The best dystopian books with watery issues

Who am I?

As an author who, in my ‘other’ life, has studied psychology and social work, I love to write about the impact of change on individuals and communities – what do my characters grieve, what relationships become important to them, what are the roles or goals that motivate them now and what do they need to do to survive, both individually and in their new society. And I love to be able to write about a place – a location – that I know well, hence the Sunshine Coast Hinterland as a setting for The Rise. I hope you enjoy the books that I’ve recommended as much as I have!

I wrote...

The Rise

By Sue-Ellen Pashley,

Book cover of The Rise

What is my book about?

Katie James’ life is about to change . . . again. Having survived The Great Rise five years ago, which decimated the land, the former medical student has made a new life for herself under the leadership of the Authority. But her peaceful existence on the edge of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland is shattered when she discovers a body floating in the waves.

Unsure who she can trust, Katie embarks on a mission to discover the truth… even if it puts her on the same kill list. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The List

Sue-Ellen Pashley Why did I love this book?

This is one of those books I thought about long after I’d finished reading. Through human greed and global warming, the resulting decimation of the planet means food and water are rationed for survival…but so are words. Noa, the leader of the community, believes that words and how they were used, led to the downfall of humanity so allows people to only use a list of specific words. Except for the wordsmiths, who are allowed to know them all. 

As an author whose life is all about words, this was a really interesting book to read – what does it do to a society when ideas, thoughts, creativity are stifled by lack of words? And when everything is rationed – water, food, words, enjoyment – what does that do to a community?

By Patricia Forde,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The List as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Fahrenheit 451 meets The Giver in an award winning dystopian story about the dangers of censorship and how far we will go in the pursuit of freedom.

What if you were only allowed to speak 500 words?

The city of Ark is the last safe place on Earth: the polar ice caps have melted and flooded everything, leaving few survivors. To make sure humans do not make the same mistakes, Ark's leader John Noa decrees everyone in Ark must speak List, a language of only 500 words. Language is to blame for mankind's destruction, John Noa says, as politicians and…

Book cover of The Maze Runner

Sue-Ellen Pashley Why did I love this book?

Even though the first book doesn’t give much space to ecological disasters, it’s certainly a theme that runs throughout the series, including the resulting lack of drinkable water. And that’s why this is my second book pick. I loved the world of The Maze Runner (even if, at times, the slang drove me a little crazy!) – so cleverly written, so many twists that kept me turning the page to try and work out what the hell was happening, and a great baddy organisation that was easy to hate. 

By James Dashner,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Maze Runner as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

The first book in the New York Times bestselling Maze
Runner series - now a series of major movies starring Dylan O'Brien!


When the doors of the lift crank open, the only thing Thomas remembers
is his first name. But he's not alone.

He's surrounded by boys who welcome him to the Glade - a
walled encampment at the centre of a bizarre and terrible stone
maze. Like Thomas, the Gladers don't know why or how they came to
be there - or what's happened to the world outside.


Book cover of Fire Over Troubled Water

Sue-Ellen Pashley Why did I love this book?

Set in a world where there’s water everywhere from the rising sea levels, but fresh water is a much-needed commodity, I loved that this story was about family. There’s a lovely mix of characters who are still kind – still human – and those that are out for survival and control, which kept me wanting to read to see if the main character, Baz, would find his family again. And I loved that there were places I recognised – it’s always nice to have those ‘I’ve been there!’ moments. 

By Nick Marone,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fire Over Troubled Water as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Six years after the Rise, Australia's coastal towns are gone, lost under the ocean's unstoppable advance. The survivors have retreated to a series of newly formed islands off the coast of New South Wales, seeking to rebuild their lives with limited resources, destructive weather, and fierce competition amongst communities.

And not all are successful . . .

