17 Best Dystopian Novels For Teens


Dystopia is the opposite of utopia, which is the ideal world. Dystopian literature is dark and grim, futuristic, and about the oppression of people when things go wrong. The stories in dystopian novels showcase the darkest side of humanity with bloodshed, cruelty, and people living a miserable life. If you have a fascination towards bleak stories, then this MomJunction post is for you.

Here we give you a list of popular dystopian novels for teens. Whether you think it is a pessimistic view or a crude portrayal of life’s harsh realities, you will get hooked to them and read till the end.

17 Best Dystopian Novels For Teens

Here is a list of a few teen dystopian novels that we have picked for you. These novels cover almost all the genres of dystopian fiction for the teens.

1. The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games

Author: Suzanne Collins

The nation of Panem in North America conducts the Hunger Games every year and calls for nominations from the 12 districts surrounding it. One boy and one girl in the ages of 12 and 18 are forced to take part in this deadly game, which does not assure that the participants will walk out of it alive.

This time it is sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who is representing her district and a survivor of death. Will she be able to make it alive in the end? You have to read this book to know.

2. Ender’s Game

Enders Game

Author: Orson Scott Card

Andrew Ender Wiggin is a child genius who is sent to a military school where kids like him are groomed through rigorous training to combat the hostile aliens’ attack. Growing up in the military school, he feels the isolation, peer pressure, and the fear of alien invaders. But, is he the soldier the Earth needs to shape its destiny? Only reading the book will tell you this.

3. The Selection

The Selection

Author: Kiera Cass

Selection is a lifetime chance for a set of girls to come out of the caste system and live like princesses in the palace and compete to win the heart of Prince Maxon. However, this doesn’t seem like an exciting opportunity to America Singer, who loves Aspen, a guy from a caste below her. Will she embrace a glorious life with the prince, or will she ditch all the fortune that is awaiting her to be with her love Aspen? A good dystopian book for teens as it talks about the importance of choosing right.

4. The Reader Of Acheron

The Reader Of Acheron

Author: Walter Rhein

The story revolves around a small group of rebels who seek illumination through books, even though reading is forbidden on their land. Those who do not comply with the rule will have to pay the penalty of lifelong slavery. However, the rebels believe in creating a better world under the guidance of their mysterious leader, The Reader Of Acheron.

5. Divergent


Author: Veronica Roth

The story is set in dystopian Chicago, where society is divided into five different factions based on the virtue an individual cultivates: Candor (the honest), Amity (the peaceful), Dauntless (the brave), Abnegation (the selfless), and Erudite (the intelligent).

Every year on an appointed day, all the 16-year-old kids have to choose one of the factions to which they will devote the rest of their life. It’s time for Beatrice to make her choice, one that will surprise everyone.

6. 1984


Author: George Orwell

Winston Smith grows hatred towards the Ministry of Truth, as he keeps rewriting the history with lies to satisfy their demands. But, he can’t think of anything for himself because he is under the surveillance of his master. The novel focuses on depicting the haunting vision of the future world.

7. Legend


Author: Marie Lu

Fifteen-year-old June is born into an elite family in a wealthy Republic district and is groomed in the military circles. On the other side is fifteen-year-old Day, born in a slum and the most wanted criminal. Though they both are from two different worlds, destiny puts them on the same path. However, they cross paths when June’s brother Metias is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect in the crime.

8. Angelfall


Author: Susan Ee

The story is about a seventeen-year-old girl named Penryn, who is all set to get back her little sister from the warrior angels of the apocalypse. She is ready to deal with the enemies to rescue her sister. Along her journey to San Francisco, Penryn will risk everything to save her sister.

9. Unwind


Author: Neal Shusterman

A Bill of Life is passed in America after the second civil war, according to which a child remains untouched from the day of conception until the age of thirteen. Once they are between thirteen and eighteen years old, parents can decide to unwind their children, wherein the organs of the child will be transplanted into various recipients. However, three teens named Conor, Risa, and Lev decide to run away from the fate imposed on them by their parents.

10. The Immortal Rules

The Immortal Rules

Author: Julie Kagawa

Allison Sekemoto hates the vampires that have taken over the city and are using humans as the blood cattle until she herself turns into one. Allison is forced to flee the city and find a legendary place where she believes can find a cure for the disease that has turned the entire civilization into bloodthirsty creatures.

11. The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner

Author: James Dashner

Thomas wakes up to find himself surrounded by a few strangers. One thing that is common among all of them is that they have lost their memories and can only remember their names. They are surrounded by stone walls, and the only way out is to pass through the ever-changing maze, from which no one has ever made it out alive.

12. The Giver

The Giver

Author: Lois Lowry

Though the story is set in a Utopian society, it seems to be dystopian as the events progress. The story revolves around twelve-year-old Jonas, who is given a life assignment to take the position as the Receiver of Memory. Jones struggles to understand the new concepts he is introduced to, but will he be able to justify his role for the position?

13. The Darkest Minds

The Darkest Minds

Author: Alexandra Bracken

Ruby wakes up on her tenth birthday to surprisingly find herself locked up in a garage, after which she is sent to a rehabilitation center. She thinks it must be something to do with the mysterious disease that she survived, but a lot of American children could not. Now, Ruby is sixteen, and she manages to escape the rehabilitation center to find a haven that is safe for kids like her. But, her long journey has many obstacles waiting for her.

14. Fire Country

Fire Country

Author: David Estes

The life expectancy in the post-apocalyptic period is low due to the toxic air circulating in a desert land. Because of this, young girls are forced to bear a child once they turn fifteen or later. Siena is only fifteen and too young to be a bearer, but she hears rumors of a tribal group of women called the Wild Ones, who kidnap young girls and force them to produce children with any man. Sienna is all set to uncover the truth of the tribal woman and the pretense of her father.

15. Running Out of Time

Running Out of Time

Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix

The story revolves around a girl named Jessie, who lives in the village of Clifton, Indiana, where an outbreak of diphtheria is taking the lives of many children. Jessie’s mother sends her on a mission to get the vaccination for the disease, available in the world outside. Jessie, however, is unaware of the dangerous world outside Clifton and the challenges awaiting her. Will she make it back to her village before the children in her village run out of time?

16. The Secret Circle: The Initiation And The Captive

The Secret Circle The Initiation And The Captive

Author: L.J. Smith

New Salem, a small town in New England, is controlled by a coven of witches for hundreds of years. Cassie feels associated with a group of terrifying teens in her school and is unknowingly drawn into the secret circle. She falls for Adam, the mysterious leader of the coven, which puts her life in danger.

17. Brave New World

Brave New World

Author: Aldous Huxley

The story focuses on the future world of genetically-modified citizens and a society of intellects. The novel showcases how the future world will grow with the technology in the field of fertility, psychological manipulation, sleep-learning, and in bringing drug controlled happiness. It is the vision of the author to make the reader understand how we are progressing to an automated world with artificial humanity. This is one of the best dystopian books for teens.

If you are not sure this genre is for you, borrow one or two from the above list of top teen dystopian books and see if you like them. Although they aren’t the most cheerful stories you can read, dystopian novels can be thought-provoking and engaging too, which makes them a good choice to inculcate the reading habit in the teen.

What’s your favorite dystopian novel? Let us know in the comment section below.

Disclaimer: MomJunction may earn a commission when products are purchased through affiliate links given in the article. However, this partnership does not influence the editorial content featuring in our list.

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