Ah dystopia. A sub-genre of sci-fi that was all the rage a few years ago. When I was still a teenager myself actually. But it’s a genre that I still love today and I’m hoping to write my own one day.
But a lot of the dystopian books I love aren’t the ones usually recommended.
So with the world being such a mess now and with a new Hunger Games (a series that will never be on my personal dystopian rec list) having coming out this year and a new Legend book last year (definitely worth a read) I thought maybe now’s the time to bring back dystopian books. Vampires are getting a new lease of life after all!
So all these books are completed series. I have three books that I read when I was younger and another series that were written and released within the last few years. These aren’t the only dystopian books I’ve adored and if you want more recs then I’m always happy to provide! Or accept any you want to give me in return!
So let’s get started.
Wither (The Chemical Garden trilogy) – Lauren Destafano
If you love books that are both beautiful and dark, if you love dystopian for the way it talks about society or if you just want to read a trilogy with some of the most beautiful covers ever then this is the trilogy for you.
The world of Wither is set in an America where they have discovered the cure for cancer and all other diseases but the problem with that is that women now die at 20 and men at 25. The shorter lives now mean that there is a business for people to be kidnapped and sold to be wives (and presumably husbands) for the rich who can afford it. Rhine is a sixteen-year-old girl but when she goes out to work one day without her brother she gets kidnapped and is forced into a marriage with a man called Linden with two other girls. All Rhine wants to do is get out and to get home to her brother but things are a lot more complicated than that, especially when she falls for a servant boy working there.
Oh man, this book. This. Book. This is one of my favourite trilogies of all time and the use of language is wonderful and I’m planning on another reread of this soon. So much of what’s happening in this world is morally questionable but that’s what makes it such a good dystopian book.
This was Lauren Destefano’s debut series and it’s well worth the read!
Slated (Slated trilogy + Fated) – Teri Terry
Here we have a British dystopian series and the prequel Fated places it in a post-Brexit world which I love that Teri decided on. As yeah, brexit is going to really mess us up. But the original trilogy was written well before it and it’s one I really enjoyed and uses tech and amnesia to explain the plot along.
In the Britain of Slated, criminals under the age of 18 have the chance of starting their life again. They get a piece of tech that watches their emotions as well as their memories erased and placed into foster care. Lots of rules are in place but they get the chance to start again and live a ‘good’ life. Kyla is one of those teens. But when in her new home memories start to come back Kyla starts to wonder if anything she’s being told is the truth.
Out of all these books the world in this one is the most life our own. Apart from the political areas and what this new tech can actually do, everything else is actually like our world. And that actually makes it all the more powerful as this could be our world within the next few years if certain things happen. I really enjoyed this series and was so excited when I saw a prequel had come out. I grabbed it as soon as I could and it was definitely worth it. It’s probably worth noting that Fated is queer even if the original trilogy isn’t but I highly recommend both!
Proxy (Proxy duology) – Alex London
I was obviously going to put some sort of queer series on this list and oh my god I love this duology so much.
In a future world the poor can sometimes wind up as proxies for the rich. This means that if these rich kids and teenagers do something wrong, their proxy can be punished instead of them. This is something I’ve seen in a few series but this is the one where it’s done best. Syd is the proxy of Knox and when they run into each other one night, they realise the only way to change the system is to save each other.
The end of the first book made me cry. As did parts of the second book. I didn’t care for the second as much but that’s because my ship doesn’t happen in it and another does instead. But oh my god. Proxy filled me with all the feels. This is a great example of a series with a queer boy as the main character that you’d expect teenage boys want to pick up and read. There’s action, humor and it’s just such a good book. I don’t actually own a copy of my own yet as I read the first one from the library but I clearly need to get my own copy so I can reread it and cry again.
As it’s just so good. Seriously. I can’t say more than that as it’s all I think whenever I think of this book. Sob.
We Set the Dark on Fire (We Set the Dark on Fire duology) – Taylor Kay Mejia
So this is the most recent of the books on this list. The second book in the duology was only released this year so it goes to show dystopian is still a thing. This is also queer and it’s written by a latinx author.
Dani attended a school for girls where you would become one of two wives for important men within the country. But when the resistance finds out that Dani’s papers are faked and offers her new ones in return for spying for them, she has no choice but to accept. She winds up paired up with a man who’s father is important and he’s likely to follow in the footsteps of and her fellow wife? A beautiful woman she thought hated her but as they spend more time together, they wind up falling in love.
I had to include another queer read and these two books are such great examples of what dystopian could still include. This is an incredibly romantic duology and it has a lot of focus on immigration from a latinx author among other things. I’ll be honest, this could be a fantasy novel or it might be dystopian. I feel like it is dystopian hence why it’s on this list but if it’s wrong then oops? You guys should still read it. It has the usual dystopian questions for society and they’re just such good books.
Definitely worth a read
Do You Guys Have Any Recs?
So these four books are books that you definitely need to read – or reread – to get you back in the mood for dystopian wonder. These books are all so fascinating and they all make you question society for different reasons in different ways. I love them all so much and I’m always looking for new dystopian books.
So do you have any dystopian books you think I should read? Please shoot them my way!