The best young adult dystopian novels to prepare you for the coming apocalypse

Why am I passionate about this?

I love YA dystopian as a genre because the stakes are always high, and we get more action and tragedy in a survivalist, future-fantasy setting. There are usually mutants, zombies, or even superhuman powers involved, which raises the tension and keeps things moving. The subtle social commentary and epic, poignant twists make them much more than simple teenage novels. My own dystopian series explores these themes, but with aliens, time travel, vampires, floating kingdoms, or technology. As an adventure junkie from Oregon, I love the rich, ruined dystopian landscapes of decay and natural overgrowth; and as a philosophy major I enjoy stories that grapple with humanity’s purpose. 


I wrote...

Taste of Vampire

By D.S. Murphy,

Book cover of Taste of Vampire

What is my book about?

In a kingdom ruled by ravenous vampires, I was bred to serve and destined to bleed. When I'm chosen by an elite, I'm thrust into a deadly world of courtly intrigue and dark desires. The prince’s icy exterior hides a fierce passion, but will I claim his heart or his crown?

A Taste of Vampire is a slow-burn romance suitable for YA readers with violence and non-graphic love scenes. Perfect for fans of Twilight, The Selection & The Hunger Games.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Hunger Games

Derek Murphy Why did I love this book?

The Hunger Games starts with a simple premise; peace between the surviving 12 districts, but each district has to give up a teen to fight for survival in a televised “battle royale” – kind of like Rome’s “bread and circuses” to keep everyone distracted. But it also serves to secure power.

When Katniss Everdeen refuses to play the game, it makes her a threat. My favorite part is the very end of the series, which I won’t spoil, but it’s such a powerful, shocking twist and statement about unchecked power.

As an author and boy scout from Oregon, survivalist, dystopian themes set in lush natural landscapes always capture my imagination; and I like the way the romantic elements strengthen the plot.

By Suzanne Collins,

Why should I read it?

47 authors picked The Hunger Games 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?

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. But Katniss has been close to death before - and survival, for her, is second nature. The Hunger Games is a searing novel set in a future with unsettling parallels to our present. Welcome to the deadliest reality TV show ever...


Book cover of The Maze Runner

Derek Murphy Why did I love this book?

The Maze Runner is a brooding YA mystery, where teens wake up inside a massive maze full of challenges and dangers… but their memories are wiped clean.

They have no idea where they are or what’s happening, and as they try to work together to escape the maze, they are also uncovering the secret of how they got there in the first place, which gives the story intrigue and suspense.

I enjoyed the puzzles and the taut relationships as the characters decide what to do and who to trust; I also liked the idea of the massive architectural elements and constraints built into the setting, around which the characters are forced to navigate. Maybe we’re all caught in a similar trap, but haven’t yet begun to ask the right questions.

By James Dashner,

Why should I read it?

11 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!

SEE THE FILMS. READ THE BOOKS. ENTER THE MAZE ...

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.

All…


Book cover of Divergent

Derek Murphy Why did I love this book?

In Divergent, every teen has to take a test and be placed into one of 5 “factions” depending on their skills or personality. Beatrice (Tris) gets Dauntless – the cool one – with bold tattooed heroes and lots of fighting. But as she struggles to find her place and face her fears, she learns the truth about the flawed system and her place within it.

By Veronica Roth, Nicolas Delort (photographer),

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked Divergent as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

The explosive debut by No. 1 New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth.

DIVERGENT - a major motion picture series.

For sixteen-year-old Tris, the world changes in a heartbeat when she is forced to make a terrible choice. Turning her back on her family, Tris ventures out, alone, determined to find out where she truly belongs.

Shocked by the brutality of her new life, Tris can trust no one. And yet she is drawn to a boy who seems to both threaten and protect her. The hardest choices may yet lie ahead....

A debut novel that will leave you breathless.


Book cover of The Selection

Derek Murphy Why did I love this book?

The Selection is based on reality TV shows like The Bachelor – only he’s a prince and girls compete to be selected into a life of royal privilege.

Just one problem for America Singer, she’s already in love with someone from a lower class and isn’t interested in crowns or jewels…until she meets the prince and realizes not everything is as it appears.

