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The Best Dystopian Kids Books

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Alone
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Perfect for fans of Hatchet and the I Survived series, this harrowing middle grade debut novel-in-verse from a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet tells the story of a young girl who wakes up one day to find herself utterly alone in her small Colorado town.
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The Last Human
Written & illustrated by Lee Bacon
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

In the future, robots have eliminated humans, and 12-year-old robot XR_935 is just fine with that. Without humans around, there is no war, no pollution, no crime. Every member of society has a purpose. Everything runs smoothly and efficiently. Until the day XR discovers something impossible: a human girl named Emma. Now, Emma must embark on a dangerous voyage with XR and two other robots in search of a mysterious point on a map. But how will they survive in a place where rules are never broken and humans aren’t supposed to exist? And what will they find at the end of their journey? Humorous, action-packed, and poignant, The Last Human tells a story about friendship, technology, and challenging the status quo no matter the consequences. It’s not just about what it means to be a robot—it’s about what it means to be a friend.

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Island of Fire
Written by Lisa Mcmann
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
The fate of Artimé is at stake--and an unlikely alliance could redeem it--in book three in the New York Times bestselling Unwanteds series.
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Island of Legends
Written by Lisa Mcmann
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Uncover adventure and dangerous secrets in book four of the <i>New York Times </i>bestselling Unwanteds series, which <i>Kirkus Reviews </i>called “<i>The Hunger Games </i>meets Harry Potter.” <p/>When hundreds of lights appear across the sea during Artimé’s first annual masquerade ball, the party is over. Artimé is under attack, and Alex, the magical world’s young mage, must prove he can handle his newfound leadership. <p/>Alex receives no help from Aaron, his scheming twin brother. Instead of rallying Quill to help defend their island, Aaron disappears and happens upon a dangerous secret hidden in the jungle–one with the potential to give him the power he desperately desires. <p/>Even in the midst of battle Alex hasn’t forgotten his promise to rescue his new friend Sky’s mother from the volatile Pirates Island, a rocky volcano that randomly spits fire and sinks beneath the ocean’s surface with little warning. Once the rescue team is on the way, friendships are tested and the stakes are high. Ultimately the team discovers there are more creatures than they ever imagined in the waters surrounding their island chain–and not all of them are friendly. <p/>Adventure, danger, legendary creatures, exotic beasts, and the most unusual island so far rise up to challenge Alex and his friends from Artimé in this thrilling continuation of Lisa McMann’s The Unwanted series.

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Island of Silence
Written by Lisa Mcmann
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14
The second book in the middle-grade dystopian fantasy series that Kirkus Reviews calls "The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter," by New York Times bestselling author Lisa McMann.
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  • Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins continues the amazing story of Katniss Everdeen in the phenomenal Hunger Games trilogy. <BR>Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.

  • Middler - Beyond the mysterious boundary of eleven-year-old Maggie's town, the Quiet War rages and the dirty, dangerous wanderers roam--a gripping debut for fans of The Giver, Pax, and Orphan Island

    "The Middler held one marvelous surprise after another every time I turned a page, leading to a most unexpected ending! Readers are going to love this book!" --Jennifer A. Nielsen, New York Times-bestselling author of The False Prince and A Night Divided Maggie lives in orderly Fennis Wick, protected from the outside world by a boundary. Her brother Jed is an eldest, revered and special, a hero who will soon go off to fight in the war. But Maggie's just a middle child, a middler, often invisible and ignored, even by her own family. When she chances upon a wanderer girl in hiding, she decides she wants to be a hero like her brother and sets out to capture the intruder. But once Maggie peeks past the hedges of the boundary for the first time, suddenly everything she's ever known about her isolated town gets turned on its head. . . In her debut novel for young readers, Kirsty Applebaum crafts a gripping story of resistance, forbidden friendship, loyalty, and betrayal. I thought I'd almost reached my fill of dystopian novels, but Kirsty Applebaum has rebooted the genre. The plot pulls you along . . . [and] there is a touch of Harper Lee's Scout [in Maggie]. --The Times

  • New City - Isabella and her friends are nervous about the New City. It’s inland and it’s dry–far from the flooded city they’ve left. Will their lives here be as luxurious and carefree as Xavier says? In fact, bleak, uncertain times have brought darkness and danger to New City. The city is divided in two: the citizens who have, and those who the ruling Major General says have come to steal from them–the refugees who have fled the rising waters, imprisoned in a camp on the edge of the city. The kids of Grimsdon once faced sea monsters and evil harbor lords, but now face new threats. From freakish weather events to the fierce misinformation that swirls around the city to the theft of their freedom, now they face the prison-like restrictions and control of the New City. Unlike the refugees, they’re heralded as heroes. But what does the Major General really want from them?

