Dystopian romance novels are a sub-genre of the romance novel genre concerned with a society that is significantly different from the real world. In this type of tale, the fiction writer will create a fictional society that has rules and restrictions that are very different from what we know today.
The stories in these books feature characters whose lives are drastically altered by their experience in the fictional world. Often, these characters must make decisions about how they want to live their lives in this new world order.
The dystopian romance genre has been a popular one for decades now, and it’s easy to see why. Dystopian stories allow people to imagine what it would be like if things were different than they are today—it’s fun to imagine living in a society where there are strict rules governing behavior, or where people have superpowers, or where technology has advanced so far that people can fly through space without having to worry about gravity!
The Selection by Kiera Cass
America, a violinist, is one of thirty-five girls that’s given the chance of a lifetime. A chance to escape a rigid caste system, live in a palace, and compete for the heart of a prince. But for America Singer, this isn’t something she wants. She’s already found love with the boy next door. Or so she thinks until she meets Prince Maxon and realizes maybe the life she’s always dreamed of is her future.
You can buy The Selection here.
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
In an alternate United States, love has been declared a dangerous disease, and the government forces anyone who reaches eighteen to have a procedure called the Cure. Lena Haloway lives with her aunt and uncle in Portland, Maine, and can’t wait to turn eighteen and have the Cure performed. She wants a nice, safe, predictable life, unlike the one her mom had. Love destroyed her mom’s life, and it wasn’t going to do the same to hers. Then she meets Alex, an enigmatic boy from the Wilds that lives under the government’s radar. Will he be the one that changes her mind about love?
You can buy Delirium here.
The Elite by Kiera Cass
300 years from now, the United States lives by a strict caste system. The castes range from eight to one, with eight being homeless and one being the royal family. In The Elite Prince Maxon has narrowed down the choices of his bride from thirty-five to six: America, Kriss, Celeste, Elise, Natalie, and Marlee. Maxon must choose a wife from these six. America has a quick temper and makes choices that bring the king’s ire down on her and Prince Maxon. Can she convince the king to allow her to stay after pulling her latest unforgivable stunt?
You can buy The Elite here.
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Mare Barrow lives in a world that’s separated by blood – those with common red blood serve the silver-blooded elite who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is red, and she doesn’t serve anyone. She instead scraps by as a thief in a poor rural village until fate lands her in the silver court, where she discovers she’s got an ability of her own. To cover up this impossibility, the king makes her play the role of a lost silver princess and immediately betroths her to one of his sons. Mare risks everything and uses her new position and risks her life to help the Red rebellion.
You can buy Red Queen here.
Prodigy by Marie Lu
The Elector Primo dies the day that June and Day arrive in Vegas. The Elector Primo’s son Anden is next in line to take his place. The Republic is edging closer and closer to chaos when June and Day decide to join a group of Patriots. To be part of this group, they have to assassinate the new Elector, but what if he’s not a bloodthirsty dictator like his father. What if the Patriots are wrong about him?
You can buy Prodigy here.
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
Ruby wakes up on her tenth birthday, and something has changed. Something so bad that it made her parents lock her in the garage and call the police and get her locked into Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She survived a disease that killed most of America’s children, but she and others have been left with something far worse. Frightening abilities they cannot control. Join Ruby as she escapes from the “rehabilitation camp,” joins with new friends, and evades people that will stop at nothing to capture Ruby and use her abilities to fight against the government.
You can buy The Darkest Minds here.
Unwind by Neal Shusterman
After America’s Second Civil War, Pro-choice and Pro-Life armies came to an agreement. The new agreement was that life could not be terminated from the moment of conception until the age of thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, children can be gotten rid of by their parents by going through a process called “unwinding.” This is the process of repurposing the teen’s organs and other body parts in living repentants so that the unwound child’s life doesn’t technically end. Curtis, Rita, and Lev are all set for unwinding due to various reasons, and they are fighting for their life. Do they have a chance of winning, or will they get unwound?
You can buy Unwind here.
Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Rhine Ellery is sixteen and only has four years left to live. You see, in an effort to create the perfect race; it left all males born with a lifespan of 25 years and females with a lifespan of 20. Leaving the world in a state of panic. Geneticists seek a miracle cure to restore the human race while young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children. When Rhine is sold as a bride, she vows to escape. But will the love of her husband convince her to stay?
You can buy Wither here.
The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel
I’m Ivy Westfall, and I have to murder the man I’m set to marry – the President’s son. You see, there was a brutal nuclear war, and the United States was left decimated. A small group of survivors banded together, and two families fought over which one would govern the nation. My family lost. For the last fifty years, to keep the peace, the daughters of the losing side to the sons of the winning side. This year it’s my turn, and my job is to restore the Westfall legacy and take the Presidency. But Bishop Lattimer doesn’t appear to be the cruel, heartless boy my family leads me to expect. Instead, he may be the first person who has ever really understood me.
The Host by Stephenie Meyer
Earth post apocalypse is being invaded by parasitic aliens known as “Souls.” One Soul’s predicament is when the consciousnesses of her human host refuse to give up her body. Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away and allow Wanderer, the ‘soul’ who invaded her body, to have control. Melanie fills Wanderer’s thoughts with visions of the man Melanie loves, and in time, Wanderer starts yearning for Jared, a man she’s never met. Reluctant allies Wanderer and Melanie set off to search for the man they both love.
You can buy The Host here.
The Queen of All That Dies (The Fallen World Book 1) by Laura Thalassa
King Lauli can not die, he doesn’t age, and he has been systematically taking over the world since the beginning of the war. Serenity Freeman has only known conflict and bloodshed. War has taken everything away from her, and it’s her responsibility to save the Western United Nations from King Lauli. Surrender is coming – the king feels it, and Serenity knows it. There’s no other option. The two come face to face meaning Serenity must meet the man that’s taken everything from her. For the king, it means meeting the one woman who won’t be conquered. But when they meet something happens. Cruelty finds redemption but can love win when it comes to war?
You can buy The Queen of All That Dies (The Fallen World Book 1) here.
Beyond Control by Kit Rocha
In Sector Four, Alexa Parrino escaped Orchid House, a dangerous training ground for courtesans, and now holds power and influence alongside the sector’s infamous leader, Dallas O’Kane. Dallas is obsessed with Alexa and wants all of her, but their game of dominance and submission blurs the lines of control. Dallas must choose between his lust for power and his hunger for Alexa or risk losing everything, including her.
You can buy Beyond Control here.
Beyond Shame by Kit Rocha
All Noelle Cunningham has ever wanted was a life. As the prim, proper daughter of the councilman of Eden, she’s bored and stifled. She gets her wish and is banished to beyond the walls for violating the prohibition against immorality. Earth was destroyed by solar storms decades earlier, and the only safe place remaining was the city of Eden. Now that she’s thrown out, Noelle is going to have to learn to survive and learn to embrace her powers.
The Heir (The Selection 4) by Kiera Cass
“The Heir” is the fourth novel in “The Selection” series, which follows Princess Eadlyn as she holds her own Selection to find a partner. Although Eadlyn doesn’t believe in fairy-tale romance like her parents, America and Prince Maxon, she soon discovers that true love may not be as impossible as she once thought. This book is perfect for fans of popular young adult dystopian novels like “Divergent” and “Delirium.
You can buy The Heir here.
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Tally is about to turn sixteen and get an operation that changes her from an ugly to a stunningly attractive pretty. As a pretty, her only job is to be pretty and have fun. However, Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to become pretty and runs away. Tally sets out to find her and learns about a whole new side of the pretty world, and it’s not attractive. Now Tally has to choose if she’s going to find her friend or turn her in or never turn pretty at all.
You can buy Uglies here.
Legend by Marie Lu
In a dystopian world where the western United States is now the Republic, two fifteen-year-olds from opposite sides of society find themselves entangled in a dangerous game of cat and mouse. June is a brilliant military prodigy from an elite family, while Day is the country’s most wanted criminal from the slums. When June’s brother is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect, the two team up to uncover the truth behind the sinister secrets of their nation. This action-packed novel is full of suspense and romance, perfect for fans of dystopian fiction.
