April 7, 2012

Young adult dystopian rankings

You've read The Hunger Games or watched the movie or both, and you loved it. Now what? Well, I was in your shoes after reading the Hunger Games trilogy last year. I searched for other YA dystopian books and read a bunch. Here's how they rank IMHO. I hope this list helps you fill the hole that The Hunger Games has left.

1. The Hunger Games trilogy - Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games trilogy is simply the best set of books I've read in years. It's deserving of all the praise it's been getting, and I recommend the books to everyone. If you've never read it before, do yourself a favor and buy it or borrow it.

2. Unwind - Neal Shusterman
Unwind tells the story of three teenagers who are destined to be "unwound", a process where their body parts are harvested and continue to live on in other people. In addition to an exciting plot and straightforward narrative, this book came as close as any to creating engaging characters that I cared about like The Hunger Games did.

3. Under the Never Sky - Veronica Rossi
This is a new book that I recently reviewed if you want to learn more about it.

4. Partials - Dan Wells
Partials was also recently published, and I just finished reading it. The story takes place in a future where an engineered race called the Partials turned against their makers and killed most of the humans through warfare and a virus called RM. I admit that part of the reason why I like this book so much is because the universe in which it takes place bears some resemblance to the universe of the novel that I'm writing now. My main complaint with Partials is that I felt it was a bit too long at 480 pages. IMHO, cutting 10% of the book would make it more interesting without losing any effect.

5. Divergent - Veronica Roth
I had a hard time deciding which to rank higher, Divergent or Partials. In Divergent's dystopian society, sixteen year olds must choose which faction to serve for the remainder of their lives - Candor (the honest), Abegnation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), or Erudite (the intelligent). The story follows Beatrice, who turns out to be Divergent, which is a dangerous thing to be.

6. The Maze Runner trilogy - James Dashner
For me, there's a noticeable drop-off between Divergent and The Maze Runner trilogy. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend any of the first five in my ranking, but starting with The Maze Runner, I would only recommend the next three books/series to fans of YA dystopian. The Maze Runner isn't bad -- it's just not as good as the others ranked higher than it. Furthermore, I think that while the first two books in the trilogy are good, the third book is only mediocre.

7. Chaos Walking trilogy - Patrick Ness
The Chaos Walking trilogy is well written with an interesting plot. Many readers liked it more than I did. The reason why it didn't hook me more was because I didn't feel much sympathy for the characters. I wanted to root for Todd and Viola, but they kept doing things that either made no sense (except to move the plot along) or that bothered me.

8. Gone - Michael Grant
The premise of Gone was promising - one day, all of the adults in a California town disappear, and the remaining kids can't leave the town. But the story was too long and the explanation for what happened was unsatisfactory for me.

9. Escape From Furnace series - Alexander Gordon Smith
The first book in this series was OK, the second one was worse, and I didn't want to finish the third book. I'm not even going to waste my time reading the rest of the series.

In addition, there are three YA dystopian books on my To-Be-Read list:
1. Insurgent - Veronica Roth
Insurgent is the sequel to Divergent. It comes out in May, and I'm waiting in anticipation.

2. The Uglies series - Scott Westerfield
I've read Leviathan from Scott Westerfield and didn't think much of it. I've heard good things about his Uglies series, so I plan to give it a try.

3. The Host - Stephenie Meyer
I've never read the Twilight books, don't have the urge to, and didn't like the movies. However, I'm willing to give Stephenie Meyers a try by reading The Host.

I hope this post has helped you quench your thirst for YA dystopian books!

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