  • The Last Kids on Earth - Soon to be a Netflix Original series! The New York Times and USA Today bestselling series, with over two million copies in print! “Terrifyingly fun! Delivers big thrills and even bigger laughs.”–Jeff Kinney, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Diary of a Wimpy Kid Ever since the monster apocalypse hit town, average thirteen year old Jack Sullivan has been living in his tree house, which he’s armed to the teeth with catapults and a moat, not to mention video games and an endless supply of Oreos and Mountain Dew scavenged from abandoned stores. But Jack alone is no match for the hordes of Zombies and Winged Wretches and Vine Thingies, and especially not for the eerily intelligent monster known only as Blarg. So Jack builds a team: his dorky best friend, Quint; the reformed middle school bully, Dirk; Jack’s loyal pet monster, Rover; and Jack’s crush, June. With their help, Jack is going to slay Blarg, achieve the ultimate Feat of Apocalyptic Success, and be average no longer! Can he do it? Told in a mixture of text and black-and-white illustration, this is the perfect book for any kid who’s ever dreamed of starring in his or her own comic book or video game. And then grab the rest of the series, now a New York Times bestseller!

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The Giver
Written by Lois Lowry
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

A PBS Great American Read Top 100 Pick

The Giver, the 1994 Newbery Medal winner, has become one of the most influential novels of our time. The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community. Lois Lowry has written three companion novels to The Giver, including Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son.

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Unwanteds
Written by Lisa Mcmann
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14
A riveting middlegrade dystopian novel from New York Times bestselling Wake author Lisa McMann that Kirkus Reviews calls "The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter."
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The Feather
Written by Margaret Wild & illustrated by Freya Blackwood
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

This is a story about hope, kindness and redemption set in a grey dystopian world. When a great feather drifts from the leaden sky, two children recognize its extraordinariness and take it to the village for its protection. The villagers, however, want to encase it, upon which the feather loses its radiance. The children take it home and care for it through the night. In the morning it is again radiant, and when they set it free it leaves behind the first signs of blue sky and color. The ambiguous ending invites multiple interpretations about the effects of selflessness and kindness.

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Mockingjay
Written by Suzanne Collins
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 12-17

The third book in Suzanne Collins’s phenomenal and worldwide bestselling Hunger Games trilogy is now available in paperback. <BR>”My name is Katniss Everdeen. Why am I not dead? I should be dead.” <BR>Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding. <BR>District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Though she’s long been a part of the revolution, Katniss hasn’t known it. Now it seems that everyone has had a hand in the carefully laid plans but her. <BR>The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay - no matter what the cost.<BR>

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Grimsdon
Written by Deborah Abela
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Grimsdon is in ruins. Three years ago a massive wave broke its barriers and the sea flooded this grand city. Most were saved, some were lost–and some were left behind. Isabella Charm and her best friend, Griffin, live with three other children in the top of an opulent mansion. They’ve survived with the help of Griffin’s brilliant inventions, Isabella’s fighting skills, and their vow to look after each other. But what will happen when a newcomer arrives in his flying machine? Grimsdon is full of hidden perils, from bounty hunters to sneaker waves. Could Xavier’s daredevil risks put all their lives in danger?

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  • The Last Lie - In this powerful conclusion to The List, Letta wields the power of words to save the world. The city of Ark is no longer safe. Before the rebellion, everyone could only speak List, a language of just 500 words. But when Letta became the Wordsmith, the keeper of all the words that have ever existed, she learned that being able to express yourself is what makes us human.</p><p>And now, the new ruler has wicked plans to eliminate language once and for all: If babies never hear a single word, they will never learn to speak. Letta and the other rebels must find a way to defeat the evil for good before they lose the very thing that will set them free.

  • Sunker's Deep - Action, adventure, and mystery surround the Sunkers, a band of children who live in a submarine, as they try to survive a war in Book Two of the Icebreaker Trilogy . Sharkey is a Sunker - he was born on a fortunate tide, and everyone in the giant submersible Rampart knows it. He’s a hero, a future admiral, beloved by the ancestors. The trouble is his life is based on a lie. He’s been a fake hero for years, but when tragedy strikes, he must become a real one. And he has no idea how to go about it.Meanwhile, on land, Petrel, Fin, and the crew of the Oyster are on a mission to defeat the Devouts and bring lost knowledge back into the world, a mission they have no idea how to carry out. This second installment of the Icebreaker trilogy features action, adventure, and a world that is perhaps not so different from our own.

