Five Must-Read Dystopian Novels


Mohamed Mahmoud

There are over 140 book genres and subgenres in the world.

Maria Odio, Staff Writer

Unfamiliar to many readers, the Dystopian book genre is different from the usual fiction and romance. It first started off as a branch from utopian literature but now it developed into so much more. Here are some of the best Dystopian series that will leave your imagination in awe.

1. The Maze Runner
The Maze Runner” is a series of books written by James Dashner and it consists of 6 books, 2 prequel novels, one companion book and three movies. In “The Maze Runner”, 50 amnesiac boys and a girl are put in the Glade, a structure surrounded by a maze and they have no recollection of how they got there. In the maze are Grievers who hunt down the boys who dare try to escape the maze. Thomas, the main character, tries to figure out how he got there and why he is in the glade. Each day, some of the boys, called the Runners, try to find an exit out of the Glade even though the maze closes during the night and creatures called the Grievers infiltrate the maze. As the plot thickens, more is revealed about the maze and why Thomas is in the maze to begin with. The story’s unpredictability leaves you wanting more after each chapter. “The Maze Runner” World draws you in with its fast-pace and makes you feel like you’re a part of it. Overall, the book’s structure and alluring plot makes it stand out from the cookie-cutter dystopian tale.

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2. The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games” trilogy is by Suzanne Collins and is made up of “The Hunger Games”, “Catching Fire”, “Mockingjay” and the recently published “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes”, which takes place before “The Hunger Games”. In North America, there are 12 districts that are subject to the Capital. Due to the district’s rebellion, each year they must send a boy and a girl to compete in what is known as the Hunger Games and only one out of the 24 competitors will come out alive. Katniss Everdeen–the main protagonist–‘s sister Primrose is chosen to compete in the annual games. However, Katniss volunteers to take her place. Throughout the series, the reader follows Katniss’ experience in the Hunger Games. The twists and turns in the storyline pull the reader in. As the characters develop, they grow easier to relate and get attached to. If you are just getting into the Dystopian genre, this is a great series to start with.

“My favorite (out of the 5 books in this article) is the Hunger Games because it was the first dystopian fantasy I read and I thought it was so cool. Also, I thought Katniss was a really strong character so my middle school self really liked her,” said senior Isabella Rodriguez.

3. The Giver
The Giver” is a 4 book series written by Lois Lowry. The book follows a boy named Jonas who lives in a shielded community. The community holds age as an important value each child is labeled throughout their life. Furthermore, the people in the community cannot feel remorse or emotions. While everyone around him gets assigned good jobs, Jonas is assigned The Receiver. He is then trained by a man called The Giver who shares memories with Jonas via touch. The memories can be ones made up of joy or pain. Later on, Jonas has to decide what to do with the knowledge. While reading this book, you will learn a lot of important life lessons that are comparable with reality. “The Giver” also shares insight as to why a diverse world is so important to our communities. If you’re looking for a quick quartet of dystopian novels to read, “the Giver” is for you.

4. Divergent
Written by Veronica Roth, the “Divergent” trilogy surrounds a society that is split into 5 factions: Candor, Abnegation, Erudite, Amity and Dauntless. The main character Beatrice comes from a family of Abnegation (a faction that values helping others before one’s own needs). However, when Beatrice has to make the decision of which faction she wants to live in, she chooses Dauntless, the faction dedicated to courage and bravery because she is one of the few that has attributes from multiple factions. Throughout the book, we see Beatrice’s challenges and her faults for she is divergent, belonging to the faction of Dauntless, Abnegation and Erudite. The divergents minds can not be controlled and for that, they are hunted. This is a great first read in the Dystopian genre since you can really easily connect with the main character, Beatrice and feel what she feels as the story moves on. It is a very light and loveable book while still captivating your attention. If you want a longer series to read, “Divergent” is a perfect fit.

5. “Legend”
The “Legend” Quartet takes place in North America, where the north states are called the Republic and the remaining states are called the Colonies. Both parts of North America are at war with each other. There are two main characters –June , who is a prodigy according to her aptitude test and lives a comfortable life, and Day, who failed his aptitude test and lives on the poorer side of the Republic. Later on in the story, June and Day cross paths and everything changes for them. This book is filled with a lot of details, making the story extremely vivid. The pacing of the book makes it seem as if it was a movie. The twist and turns of the book are foreshadowed, but not enough to make the plot predictable. Overall, the detail and unique storyline of these novels makes the read worthwhile.

“I found the book (“Legend”) the book intriguing because not every book can perfectly capture a view of a dystopian world from two very different perspectives; from a high class/nobility and one born in the slumps. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in this genre,” freshman Cesar Ramirez said.

By taking everyday aspects and embedding them into a fictional universe, the dystopian genre of literature quickly rose in popularity. “The Maze Runner”, “The Hunger Games”, “The Giver”, “Divergent” and “Legend” are some of the most popular dystopias because of how they recognize real issues and make them intriguing with drama or romance. If you want a break from reality while still connecting to social issues, Dystopian books are the way to go.