YA Appreciation Month

YA Appreciation Month: More Books for the Post-Apocalypse/Dystopian Fan

Other Titles for the Post-Apocalyptic Dystopian Fan to Try:

I wanted to review many, many more books for YA Appreciation Month, but there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do so. Instead, I decided to compile a list of some of my favorites and some new titles to try, should you look for any new titles in this subset of Young Adult fiction! And, prompted by a discussion in the comments of the last Apocalypse/Dystopia Day post, I’m separating the suggestions by disaster/category. **Please note many of these fit under multiple categories, but for time and organization’s sake, I’m only listing each book once under what my opinion is the dominant heading**


1. The Moon Crush Books by Susan Beth Pfeffer

You’re probably exhausted from hearing my talk about these books all the time, but both Life As We Knew It and the dead and the gone are brilliant, harrowing books about the end of the world after an asteroid crashes into the moon and pushes its orbit closer to earth, causing a chain reaction of natural disasters.

2. Exodus and Zenith by Julie Bertagna

Apocalypse by global warming, the complete meltdown of the ice caps and glacial deposits on Earth. Exodus looks at the gradual disappearance of the island Wing and a dystopian city in the sky, while Zenith follows some survivors as they sail out for fabled land.

3. The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman

An evil corporation carefully constructs a dystopia complete with pleasant, false weather, mind altering drugs and strict rules to protect a small society on Island 365, in the aftermath of a great Flood that obliterated the planet.

4. Floodland by Marcus Sedgwick

Global warming strikes again, flooding the world’s cities. Zoe strikes out to find her parents but comes across some nasty Lord of the Flies societies in the process.

5. The Island at the End of the World by Sam Taylor

It’s not out yet, but here’s the synopsis:

In a world nearly destroyed by catastrophic floods, one family has been spared. Many years ago, as the waters rose, a father and his three children took to their ark and drifted to the safety of a small island. Life there is a quiet idyll of music and farmingβ€”and young Alice, Finn, and Daisy are grateful for their salvationβ€”until the day a stranger swims ashore. A terrifyingly plausible adventure story, The Island at the End of the World is a mesmerizing novel from an exciting new writer.


1. The Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody

Following the Great White, humans with special abilities (a mutation due to the radiation) are segregated and killed, until those of Obernewtyn fight back.

2. Z for Zachariahby Robert C. O’brien

Alice thinks she’s the last person on earth, having survived the world-ending Nuclear War. But when she sees someone approaching her valley, she fears the worst…

3. On the Beach by Nevil Shute

Another Aussie apocalypse novel – a looming radioactive cloud (fallout from Nuclear War) is sweeping south and killing everything in its path. An American submarine is stationed off the Australian coast, preparing the people there for their inevitable, ever closer end.. (Technically this falls under Adult fiction, but I read it in middle school, so it goes on the list!)

4. The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

For 250 years, the residents of Ember have lived happy lives in their near constant darkness, the only light coming from dim electrical lights above that shine for twelve hours of day. But the lights start to fail, and food is almost completely out – what are the people of Ember to do? Young adults Lina and Doon know that there has to be something beyond Ember, and they make a desperate attempt to find the outside, even though they don’t know what waits for them. The rest of the series details what Lina and Doon find on the surface of an Earth after hundreds of years following – you guessed it – nuclear war. (Check out a review by my very own little sister HERE)

5. Daybreak 2250 AD by Andre Norton

Post-nuclear apocalypse waaaaay in the future, about a young man who leaves his village to discover the ruins of the world.

APOCALYPSE BY ZOMBIE (or alien or other monster) & MISCELLANEOUS

1. The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

The unconsecrated surround a small gated village in the woods, and it’s only a matter of time before the fences are breached. The Forest of Hands and Teeth is unquestionably one of my top 10 reads of 2009, and I cannot wait for The Dead-Tossed Waves next year.

2. Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner

An apocalyptic war has broken out between human and faerie, and faerie has won – but the planet is ravaged by strange magic in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Liza, however, discovers she has her own magic and seeks out answers.

3. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Again, technically Adult, but a classic to be appreciated by all ages. Don’t be fooled, the Will Smith movie has nothing on this novella about the last human on earth after the vampire plague turns everyone into, well, vampires (full comparison review HERE).

4. Tomorrow series by John Marsden

Beginning with Tomorrow, When the War Began this is a series about a group of teens in a small Australian town, who choose to fight back following the foreign invasion of their country and imprisonment of their families.

4. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

England is invaded and occupied by a foreign force and the world is on the brink of war, meanwhile a group of young adults struggle to overcome and survive.


