25 Books Similar to The Hunger Games

The book s of the Hunger Games Trilogy on a table.

Suzanne Collins lit a fire under the YA market with The Hunger Games trilogy and rebooted dystopia fiction into the mainstream. No longer was it just sci-fi and speculative fiction readers gobbling up these narratives, but bookworms from other genres were getting into the game. People were obsessed with a story of children being made to fight one another to the death.

With The Hunger Games hitting the big screen, sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen’s fame spread even further. Suddenly even people who don’t read for pleasure wanted to take archery lessons and wear their hair tied to the side. A massive market opened up in the publishing sector, and more teenage dystopian narratives flooded in.

But dystopian fiction has been around for a long time. Nor is putting children in peril a new concept, either. Thus, we are bringing you some old with the new for our 25 suggestions of books like The Hunger Games. Because yes, we are looking forward to Tomi Adeyemi publishing the final book in the Legacy of Orïsha, but where would this genre be without Koushun Takami’s Battle Royale?

Table of Contents

Divergent Series

Divergent

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  • Author: Veronica Roth
  • Genre: Dystopia, YA
  • Awards: Goodreads (2011, 2012, 2013)
  • First Book Published: 2011
  • Books: 3 – Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant

In a post-apocalyptic type society, Chicago is divided into five factions, each specializing in virtue or trait. Each year, the sixteen-year-olds are separated into their faction. Beatrice’s test, however, doesn’t go as planned. Left without guidance, she makes a surprising choice. But now she, renamed Tris, has a secret, and it could put herself and those she loves at risk or save them all.

Published only three years after The Hunger Games, Divergent gets a lot of comparisons. However, there is a reason that this series has such a big fan basis. Tris is a character with quite a big arc and seeing her grow and adapt inspired many. Plus, the badassery and tech in the books are fun.

Legacy of Orïsha

Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha, 1)

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  • Author: Tomi Adeyemi
  • Genre: Fantasy, YA
  • Awards: Dragon (2018), Goodreads (2018), Norton (2019), Lodestar (2019)
  • First Book Published: 2018
  • Books: 2 with a third in the works – Children of Blood and Bone, Children of Virtue and Vengeance

There was a time when the very soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. But a king has killed most of the maji, including Zélie Adebola’s mother. But Zélie has been trained in secret and hopes to bring hope to her people once more. But as she sets out on a dangerous quest for the greater good of her people, she discovers the greatest risk to her success might be herself.

“We are all children of blood and bone,” writes Adeyemi. “All instruments of vengeance and virtue.” This series is filled with righteous anger and wrath that both motivate the oppressed and thwart victory. The magic and action in this tale create an entertaining and fast-paced narrative that balances the heavy themes. A fierce and unapologetic series.

Empress of a Thousand Skies

Empress of a Thousand Skies

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  • Author: Rhoda Belleza
  • Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera, YA
  • Awards: None found
  • First Book Published: 2017
  • Books: 2 – Empress of a Thousand Skies, Blood of a Thousand Stars

Rhee is the only one left of the Kalusian dynasty. She has dedicated her life training for the time she’ll get her revenge on those that slaughtered her family. Alyosha is a war refugee who rose to fame when he starred in the show DroneVision. But as a Wraetan, he still deals with prejudice. Soon, the lives of these two are going to collide.

Fans often call this duology Game of Thrones in space. They adore the growth and arc of both main characters. The pacing is good, complete with twists and reveals. Worldbuilding is highly praised, and the ethical issues raised over the use of spyware are relevant today.

Elevation Trilogy

The Thousand Steps (The Fiery Spiral)

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  • Author: Helen Brain
  • Genre: Dystopia, YA
  • Awards: None found
  • First Book Published: 2016
  • Books: 3 – The Thousand Steps, The Rising Tide, The Fiery Spiral

Sixteen-year-old Ebba toils away, producing food and power, from a bunker deep inside South Africa’s Table Mountain. Those “Below” have been told they are survivors of a nuclear holocaust that made “Above” uninhabitable. A lie. Now Ebba has to figure out how to save herself and her friends. But even if she succeeds, her job will be far from done.

This series twists the “chosen one” trope, pointing out that when the world’s fate rests on a person with raging hormones and a still-developing brain mistakes will happen and poor choices will be made. Ebba means well, but she’ll screw up. Because she is sixteen with too much power and choice after being kept far too long in the dark. Thus, a more realistic heroine for a dystopia trilogy.

