Five Best Dystopian Novels for Teens

Panhuman Books — March 18, 2022

This collection of famous dystopian novels suitable for a young adult audience includes time-honored classics and newer selections in the genre. They each have unique elements and storylines that tell of a world gone wrong that many people find a line with reality too closely for comfort.

Animal Farm

by George Orwell

Even though this satirical work of political fiction was published in 1945, it remains timeless in its exploration of themes like social hierarchy, rebellion, and government control. Although the main characters are animals in a farmyard, it demonstrates precisely how people have acted and continue to act throughout the years. This is considered a modern masterpiece and is frequently one of the YA dystopian novels used as part of high school curriculums.

Klara and the Sun

by Kazuo Ishiguro

The most recently published book in this list of famous dystopian novels came out in 2021 and was a contender for the Booker Prize for literature. It was a Sunday Times #1 bestseller. The plot line follows an artificial friend who bonds with a living girl who is not genetically or cybernetically modified like so many others. It explores everything from solar power and pollution to a grieving mother's wish to keep her child alive by any means possible.

Parable of the Sower

by Octavia E. Butler

This socially conscious famous work of soft science fiction tells the tale of inequality and climate change. An empathetic Black teenager navigates an increasingly separated world and creates a new religion that focuses on a new idea that people create the gods. It follows many of the classic YA dystopian novels' traits of wastelands, authoritative government, and general unrest. The solution, the main character believes, is to travel to another planet with good intentions.

American War

by Omar El Akkad

A new Civil War comes to the United States, rips apart a family, and transforms a young girl into a weapon. This book published in 2017 explores not only uncomfortable truths of growing up in wartime but also highlights a great risk of a country attacking itself. The plot also hits close to home as it involves a devastating plague that decimates population.

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe Series)

by Neal Shusterman

Expect a lot from this YA dystopian novel that was dubbed one of the 100 Best YA Books of All Time. At first glance, the world seems utopian as people have triumphed over death, disease, war, and every other negative thing. Two teenagers become Scythes, the literal reapers of humanity who are the only ones who can kill others strictly for population control purposes. The list of awards for this book is long and includes the Printz Award Honor, the CCBC Choice award, and a variety from individual states across the nation.

With the popularity of young adult dystopian fiction these days, this list of five novels will get you started. Never ignore older books that have become literary classics when you explore new characters, settings, unique worlds, and struggles that future people must endure.