In Suzanne Collins’s vividly imagined Panem, teenagers are forced to take part in an annual ‘Hunger Games’, in which contestants are forced to fight to the death on live television. When 16-year-old Katniss volunteers to take the place of her younger sister in the games, she sets in motion a brutal chain of events that ultimately destabilises the entire totalitarian regime. Exploring themes of government corruption, class discrimination, the ethics of entertainment and the psychological impact of war, Suzanne Collins draws parallels between the barbarous Panem and our own society—as does all the very best dystopian fiction. If you’ve read the books, watched the films, and still want more, then here are our reading recommendations: five books akin to The Hunger Games we think you’ll like just as much.
Set in a post-apocalyptic Chicago, Veronica Roth’s hit YA dystopian Divergent series has also been adapted into a popular film franchise, starring Shailene Woodley. In the first book in the sequence, we again see a sixteen-year-old protagonist faced with an abysmal choice: conform or face exile. Roth evokes a society where everyone is divided into factions, where all must adapt to fit in. A winner at the 2011 Goodreads Choice Awards, Divergent touches on similar themes to The Hunger Games—highlighting the needs of a dynamic and ever-growing society for a responsive and flexible government.
The first book in Marissa Meyer’s New York Times-bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder is a futuristic retelling of the fairy-tale Cinderella. The setting for this YA science fiction novel is ‘New Beijing’, a city vastly overpopulated with humans and androids alike. Though plagued by a deadly pandemic that ravages the population, the threats to New Beijing aren’t simply limited to this planet, as an intergalactic threat looms from the ruthless Lunars, a race of people that occupy the earth’s moon. Our protagonist, the young cyborg Cinder, is deemed a second-class citizen for her mechanical components. Reviled by her cruel stepmother, Cinder’s life is transformed when she finds herself at the centre of this interplanetary conflict.
Dashner’s 2009 dystopian science fiction novel is the first book in The Maze Runner series and was adapted in 2014 for the cinema; the film starring Dylan O’Brien was a major hit. Our protagonist Thomas, along with his new companions, find themselves at a loss when they arrive at the strange and ominous ‘Glade’ under mysterious circumstances. None has any idea how they arrived nor what has happened to the outside world. Trapped, their sole objective is escaping this haunting maze—but to do so they must survive a myriad threats and perils.
Published in 2011, Mafi’s dystopian thriller takes place in a post-apocalyptic landscape where an international group known as The Reestablishment rule what remains of the Earth’s habitable land. Much like The Hunger Games, the world of the Shatter Me books resembles what might be described as a near future: a world ruled by an authoritarian government and plagued by disease, food shortages and climate crises. Our narrator is the 17-year-old Juliette, a girl cursed with a lethal touch which has led her to being held captive, accused of murder. When the tyrannous Reestablishment decides to use Juliette as a weapon, she too has a unenviable choice to make—be a tool or be a fighter.
This New York Times bestseller is spellbinding YA dystopian novel which explores themes of poverty, patriotism, and mortality. In Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy, we have two protagonists: Day and June. Both have forfeited much for the people of the Republic—a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles. But now, as their country is on the threshold of a new existence, a plague outbreak produces widespread fear in the colonies, and threats of war in the borderlands. June is the only one who can save her country from this deadly threat, but not without cost. A story of love and sacrifice, Lu’s Legend books are perfect for anyone who liked The Hunger Games.
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