  • A Whisper of Horses - A futuristic adventure fantasy in which an orphaned girl is on a quest to find the last horses on Earth Serendipity lives inside a walled city. Before her mother died, she gave Seren an old figurine of a horse. Horses no longer exist in Serendipity’s world, but when she discovers a map that may lead her to real horses, she starts on a journey that will take her far from everything she knows. Traveling with an orphan boy, Tab, and his beloved dog, she’s soon on the run from a powerful and dangerous man who will do anything to make sure Serendipity never leaves the walled city again.

  • Messenger - Strange changes are taking place in Village. Once a utopian community that prided itself on its welcome to new strangers, Village will soon be closed to all outsiders. As one of the few people able to travel through the dangerous Forest, Matty must deliver the message of Village’s closing and try to convince Seer’s daughter to return with him before it’s too late. But Forest has become hostile to Matty as well, and he must risk everything to fight his way through it, armed only with an emerging power he cannot yet explain or understand.

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Patrick Griffin's Last Breakfast on Earth
Written by Ned Rust
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Join a twelve-year-old boy’s accidental adventure through parallel worlds in this absurdly funny new action-adventure series.

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Gathering Blue
Written by Lois Lowry
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 12-17

Lois Lowry once again creates a mysterious but plausible future world. It is a society ruled by savagery and deceit that shuns and discards the weak. Left orphaned and physically flawed, young Kira faces a frightening, uncertain future. Blessed with an almost magical talent that keeps her alive, she struggles with ever broadening responsibilities in her quest for truth, discovering things that will change her life forever.

As she did in THE GIVER, Lowry challenges readers to imagine what our world could become, how people could evolve, and what could be considered valuable. Every reader will be taken by Kira’s plight and will long ponder her haunting world and the hope for the future.

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Stricken
Written & illustrated by C. K. Kelly Martin
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-13

Naomi doesn’t expect anything unusual from her annual family trip to visit her grandparents in Ireland. What she finds is a country hit by an unexpected virus that rapidly infects the majority of the Irish population over the age of twenty-one, turning its victims aggravated, blank or violent. Naomi and her friends must survive on their own, without lucid adults, cut off from the rest of the world, until a cure is found.

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The List
Written by Patricia Forde
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

In the city of Ark, speech is constrained to five hundred sanctioned words. Speak outside the approved lexicon and face banishment. The exceptions are the Wordsmith and his apprentice Letta, the keepers and archivists of all language in their post-apocalyptic, neo-medieval world. On the death of her master, Letta is suddenly promoted to Wordsmith, charged with collecting and saving words. But when she uncovers a sinister plan to suppress language and rob Ark’s citizens of their power of speech, she realizes that it’s up to her to save not only words, but culture itself.

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Dreambender
Written by Ronald Kidd
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Everyone in the City is assigned a job by the choosers—keeper, catcher, computer. Callie Crawford is a computer. She works with numbers: putting them together, taking them apart. Her work is important, but sometimes she wants more. Jeremy Finn is a dreambender. His job is to adjust people’s dreams. He and others like him quietly remove thoughts of music and art to keep the people in the City from becoming too focused on themselves and their own feelings rather than on the world. They need to keep the world safe from another Warming. But Jeremy thinks music is beautiful, and when he pops into a dream of Callie singing, he becomes fascinated with her. He begins to wonder if there is more to life than being safe. Defying his community and the role they have established for him, he sets off to find her in the real world. Together, they will challenge their world’s expectations. But how far will they go to achieve their own dreams?

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  • The Revival - The teens forge a new world in this epic conclusion to The Young World trilogy—now in paperback! After the emotional cliffhanger of The New Order, shocking events take place for Donna, Jefferson, Kath, and their tribe. The discovery of the Cure fuels a massive power struggle in the city, and the whole world wants a piece of the pie. Now comes their greatest challenge yet—how to hold the new city-state of New York against a ruthless attack from the Old World. Heart-stopping action and exciting new revelations will leave readers satisfied in this final installment in the series.

  • Geeked Out - In a post-apocalyptic world, AV (Anti-Violence) Club members Tip, Mindy, Owen, and Xen develop semi-super powers and use them to try to save their middle school.

  • Bigger, Badder, Nerdier - Otto Waddle Junior High School is worse than ever. Tip and his geeky friends have finally come into their superpowers—well, their mediocre powers—but the League of Average Mediocre Entities now has a whole new cast of enemies to take on. LAME is being challenged by LAMER—a rival group of impersonators who are pawns in Darth Susan’s evil plot against them. If middle school has any chance of survival, Tip and his friends are going to need to be nerdier than ever.

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