Fated or chosen mate relationships aren’t just a YA dystopian trope; finding the perfect partner is something most of us aspire to, and it’s always thrilling to read about a heroine who refuses her destined path and challenges the social status quo; throwing away a happily ever after in favor of freedom and adventure strikes a chord I can relate to.

By Kiera Cass,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Selection 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?

Thirty-five beautiful girls. Thirty-five beautiful rivals...

It's the chance of a lifetime and 17-year-old America Singer should feel lucky. She has been chosen for The Selection, a reality TV lottery in which the special few compete for gorgeous Prince Maxon's love.

Swept up in a world of elaborate gowns, glittering jewels and decadent feasts, America is living a new and glamorous life. And the prince takes a special interest in her, much to the outrage of the others.

Rivalry within The Selection is fierce and not all of the girls are prepared to play by the rules. But what they…


Book cover of The Handmaid's Tale

Derek Murphy Why did I love this book?

I adore dystopian fantasy novels with superpowers like Shatter Me or Red Queen – but The Handmaid's Tale is more powerful because it’s so realistic; it seems like something that could actually happen in the very near future.

The themes are adult and violent, and the intrigue and suspense is high even though it’s mostly just about being a slave in a house with limited exposure to the outside world.

I recommend it because it’s important to consider how we might feel if our bodily autonomy were threatened and helps us to sympathize with others in a similar plight – it feels more immediate and gripping because of its realism, but the main character (June Osborne) is also heroic and selfless.

By Margaret Atwood,

Why should I read it?

33 authors picked The Handmaid's Tale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

** THE SUNDAY TIMES NO. 1 BESTSELLER **
**A BBC BETWEEN COVERS BIG JUBILEE READ**

Go back to where it all began with the dystopian novel behind the award-winning TV series.

'As relevant today as it was when Atwood wrote it' Guardian

I believe in the resistance as I believe there can be no light without shadow; or rather, no shadow unless there is also light.

Offred is a Handmaid in The Republic of Gilead, a religious totalitarian state in what was formerly known as the United States. She is placed in the household of The Commander, Fred Waterford -…


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Dormice & Moonshine: Falling for Slovenia

By Sam Baldwin,

Book cover of Dormice & Moonshine: Falling for Slovenia

Sam Baldwin Author Of For Fukui’s Sake: Two years In Rural Japan

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Author Snow lover Fish out of water Traveller

Sam's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

When two brothers discover a 300-year-old sausage-curing cabin on the side of a Slovenian mountain, it's love at first sight. But 300-year-old cabins come with 300 problems.

Dormice & Moonshine is the true story of an Englishman seduced by Slovenia. In the wake of a breakup, he seeks temporary refuge in his hinterland house, but what was meant as a pitstop becomes life-changing when he decides to stay. Along the way, he meets a colourful cross-section of Slovene society: from dormouse hunters, moonshine makers, beekeepers, and bitcoin miners, to a man who swam the Amazon, and a hilltop matriarch who teaches him the meaning of being 'priden'.

Struggling with Slovene, a language with grammar so complex it can cause brain damage, and battling bureaucracy, he explores the culture and characters of this underappreciated ex-Yugoslav republic, its wild beauty, and its wild animals.

A love letter to Slovenia, this rare, adventurous account follows a foreigner trying to build a new life — and rebuild an old house — in a young country still finding its own place in the world.

Dormice & Moonshine: Falling for Slovenia

By Sam Baldwin,

What is this book about?

'Charming, funny, insightful, and moving. The perfect book for any Slovenophile' - Noah Charney, BBC presenter

'A rollicking and very affectionate tour' - Steve Fallon, author of Lonely Planet Slovenia

'Delivers discovery and adventure...captivating!' - Bartosz Stefaniak, editor, 3 Seas Europe

When two brothers discover a 300-year-old sausage-curing cabin on the side of a Slovenian mountain, it's love at first sight. But 300-year-old cabins come with 300 problems.

Dormice & Moonshine is the true story of an Englishman seduced by Slovenia. In the wake of a breakup, he seeks temporary refuge in his hinterland house but what was meant as…


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