20 Best YA Books Like Uglies (by Scott Westerfeld)

Fans of dystopian fiction know Uglies has one of the most creative plotlines out there. Three hundred years in the future, a young teenager named Tally is one of the so-called “ugly” people in society. She’s only weeks away from the popular cosmetic surgery that will transform her into one of the privileged Pretties, an elite group of people who have no cares in the world.

20 Best YA Books Like Uglies (by Scott Westerfeld)

She’s excited about her upcoming transformation until she meets Shay, a girl who rebels against becoming a Pretty. When Shay disappears to avoid her own impending operation, Tally is sent to bring her back. It’s only on this journey that she learns the truth behind the widespread surgeries and what the doctors are hiding…

If Uglies has ignited your love for science fiction that envisions a world gone wrong, there are plenty of other novels in the same vein. We’ve compiled this list of books to get your dystopia fix.

Add These Books Like Uglies to Your Reading List

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Delirium (Delirium Trilogy, 1)

Delirium is set at the end of the twenty-first century, in a world that has been almost obliterated by bombs. An authoritative government is in power and forces all adults to be surgically altered so that they can never fall in love. Love is considered a disease that needs to be eradicated.

Yet when Lena meets a mysterious guy who lives in the Wilds outside the city’s electric fences, she begins to fall in love. The choices she faces present dangerous consequences.

Delirium is available in a variety of formats.

Legend by Marie Lu


This book by Marie Lu is another futuristic novel that takes place under a powerful regime. June is an intelligent fifteen-year-old girl raised in high society, later becoming a government agent. Believing a boy named Day killed her brother, she sets out to catch him.

A series of revelations come to light, and June and Day must join forces to stop the terrible things that are happening across the country.

Readers can purchase Legend on Amazon.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Chaos Walking Movie Tie-in Edition: The Knife of Never Letting Go

First published in 2008, The Knife of Never Letting Go was an instant hit. Its premise is intriguing: A young boy lives on another planet in a small town where everyone can hear each other’s thoughts. The town is comprised only of men since a germ wiped out all the women and many of the men, leaving just a few.

Just as Todd is about to turn 13, his adoptive parents urge him to leave town. Outside the town’s vicinity, Todd meets a girl for the first time and learns that his hometown has been hiding many secrets.

You can find The Knife of Never Letting Go here.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave: The First Book of the 5th Wave Series

Uglies fans will want to read The 5th Wave next. Readers are presented with a future where Earth has been virtually destroyed by numerous alien attacks. Sixteen-year-old Cassie finds herself trying to survive in a world where her life has been turned upside down.

Hiding from a group of beings who appear to be human yet aren’t, she must band together with a fellow survivor named Evan to try to find her brother.

The 5th Wave appeals to many young and adult readers alike.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me (Shatter Me, 1)

If you like stories with characters who have unusual abilities, Shatter Me will be right up your alley. Its protagonist, Juliette, is a teenager who has an unfortunate “gift.” She can kill people with the simple touch of a finger.

Imprisoned in an asylum as a consequence of her ability, Juliette meets a soldier of the Reestablishment, the government that has almost complete control of the world. Something about the soldier reminds Juliette of her past, and he soon offers her a deal that will allow her to escape the asylum for good.

You can find Shatter Me on Amazon and in many local bookstores.

Divergent by Veronica Roth


When Divergent was released in 2011, it became immensely popular and was even made into a film starring Shailene Woodley and Theo James. The story takes place in post-apocalyptic Chicago and introduces readers to Beatrice (also known as “Tris”), a sixteen-year-old getting ready to take a test to determine the social faction she will join.

Tris is surprised by her results and is forced to keep them a secret after joining a random faction. Her secret becomes harder to hide as the stakes become higher.

Divergent is available for purchase through this link.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver: A Newbery Award Winner (Giver Quartet, 1)

This book from 1993 is one of the older ones on this list, but The Giver remains a staple read in many middle school classrooms. In this story, we meet Jonas, a young boy who lives in a future society. This society has been designed to keep humans free from pain, color, and conflict among many other things.

Young Jonas learns he has been selected to become the Receiver of Memory. In this position, he learns about the former world for the first time, coming to terms with what his supposedly idyllic society means in the grand scheme of things.

The Giver is available in multiple formats, including paperback and audiobook.

The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah

The Light at the Bottom of the World (Light the Abyss, 1)

If you’re in the mood for another action-packed YA dystopian novel, check out The Light at the Bottom of the World. Hundreds of years in the future, teenager Leyla is a popular submersible racer who navigates the water-logged streets of what used to be London. If she can win the annual race, she’ll have one wish granted by the Prime Minister.

Can Leyla save her father and uncover the secrets the government is hiding?

Readers can find The Light at the Bottom of the World here.

Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh

Rebel Seoul

Rebel Seoul is a longer read, about 400 pages. It’s the perfect read for a long weekend. Military enthusiasts will gravitate to this novel that tells the story of Jaewon, a soldier that lives in Neo Seoul, a city that has formed several decades in the future.

