being pretty forever. What will she do?

8. Matched

matched | 22 Dystopian Novels For Teenagers to read

Full Title: Matched

Author: Ally Condie

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Publishing Date: 30th November 2010


How would you feel about living in a society where the authority makes all your life choices? Like where you live, what you do, who you love, everything. Wouldn’t be very pleased, right?

Well, Cassia, who lives in such a society, doesn’t seem to mind at all as she trusts their decisions blindly and is just the type to go with the glow until the fate makes her stand on the path no one has ever dared to follow, that is, choose between passion and perfection.

9. Lord of the Flies

lord of the flies | 22 Dystopian Novels For Teenagers to read

Full Title: Lord of the Flies

Author: William Golding

Genre: Allegorical Novel

Publishing Date: 17th September 1954


This novel is perhaps one of the most memorable novels about the rise in the level of darkness in man’s heart and about the end of innocence. A plane crashes on an island, stranding a group of boys.

At first, tempted by the freedom from civilization and adult supervision, they seem to enjoy and celebrate it as now they can do anything they want. They try to forget their society which they fail, of course, but in the face of terror, sin, and evil, the hope of being rescued seems to be moving far away.

10. The Handmaid’s Tale

the handmaid's tale | 22 Dystopian Novels For Teenagers to read

Full Title: The Housemaid’s Tale

Author: Margaret Atwood

Genre: Science Fiction

Publishing Date: 1985


Offred is a Handmaid who lives in the Republic of Gilead, where the world has become such that women have been denied access to knowledge.

She has to lie on her back once every month, begging the commander, at whose house she works, to get her pregnant as Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable. There was a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had her job, her own money, and full access to knowledge, but everything was now gone.

11. The Hunger Games

the hunger games | 22 Dystopian Novels For Teenagers to read

Full Title: The Hunger Games

Author: Suzanne Collins

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Publishing Date: 8th December 2011


16-year old Katniss Everdeen lives in the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The harsh Capitol demands one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 to 18 every year to participate in the Hunger Games that’ll be telecasted on live TV.

Katniss takes her sister’s place in the games this year. She didn’t want to be a contender, but escaping death was her second nature. But to win and escape death this time, she must choose survival against humanity and life against love.

12. The Selection

the selection | 22 Dystopian Novels For Teenagers to read

Full Title: The Selection

Author: Kiera Cass

Genre: Fantasy Fiction

Publishing Date: 14th April 2012


How does royalty work in our world? The successors of the present royal people take up their place, and it goes on and on. However, in the world where America Singer lives, the royalty is formed by process of selection.

Only the selected ones form the royalty, and being the selected one is for everyone except America. As for her, being selected is a nightmare as that would separate her and her secret lover, Aspen, and would put her on a quest for Prince Maxon’s heart.

She does not want anything like that to happen, but once she meets the Prince, she may start to question her plans and choices.

13. Angelfall

angelfall | 22 Dystopian Novels For Teenagers to read

Full Title: Angelfall

Author: Susan Ee

Genre: Paranormal Fiction

Publishing Date: 21st May 2011


Hell had broken upon Northern California as the angles of the apocalypse descend on Earth six weeks before the story is set. Street gangs threaten the day and during the night with fear and superstition. The warrior’s angel flies away with a little and helpless girl, and now, her 17-year-old sister needs to find a solution desperately to get her back.

A warrior angel, Raffe, is found broken and wingless, who is saved by a teenage girl, and together they travel through the dark and twisted streets to get back what’s theirs.

14. Hell Followed With Us

hell followed with us | 22 Dystopian Novels For Teenagers to read

Full Title: Hell Followed With Us

Author: Andrew Joseph White

Genre: Horror Novel

Publishing Date: 7th June 2022


This book holds one of the top spots on my read list. I’ll get my hands on it as soon as it releases. Benji, a 16-year-old trans boy, runs away from the deadly cult that raised him. He belongs to the fundamentalist sect responsible for unleashing Armageddon and killing a large portion of the world’s population.

Benji has also been infected with a bioweapon by the same people who are slowly mutating him into a deadly monster, capable enough to wipe out the entire humanity of existence. Benji needs to find a place to stay, away from his sect, which he successfully gets, but how long can he hold that monster inside him?

15. Survive the Doom

survive the doom | 22 Dystopian Novels For Teenagers to read

Full Title: Survive the Doom

Author: Kosoko Jackson

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Publishing Date: 12th April 2022


Jamal Lawson is headed to Baltimore to document a rally protesting police brutality after another Black man is murdered. His aspiration is that he wants to be a part of something. But before he could even start his work as a journalist, the city had been put inside ‘the dome’, a complete safety protocol, forcing the people to be in total militarized shutdown.