1. Feed by M.T. Anderson

Feed takes a ravaged planet and consumerism to the extreme, as teens happy with their wifi’d brains live horrifyingly absurd lifestyles.

2. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Again, Adult labeled, but a classic for all ages. In this dystopian future, humans are mass-bread and separated into different classes, and live happy, Soma-fueled lives where everything they could ever want provided for them. Until, one man begins to question his feelings that something is missing. And then, there’s the savage John from the outside…

3. 1984 by George Orwell

Same story. Adult fiction, but a classic. You know the story – a totalitarian regime where truth is what Big Brother tells you it is, and the Thoughtpolice monitor your every move. I think every high schooler is required to read this book, and for good reason.

4. The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld

In a future where everyone at 16 becomes a Pretty, Tally Youngblood and a few others stand apart and try to resist. This dystopian quartet is truly addictive stuff (trilogy review HERE).

5. Battle Royale Koshun Takami (and manga series too)

Battle Royale is a gory, blood drenched novel of a future where rebellious youth are quelled by immersion in a to the death battle royale on an isolated island. There are exploding collars that will activate in danger zones, a number of weapons, and action galore. I fell in love with this Japanese book and movie at first sight. Fans of the next book on this list might consider giving Battle Royale, the original, a spin.

6. The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Susan Collins

A decidedly less-violent version of Battle Royale, The Hunger Games is the tale of young children selected to participate in a to the death battle – completely televised, in the style of The Running Man. Though it borrows heavily from Stephen King/Robert Bachman and Koshun Takami’s work, it’s a strong novel in its own right, and I cannot wait for the sequel, Catching Fire next month!

7. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

In a not too distant future, Jenna Fox awakens from a year-long coma after a horrible car accident. Thanks to future technology, her body was salvaged by BioGel. But Jenna has a hard time remembering things, and gradually must confront some tough questions about her past. The Adoration of Jenna Fox is another one of my favorite reads for the year and one that I highly recommend.

8. Skinned by Robin Wassweman

In the same premise of Jenna Fox above, Skinned tells of a future where a popular girl is nearly killed in an accident and is downloaded into a mechanical body. Thought provoking questions about humanity ensue.

9. Little Brother by Corey Doctorow

A 1984 for the x-box generation, Little Brother examines what happens after a terrorist attack occurs in San Francisco, and what some intrepid young adults do to stick it to the man. Though it’s not exactly well written and pretty ham-handed with Doctorow’s personal views, it’s still a very interesting read (and if you happen to agree with Doctorow’s politics, it’s a forgivable lapse).

10. The Declaration by Gemma Malley

In a world where anyone can live forever, there are only a few rules. Because of the resulting boom in population and subsequent overcrowding and decline of society, those who have become immortal must agree never to have children. But Anna is born, and she and other “surplus” children have to make their own way in a world of immortal adults. (Ana and I both have this book and cannot wait to read and review it!)

11. Unwind by Neal Shusterman

In the near future, retroactive abortion is a reality – any parents that might not be so thrilled with their troubled teens have the option to “unwind” them until their sixteenth birthday. For nothing is wasted in this future – young body parts are donated to those who need them. Another favorite novel of mine, and a particularly chilling one at that.

12. The Sky Inside by Clare B. Dunkle

Her first foray into science fiction, Ms. Dunkle takes a domed community in which everything they could want is provided to them by carts. But when an outspoken dissenter is taken out on a train, and Martin’s sister is taken out as part of a “product recall,” Martin decides has to find out what really lies outside his sheltered community.

13. Genesis by Bernard Beckett

Genesis looks at the world of the future, after plague and war has decimated the planet and a small island nation survives. As Anax undergoes a grueling entrance exam to the prestigious and highly exclusive Academy, she finds herself questioning her peoples’ unique history, and what it means to have free will, and to be human. Another of my favorite books of 2009.


1. Libyrinth by Pearl North

Libyrinth takes place on a far future world, a forgotten colony of earth where technology is seen as magic, and books are burned to liberate the written word.

2. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

Another all-ages classic, The Time Machine explores a world where the Eloi, remnants of the rich and lazed upper class have become brainless giggling blobs, while the Morlocks below ground resort to a primitive, savage society.

3. The Inferior by Paedar O’Guilin

The Inferior is a terrifying look at life on a different, future world, where the only law is eat or be eaten. Humans living in abandoned buildings hunt the other savage creatures in the arena for survival – nothing ever goes to waste. Until one day, a strange woman falls from the sky, and Stopmouth’s world changes completely. Another memorable read of 2009, and highly recommended.

