15 Addictive Books like The Hunger Games! (Best Dystopian Novels for YAs)

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The Hunger Games franchise has enjoyed tremendous success over the years. Not just Suzanne Collins’ critically-acclaimed young adult novels – but also the Hollywood adaptations starring Jennifer Lawrence. That being said, if you’ve long finished the series, you may be wondering what are some other dystopian books like The Hunger Games worth reading?

Here, I’ve put together a list of 13 best dystopian novels that Hunger Games fans are likely to love, based on the similar themes explored. In addition, thanks to their broad appeal, I believe both young adults and grown-ups alike will find something addictive in these books like The Hunger Games.

Note: For this particular list, I’ve only selected good dystopian novels that are part of a series. Thus, I’ve not included standalone books like Battle Royale, The Running Man, and so on.

Enjoy!

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My picks of the best dystopian books like The Hunger Games

1. The Maze Runner series

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Fans often talk about The Maze Runner series amid discussions on books similar to The Hunger Games. I can see why – even if the former offers something unique in its own right.

The series begins with Thomas, who wakes up in a mysterious lift. He has no memory as to why he’s there – and even forgets his own name. He’s eventually introduced to his new home, the Glade, by other young adults who, like him, are all experiencing amnesia.

Confused, Thomas quickly discovers that outside the tall stone walls of the Glade lies an always-shifting and deadly maze. No one has ever made it out alive.

With The Maze Runner series, you’ll embark on a non-stop thrill ride as characters frantically try to escape. Akin to other best dystopian novels, you’ll also discover the true motives of a secret organization – known as WICKED – and why the maze was built in the first place (yes, the name’s a bit on the nose, lol).

If you love The Hunger Games, you’ll enjoy this:

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Although set in its own unique universe, I think The Maze Runner shares many matching thematic beats with The Hunger Games that YA and adult fans will take to.

For starters, the plot involves an oppressive organization that forces young adults to participate in dangerous events. Like Katniss Everdeen, Thomas and his friends are also initially obedient to the rules – before rebelling and turning everything on its head.

However, despite many strengths, I do think The Maze Runner struggles in a few areas. For example, I find the dialogue to be at times a bit clumsy and stiff. In addition, the first books are better than the later ones that seem to lack a strong story direction. That’s just my opinion though!

Nonetheless, overall, I very much enjoyed my time with The Maze Runner series. Above all, I love the intriguing premise of a death-trap maze, and also the tantalizing reveal of the big mystery behind it. Gripping stuff!

In short, if you’re looking for more dystopian books like The Hunger Games, you’ll want to give The Maze Runner a fair shot!

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2. Uglies series

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I absolutely love the Uglies series, written by Scott Westerfeld! Akin to other books like The Hunger Games, expect plenty of fun and familiar YA dystopian tropes – even as it dares to do things differently.

A mix of science fiction and social commentary, the Uglies is set in a future where everyone under 16 is considered ‘ugly’. All young adults are thus made to undergo extreme cosmetic surgery to become ‘Pretty’. It’s all part of the draconian status quo.

We follow Tally Youngblood who, as events unfold, decides to rebel against this enforced conformity. She soon finds out that there are far more sinister forces at play beneath the cosmetic nip and tucks – ones that involve societal control and oppression.

What ensues is a high-stakes battle between Tally with her band of runaways and a hostile organization that will stop at nothing to stamp out all dissent.

What The Hunger Games fans will love:

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As with most YA books similar to The Hunger Games, the Uglies is ripe with dystopian conflict, youth rebellion, and a quest to overthrow the powers-that-be.

However, this series also stands on its own story merits. Above all, the books are in essence a metaphorical critique of our own modern society – specifically, the pressures people face to look and act a certain way.

In addition, the Uglies has a strong romantic subplot. However, like The Hunger Games, it only serves to compliment – rather than detract from – the main dystopian narrative.

In short, I urge you to give the Uglies a try! The series has some of the best dystopian novels like The Hunger Games that are often heralded by fans of the latter.

