Amelia Bedelia will not be making an appearance on THIS list.

AndMockingjay neither will Farley Drexel Hatcher.

Due to the weirdness of those post-Mockingjay recommendations over at the Huffington Post, I've put together my own list. 

All this despite the fact that I haven't read Mockingjay yet.

If you read a lot of YA, you've probably read most of what's here, but you never know...

Oh, and it should be mentioned that I wrote this entire post AND THEN LOST IT, and am now writing it again.  So if you have any issues with the list, I assure you that my original post was AWESOME and that you would have LOVED EVERY SINGLE THING ABOUT IT.


The-Maze-Runner Recent YA Dystopian Fight-y Books:

• There is, of course, James Dashner's The Maze Runner.  Thomas wakes up in a huge maze with no memory of his recent past.  He adapts quickly -- too quickly? -- to his new life with 60 other boys, some of whom have have been trying to escape their mysterious prison -- which is populated by stabby slicey monsters -- for years.  Then, the next day, a girl arrives.  Which would be weird enough, but she's bearing a worrisome message from the outside.

Girl in the Arena, by Lise Haines.  I haven't read this one, but hey, the futuristic gladatorial combat premise makes it a pretty obvious pick.

• Patrick Ness' Chaos Walking trilogy, which is due to end this fall and which began with The Knife of Never Letting Go.  Which sounds awesome, but which I still haven't read, because I'm scared of books that feature animals as major characters.  Anyway, in the first book, Todd -- who lives in a world where there are A) no women and B) everyone hears everything everyone else is thinking ALL OF THE TIME -- finds himself face-to-face with a girl.  Shortly thereafter, they are on the run from pretty much everyone, and as they travel, he begins to learn that everything he has believed to be true about the world may be a lie.  (That MAY NOT BE A TOTALLY ACCURATE description -- it's just what it sounded like to me from the few synopses I've read.)

IncarceronMore of a Stretch, But Still Dystopian and with Some of the Same Elements:

• How much did I love Catherine Fisher's Incarceron?  A whole lot.  Why?  Because it's set in a mysterious and possibly unending prison with, yes, cells and gangs and locked doors BUT ALSO a metal forest and wasteland and weird creatures galore.  Finn, an inmate, thinks that he's from Outside, though no one believes him -- and then he finds a way of communicating with the Warden's daughter, who has a whole passel of her own -- very different, but no less threatening -- problems.  (My take.)

• There's Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth, which feels more like a historical, but which is a survival story with lots of action/adventure, a mysterious and possibly dangerous ruling entity, a love triangle and lots of survival against the elements stuff.  OH, AND ZOMBIES.  It's the first of a planned trilogy.  (I disliked the sequel.  Intensely.) (My take on books one and two.)

Unwind, by Neal Schusterman, is such a fantastic book that it's almost silly.  Seriously.  It's set in a future in which parents (or guardians) have the power to, for pretty much any reason you can imagine, choose to have their children Unwound.  So if they don't like your attitude, or if you aren't talented enough, or if they just want to Start Over, you get shipped off to a harvest camp, where all of your organs and every other part of you will be removed and sent off to people who need them.  Nice, right?  Along with the action and adventure and mystery and so on, it's a book that'll you'll think about for a long time.  I'm still impressed, over a year later, at how the author was able to deal with such hugely controversial issues without ever tipping his hand, without ever appearing to take a side. (My take.)

• And, a bit older, but still a good fit is Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series.  It's set in a world in which, at a certain age, everyone has mandatory plastic surgery to become Pretty.  There are, of course, drawbacks.  But there is a resistance...  Action, adventure, romance, scary governmental badness, as well as a liberal dose of Oh Hey, The Cultural Norms Laid Out By Hollywood, People Magazine Et Al Might Actually Be A Bit Worrisome.

How i live now Even More of A Stretch, But with Some of the Same Elements/Themes:

• In Susan Beth Pfeffer's Life As We Knew It(and follow-ups), our world is forever changed when a asteroid changes the moon's orbit.  Power outages and satellite failures are followed by shortages of food, water, fuel and medical supplies, and then by environmental disasters.  Add to that the fact that scared and hungry people are not always nice people, and you've got a survival story that had me eyeing our meager store of canned goods and really grateful that we have a woodstove. (My take.)

• In Meg Rosoff's How I Live Now, Daisy's visit with her British cousins looks like it's going to end up being an idyllic summer... until terrorists take over England and it turns into a harrowing story about survival and loss.  That one?  Still with me, five years later. (My take -- which, wow, is from the early days of the blog and really should be re-read and re-written.)

Graceling's main character, Katsa, will win any battle to the death that she enters in to -- because she has the killing Grace.  Although she'd really rather be something other than a trained dog, her uncle, King Randa, uses her as an assassin.  But what if she just... said no?  Action, romance (AWESOME ROMANCE), mystery, a Secret Council, and lots of political intrigue.  It ain't dystopian, but that's no reason to pass it by. (My take.)

Way Old, And I Haven't Read 'Em, But I Suspect They Might Work:

• I've been meaning to get to this series for an embarrassing number of years, but John Marsden's Tomorrow, When The War Began seems like it would also be a possible pick.  The first book is about a group of Australian friends who return home from a camping trip only to find that their entire country has been taken over by terrorists.  Action, survival, Who Do You Trust issues, you name it.  From what I've read, the series has it all.

Battle royale For Older Readers Who Want to Kick it Old School:

•Okay, so Koushun Takami's cult classic Battle Royale comes up every single time The Hunger Gamesis mentioned within a three-mile radius of anyone with even the slightest leaning towards hipsterism:

"Blah blah blah Hunger Games blah blah."

"Excuse me.  Just give me a moment to adjust my skinny jeans and Elvis Costello glasses.  Now.  Why on earth would you want to read that YA tripe when you could just read Battle Royale?"

"Um.  Because despite the broad similarity in premise, they're actually completely different books, and were written with completely different audiences in mind?  And maybe you should think about how ass-y it makes you sound when you dismiss an entire genre without even attempting to explore it?"


Okay, just because it's an irritating conversation -- AND IT IS, I KNOW -- doesn't mean that we should take our irritation out on the book.  Because, wow.  A dystopian Japan in which every year, teenagers are dumped on an island with weapons and forced to fight to the death?  C'mon.  That's just rad.


•And this list wouldn't be complete without two novellas by Stephen King: The Long Walk and The Running Man.  Both are set in dystopian futures, deal with Deadly Contests, and both deal with trust, survival against one's own mind, the elements and of course, attacks by other people. 

In The Long Walk, an annual contest is held in which 100 boys start walking south from the top of Maine.  The winner -- the last one walking -- gets ANYTHING HE WANTS, FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE.  The catch?  If they slow to less than 4 miles an hour -- or if they try to quit -- they get shot.  Immediately.  (Well, there's actually a three strikes rule, but once you hit three strikes, you're REALLY dead.)

And lastly, The Running Man (which, yes, inspired the movie, BUT OH MY GOD, THEY ARE TWO TOTALLY DIFFERENT ANIMALS) is about a reality television show in which the contestants have to avoid the network's Hunters for as long as possible -- the longer they stay alive, the more money they earn. (My take.)

So there you have it.  I did this off the top of my head, so I'm sure that I've forgotten some that should be here -- I await your suggestions!



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