Dystopian novels have a large following in the young adult world. When you need an escape from the humdrum world you live in, what better place to go than a world where the protagonist is rising against an evil government to take back their freedom?
Readers of all ages enjoy a good young adult novel, especially those with a dystopian flare. Some of the biggest hits have fallen into this category. Ally Condie’s Matched is just one example of an excellent foray into a dystopian society where choices are taken away from the citizens with the assertion that it’s what’s best for the populace.
For those who loved Matched or can’t get enough of young adult dystopian fiction, this list is created with you in mind. We’ll explore the 20 best books like Matched, so you can continue binge-reading your favorite genre.
Eve by Anna Carey
Set in a post-apocalyptic dystopian world, Eve tells the story of the 18-year-old protagonist Eve, who has spent her life in an all-girls school away from the world’s destruction. However, the secret of her future is revealed the night before her graduation, leading to her fleeing from this haven.
While on the run, she encounters Caleb, who, despite her best efforts, quickly wins her trust and her heart. Eventually, soldiers begin hunting them, and she’s left with a harsh decision to save herself or fight for love.
This book offers many elements of the typical dystopian society and fighting back against the constraints of the ruling government. It’s the first installment in a fantastic trilogy.
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Tally can’t wait to turn 16 because her life will change forever. She’ll be transformed from an Ugly to a Pretty and become an accepted member of society, enjoying parties every night.
Her new friend Shay doesn’t quite hold the same feelings about the operation and instead runs away to avoid the transformation altogether. However, nothing can be kept secret from the authorities.
Tally is questioned and given a choice – find and turn in Shay or be banned from her own operation. Uglies is the first of a four-part series exploring the dystopian world where being pretty is everything.
The Selection by Kiera Cass
America Singer is one of the 35 girls picked to be part of the Selection in which the prince will choose his bride. Unfortunately, she’s secretly in love with someone else, but it’s forbidden love, as he’s below her social standing.
However, once she meets the prince, she realizes that everything she ever wanted may not be what it seems. There may be something better in the works, but she’ll have to figure out where her heart will lead her.
The Selection is the first in a five-book series that captivated the world with its glittering gowns and courtly intrigue.
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Giver centers around a dystopian society in which each citizen is assigned a partner and a job, and their children come from designated birthmothers. Everyone obeys without questions—everyone except Jonas.
He’s given a life assignment as the Receiver of Memory and begins grasping the dark secrets his community is hiding. Jonas learns that his feelings are the ultimate source of his power, which is put to the test when he needs to save someone he loves.
While the story is told simply, it is telling and provocative, questioning values that have been long taken for granted.
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Tris Prior is a girl with a mighty secret she must keep hidden at all costs. The story takes place in a dystopian Chicago in the future where society is kept under control by its division into a faction system. No one can present free will by being in factions, preventing anyone from harming society.
Divergent is a story about a broken society transformed by the courage, love, and self-sacrifice of the individuals that make it up. It’s the first book in the spellbinding trilogy that captivated millions.
The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
Malencia Vale is an expectant graduate who cannot wait to be chosen for The Testing to become one of the future leaders of the post-war civilization in which she’s grown up. However, after her selection, her father warns her to trust no one after telling her his half-buried nightmares of his own experience.
She heads off to Tosu City, leaving behind everyone she knows and loves in this dystopian thriller. Malencia will have the experience of a lifetime with romance, danger, and a taste of sheer terror. The Testing is the first book in a trilogy.
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Can you imagine a world where love is declared a disease? In Delirium, the dystopian society forces everyone who turns 18 to receive the Cure, which is a procedure that eliminates the possibility of feeling love.
Lena has always done the right thing and followed the rules. But she meets Alex just 95 days before her scheduled date for the Cure. Alex isn’t like everyone else. What would happen if they fell in love?
Enclave by Anne Aguirre
Most of the remaining citizens have moved underground to the sewers and tunnels in a New York City decimated by plague and war. They live in enclaves and have a meager life expectancy of 20 years.
At 15, Deuce becomes a Huntress and is paired with Fade, a former Hunter who lived on the Topside. The pair try to report an organized attack by the tunnel Freaks to the elders but are instead exiled for their efforts. Deuce and Fade are left to survive Topside in Enclave, which is the start of a four-book series.
Partials by Dan Wells
In a war between humans and Partials, humans came out on the losing end, with their population all but extinguished. With the population reduced to tens of thousands by a weaponized virus, the remaining North American population has banded together on Long Island.
Kira, a 16-year-old survivor, is determined to find the solution. However, she discovers that the survival of Partials and humans rests in her attempts to answer questions regarding the origins of the war. Partials begins the Partials Sequence.
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Thomas and all the other boys have no recollection of anything before their arrival at the central area surrounded by the maze’s walls. Each day selected runners explore the maze, trying to find the way out. The only problem? The maze is constantly changing.
