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Dystopian Series for Teens

Talking about dystopian novels last time, this week I'm back with more, this time with teenage protagonists. It's interesting how the adult novels tend to focus on the society at large and then you start to identify with the main character. These novels for teens start with the hero's story and then progress to illuminate how their story affects the larger world. Also because I happened to find so many, I'm sticking with only series.

  • The Giver Trilogy by Lois Lowry - a loose trilogy following three teens through a world where each community limits the lives of their people in different ways.
    • The Giver (1993) - 12-year-old Jonas is assigned the occupation of "Receiver of Memory". It is his job to take on the memories of their community before it was wiped clean of the strong emotions of love and hate and things like colors. As he begins to learn more about the way life used to be, he finds it harder to stay in the community. My seventh grade English teacher read this book to us before we got ready to study the Holocaust and both efforts to homogenize the population have remained intertwined to me ever since.
    • Gathering Blue (2000) - In Kira's community life is harsh, and after her leg is irreparably injuried, she must find a way to save herself from being left in the field to die. Soon it's discovered that Kira and two other teenagers possess great artistic talents and they use these talents to expose the injustice and inequality of their society.
    • The Messenger (2004) - Continues a few years after Gathering Blue in the Village where Jonas managed to escape to at the end of The Giver. The Village is different in that it is a welcoming community where those who have escaped from the oppression of other communities are allowed to make a life for themselves. However, something changes people's helpful demeanor and Matt, the Messenger, is sent to bring Kira to Village to fix their problems, but when they encounter trouble and Jonas attempts to save them, Matt finally discovers his special power.
    • Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins - I finally got around to reading this wildy popular series that is set to be turned into a movie. The series follows 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen as she chooses to replace her little sister in the Hunger Games, a barbaric ritual where one boy and one girl from each district in the country of Panem are forced to fight to the death to serve as a reminder of the power of the Capital City. Each district is kept completely separate and specializes in production of one specific product for the Capital. District 12, where Katniss is from, specializes in coal production and is a very sleepy and remote district from the Capital. Katniss's actions in the Games and the events following constantly defy the expectations of the other characters leaving readers constantly surprised. Since this is a much tighter series I don't want to give away too much of the action.
      • Hunger Games (2008)
      • Catching Fire (2009)
      • Mockingjay (2010)
    • Books of Ember Series by Jeanne DuPrau - I'm cheating a little here because this series is more post-apocalyptic than dystopian, but the Hunger Games series straddles the same line to an extent, since their society was created in the wake of apocalyptic events. I came across this series while I was taking a Youth Literature course in library school. It wasn't assigned reading for the course, but I found the first book a great audiobook to fill a few days of my commute that semester.
      • The City of Ember (2003) - The series starts with the people of Ember who have lived in a perpetually dark world for as long as they can remember. Generators and deep supply caverns have allowed them to live for many generations in this state, but their supplies are starting to run out and the generators are starting to fail. Teenagers Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow discover a mysterious message with instructions for exiting the underground city, but no one thinks anything of their discovery, so they must rely on each other to see if their is any truth to the message.
      • The People of Sparks (2004) - As the people of Ember arrive on the surface, it's clear they don't know how to survive and the people of the village of Sparks reluctantly agree to take them in. Resentment grows on each side until the climactic event forces the people of the two communities together in order to survive.
      • The Prophet of Yonwood (2006) - Prequel to the events that caused the City of Ember to be created, this book follows 11 year-old Nicky Randolph on her way to visit her grandmother in Yonwood, North Carolina. When one of the town's residents begins having prophetic visions, one of the community leaders interprets her prophecies in increasingly repressive ways. This mirrors the growing animosity between the U.S. and the Phalanx States. Eventually order is restored and Nicky joins her parents in California, where her father is helping to build the city of Ember. Many years later, Nicky becomes one of the founding residents of the city and leaves behind the journal that Lina and Doon find.
      • The Diamond of Darkhold (2008) - Action resumes shortly after The People of Sparks as the Emberites struggle to survive their first winter above ground. Lina and Doon return to Ember and make many surprising discoveries.
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