11 Books to Fill the Divergent-Shaped Hole in Your Heart
The only thing worse than the way the Divergent trilogy ended — and 'round these parts, the way it ended was with copious sobbing, snotting all over the pages, and the book hitting the wall to a shrieking soundtrack of, "Noooo! NOOOOOOO! NONONO!"—is the fact that it did end, you guys, and there is no more.
Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant: all three volumes in the trilogy are now complete. And with only the movie franchise remaining to sustain our various dystopian cravings, it's time to start thinking about what to read next. Below, check out our Sparkitorial recommendations for 11 more books set in bleak, barren futures where everything has gone badly wrong.
The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
Granted, the chances are slim that anyone who's read Divergent hasn't also read the granddaddy of contemporary dystopian trilogies, too—but hey, if you somehow missed The Hunger Games? That would be a good place to start.
The Passage, by Justin Cronin
The first book in yet another intended trilogy about the end of civilization as we know it, The Passage leaps back and forth in time between the days of the viral apocalypse—as massive swaths of the population are turned into batlike nocturnal beasts—and the dawn of a new, struggling society, as pockets of survivors try to carve out safe havens amid the constant threat.
This Perfect Day, by Ira Levin
"Christ, Marx, Wood and Wei, led us to this perfect day," is the creepy rhyme that schoolchildren are taught to sing in this dystopian novel, about a society in which every aspect of every human being's daily life is managed by a central computer called UniComp. A small group of rebels have found ways to circumvent the safeguards that keep them docile and unfeeling, but are they true revolutionaries—or are they only playing further into the hands of the powerful system? HMMM.
The Maze Runner, by James Dashner
If you married The Lord of the Flies with the bizarro 1990s cult sci-fi flick Cube, you'd get something a little like The Maze Runner. Teenage boys arrive in a concrete labyrinth with no memory of how they got there; attempts to navigate their way through it result in being attacked by monstrous slugs. And if that sounds like your idea of fun, then this is the book for you!
The Giver, by Lois Lowry
Jonah lives in a society built on the foundation of "Sameness": a safeguard against the emotional extremes that were nearly the downfall of the human race. But when he is selected for a special role—to receive and keep all the memories of how people once lived, through a sort of psychic transference—what he learns causes him to question everything and everyone around him. (Bonus: This book is also about to hit the big screen come August.)
Matched, by Ally Condie
You know the iconic scene in every dystopian novel wherein the society's teens trudge off to a ceremony that determines their future? Matched has one too, but with an interesting wrinkle: the purpose of the ceremony is to inform the teenaged citizens which other teenaged citizens they'll be paired with for life. For protagonist Cassia, the Matching Ceremony brings good news: she's been paired with Xander, her handsome and intelligent friend. But what of the mysterious Ky, an unmatchable "aberration" whose face flashes briefly on Cassia's information port when she goes to learn more about her intended? We smell a love triangle. And it smells delicious.
Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi
15 year-old Nailer lives on the coast, scavenging materials from destroyed oil tankers, in the flooded wreckage of what used to be New Orleans: a hardscrabble life under the watchful, angry eyes of his violent father. But when the daughter of a wealthy family is stranded on the coast, Nailer risks everything to help her.
The Reapers are the Angels, by Alden Bell
A beautifully written, elegant novel that reads like a dream...except that the dream is a nightmare about the end of the world as we know it. The protagonist, 15-year-old Temple, is having a hard enough time navigating lands infested with the undead, never mind trying to evade the predatory men who see her as fresh and tantalizing meat. When one tries to rape her, she kills him—and finds herself on the run from his brother, who is determined to have revenge.
The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
Do you enjoy sparse language, bleak outlooks, and a lingering sense of dread and hopelessness that lasts for days on end? Set your sights on The Road...which is actually a great book, don't let us scare you away. In it, a cataclysmic event has made the world a scorched and barren place, where plants and the animals that lived on them can no longer survive. With winter on its way, a father and son travel south, hoping to reach the ocean without being captured by cannibals. Yes, cannibals.
The Stand, by Stephen King
An epic, massive, sprawling portrait of life in the U.S. after a pandemic flu has wiped out more than 99% of the country's population. This dark and thrilling novel tells the story of a dozen surviving strangers, whose prescient dreams bring them together for a larger purpose: to battle the powerful, evil presence that is gathering strength in the West.
The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan
What makes a dystopia even more dystopian? Zombies, that's what! In this case, zombies roaming in the titular Forest of Hands and Teeth, a phrase which still makes us shudder every time we read it. An isolated community in the forest's central clearing is run with an iron fist by elders determined to keep the threat away, but…well, let's just say that protected enclaves are the Chekhov's gun of zombie fiction: show one in the first act, and you know that mother's gonna get breached before the story is over.
What's your favorite dystopian read?