11 Dystopian Books like The Hunger Games and Divergent

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Remember those YA dystopian novels you used to be obsessed with in the 2010s? Say hello again because they’re back! We’re seeing a dystopian renaissance in the book world and figured the best way to tackle it would be by revisiting two classics. And once we started, we kept finding more books like The Hunger Games and Divergent. 

On the surface, both novels seem the same since they deal with themes of power, inequality, and loyalty set against the backdrop of a dystopian city and unjust government, but that might be where their similarities end. Citizens of Panem in The Hunger Games are kept separate due to the economic divides between the districts, whereas Divergent’s post-apocalyptic Chicago separates citizens by dominant personality traits. Divergent also sees the main character, Tris, deal with the implications of what it means to be divergent and how it was always meant to be her to topple the unjust government. In contrast, Katniss in The Hunger Games was just a typical girl who just happens to spark the rebellion. 

These themes and more are all explored in our list of books similar to The Hunger Games and Divergent. 

Books like The Hunger Games and Divergent, with book covers.

11 Books like The Hunger Games and Divergent

Uglies book cover.

Uglies (Uglies #1), Scott Westerfeld 

The first installment in this award-winning series follows Tally as she prepares for her sixteenth birthday. In a few weeks, she’ll have the operation that turns her from plain and ugly to stunning and pretty. With her new pretty looks, Tally can join the high-tech paradise where her only job is to have fun. 

That is until her new friend Shay decides she doesn’t want to be pretty and runs away before her operation. When Tally goes after her, she learns of a whole world outside her pretty community. Tally is then left with a choice that could change her world forever. 

If you’re looking for dystopian books similar to Divergent, you’re sure to love the Uglies series.

Severance book cover.

Severance, Ling Ma

Candace Chen is a millennial devoted to her routine in her Manhattan office tower. So devoted, in fact, that she barely noticed the plague of biblical proportions that sweeps New York City. Once the Shen Fever spreads, families flee, and companies halt operations — and New York becomes a ghost town. 

Candance joins forces with a group of survivors traveling to a place called the Facility,. They’re hoping for the supposed start of a new society. But Candace has a secret that could jeopardize everything. 

A protagonist with a secret in a post-apocalyptic world? Sounds like Divergent. 

Red Rising book cover.

Red Rising (Red Rising Saga #1) by Pierce Brown  

Like Divergent and The Hunger Games, citizens in Red Rising are separated by a caste system. Darrow is a Red member of the lowest caste, and he works all day to make sure the surface of Mars is livable for future generations – or so he thinks. Darrow and the other Reds have been betrayed. Humanity reached the surface generations ago. The Reds are nothing more than slaves to the ruling class. 

Darrow risks everything when he journeys to infiltrate the legendary Institute where the Gold caste struggles for power. Once there, he will stop at nothing to bring them down. 

The Red Rising series is perfect for readers looking for books similar to The Hunger Games. 

1984 book cover.

1984, George Orwell 

No article about dystopian novels would be complete without the original. 1984 is a classic novel of rebellion where Big Brother is always watching. This story follows Winston Smith, a lowly Party member, as he rebels against oppressive control while yearning for individuality and connection. Against all odds, Winston embarks on a journey to reclaim his autonomy while grappling with the fragility of freedom, manipulation of information, and unwavering will to resist. 

The Handmaid's Tale book cover.

The Handmaid’s Tale (The Handmaid’s Tale #1), Margaret Atwood 

Another classic dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, tells the story of Offred, a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. In Gilead, Offred endures a restricted life where women are forbidden to read, and where she must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant. In this age of declining births, Offred and her fellow Handmaids only have value if their ovaries are viable. 

She can remember her life before Gilead: her husband, her daughter, her job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But now, all of that is gone. 

Chain Gang all-stars book cover.

Chain-Gang All Stars, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

In the depraved world of Chain-Gang All-Stars, Loretta Thurwar and Hamara “Hurricane Staxx” Stacker, star gladiators, fight for freedom in a profit-driven prison system. One that’s not too far off from America’s own. As part of CAPE or Criminal Action Penal Entertainment, prisoners compete in death matches for their release. Thuwar and Staxx, both lovers and fan favorites, navigate the challenges, but obstacles laid by CAPE’s corporate owners have devastating consequences. 

With themes of unchecked capitalism, violence as entertainment and mass incarceration, readers are sure to find similarities between Chain-Gang All Stars and The Hunger Games. 

This it for book club and use our Chain Gang All-Stars discussion guide.

Battle Royale book cover.

Battle Royale, Koushun Takami 

Koushun Takami’s high-octane thriller, Battle Royale has strong Squid Games vibes. It follows a junior high school class forced into a deadly game. The students are taken to a deserted island where they are provided arms and forced to kill one another until one survivor is left standing. 

Battle Royale is a potent allegory of what it means to be alive in a dog-eat-dog world and perhaps an early precursor to The Hunger Games that we know and love. 

The Future book cover.

The Future, Naomi Alderman

Like in The Hunger Games, the characters in The Future live in a world of those who have… and those who don’t. The Future is where the money is, thanks to the few billionaires leading the world to destruction while only worried about their own survival. That is until a rouge group hatches a daring plan. It can either be the greatest heist in history or the cataclysmic end of civilization.

Wilder Girls book cover.

Wilder Girls, Rory Power 

In addition to be a good read for fans of Divergent. Wilder Girls also wins the prize for the creepiest cover on this list.

The book tells the story of the Raxter School for Girls eighteen months after they’ve been put under quarantine. The Tox started slow, taking teachers one by one, before it infected the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. The girls are now cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves in a world where no one would dare to wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made a home for itself in the woods. 

When Bryatt goes missing, Hetty will stop at nothing to find her – even if that means breaking quarantine and braving the Tox beyond the fence. Once she’s out, Hetty learns there’s more to the story than she initially thought. 

Station Eleven book cover.

Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel 

If you loved Divergent and The Hunger Games for a look at society after it crumbled, you’ll love Station Eleven. This story follows a Hollywood star, his potential savior, and a nomadic group of actors in the Great Lakes region. After the sudden death of one of the actors, a chain of events is set into motion that could potentially reshape humanity. 

An Ocean of Minutes book cover.

An Ocean of Minutes, Thea Lim 

Set in 1981, America is stuck in the middle of a deadly flu pandemic. Frank got sick, and Polly will risk everything to save him. She agrees to a radical plan to travel through time as a bonded laborer in exchange for the life-saving treatment Frank needs. The only problem is that her trip is a one-way ticket. Polly and Frank promise to meet in Galveston, Texas, where she will arrive in twelve years. 

When Polly is re-routed an extra five years into the future, Frank is nowhere to be found. Polly now must navigate the changed world with no status and no money in her desperate search for Frank. 

An Ocean of Minutes combines the dystopian setting we’re familiar with from Divergent and The Hunger Games with the new element of time travel. 

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