The best swoony dystopian novels that aren’t Hunger Games repeats

Who am I?

I love dystopian stories because these are tales that could actually happen if a particular series of steps fall into place over the course of the next decade, century, etc. Dystopia is set in our real world, just in the future. There’s no unbelievable magic…just what our real world could be generations from now. The evolution or devolution of science, law, law enforcement, medicine, education, etc is fascinating to explore…especially since I’m an incredibly techy person. I love exploring what could happen in our future if we follow certain paths, good, bad, or otherwise. Asking “what if” is my favorite question.

I wrote...


By K.M. Robinson,

Book cover of Jaded

What is my book about?

Her father started a rebellion when she was a child and was caught. They can’t publicly hurt him, but they can make his daughter, Jade, marry the Commander’s son when she turns 18, make the country believe they love her and accept her into the family and then murder her and make it look like an accident. Her only hope is to make her new husband fall in love with her for real. One chooses life, one chooses death…in the midst of chaos, only one will succeed.

The books I picked & why

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Branded: The Sinners Series

By Abi Ketner, Missy Kalicicki,

Book cover of Branded: The Sinners Series

Why this book?

Branded is one of my favorite dystopian novels and really inspired how I write my own dystopian because it explores the dystopian realm beyond chosen ones and government overthrows. This book gave me permission to make my fans cry because I put their hearts in a blender and laughed just like these authors did to me. Branded is about a girl thrown in prison, branded with the sin of lust, and forced to rely on her gorgeous guard…who puts us through a whirlwind of emotions as we see his hatred…and not-hatred…expressed throughout the story. Tissues are required for several different exciting and heartbreaking reasons.

The Book of Ivy

By Amy Engel,

Book cover of The Book of Ivy

Why this book?

Similar to my story, this is about a girl forced to marry the son of a dictator against her will…only instead of fighting to save her own life as she’s about to be murdered, this girl is the murderer trying to take out her new husband. She’s being manipulated by her family to act as an assassin and starts to waiver in her mission when her new husband proves to be absolute book boyfriend perfection. It’s kind of the opposite of mine where my leading lady is cunning and manipulative to save her life, this leading lady is trying to be stumbling through being stealthy enough to murder a man who was supposed to be her older sister’s victim—not hers.


By Kate Jarvik Birch,

Book cover of Perfected

Why this book?

I enjoyed Perfected because it was a very, very soft and gentle take on dystopia where young girls are genetically engineered in labs and trained with special traits as young girls only to be sold to wealthy families as pets. They’re treated as puppies who are dressed in fancy clothes, paraded through events, sat on pretty couches and chairs, and very, very few make it through without being manipulated and used in worse ways. When she falls in love with her owner’s son, and he starts to fall for her, bad things happen. I love putting twists on dystopian worlds so this one was a brilliant, unusual concept that brought such a unique look into the genre and its possibilities and gave me permission to do the same.

The Selection

By Kiera Cass,

Book cover of The Selection

Why this book?

While The Selection is a dystopian novel, it focuses more on the inner workings of one specific area—inside a palace. We’re given brief looks at the outside world while trapped in the gilded cage of palace life inside a futuristic Bachelor-like competition where girls compete for the hand of the king. It’s a great reminder that even though big things happen in the world, life on a smaller level goes on. I love that we get a super narrow view of a distraught world in the book while still seeing peeks of the reality outside the palace grounds and it’s given me the opportunity to focus on telling the small, personal stories inside a crumbling world.


By Erin Bowman,

Book cover of Taken

Why this book?

This one was very unique in that it barely introduces the dystopian world in the first book and focuses on it much later in the series despite the significant impact it has on the characters from the very first page. The lead is male, which is becoming less common these days, and gives us a more calculating look into the world of dystopia. I enjoyed seeing things from another angle as that really reminds me to explore those less-common threads in my own writing as well. And what could be more interesting than people disappearing on their birthday and then finding out who is taking them, right?

5 book lists we think you will like!

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