Dystopian Novels

Battle Royale, Koushen Takami

Suzanne Collins has had to defend herself from claims that the Hunger Games bears a startingly amount of similarity to this Japanese novel in which, well, teens  are forced into an arena and forced to kill each other  until only one is left standing. You can see the point, but in fact the two books are very, very different. Battle Royale is far more graphically violent for one thing and being a novel in translation means that inevitably the quality of the writing can feel strained at times.

Divergent, Veronica Roth

Faster-paced than the Hunger Games, with more action and less introspection, Divergent is set in a post-apocalyptic Chicago where society has been divided into five factions, each representing a different character trait. Beatrice (Tris) has been brought up in the self-denying Abnegation faction, but at the age of 16 she must choose for herself where she belongs. Turns out that she is Divergent, which means she could potentially fit into any one of three factions. She picks the Dauntless faction, whose physical courage she both admires and is intimidated by... but does she know just what she has let herself in for... Fans of the Hunger Games will love this one.

I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
A classic from the 1950s, but with a fairly recent film version (2007), this sci-fi favourite tells the story of Robert Neville, a lone human survivor of a virus that has turned the rest of the population into vampires. Battling against them as he tries to find a cure for the virus, he is eventually forced to confront the question of his essential humanity.

Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro

Kathy, Tommy and Ruth grew up in the strange environs of Hailsham House which combined elements of orphanage, boarding school, hospital and prisons. Slowly, they learn that they have a purpose in life that sets them apart from normal society; they are clones, bred to be harvested for their organs.

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

Set in a dystopian world where the ruling elite punish the underclasses for a failed rebellion by demanding a tribute of young people every year  to take part in the murderous hunger games. This clever young adult novel fuses ancient myth, modern war and reality tv into an imagined world of unimaginable horror.  There are two sequels and with a film version already out, this would be an ideal class novel with a load of potential for a really imaginative scheme of work.

The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness, Walker, London, 2008

Dsytopian thriller. Todd Hewitt lives in Prentisstown, a town where all the women have disappeared and all the men can hear everyone else’s thoughts all the time, whether they want to or not. There is no escape from the overwhelming noise, until one day Todd finds a spot of silence. Then the trouble really starts. First of the Chaos Walking trilogy, it won the 2008 Guardian Children’s Fiction prize – the final volume, Monsters of Men won the 2011 Carnegie Prize.  My Y8 group who did this for guided reading absolutely loved it.

The Maze Runner, James Dashner
Sixteen-year-old Thomas wakes up in a lift. His memory is blank. Thrust into a community of boys who call themselves Gladers, he tries to make sense of his surroundings and recover enough of his memory to figure out how to escape. Then a girl arrives. Another dystopian novel (first of a trilogy) in the same vein as The Hunger Games, although neither the character development nor the writing are quite as good. Plenty of action and a male central character give it boy-appeal though.