It’s the end of the world as we know it—and we're coping with dystopian novels. One of our go-tos is James Dashner's Maze Runner series whose third book, The Death Cure, recently hit theaters. If you're anything like us, the film (and our reality) has left you wanting to get lost in other stories about unflappable underdogs fighting corrupt governments and doomed fates...
We decided to take a walk through the labyrinth of dystopian novels in search of books like The Maze Runner series. The 10 we found, all listed below, are the best reads this side of The Scorch for anyone who can't get enough of Bear Grylls and his gang of survivors.
Tally Youngblood is about to turn 16, and in her world, that means she’s about to get pretty. After the mandatory operation, she’ll leave the ugly community and join the pretties in a life defined by beauty and fun. But when her new friend, Shay, refuses the operation and runs for freedom, Tally has to make a choice: deliver the run-away to the authorities or never turn pretty. What Tally learns next will change how she views the “perfect” society she lives in and will force her to confront the leaders she once admired.
Tunnel in the Sky
A class of young survivalists are ready for their final test: survive on an uncolonized planet for two to 10 days. It’s a standard exam, but something has gone terribly wrong, and Rod Walker finds himself on a hostile planet, separated from his classmates. By the time the students find each other, they realize too many days have passed–they’ve been abandoned. With no way home, they must learn to face the dangers of this unfamiliar planet and build a civilization of their own.
The City of Ember
Centuries ago, the Builders constructed the city of Ember and saved the human race. But supplies are running out. Food shortages and corruption are threatening their livelihood, and complete darkness looms as the lights begin to fail. When Lina and Doon discover an ancient message from the Builders, they may be the city’s only hope for survival. They’ll have to outsmart the shady government and find a way out of Ember, and they’ll have to do it before the lights go out.
Lord of the Flies
Marooned on an island, a group of English schoolboys attempts to build a civilization. Making their own rules seems to be great fun...until it isn’t. When power struggles erupt and unfamiliar dangers become a threat, life on the island turns nightmarish. In a frenzy of fear, uncertainty, and lust for power, the boys learn that running a world can be a deadly endeavor.
The Eye of Minds
Michael spends more time in the VirtNet than in the real world. And why not? For a skilled hacker like him, the full-immersion gaming world is the place to be. But there’s a villain in the VirtNet taking gamers hostage, trapping their consciousness in the virtual world and leaving them brain-dead on the outside. The government knows that to catch a hacker, you need a hacker. But if Michael agrees to the task, he’ll have to go into the uncharted depths of the VirtNet. And once he goes in, there’s no guarantee that he can ever come out.
Benson Fisher thinks he’s found just what his going-nowhere life needs when he receives a scholarship to Maxfield Academy. When he gets there though, he realizes that something isn’t right. Surrounded by razor-wire fences and under constant video surveillance, Benson discovers that the school is harboring an awful secret. Breaking the rules could be fatal, but if he stays in line, he won’t get out alive. That is, if there even is a way out.
Earth has been at war with an alien race for a hundred years and has been looking for the perfect general almost as long. Andrew “Ender” Wiggin is a promising genius drafted into the orbiting Battle School. Smart and determined, Ender becomes a respected leader amongst his peers, but does he have what it takes to lead Earth out of a century-long war? And can he become the general the world needs without becoming the sadistic soldier that his brother is?
Jonas lives in a controlled world. Everyone is useful, everyone is obedient, and life is easy. There is no pain, no fear, and there are no choices. On his twelfth birthday, Jonas is given his job assignment, but it isn’t an ordinary assignment – Jonas is to be the next Giver. It will be his responsibility to hold all of the memories of what life with both pain and pleasure was like. It’s time for Jonas to know the truth of what life can be, but what will he do with that knowledge?
The Hunger Games
The nation of Panem is ruled by the privileged, a fact no one is allowed to forget. Each year, the Capital forces 24 citizens between the ages of 12 and 18 into a highly dangerous and precisely controlled arena for a televised fight to the death. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen finds herself volunteering to compete in the event. Her opponents are smart, skilled, and eager to kill, but Katniss is fighting for more than her life–she’s fighting for everyone the Capital has ever wronged.
Not only did this book ignite a best-selling trilogy and film franchise starring Jennifer Lawson, it now has an upcoming prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes—it's one of the books we can't wait to read in 2020.
In dystopian Chicago, every 16-year-old must choose a faction: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, or Erudite. It’s time for Beatrice Prior to make her decision, but what she chooses shocks everyone, including herself. Tris must undergo a grueling initiation of both physical and psychological tests. But the intense training is not the only challenge she faces. Tris has a secret, one that could save the people she loves … but it could also destroy her.
Featured photo: Post of "The Scorch Trials" (2014), via 20th Century Fox