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Reading List: Dystopias

Perfect worlds aren’t always so perfect.

Candor

Pam Bachorz

Oscar Banks is a straight-A student and Student Council President. All the teens want to be like him. But Oscar knows that the teens of Candor are controlled by subliminal messages—and he has a plan to sabotage the system.

Matched

Ally Condie

When Cassia gets matched on her 17th birthday, she’s thrilled to be matched to her best friend, Xander—and shocked when someone else’s information appears in her Match files the next morning. When an Official corners her and confesses that it was a mistake, that Ky was never meant to be entered in the Match pool, her curiosity is piqued. As she and Ky fall for each other, Cassia bristles under the lack of choices in Society, and begins making some dangerous choices of her own.

Little Brother

Cory Doctorow

Marcus and his friends are in the wrong place at the wrong time when the Bay Bridge blows up, and they’re quickly taken into custody by the Department of Homeland Security. When he’s released after days of interrogation, Marcus swears revenge. He develops the Xnet, a hidden network accessed through a hack in the XBox console, and uses it to organize protests and sabotage against the DHS. Marcus knows it’s only a matter of time until the DHS catches up to him. Marcus values his safety, but he values freedom even more.

Rash

Pete Hautman

When Bo lets his temper get out of hand, he’s not

surprised to find himself serving a 36-month sentence in pizza factory on the tundra. What does surprise him is when he makes the elite factory football team—despite football having been outlawed in the United Safer States of America decades ago. The game gives Bo the outlet he never knew he’d been looking for, but it’s not enough to help him overcome all his fears. There are still those hungry polar bears on the other side of the fence, after all.

Nomansland

Lesley Hauge

Keller is a teenage Tracker-in-training in a society where frivolities and friendships are forbidden. When a fellow patrol-member invites Keller to check out a hidden house from the Time Before, stuffed with Found Objects, Keller is excited, and nervous. Those feelings grow in equal measure as the trips become more frequent, and Keller can’t shake the bad feeling.

The Limit

Kristin Landon

Matt is flipping through a magazine near the check-outs when his mom gets the news: their family is over their limit. Humiliations aside, this is Bad News. By the time they’ve gotten home from the store, there’s already a black limo outside, waiting to take 13-year-old Matt to the workhouse to earn the money his family needs to get them back under their government-mandated limit. Matt’s smart enough to know there’s something fishy going on about the work that they’re doing, and he is just the computer hacker to find out what.

Unidentified

Rae Mariz

Kid goes to school in the Game Center, what

corporations turned public schools into when they took over. When Kid witnesses an anti-corporate prank one morning, she’s interested: who would, or could, do such a thing? High-tech security firm Protecht takes notice when Kid starts asking questions about the pranksters, and their branding of her gives her far more social capital than she could have expected. But it also gives her more incentive to uncover the Unidentified—and not for her corporate sponsors.

Delirium

Lauren Oliver

Decreased appetite, weight loss, lack of concentration, mood swings: all symptoms of amor deliria nervosa. Lena is looking forward to being Cured, to getting her match, to having her life’s choices settled. But just months before she’s to get her cure—on the day of her evaluation, when she’ll give the panel the information they need to make those decisions for her—she meets the person who will infect her. It’s an ancient infection, and deadly dangerous: Lena has fallen in love.

Epitaph Road

David Patneaude

30 years ago, the Elisha’s Bear virus struck, wiping out 97% of the male population. The female-to-male ratio now stands at about 13 to 1, and Kellen is that one. Now there’s another Bear on the way, and it’s targeting Kellen’s dad’s isolated fishing community. Kellen has to warn his dad, but getting there won’t be easy—and what he finds when he gets there could mean he’ll never get home again.

Inside Out

Maria Snyder

Trella is the Queen of the Pipes, able to get nearly anywhere in the Cube via the air ducts. She finds herself knee-deep in conspiracy when she agrees to retrieve information discs for a new prophet claiming to know about the Gateway to Outside. While searching for more information, Trella falls through a vent into a storage room currently being used as a hideout for an Upper-level boy her own age.  With little choice but to trust him, she’s launched into an adventure she never could have anticipated.

Apocalypses

How to survive while the world doesn’t.

The Way We Fall

Megan Crewe

Kaelyn is trying to reinvent herself this year. The new Kaelyn willingly visits a sick friend, trying to strengthen that budding friendship. But that friend has the cough, and the unbearable itching.  It’s the unnamed virus, infecting more and more people across the small Canadian island, until the whole island is quarantined. Even the World Health Organization is stumped, and unless someone has a breakthrough soon, the whole island will be left to die.

The Carbon Diaries: 2015

Saci Lloyd

Carbon rationing is hitting everyone hard: Laura’s sister is burning through the family’s carbon credits flying to Spain, their mom is freaked out by riding buses instead of driving her fancy car, and their dad … well, he’s thinking of a career move into pig farming. Laura wants her life back, time to jam with her band and maybe get Ravi next door to notice her. There’s a black market in carbon springing up, politics are getting messy, and global warming is kicking off some big storms—like the one threatening to flood London.