You can buy Legend here.
Unravel Me (Shatter Me Book 2) by Tahereh Mafi
In a world where Juliette’s touch is deadly, her inability to kill Warner, the person she most needs protection from, has left her shaken. She escapes with Adam and joins a group of rebels with powers of their own, determined to fight against The Reestablishment and fix their broken world. With the help of her new allies, Juliette hopes to uncover the secret behind Adam’s and Warner’s immunity to her deadly touch.
You can buy Unravel Me (Shatter Me Book 2) here.
Stitch (Trilogy Book 1) by Samantha Durante
College freshman Alessa is struggling to cope with the sudden death of her parents when she’s inexplicably drawn to a handsome ghostly presence. Determined to unravel the mystery, she uncovers a terrifying secret that leaves her grappling for answers in her nightmares. But Alessa soon realizes she’s not really a student, the object of her obsession is not a ghost, and something sinister is lurking behind the idyllic campus walls.
You can buy Stitch (Trilogy Book 1) here.
Restore Me (Shatter Me Book 4) by Tahereh Mafi
In this gripping sequel, Juliette Ferrars finds herself as the new Supreme Commander of North America, with her powerful ability to kill with a single touch. But when tragedy strikes, she must confront her inner darkness and the forces that threaten her rule. Can she control her power and use it for good? Find out in this thrilling continuation of the series.
You can buy Restore Me (Shatter Me Book 4) Here.
Reached by Ally Condie
Cassia defies Society and fights for love and freedom at the conclusion of the Matched trilogy. As a deadly plague ravages Society, Cassia races to save her loved ones and bring about a full-scale rebellion. In this emotionally charged finale, Cassia, Ky, and Xander return to Society to fight for the power to choose.
You can buy Reachered here.
If you’re looking for a great new read, hopefully, I’ve covered a few for you to get hooked on. Whether you prefer your books to be more futuristic or more romantic, there’s something for everyone on this list.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is dystopian romance?
Dystopian romance is a subgenre of science fiction and romance that takes place in a dystopian society. In this type of story, the romance between two characters is set against a backdrop of a society that is usually oppressive, corrupt, or in some other way broken. The characters often struggle against society’s rules and norms in order to be together.
Dystopian romance stories can take place in a variety of settings, such as a post-apocalyptic world, a society ruled by a totalitarian government, or a world where advanced technology has led to the breakdown of social structures. The focus of the story is on the romance between the characters, but the dystopian setting adds tension and conflict to the relationship.
In dystopian romance, the couple usually faces obstacles beyond the usual challenges of a romantic relationship. They must navigate the dangers and difficulties of the dystopian society they live in while trying to stay together. The story often explores themes of rebellion, survival, sacrifice, and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity. Popular examples of dystopian romance include the books and movies in The Hunger Games series and the Divergent series.
What are the 4 types of dystopian literature?
The four types of dystopian literature are:
Environmental Dystopia: This type of dystopia portrays a world where environmental disasters, climate change, or other ecological issues have led to the collapse of society. Examples of environmental dystopian literature include The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi and The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi.
Political Dystopia: In a political dystopia, a government or ruling class has gained complete control over society, resulting in oppression, censorship, and often violence against citizens. Examples of political dystopian literature include Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.
Technological Dystopia: This type of dystopia explores the negative effects of advanced technology on society, such as increased surveillance, loss of privacy, and the dehumanization of people. Examples of technological dystopian literature include Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and The Matrix series.
Societal Dystopia: In a societal dystopia, society as a whole has become corrupt, dysfunctional, or has lost its moral compass. This type of dystopia often shows the breakdown of social structures, such as the family, community, or religion. Examples of societal dystopian literature include The Road by Cormac McCarthy and The Giver by Lois Lowry.
Are there dystopian novels for young adults?
Yes, there are many dystopian novels written specifically for young adults. In fact, dystopian young adult fiction has become a very popular sub-genre in recent years.