The best young adult sci-fi dystopian novels with aspects of genetic modification

Marisa Noelle Author Of The Unadjusteds: The Unadjusteds Book 1
By Marisa Noelle

Who am I?

I've always been fascinated by genetics. Ever since Dolly the Sheep was cloned in the 1990s, I wondered if it was possible for it to have a soul, was it a carbon copy, did it know it had a twin? Move on to when I studied biology and then psychology. My brother became a genetic scientist, and we have both always been fascinated by the possibilities. Although the human genome project has been declared complete, there is still much we don’t know about genetics, let alone what we may harness from the animals around us. Although I'm excited to find out, I'm also fearful of how these modifications may be used.


I wrote...

The Unadjusteds: The Unadjusteds Book 1

By Marisa Noelle,

Book cover of The Unadjusteds: The Unadjusteds Book 1

What is my book about?

Sixteen-year-old Silver Melody lives in a world where 80% of the population has modified their DNA. When the president declares all unadjusteds must take a nanite, Silver has no choice but to flee the city with her father to prevent the extinction of the unadjusteds. Battling anxiety and panic attacks seem to be Silver’s worse obstacle while she is on the run, until her father is captured, and she comes face to face with a hellhound. Silver must band together with an unlikely group of friends and discover the secrets of her own genetic code.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

The Undying Tower

By Melissa Welliver,

Book cover of The Undying Tower

Why this book?

The Undying Tower brings a new flavour of sci-fi dystopian. Not only do we have an apocalyptic world-building itself from the ashes, but the world might not be as rudimentary as it first looks. In a landscape where a percentage of the population never ages, it presents interesting and unique challenges to those who do and those who do not. The blend of futuristic genetic modification, as well as dealing with mental health in the unique aspect of synesthesia, makes for a compelling and heart-felt read.


Genesis

By Bernard Beckett,

Book cover of Genesis

Why this book?

A compelling post-apocalyptic world is described by a teen who thinks she has all the answers. Striving to be accepted to The Academy, the book focuses on her preparation of material for her exam, which covers a history of the earth and why things need to be different. As the book progresses, we start to understand just how different things are, and the terrifying potential of humans being replaced by something else, something better, something future. Identity and how we define ourselves is one of many excellent themes of this book.


When the Wind Blows

By James Patterson,

Book cover of When the Wind Blows

Why this book?

This is an oldie, but a goodie. I think this was one of the first books that introduced me into the idea of genetic modification and what might be possible if we could harness DNA from the environment around us. One of the most popular powers to choose in my own book is wings, and when people fill out the questionnaire on my website, that’s what they want. This book brings together the romance of the ability to fly, the love of a found family, and the pace of a thriller with high stakes to lose. One of my favorite books of all time, one I can re-read again and again.


Gone

By Michael Grant,

Book cover of Gone

Why this book?

The Gone series is exceptional. Over seven books long but never does it lose its pace or become boring. The idea of nuclear power in combination with alien DNA to produce foreign DNA in humans where many develop subsequent powers is always one that’s fascinated me. What I like about Grant’s series, is these powers aren’t always used for good. Some of them are terrifying, unique, and formidable in the wrong hands. We never know which side might win, and there are so many stakes, it’s dangerous to get attached to any one character.


Green Rising

By Lauren James,

Book cover of Green Rising

Why this book?

This book has only just come out, and I couldn’t resist gobbling it up when I saw the similarities between it and my own The Unadjusteds. Green Rising adds the focus of environmental concerns, and what might happen in the future when people develop unique abilities that can harness nature and plants. This book combines my passions for the environment and mental health, with James’ fabulous style and voice. Based in a near future, some of the circumstances cut close to the bone and make me wonder what our future may hold.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in dystopia, genetic engineering, and survival?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about dystopia, genetic engineering, and survival.

Dystopia Explore 233 books about dystopia
Genetic Engineering Explore 25 books about genetic engineering
Survival Explore 112 books about survival

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Ursa, Children of the Furnace, and Ashfall if you like this list.