4. The Giver trilogy by Lois Lowry

Finally, there’s the Giver trilogy by Lois Lowry, in which three very different societies are examined in a future dystopia. The Giver is a classic (and technically hi-tech, though the other two books are low-tech), and Gathering Blue ain’t too shabby either. We still have yet to read Messenger, but we are looking forward to it.

5. Chaos Walking: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

The Knife of Never Letting Go looks at a human colony on a distant world, where all the women have disappeared and the thoughts of men and animals are heard by all. Another awesome, highly recommended read.

Phew! So there you have it. There are some that I know I’ve forgotten, so please make suggestions as you see fit!

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  • Rhiannon Hart
    August 18, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    Fantastic list!! If I haven’t read them yet then I want to read them. I find that with dystopia I want to at least try every book in the genre that I come across. They’re just so damned appealing.

    Have you read/reviewed Unwind? I read it a few months ago and my feelings are somewhat … mixed. I never tried to put my feelings into words. But I really should.

  • Kris
    August 18, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    God. This list is like book candy and I want to gorge! So many books to revisit and so many new titles to try. Thanks Thea!

    I’m not sure I can add anything more in the face of this awesomeness other than fullheartedly support your recs for The Moon Crush books, Battle Royale and The Hunger Games.

  • Thea
    August 18, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    Thanks Rhiannon – and I completely agree with you about dystopia books. I want to read them ALL! And yes, I have read Unwind, last year actually. But I didn’t review it (I think we were in the middle of Smugglivus and didn’t have time, so I let it slide). Very disturbing (especially that last scene!!!), and though it doesn’t quite pull off everything, I still really liked it. You should blog about it for your challenge, I’d love to see your thoughts :mrgreen: No pressure.

    Kris – *highfive* Post/Apocalyptic/Dystopian Fiction RULES THE WORLD. I am always on the lookout for more πŸ˜€

  • katiebabs
    August 18, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    You are so not good for my wallet. Forest of Hands and Teeth still gives me with willies.

  • Dan
    August 18, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    When I was in college the English department published their book lists before each semester. I’d take courses based only on those lists. I’d say I’d be enrolling for your class for sure with a list like this. Great job, Professor.

    For some of your time-worn books, like Time Machine or Brave New World, they speak as well today as when they were written.

  • Christine
    August 18, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    What a spectacular presentation of this incredibly thought provoking sub-genre of YA literature. My daughter and or I have read a handful of the novels in this post, and I’m now interested in a few more. In fact, just the other day I added How I Live Now and Bones of Faerie to my wish list. Genesis looks good…. Heck, they all do!

  • Debbie
    August 18, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    Great list of books! I’ve read a bunch of them and enjoyed most of them. Life As We Know It is high on my TBR list.

  • The Book Smugglers Β» Blog Archive Β» YA Appreciation Month: More … - Obernewtyn Isobelle Carmody books - Obernewtyn
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  • Karen Mahoney
    August 19, 2009 at 1:30 am

    Oh. My. God.

    Dude, what a heroic post!! I love this, thanks for putting it all in one place for us. πŸ™‚

    I’d add Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, though someone might already have said that (haven’t had time to read all the comments yet). Not YA, I know, but it’s a standard school text.

  • Rob Charron
    August 19, 2009 at 2:52 am

    Hi πŸ™‚
    What a fantastic list of books.
    And I only read a few of them πŸ™
    I bookmarked this page until I have & read all the ones you have here!
    Thank you,
    twitter: @RKCharron

  • Sean Kennedy
    August 19, 2009 at 3:14 am

    I still vividly remember reading “Z For Zachariah” by Robert C O’Brien in school, and being freaked out for months.

  • Claire
    August 19, 2009 at 4:36 am

    Oh, wow, shiny shiny list!

  • AmyW
    August 19, 2009 at 7:04 am

    Great list!

    I would also add Carrie Mac’s “Droughtlanders”/Triskelia series (it’s Canadian, so perhaps not sale in the US?) – http://www.carriemac.com/ or http://www.triskelia.ca/

    I forget exactly what causes society to collapse but I remember plagues and weather manipulations is involved.

    I also had to read Z for Zachariah back in grade 8. Unfortunately, I thought most of it was really boring!

