So, you read “The Hunger Games.”
As did we all.
Or say we all.
What next? Is there anything else like it? Are there other books that are similar?
I loved “The Hunger Games.” Before The Hunger Games, I had previously read the author Suzanne Collin’s earlier work, The Underland Chronicles. Unfortunately, I barely remember it. I know she killed a lot of the characters and I remember not liking the ending. It was about a world of people who are minature. And they live among giant (to them) rats and cockroaches. I love anything miniature. Um, see the title of my blog. But I did not love this series. I want to discuss books like “The Hunger Games” that I really did enjoy.
But first, I am going to tell ya something embarrassing.
I was at Comic Con last year.
That’s not the embarrassing part.
The very best part about Comic Con are the free books. Every year we come home with about fifty free books. It is fabulous.
Ahem. Jenni. Yous gots to get to the point.
So, I went up to a publisher’s booth and it was being run by a sole girl in her early twenties. It was a booth dedicated to teenage novels. Most of the book booths at Comic Con are manned by the editors for the publishers. Which is cool. And intimidating.
I asked her, “Do you have any free books today?” As one does.
She smiled at me like a cat seeing a canary or a cockroach seeing a human, depending upon which book you are in. In my mind she uncurled from the chair she was sitting in and stretched her arms above her head.
“Su-rrrrrrrre,” she purred. “But first I’m going to ask you a few questions to find you the perfect book.”
“Great!” I said with genuine enthusiasm.
“What type of books do you like?”
My mind went blank. I seriously could not think of a single book. Not one. Not even a genre. I stood there rapidly blinking. My eyes finally landed on a poster for “The Hunger Games” behind the girl’s head. Aha!
“I like the Hunger Games,” I triumphantly declared as I drooled.
I could see her visibly trying not to roll her eyes.
“So you like Dystopian?”
“Um, I’ve never read that book?” I ignorantly replied.
She looked at me and started laughing. “No! It’s not a book! It’s a genre. Like “The Hunger Games.” You know, future apocalyptic science fiction.”
I blushed furiously. In the back of my head… the very, very back… I had somehow known this. But it did not make me feel less dumb or make my husband laugh any less at my answer when I told him the story later that day.
She handed me a dystopian book. Quite honestly, I am not even sure which one. I ran faster from that booth than Katniss from a fireball.
And I quite forgot about that moment… until each time my husband brings it up. It is always when I am reading.
“Whatcha reading?” He’ll innocently ask. But then before I can answer he will insert, “Is it ‘Dystopian’? I’ve heard that is a great book!” Then he will cackle with laughter.
But the truth is, the book I am reading at the time of his question probably is a dystopian novel. I have read many of them. Here are some short reviews of some other enjoyable series similar to “The Hunger Games,” in case you, too, like “Dystopian.”:
The Maze Runner by James Dashner. This series is perhaps closest to “The Hunger Games” in the bleakness of the world and grownups trying to use children for their own purposes. This is my fifteen year old daughter’s second favorite series. I liked it. However, I did not enjoy the ending of this series. It was not awful, but I felt the series quickly changed in terms of plot from book one to book four. In fact, the theme changes so much it almost feels like a completely different series throughout all four books. And definitely a different world.
The books begin with a boy waking up in a world similar to “Lord Of The Flies.” The kids have to survive on a small patch of land while terrors outside of the walls where they live keep them from exploring. The first book is pretty much based upon why the kids are in this isolated spot and how they are going to get out of it. The first book is the best book of the series.
My daughter appreciated that there was not a lot of romance in these books. I missed it. These books were interesting. The first book earns an 8/10 from me. I would give the series as a whole a 6.5/10. I do recommend them, but they just were not my favorite. It was not a smooth ride.
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy. This series is currently on book two. I am anxiously awaiting book three. This series is about an alien invasion and attack on humans. We start with the main character, a sixteen year old girl, being completely isolated and alone and not knowing if she is the last human being alive. We follow her around in this post-apocalyptic world as she remembers how she got to the place she is in. All of the while, though, she is unknowingly being hunted.
This series has a lot of romance. It has a lot of violence. Again, we are looking at a group of teenagers trying to save the world. I thought it was very brilliantly written. I would give it an 8/10. Many times I could guess what was going to happen, so that earned the series a less than perfect score from me. And book two had some parts that I felt dragged on. However, I highly recommend these books. There are occurrences of sex, but it is more vague, such as they went to bed kissing and it starts with them waking up the next morning together. Nothing, in my opinion, too graphic for teenagers or even the more mature preteen. Of course, this is coming from the girl who read all of the V.C. Andrews books by the age of fourteen, so take that for what you will.