Baz is a fresh water merchant, desalinating saltwater and bartering this valuable commodity throughout the struggling island communities. But his real mission is something closer to his heart, the one thing that has plagued him since the catastrophic rise in water levels: he…

Book cover of Red Rock

Sue-Ellen Pashley Why did I love this book?

I’m a sucker for a good opening and this book intrigued me from the beginning. Kelly does a great job in building the tension and setting her world up in the seemingly normal reactions of her characters and it was this that kept me reading. Even though the main character is only 14, and it’s targeted at young adults, I still enjoyed it as an adult. It does some great cli-fi storytelling without being preachy, which is great! 

By Kate Kelly,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Red Rock as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The ice caps have melted. The coastal areas we once knew are gone, and only 'scavvers' now live in the flooded towns. The world has changed, but as 14-year-old Danni Rushton soon discovers, it isn't the first time...Living with her uncle after the tragic death of her parents, Danni's world is turned upside down when her aunt is assassinated. With her dying breath, she entrusts Danni with a strange, small rock. Danni must not tell a soul that she has it. But what is the rock for, and to what lengths must Danni go to keep it safe? This action-packed…

Book cover of Burning: Prequel, After the Thaw

Sue-Ellen Pashley Why did I love this book?

The cover drew me in but I loved the worldbuilding in this book, both in the premise of what happened to our world (toxic oceans, anyone?) but also how characters now need to live and survive. And with great rising tension and twists, this was a book that left me reading much later in the night than I should have! 

I was drawn in by the 4 main characters – even when I wanted to slap them, I still wanted to know what was going to happen to them. And the way the society was set up really tore at my sense of ethics – a great thing to have in a dystopian book, I think…how does the new society sit with you?

By Heidi Catherine, Tamar Sloan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Burning as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Only the chosen shall breed.

In a new world isolated by a rising, toxic sea, a single bridge connects Askala to the Outlands. Those who remain will need to pass a Proving to determine if they have the intelligence and heart to champion the future of their broken Earth.

Those who succeed will become Bound, the ones chosen to breed.

Those who fail, are Unbound. Free of responsibility, but robbed of their ability to bear children.

Four young lives are born into this world. Magnus and Callix, two brothers determined to uphold this new order. Two brothers in love with…

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I'll Tell My Story

By Sinmisola Ogunyinka,

Book cover of I'll Tell My Story

Sinmisola Ogunyinka Author Of I loved a slave

New book alert!

Who am I?

I am a writer who loves to create stories across cultures and time periods. Writing a historical romance novel involves a lot of reading about the history and the times. After reading a few historical novels, I started toying with the idea of writing one. I loved a slave is my second historical romance novel and I have started work on two more. Being transported into the time period gives me a lot of excitement and I hope you enjoy the books on my list as much as I have! I have a master’s in liberal arts and an MFA in Creative Writing.

Sinmisola's book list on historical stories on love and slavery

What is my book about?

Bettina Jaja spent years of her life obeying a man everyone both revered and feared, a man she called her husband - a man of God who gave her a comfortable life by all external accounts. Why, then, was she so unhappy? Pouring her heart out in her uncensored life story, she delivers her true self to her children. Doing so means defying her powerful husband. Doing so means being damned.

Bettina takes a stand against her tyrannical husband, the man who nobody dared disobey without fear of retaliation. In this often heart-wrenching look into the life of one mother yearning for freedom and for her children's happiness, you'll find out just what a mother is willing to sacrifice for the sake of her children.

I'll Tell My Story

By Sinmisola Ogunyinka,

What is this book about?

Sometimes the secrets of the past are too painful to remain hidden in the shadows.

Bettina Jaja spent years of her life obeying a man everyone both revered and feared, a man she called her husband-a man of God who gave her a comfortable life by all external accounts. Why, then, was she so unhappy?

Mummy Jaja, as their congregation called her, knew she had failed as a mother for many reasons... but could she stop the generational curses caused by her years of silence from being passed on? Can she save her children from suffering her fate?

Adam, her…

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