Jamal, alone in a place not known well to him, meets Marco and Catherine, who now strive along with him to survive.

16. The Maze Runner

the maze runner | 22 Dystopian Novels For Teenagers to read

Full Title: The Maze Runner

Author: James Dashner

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Publishing Date: 6th October 2009


This novel brings everyone’s one of the terrifying nightmares in front of us, that is, waking up, having lost all your memories, among strangers going through the same. This happens with Thomas when we wake up only to discover that he is among strange boys and remembers nothing but his name.

The boys are in the Glade, surrounded by tall stone walls and outside those walls is an always-changing maze that is also the only way out. The boys are having difficulty swallowing everything in when a girl comes, the first female ever to enter the Glade, with a terrifying message.

17. Fire Country

fire country | 22 Dystopian Novels For Teenagers to read

Full Title: Fire Country

Author: David Estes

Genre: Science Fiction

Publishing Date: 2013


This novel displays the world of a tribal community called the Heaters, who barely survive due to the changes that have come into the world, mostly due to phenomena like global warming. The only way, as they think, for their community to the last longer is by forcing women to procreate every three years once they turn 16.

Siena is a Youngling, that is, a 15-year-old heater who feels threatened by a rumoured all-women tribe who is going around kidnapping Younglings before their ‘Call’, a process where they’ll be allotted a husband with whom they’ll bear children.

18. Brave New World

brave new world | 22 Dystopian Novels For Teenagers to read

Full Title: Brave New World

Author: Aldous Huxley

Genre: Science Fiction

Publishing Date: 1932


This novel shows the possibility of genetically modified beings in the near future. It anticipates great scientific improvements in psychological manipulation, reproductive technology, and sleep-learning combined to make a futuristic state, threatened by only one being, that is, the protagonist of the novel.

19. The Darkest Minds

the darkest minds

Full Title: The Darkest Minds

Author: Alexandra Bracken

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Publishing Date: 2012


The world Ruby, our protagonist, lives in has been greatly plagued by Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration, the IAAN. Children died widely, and those who survived developed weird superpowers. These powers had levels indicated by colors, and those who were found to show any signs of superpowers were taken away and put into containment camps until a cure for the disease was found.

The characters in the novels are super funny and highly relatable. The best part (according to me) was that the entire novel is set in originally existing towns and cities in and around the US, making the novel even more relatable and realistic.

20. The Reader of Acheron

the reader acheron

Full Title: The Reader of Acheron

Author: Walter Rhein

Genre: Fantasy Fiction

Publishing Date: 2013


The world displayed in this novel is somewhere where reading is forbidden (too much for us book lovers). If someone tries to defy the law, the penalty equals a life of slavery enabled by the forcible administration of a mind-rotting drug.

Kikkan is a formerly enslaved person who’s on the run, and Quillion, a mercenary and self-taught scholar, forms a secret band of rebels who promise a better world. They even have a leader, fully mysterious, only known by the name of The Reader of Acheron.

21. Ender’s Game

ender's game

Full Title: Ender’s Game

Author: Orson Scott Card

Genre: Science Fiction

Publishing Date: 15th January 1985


This one would need you to read closely and attentively. It took me two reads to completely understand what was going on, but it’s awesome. Ender, Peter, and Valentine, three brothers, are the results of genetic experimentation and are engaged in something far more serious than just computer games.

Ender is the exceptional military genius the Earth needs to defend against an alien enemy. While Peter seeks to control the political process and Valentine turns more toward the subtle control of the beliefs of commoner and elite alike, everything will fall apart if their brother Ender fails.

22. Unwind


Full Title: Unwind

Author: Neal Shusterman

Genre: Adventure Novel

Publishing Date: 6th November 2007


Connor, Risa, and Lev live in a world where children between the ages of 13 to 18 are ‘unwounded’ i.e., their organs are transplanted into different donors, and the thought behind this is that by doing such, life wouldn’t technically end.

Connor is a rebel and is too much for his parents to control, Risa isn’t enough to be kept alive, and Lev was born to be unwounded in the first place. Can they escape this system together?

Final Words

Didn’t you get goosebumps after reading about all these books? I’m sure you did. They were so shivering after all. Thank God that Dystopian Novels only depict fictional societies and scenarios otherwise, I have no clue how I would survive a zombie apocalypse.

I still haven’t read all of these books, and I’ve shortlisted them for quite sometime now, but now that I’ve mentioned them here and re-analyzed them, I suddenly urge to get them and read them immediately, and I’m sure so do you!

Also, check out some more of such amazing works:

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