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken. This was the latest series I read. This series of three books had so much potential. When I think about it my hands immediately go in front of me and I shake a poor sad invisible soul due to my frustration. It makes me sad to reflect upon some of the plot choices that were made or unused talents that went to waste. The premise of the series is a virus sweeps across America and kills almost all of the children twelve and older. Eighteen year olds are safe, but the younger kids could still get the virus as they age. The children who survive the virus are sent to concentration camps because they develop different powers. The powers are condemned by the adults. There are kids who can start fires. Kids who can affect electronics. And children who can read minds. All in all, the powers are concentrated into five groups. Our main character, Ruby, has one of the powers.
I hastily blew through these books. And I liked them, I did. But, there was a great deal of wasted plot opportunities and too many pages of teenage yearnings that I felt could have been curtailed to take it from a good series into a great one. I would give the series a 7/10. I really liked the ending and that seems to be a hard thing to get right in dystopian fiction.
Inhuman by Kat Falls. A biological apocalypse has happened and it is illegal to travel outside of the city limits. So, you can guess what is about to happen. A teenage girl travels outside of the city limits. Outside of the city zone is called the feral zone, because some humans have turned into different versions of animals due to the biological disaster. The main character gets to witness this biological development first hand as she goes on her journey.
This is my daughter’s favorite book. She begged me to read it. I admit that I thought the premise sounded a bit far-fetched and it did not interest me. However, I read it for my daughter. It is a very easy read. I loved it. Another high mark from me. 8.5/10. I do hope that this series continues. It is only on book one with no release date for book two yet. And with the ending being a cliffhanger, I hope I am not disappointed when the series does continue. I can recommend this book to kids in junior high school and high school. I think it will appeal to most kids (and the kids at heart).
Uglies by Scott Westerfield. This was a good series. If. And I mean IF. IF you pretend it only had three books and not four. Reading the fourth book ruined it for me. It is completely out of context. It does absolutely nothing for the series. This is a book about children who once they reach the age of sixteen must have an operation that will make them “pretty.” Then the pretties all have mindless parties and life is great. Except, what if it wasn’t? Young Tally is fifteen and is on track to having the operation that will take her from an “Ugly” to a “Pretty.” But before her operation, she is suddenly required to track down her friend Shay, who has escaped Utopia and is living with the rebels. It sounds silly and it is. But it is also surprisingly smart. I give the series with books one through three only, a 6.5/10.
The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey. This a singular book and not a series. It is in the adult dystopian section, however, I feel it could easily be read by a teenager. I don’t want to write exactly what the book is about because it would ruin the suspense of the first few pages for you. Needless to say it is a very scary and graphic dystopian book. It is told from the point of view of a little girl named Melanie. My husband read this one, too. He liked this book as much as I did. 9/10 from me. It is an enjoyable, smart and easy read. This is an equal parts horror and dystopian book, so keep that in mind when making your selection. Also, due to it being in the adult section, there is a sex scene, so I would not recommend this for preteens.
“The Reckoners” series by Brandon Sanderson. The series starts with the book Steelheart. This author is one of my very favorites. He typically writes adult fantasy, which is the genre that is number one in my heart. In fact, for one of my birthdays, my husband purchased all of his books signed to me directly from the author. That is the epitome of romance to me.
This series is young adult and about the apocalypse and super heroes. Or what I would define as super heroes in a small description of someone with supernatural abilities. It is a fun series. The world is ruled by evil superheroes. Which I guess are more supervillain than superhero. I hate superheroes. I do not know why, but I do not enjoy any of the “Spiderman,” “Batman” or “Superman” themed books or movies. However, I liked this. It is such a different viewpoint to think of. I have not read a series like it. Brandon Sanderson is the best at surprise twists. Even knowing that this is what he is the master of, he still manages to trick me with each book he writes. Every single one, he blows my mind with a plot twist. And it is genius and it is brilliant. Another 9/10 from me. I think it is recommendable for all ages. I was thrilled, when writing this review, to discover the second book in this series, Firefight just came out this month. It looks like it is getting great reviews. I just ordered mine and will be receiving it on Friday. I cannot wait!
Have you read any of these books? Are there any other dystopian books I should read (not “Divergent”)?
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