Though it might be a bit unsettling, there are undoubtedly teens who see all the hurt and disruption in the world today and turn to dystopian futures or post-apocalyptic tales as the remedy. With those readers in mind, here is a list of titles that dive into the dark realities of an uncertain future.
A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C. A. Fletcher
This 2020 Alex Award winner holds more than a few surprises, and it is a great title to suggest to the reader who has already worked through the more common dystopian titles. Griz is a finely-drawn and fully-complex character who teens will connect with, and the hunt for loyal dog Jess will keep them turning pages until the unexpected and remarkable ending.
Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
This book. It haunts me. Set in the early 2020s, but written in the early 1990s, it is a prescient and terrifying look at the kind of chaos and social disorder that could descend upon us. Climate change has led to massive water outages, and safety is dependent upon avoiding the mobs bent upon destruction. 15-year-old Lauren is wise beyond her years, but she is an ideal guide through this world and into a possible future.
Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera
Released in 2019, this one is for those readers who are not afraid to mix it up. Called by some reviewers as a mashup of Mad Max and The Outsiders, this book puts a feminist, Latinx spin on loyalty and survival in the dystopian world of Mega City. Not one to flinch from violence, this story explores sisterhood and friendship in the face of danger.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
So it gets assigned in class sometimes. That doesn’t mean it isn’t still an amazing book, and one that lots of teens fall in love with. A man and a boy are traveling, trying to stay alive in a desolate and violent landscape. This book unfolds quietly and devastatingly, and it is worthy of every moment of praise.
War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi
Futuristic Nigeria inspired by Black Panther? Sign me up! Though not necessarily for this world on the edge of destruction after years of climate change and nuclear fallout. Sisters Onyii and Ify hope for a better future, one free of the violence and unrest that has marked their lives. The action-packed pages will makes this story fly – off your shelves and in the hands of readers.
Wanderers by Chuck Wendig
Not for the faint of heart is this beast of a book. For the Stephen King reader, this book, written for adults, will disturb and delight as it drops readers into the heart of an apocalypse, brought on by an unexplainable illness that makes people appear to be sleepwalking. Blending a deep commitment to science with a healthy dose of politics, this book will challenge even mature readers, but for those who love it, they will LOVE it. Plus a TV adaptation and a sequel are in the works!
The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold (pub. 2/9/21)
Finally, something new! This latest from David Arnold, publishing next week, is unlike anything he’s every done. Set in a post-apocalyptic New Hampshire, this book tracks the journey of Nico as she makes her way from the Farmhouse (where she has spent her entire life) to Manchester, sent on a quest by her ailing father. The world she has been raised in has been decimated by the Flies, and she walks through a landscape void of electricity, food, or, with a few exceptions, people. Those exceptions change her narrative, and as the book goes on, the reader realizes that time, too, has been changed. It is mind-bending and clever and full of hope, and you will want this title in your collection.