Then one day, the lift arrives, and inside is a girl. She carries a message to remember and run. The group continues battling for a way out of the maze, and the ending comes with a shocking twist. The Maze Runner is the first installment in an epic series.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
In a trilogy that transfixed dystopian fans around the globe, Katniss Everdeen took on the Capitol in The Hunger Games. Events unfold in a futuristic North America torn apart by a destructive war. The land is rebuilt into a nation of districts kept in line through a competition known as the Hunger Games.
Each district must send two tributes. Katniss Everdeen voluntarily takes her sister’s place, setting her journey for survival in motion.
Legend by Marie Lu
The Republic is what once was the Western United States. This nation is in a never-ending war with its neighboring countries. June is a 15-year-old prodigy being groomed for the elite ranks of the Republic’s military. On the other hand, Day is the country’s most wanted criminal at age 15.
While the two should never have to cross paths, June’s brother is killed, leading to Day becoming suspect number one. The two eventually find the truth of what has brought them together, uncovering the lengths their government will go to keep secrets. Legend is the beginning of a four-part series.
Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
Carve the Mark is set on a dystopian planet and is the first book in a duology. Cyra and Akos are from two warring countries. Akos is kidnapped by the ruling family and made to serve Cyra. He begins the struggle for his life and learns that Cyra is also struggling for hers.
The two are caught dead center in a raging rebellion that makes them question everything they have ever known. By choosing to fight for what’s right, they’ll have to risk betraying everything from their countries to their families to each other.
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Cassie Sullivan is left trying to survive in a world destroyed by alien invasions. After the 5th wave of attacks, human-like creatures roam the world, killing anyone they see. All surviving humans have been scattered to the winds.
She believes the only way to stay alive is to remain alone, but then she meets Evan. Cassie is torn between trusting him and staying to herself, as he may be the only thing that can help her rescue her little brother. The 5th Wave starts the massively popular trilogy that chronicles Cassie’s survival following the alien invasions.
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
In The Darkest Minds, Ruby is a survivor of a strange disease that killed most of the country’s children. The problem is that most of the survivors are now changed, possessing powers that make them dangerous.
The government takes the survivors to so-called rehabilitation camps, where they are meant to be controlled. However, Ruby escapes and finds others like herself. The group is always on the move, evading the government and an organization that will do whatever it takes to use Ruby against the government.
Red Rising by Pierce Brown
Red Rising features a dystopian color-coded society. The Reds, like Darrow, are the bottom class working toward making Mars livable for future generations. That is until he finds out they’ve been betrayed.
Humans reached the surface many generations ago, and the Reds are simply the slaves to the ruling Golds. Darrow begins a mission to infiltrate the ranks of the Golds and their legendary Institute. His goal is to stop at nothing to bring down the enemy in this first installment of the series.
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Aria is exiled from her home in Reverie and is left with a very slim chance of survival in The Death Shop. Luckily she meets Perry, an Outsider. The two strike a bond that could be Aria’s only chance at making it and Perry’s only chance at redemption.
The story alternates between their points of view, offering readers a look into each side of the events. Under the Never Sky is the first book in the series chronicling the relationship between Aria and Perry.
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
A highly creative retelling of the Cinderella story, Cinder features a cyborg as the protagonist. Cinder is an excellent mechanic who her stepmother and stepsisters despise.
The setting is New Beijing, where a plague called Letumosis rages. Despite her skill as a mechanic, Cinder is looked down upon by many. However, her life becomes intertwined with Prince Kai’s, leaving her front and center in an intergalactic struggle.
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Shatter Me is the first installment in a series that follows the story of Juliette, whom readers first meet in what seems to be an institution. She can leave a grown man struggling in pain and gasping for air with one touch.
While she sees herself as cursed, the Reestablishment feels she is a gift to help them take control. She’s finally met someone who truly cares for her, and because of that, she’s decided to fight for herself, not taking orders from anyone else any longer.
Birthmarked by Caragh O’Brien
Gaia is an apprentice midwife who works alongside her midwife mother, delivering their monthly quota of three newborns to the Enclave. After she delivers her first newborn without her mother, she finds her parents arrested to be executed.
She finds a way to smuggle herself into the Enclave, intent on rescuing her parents. Readers will enjoy the fast-paced adventure coupled with the light romance that follows. Birthmarked is the first installment in the trilogy.
If you loved Matched, this list provides excellent options to continue your young adult dystopian experience. Whether you want a little sci-fi thrown in or to keep things as close to reality as possible, there’s a book for everyone on this list.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the book Matched inappropriate?
While the first book in the series is appropriate for all readers, the second and third books are better suited to more advanced readers due to more mature topics.
What grade level is Matched directed toward?
Matched is ideal for older middle school students.
Does Matched have a sequel?
Crossed is the second book in the Matched trilogy.
What is the best dystopian novel of all time?
1984 by George Orwell is often rated as the best dystopian novel of all time, with Brave New World by Aldous Huxley coming in a close second.
Why is dystopia so popular with young adult readers?
A popular theory is that teens get to perform ultimate acts of rebellion against authority figures in dystopian novels. They are empowered by conquering a dismal future, giving readers a positive outlook.
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