The best dystopian books for girls

The Books I Picked & Why

The Handmaid's Tale

By Margaret Atwood

Book cover of The Handmaid's Tale

Why this book?

I first read The Handmaid’s Tale at university, long before the TV series existed! It both fascinated and appalled me. Its heroine, Offred, has no control over her life, yet she attempts to rebel against the system using whatever means she can. Atwood asserts that everything which happens in the book has happened in real life, somewhere in the world. She is right, of course, and that’s the most shocking aspect of dystopian literature. This compelling story has always stayed with me and in part inspired my own most recent series, set in a dystopian world where women, and not men, have all the power.


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The Giver

By Lois Lowry

Book cover of The Giver

Why this book?

The Giver does not have a strong female heroine, but is a powerful dystopian tale written by a female author. Almost a utopia to begin with, the seemingly perfect world of the book is slowly revealed to be a sham. Those who live in it have no negative experiences, but the payoff for this is harsh: they also don’t experience positive emotions such as happiness and love. The book has been banned in several places because of the challenging themes it tackles, but Lowry has argued against this. Such censorship, she claims, only supports the point of her book. A society that controls what people read is dangerously close to the society of The Giver. I loved the idea that life mimicked art here, and admire Lowry for taking a stand to defend her book.


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The Hunger Games

By Suzanne Collins

Book cover of The Hunger Games

Why this book?

A modern classic, and probably not new to dystopian fiction fans, but The Hunger Games (written by a woman and with a truly strong female main character) cannot be missed off a list of dystopian fiction. It has everything: action, drama, romance, a real sense of the ‘haves-versus-the-have-nots’ and even a coming-of-age for the main character (whilst the world is going to hell). I love Katniss. She’s not always likable and is an extremely reluctant hero. But when it counts, she steps up, and learns a lot about what she’s capable of along the way. I love Suzanne Collins’ writing style, and have read and reread this book more times than I can count. 


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Legend

By Marie Lu

Book cover of Legend

Why this book?

Legend is a great example of a dual narrative, with an equal focus on two main characters, their very different worlds, and (once they meet) their interactions with one another. I love June, the female character, because she’s a strong, determined fighter with a real score to settle, and not your typical spoilt rich girl. Like The Hunger Games, the story focuses on class and presents a Romeo-and-Juliet-style relationship which develops amidst a country at war with its neighbours as well as within its own borders. The action is thrilling, the tension is high and the romance is sweet (and doesn’t dominate). I highly recommend! 


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The Quiet at the End of the World

By Lauren James

Book cover of The Quiet at the End of the World

Why this book?

An interesting take on a dystopian world, whilst humanity is threatened in this book, the two main characters have pretty decent lives (aside from the fact that they’re destined to be the last humans ever). Loneliness is one of my biggest fears, and the concept of being one of the only two people left on earth is truly terrifying. This book was an intriguing take on the dystopian genre, focusing on what would happen if humans became unable to reproduce. It had some twists I honestly didn’t see coming and a really positive attitude towards diversity. Lowrie (the female narrator) is a compelling, realistic character who records the world around her with compassion. Definitely one for readers who prefer a more ‘positive’ dystopian outlook.


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