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3. Divergent series

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A highly popular franchise in its own right, Divergent is set in a post-apocalyptic and segregated Chicago. Amid authoritarian rule, people are assigned into factions, based on their perceived traits. This includes honesty, selflessness, bravery, peacefulness, and intelligence.

The plot builds from Beatrice ‘Tris’ Prior, a teenager who has to decide to either stay with her faction or switch. However, as unexpected things happen, she makes a shocking choice that carries immense ripple effects. In addition, Tris holds a secret that, if revealed, will put herself and the ones she loves directly in harm’s way.

What The Hunger Games fans will love:

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I think both The Hunger Games and Divergent explore similar literary themes, albeit in their own way.

Above all, The Hunger Games tells the story of a rising rebellion against a cruel dystopian regime. In close fashion, I fully enjoyed journeying with Divergent‘s characters as they diverge from an oppressive norm, taking up the fight against unfathomable odds.

In addition, I think fans of The Hunger Games will also love Divergent‘s romantic subplot between Tris and her Dauntless instructor, Four. Both of them contrast nicely with each other, creating dynamic chemistry.

However, if I’m being honest, while I found the first two books incredibly immersive, Allegiant – the original conclusion – falls flat for me in some areas. I don’t think author Veronica Roth quite sticks the perfect landing. Still, that’s just my opinion, and on the whole, I do find the series to be highly entertaining.

Overall, I believe Divergent has some of the best dystopian books like The Hunger Games that most readers will find memorable. There’s plenty of thrilling twists and turns that’ll keep you hooked for the long haul.

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4. Delirium series

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Okay, here’s a series I totally binged!

In this dystopian universe, love is officially declared a dangerous ‘disease’, a disruptive force to society. To eradicate the emotion, the authoritarian government makes anyone who turns 18 undergo a procedure known as the Cure.

For the most part, people are conditioned to see the Cure as a good thing. Lena Haloway – the series’ protagonist – is no different. Soon to be of age, she finds herself excited to be ‘cured’. To her, this means a safe and predictable life, unlike her mother’s.

However, as the day of her procedure nears, Lena meets a mysterious young man named Alex. He lives in secrecy from the government’s gaze, surviving as an outlier.

Lena soon finds herself more and more attracted to Alex. But is she willing to throw her entire future away… all for the sake of forbidden love?

For those keen on more books like Divergent / The Hunger Games…

Delirium Trilogy
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Above all, Delirium plays around with many exhilarating YA dystopian themes. This includes an oppressive government, a rising revolution, and young characters who struggle to survive in a hostile world.

In addition, just like Katniss, the story centers on how one girl’s brave actions can bring about radical changes for herself – and the rest of society.

However, what I really appreciate about the series is its unique look at how oppression can, beyond physical control, also include emotional conditioning as well. While the plot does push this idea to the extreme, in many ways, real-life isn’t all too different at all.

I also think author Lauren Oliver cleverly uses romance not as a mere subplot. Instead, love is in itself a key narrative device that characters are literally fighting to keep. This is a great twist to the dystopian formula!

Overall, if you desire more books like The Hunger Games or Divergent, I suggest you read Delirium. I think the series’ strong dystopian story – as well as thousands of 4-5 star reader ratings – makes it a shoo-in for this list.

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5. The Testing series

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The Testing blends survivalist and dystopian fiction into an epic story that I’m sure Hunger Games fans will find appealing.

16-year-old Malencia ‘Cia’ Vale is excited. She’s hoping to be chosen for The Testing – a United Commonwealth program that aims to select the brightest new leaders of society.

Her dreams are fulfilled; she’s chosen. However, with this comes her father’s dire warning: The Testing is not what it seems! He also tells her to trust absolutely no one. Taking his cryptic caution to heart, Cia heads to Tosu City to begin her trials.

Intense events unfold as Cia is put through a series of merciless tests. Akin to The Hunger Games‘s premise, everything quickly spirals into a visceral fight for survival as, one by one, candidates drop out.