  • MaryK
    August 19, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Hey, I think I actually read “Z For Zachariah” as a teen! (Is that the one where she has a pet dog?) It convinced me that I’m not temperamentally suited to read post-apocalyptic/dystopian fiction. πŸ˜‰

  • Thea
    August 19, 2009 at 11:05 am

    KB – You KNOW you’re gonna read The Dead-Tossed Waves, right? I’m gonna dare you if you’re not careful πŸ˜‰

    Dan – Aww, I’m blushing! Thanks! I’ve got a thing for dystopian and (post)apocalyptic fiction. Speaking of college, I actually got to take a class on utopias/dystopias in history and literature. It was pretty cool, except that my professor and I had some disagreements about what constituted a utopia and a dystopia. Heh.

    Christine – Oh, do give Genesis a read. It’s really eerie and thought provoking. I hope you and Maria get a chance to read (and possibly review?) some of these!!

    Debbie – You’re gonna love Life As We Knew It. I know I gush about this book all the time, but it is FANTASTIC. Can’t wait to see your thoughts on it when you get a chance!

    Karen – D’oh! Atwood! How could I forget?? I guess technically her work falls under “adult” but it should be all ages, really. Hmm, I think I’ll have to make an adult fiction counterpart to this list soon!!

    Rob – My pleasure, I’m always happy to spread the love for dreary apocalypse and dystopian books! I hope you enjoy some of these titles!

    Sean – I can totally relate. I think I read it first in…seventh grade? It was after On the Beach and I wanted more nuclear apocalypse fodder…yeah, creepy. But in a good way. It’s definitely darker and heavy, and stuck with me for all these years.

    Claire – Look at it sparkle, all shiny-like πŸ˜‰

    Amy W – Oh wow, thank you for the rec!! I haven’t even heard of these books before! Awesome. Into the amazon cart they go!!! :mrgreen: (And sorry Z for Zachariah didn’t work for you!)

    MaryK – Yup, Ann has the family dog, Faro. And then John comes to the valley and…well…yeah, everything goes to hell.

    Hmm, I think a Guest Dare might be in order – you should give apocalypse fiction another try. Whaddya say? 😈

  • MaryK
    August 19, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Hmm, I think a Guest Dare might be in order – you should give apocalypse fiction another try. Whaddya say?

    Me?? 😯 What a big mouth I have!

    It’s an intriguing idea. I’ve written exactly one book review in my life, though, not counting book reports in school way back when.

    I have been eyeing Obernewtyn and even the dead and the gone. And how bad can the Andre Norton be? πŸ˜•

  • Adrienne
    August 19, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Totally have dug the YA month…you guys have made me lose so much sleep (reading until midnight when the dogs get me up at 5 to eat) πŸ˜†

    I agree with the I Am Legend, Life As We Knew It, Forrest, Hunger Games, all so incredible. Love the genre! Does that make us nerds? :mrgreen:

    BTW-in case anyone likes old movies (1957), On The Beach was made into a movie and has some pretty big stars in it (Gregory Peck & Ava Gardner). It is an excellent take on the book.

  • Michelle M
    August 19, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    Thank you, thank you for posting such an amazing list!! This has to be my most favorite genre and I couldn’t be happier to see all the books you included. I’ve just added about 10 books to my TBR pile however…

  • AHS
    August 20, 2009 at 4:19 am

    Thank you for a fantastic list! This is wonderful.

    I have a list of YA dystopias broken down chronologically over the last fifty years here, FYI. I only put books that were marketed specifically as YA, so works such as The Time Machine (a favorite of mine!) aren’t on it, but it does include some not listed here.

  • Gerd Duerner
    August 21, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    The synopsis for the novel “Skinned” there reminds me of the Algis Budrys novel “Who?” which follows a much similar topic, only that by Budrys it is a scientist that gets put in the body of a robot after an accident beyond the Iron Curtain.

  • Veronica F
    August 23, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    I’m adding so many new books to my goodreads “to-read” list thanks to this! πŸ™‚

  • Shellie (Layers of Thought)
    August 28, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    That is some list – very nice thanks. :mrgreen:

  • MaryK
    September 23, 2009 at 8:16 am

    Hey, I just remembered a post-apocalyptic book I read and enjoyed years ago. False Dawn by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro.

  • Anonymous
    June 22, 2010 at 11:49 am

    πŸ˜₯ ❓ ❗ πŸ˜‰ 😈

  • chrissie
    January 12, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    Hi, I was wondering if you ever read a dystopian novel based in the future, and there are these kids in a school and all of a sudden a dead body, mannequin thing, is thrown down into the middle of the school, and the school education system is very independent and there is this group that is against what the school or whatever is doing. I know that might not make a lot of sense at all, but if you remember what it’s called, could you please email me? It would mean a lot. All I can remember about this book is something like Identity or Identify or something like that. Thank you!

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