When Jaewon partners with another soldier named Tera, he is asked by the oppressive government to report on Tera’s loyalties. Once he learns about Tera’s operations, Jaewon finds he must choose between two different allegiances.

Rebel Seoul can be purchased in hardcover, paperback, or Kindle format.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner (Book 1)

The Maze Runner is a well-known YA dystopian story that’s been made into a much-loved film. YA fans who love an intense book will be drawn into this story. It begins with Thomas, a young boy who wakes up in a strange elevator with no memories of his past.

He meets other boys who arrived the same way and learns they’re in what’s referred to as the Glade, a natural area surrounded by four-mile-high concrete walls with openings. Each day, the children run through the openings to try to find a way out before the openings close.

The Maze Runner is not for the faint of heart. You can get your copy here.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go

This book takes place in an alternate reality of 1990s England instead of the future. Never Let Me Go is a chilling tale about a group of students living together in a boarding school. One of the children’s carers informs them they are clones of other people and have been created to provide organ donations.

Never Let Me Go is a must-read if you enjoy stories that keep you awake at night and wonder about the meaning of life.

You can purchase a copy here.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games (Book 1)

Another hit novel that became a blockbuster movie, The Hunger Games is one of the most famous YA dystopian novels like Uglies. The premise is pretty simple yet grim: In a future, dysfunctional world, the government forces a group of kids (“tributes”) must fight to the death in brutal survival scenarios.

Katniss is the heroine of the story and is chosen as her district’s tribute, learning to navigate the harsh situation she faces.

You can buy The Hunger Games through this link.

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

Article 5 (Article 5, 1)

At seventeen, Ember Miller lives in a country that’s characterized by harsh punishments given out by an extreme governmental regime. When Ember’s mother is arrested for violating one of the Moral Statutes enacted by the government, Ember comes face to face with an old friend.

Article 5 can be purchased on Amazon.

Monstress by Marjorie Liu

Monstress Volume 1: Awakening

Are you a fan of graphic novels? Monstress by Marjorie Liu might be for you. While it isn’t written in novel format as Uglies is, this book tells a similarly gripping dystopian story . Set in the early 1900s, Monstress features a protagonist named Maika.

She’s a teenager who lives in an alternate reality, in a society controlled by females. Interestingly, Maika has a psychic connection with a monster that she begins to learn more about.

Pick up a copy of Monstress here.

Dualed by Elsie Chapman


Many of us are fascinated with the concept of doppelgangers, people who look exactly like us in every way. In Dualed, Chapman plays with this age-old concept. In her novel, she creates a city called Kersh. Although this city is considered a safe place, that safety is only created from a frightening system in which everyone has an alternate, or “Alt,” a doppelganger of themselves.

The main character, West, must face her Alt and defeat her before she turns twenty. She has been training for this day for years, but an error soon gives her pause.

Check out Dualed, available in all major publishing formats.

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

The City of Ember (The City of Ember Book 1)

Published in 2003, The City of Ember is a tale of a post-apocalyptic world. Ember is a city that has been built underground, in the face of the world ending. Young Lina lives many years after the creation of Ember and has been raised to know nothing about the outside world.

At this point, Ember is beginning to break down from age, and it’s up to Lina to find a way out and back to the real world.

The City of Ember can be purchased through this link.

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien


Fans of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale will note many similarities between it and Birthmarked. O’Brien’s story takes place in a dystopian future where a group called the Enclave requires outsiders to hand over their infants.

A sixteen-year-old girl name Gaia is a midwife who must try to save her parents from the Enclave after they’ve been arrested.

Buy your copy of Birthmarked here.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

The Host: A Novel

Does the name “Stephenie Meyer” ring a bell? She’s the author of the mega-hit Twilight series. However, her 2008 novel The Host doesn’t involve vampires. It does, however, involve a group of parasitic aliens that are taking over Earth.

Perhaps not surprisingly since it’s a book by Meyers, this dystopian future novel also includes a touch of romance in the form of a love triangle.

You can find The Host on Amazon.

Feed by M.T. Anderson


Are you curious to see where technology takes us in the future? While Uglies’ technology focuses on manipulating the face, the technology in Feed manipulates the mind. In this world, the internet (the “feed”) has taken over and is essentially implanted in people’s minds.

Titus and Violet, two teenagers visiting the Moon, have their feeds interrupted by a stranger, and this begins to shake up their world. Feed is a good fit for older teenagers.

Get your copy of the book here.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451

Another staple in classrooms across the country, Ray Bradbury’s science fiction classic Fahrenheit 451 was a defining novel for the dystopian future genre in the 1950s.

Named for the temperature at which books burn, this story takes place in a future when books are illegal. Its main character, Guy, is one of the people responsible for burning books but begins to wake up to what’s going on around him.

You can find Fahrenheit 451 at most bookstores and online.


You don’t have to stop reading just because you finished Uglies. Add some of these books written in a similar vein.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I read after the Uglies series?

All of the books listed above have similar themes.

What age group is Uglies for?

Uglies is appropriate for age 12 and older.

What grade level is Uglies?

Uglies is written at a seventh-grade level but is enjoyable for many older people as well.

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Krista Watson