As the plot thickens, Cia soon uncovers a dark government agenda behind The Testing. But what will she decide to do next?

What The Hunger Games fans will love:

The Testing Book 1
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Similar to The Hunger Games, the first book in The Testing features a memorable ‘survival of the fittest’ contest with youths trying to outlast each other.

However, beyond that, I think The Testing also does a fantastic job at building plot intrigue. This is edge-of-your-seat stuff that pulls you in to find out what the government’s true motives really are.

In addition, I find Cia to be a very strong and multi-faceted protagonist with a great character development arc. She’s intelligent and quick witted, and just very easy to relate with on many levels.

Overall, I think The Testing gives us some of the best dystopian books like The Hunger Games and Divergent. If you want an addictive read with great world-building, this is it!

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6. Red Rising series

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Red Rising is yet another beloved series among Hunger Games fans. It’s heavily sci-fi – but, as you’d expect, shares many dystopian and survivalist themes.

Darrow is a Red, the lowest ranked caste in a future society that uses colors to forcibly segregate its population. Assigned to hard mining labor, he works with his peers to make Mars’ surface livable for others – or so they were led to believe!

However, he soon discovers his people have been fed a horrible lie. In the end, they are nothing more than gullible slaves to a heartless regime intent on keeping them suppressed.

Faced with this new reality, and fueled by his desire for revenge, Darrow joins the legendary Institute. Here, in true battle royale fashion, he fights in bloodletting trials against other competitors, all in his quest to dethrone his ultimate foes.

Hunger Games fans will love…

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As is already obvious, the Red Rising series wonderfully matches many of The Hunger Games’ thematic pulses. There’s a totalitarian regime, a determined protagonist, and a series of life-of-death trials to keep you guessing what comes next.

However, Darrow is a very different character from Katniss, which I find really refreshing. He’s brasher, often brutal – but, at the same time, also questions his identity amid an unfolding dystopian plot.

Pacing wise, I think Red Rising does start a little slow – if only to detail the intriguing backstory of this rich sci-fi universe. Still, it isn’t long before things pick up dramatically as violence ensues and the stakes are raised.

In short, I feel Red Rising has some of the best dystopian books like The Hunger Games around. It doesn’t break too much new ground – but what’s on offer is riveting!

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7. #MurderTrending series

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#MurderTrending is mostly set on Alcatraz 2.0 – the ‘playground’ of a reality TV show that pits convicted felons against each other in a fight to the death. The winner gets to evade his or her pending execution.

Young Dee is helplessly thrown into this battle royale game-show – even though she’s actually innocent! To survive, she teams up with an outlier group known as the Death Row Breakfast Club. Together, this odds-and-ends crew must do all they can to avoid the murderous executioners.

Meanwhile, Dee searches for answers that lie behind her lost freedom as she slowly reveals the dark secrets that govern her fate.

What Hunger Games fans will love:

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The Hunger Games is a fictional take on modern day reality TV – brought to extreme ends. If you loved this specific aspect of the series, you”ll likely adore a lot of #MurderTrending, for obvious reasons.

Compared to Suzanne Collins’ work, I find #MurderTrending to be much more aggressive in its kill descriptions. Some readers might gravitate to this. In addition, there’s a very distinct us-against-them dystopian theme running through the entire series.

Admittedly, I find the second book in the series to be slightly weaker than the first. Yes, it answers a lot of the questions raised in Book 1. However, it relies a lot on rehashing the battle royale theme instead of fully expanding the narrative scope.

Regardless, overall, I very much enjoyed my time with #MurderTrending. It’s not a long series – yet serves as a dark commentary on the absurd nature of reality TV, delivered with ample thrills and spills!


8. Legend series

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June is on her way to becoming an elite military soldier of the Republic. Conditioned to serve the war-waging righteousness of her nation, she is assigned a mission to seek out Day – an escaped youth who’s been charged with the murder of June’s brother.

However, when the two finally meet, June soon realizes that all is not what it seems. Amid her inner moral conflict, the two soon discover a menacing government conspiracy that, if revealed, threatens to overthrow the very order of society.