Life As We Knew It

Susan Beth Pfeffer

An asteroid is bearing down on the moon—and the school is piling on extra assignments as a result. But then the moon gets knocked closer to the Earth. Tsunamis. Flooding. Mosquitoes. Blizzards. Flu epidemics. The months of isolation, with nothing to do and food supplies dwindling. With all the ash in the air from volcanoes, nothing is growing and outdoor game is starving. There’s literally nothing but canned and boxed goods, and when they run out, that’s it.

Nation

Terry Pratchett

Mau has just given up his boy’s soul and is paddling back to the Nation, where he will be given his man’s soul. That’s when the wave hits—that all-consuming wave that devours everything in its path, wiping out the entire Nation and killing everyone Mau knew and loved. Mau is alone on the island, but only temporarily—other refugees slowly row up to the Nation’s shores. Mau feels responsible for all these new people, and must defend the Nation from the raiders, protect the new refugees, and discover who they can be without the baggage of who they were.

Post-Apocalypses

Moving on in a changed world.

Restoring Harmony

Joelle Anthony

Worried about her grandfather living alone far from

family, Molly’s parents send her to bring him back home to their farm. Molly’s inexperience at traveling is made nerve-wracking by tightened border security and disrupted railway lines, but a kind stranger helps her complete her journey. He continues to help her family as she settles into Portland, but his help comes from some shady sources Molly shouldn’t ask about. Each passing day brings more obstacles to returning home, among them her grandfather’s reluctance to leave.

Ship Breaker

Paolo Bacagalupi

Nailer works as light crew, stripping copper wire from wrecked ships along the gulf coast, a dangerous job that could kill him any minute. His luck turns after a hurricane, when he finds a wreck on a nearby island: a clipper ship that hides food, silver—and a girl. The wreck is soon discovered by Nailer’s abusive father and his band of thieves, and Nailer has a choice: hand over the girl, the luckiest of Lucky Strikes any of his crew has ever seen, or take her back to her people, where—she says—Nailer will be well-rewarded.

Wither

Lauren DeStefano

The First Generations successfully manipulated genetic code to ensure their children had perfect lives, free of cancer and other aging diseases. Two decades later, they learned they’d also unleashed a virus that kills males at age 25, and females at 20. At 16, Rhine has been stolen to be one of three sister-wives to the wealthy Linden, to bear his children to ensure humanity’s survival. Being a bride thrusts Rhine into a life of luxury, but it’s not enough to overcome her desire to escape, even when an attempt could kill her.

The Other Side of the Island

Allegra Goodman

Honor and her parents live on Island 365, where the weather is controlled by the Earth Mother corporation and everyone fits in perfectly. Except Honor’s parents, who refuse to go along with Earth Mother’s rules, and by

extension Honor herself. When Honor’s parents disappear, it’s up to her to find out where they’ve gone—and what’s on the other side of the island for those who won’t conform.

Legend

Marie Lu

June is a military genius, having aced her exams and graduated early from the academy. Her first assignment: track down the elusive Day, the Republic’s most-wanted criminal and her brother’s killer. June wants to avenge her brother’s death. Day wants to buy the cure to the plague that’s ripping through his family’s neighborhood. June is about to find out exactly what the Republic government is capable of—and that’s something Day has known all along.

Battle Royale

Koushun Takami

40 Japanese high school students get detoured on a field trip and wake up in an unfamiliar classroom, where they are informed that their class has been randomly chosen for that year’s Program: a fight to the death until only one student remains. Each student is given a backpack containing food, water, and a weapon of varying quality (from machine guns to forks) and released. Alliances are made, then broken; friends are betrayed and killed; one person will win and everyone will lose.

The Boy at the End of the World

Greg van Eekhaut

His name is Fisher. The world is dangerous. And he’s the only one in it. These are the things Fisher knows immediately on waking up, on being born from the survival pod ages after all the other humans have died. The journey to find any other

humans will require Fisher to outsmart robots, evade the deadly gadgets, and win over a colony of warrior prairie dogs—all in a world that has been completely destroyed.

Non-Fiction

The way things could go.

Is the End of the World Near?: From Crackpot Predictions to Scientific Scenarios

Ron Miller

Most major religions have predictions about the end of the world; the Mayans may have provided a date. But many of the proposed end-of-the-world scenarios are unrealistic, or are at least are millions of years off. Ron Miller separates the honest threats from pseudoscientific theory, and somehow both assuages our fears and gives us brand-new ones we’d never considered.

The Official Underground 2012 Doomsday Survival Handbook

W.H. Mumfrey

What do you do when an asteroid hits the earth? Die, most likely—unless you’ve followed Mumfrey’s instructions and have a nearby cave all ready for move-in. How do you survive an alien invasion? You don’t—unless you’ve followed Mumfrey’s instructions and ran to an unpopulated area the instant you saw the ships overhead. When the internet is a memory and food is an occasional luxury, you’ll be glad you read this book.