What ensues is a truly epic dystopian tale by Marie Lu that cleverly explores the politics of power, and how ‘righteous’ virtues may in fact be authority-serving propaganda disguised for the masses.

What The Hunger Games fans will love:

Legend Marie Lu
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Legend, like The Hunger Games, tells a story about the divisive struggles between the elite and subordinated. In addition, it centers on young adults that, in the wake of mounting odds, are driven by their desire to free people from government wrongdoings.

I feel dystopian novels can sometimes follow a fairly predictable formula. However, the Legend series is actually full of unexpected plot twists that’ll keep your pages turning. Marie brings the narrative in fresh directions that help the series shine on its own strengths.

In addition, all the main characters are very relatable. In particular, I love how Day and Joy come from very different backgrounds and have unique personalities. This stark contrast is exactly what makes their dialogue interesting!

Overall, I think the Legend series presents books similar to The Hunger Games – yet exceedingly refreshing in their own right.

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Other best dystopian books like The Hunger Games!

9. Red Queen series

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Red Queen centers on 17-year-old Mare Barrow. She lives in a confined world where a person’s status hinges on one’s blood color. Commoners have red blood while the elite royals have silver.

Like The Hunger Games, the series weaves together an excellent dystopian tale about social segregation and overcoming oppressive odds.


10. Carve the Mark series

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I see the Carve the Mark series as a smart hybrid of The Hunger Games, the X-Men universe, and even Star Wars.

Although set in space, many of the dystopian themes here will be instantly familiar to Hunger Games fans. This includes, among other things, the underdogs vs. overlords, enduring friendships, and highly relatable protagonists with their backs against the wall.


11. The Darkest Minds series

The Darkest Minds
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Teenagers suddenly start developing superpowers – and the government decides to brand them outlaws. Forced to flee, they soon band together to forge a resistance against the powers that threaten to end them.

If you loved the rebellion groups in The Hunger Games, think no further. The Darkest Minds series delightfully pulls you in on this thematic front! In my opinion, it offers some of the best dystopian novels for YAs / adults that I’ve read in quite some time.


12. The Girl Who Dared To Think series

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In this series, people are forcibly assigned numbers that dictate their value in society. Liana – a 20-year-old woman – is initially placed at a lowly 4. As things worsen, she begins to question the authoritarian rule that controls her worth with an iron fist.

All good dystopian novels like The Hunger Games begin with a seed of doubt that slowly grows into a full-fledged conflict. The Girl Who Dared to Think fully thrives on this popular narrative!


13. Configured series

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I think Configured echoes Delirium on some levels. For starters, Avlyn lives in a world where having emotions is illegal. Instead, everyone is reduced to performing their basic functions in society, without question. In true dystopian fashion, autonomy and free will are outlawed.

Naturally, all of this boils into rising discontent – which will of course go down well with Hunger Games fans!


14. The Gender Game series

The Gender Game series
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The Gender Game takes place amid Matrus – a matriarchal country – and Patrus, running under patriarchal rules. Here, the dystopian conflict is largely gender based (as you’d expect from the title).

I think fans of The Hunger Games will be instantly drawn to the main characters. Each of them has a distinct backstory that compels him / her to question the societal order. In addition, there’s a nice romance between Viggo and Violet that’s both endearing and tragic.


15. The Variant Saga

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In 2157, a deadly gas called Variant spreads, killing or mutating everything in its path. Humans are thus driven underground for generations. However, after a scientist makes a startling discovery, a group of genetically engineered youths must rise up to bring hope back to humanity.

What I loved the most about the Variant series is its two intertwining plots. One centers on the youths, who all have fascinating character arcs and personality nuances. The other is distinctly dystopian as adults clash over power and status. Both threads come together to create a lavishly detailed world that’s a splendid mix of The Hunger Games and Fallout.


What other best dystopian novels like The Hunger Games have you enjoyed? Drop me an email and I’ll include your favorites in this list!

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