Battle Royale

Battle Royale: Remastered (Battle Royale (Novel))

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  • Author: Koushun Takami
  • Genre: Dystopia, YA
  • Awards: None found
  • First Book Published: 1999
  • Books: 1, but the book inspired a 15 volume manga series.

An authoritarian program amasses a class of junior high school students and puts them on a deserted island. The young teens are provided weapons and fitted with explosive collars. They are then forced to fight until only one remain.

Billed as a modern-day Lord of the Flies, this book became a pulp classic in Japan while it and the film caused great controversy. Given the tale’s premise, it is easy to make comparisons with The Hunger Games, some going so far as to accuse Collins of ripping it off. But the two tales are pretty different. Battle Royale is far more brutal and an allegory of what it means to be young in today’s world.

The 5th Wave Series

The 5th Wave

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  • Author: Rick Yancey
  • Genre: Dystopia, YA
  • Awards: Nominated
  • First Book Published: 2013
  • Books: 3 – The 5th Wave, The Infinite Sea, The Last Star

1st wave: only darkness left. 2nd: the lucky escaped. 3rd: the unlucky live. 4th: trust no one. 5th: Them. Cassie fears and flees Them–beings who appear human but kill all they see. She owes her success to being alone. But now, Evan Walker is here, and with him the possibility of rescuing her brother. But it could also mean death.

So there are aliens. Birds are now terrifying. There are child soldiers. The world’s a mess. There are twists, turns, action, and more action. This roller-coaster of a series keeps readers on their toes.

Who Fears Death

Who Fears Death

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  • Author: Nnedi Okorafor
  • Genre: Dystopia
  • Awards: Brandon (2010), World Fantasy (2011)
  • Published: 2010
  • Books: 1

Set in Africa post-nuclear holocaust, the Nuru is exterminating the Okeke. But one Okeke survives the butchering of her village and her brutal rape, leading to the birth of a girl. She names the child Onyesonwu, meaning “Who Fears Death?” The child is raised to fulfill her magical destiny – to end the slaughter of her people.

Readers appreciate this book’s attention to detail, including explaining how people in this world obtain heat and water while crossing a desert. Onyesonwu, like the themes of this tale, is a complex character that cannot be pigeonholed into “good” or “bad” or even easily likable. She is fierce, strong, and her choices do not always sit easily with readers. A unique read.

The 100

The 100

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  • Author: Kass Morgan
  • Genre: Dystopia, YA
  • Awards: None found
  • First Book Published: 2013
  • Books: 4 – begins with The 100

Humanity has dwelt in spaceships ever since Earth’s nuclear war. But authorities have decided it is time to recolonize the world below. As it is dangerous, the hundred people selected are from the pool of juvenile delinquents. This series follows the fate of some of the hundred as they try to survive on this new and treacherous landscape.  

There is a lot of love and romance in this one, which makes some readers delighted. The storyline is also a surprise to those that watched the TV show first, as the two have some key differences. However, the chapters are tight and snappy, making the narrative fly by as it dances between four viewpoints.

The Mark

The Mark

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  • Author: Edyth Bulbring
  • Genre: Dystopia, YA
  • Awards: English Academy’s Percy FitzPatrick Prize for Youth Literature (2016)
  • Published: 2014
  • Books: 2 – The Mark, The Reject

The world now swelters under an unrelenting sun. Food is engineered, and a mark on your back determines your destiny: from your occupation to who you will marry. Ettie, an orphan, is approaching her fifteenth birthday. Soon The Machine that controls the marks will seal her fate. But Ettie has decided otherwise, taking the first steps towards fulfilling a prophecy older than The Machine.

This is a gritty tale of scrappy and tenacious Ettie. This heroine isn’t a nice person, nor claim to be. However, she is a survivor who wins readers’ hearts through her love of stories. The Mark and the sequel The Reject are for bookworms looking for a dystopian tale that breaks away from the standard formula.

We Set the Dark on Fire

We Set the Dark on Fire

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  • Author: Tehlor Kay Mejia
  • Genre: Dystopia, Fantasy, YA
  • Awards: Nominated for a Lodestar
  • First Book Published: 2019
  • Books: 2 – We Set the Dark on Fire, We Unleash the Merciless Storm

The young women at Medio School for Girls are trained for two roles: run a husband’s household or raise his children. This is a good life, far nicer than the fate of those of the lower class. Daniela Vargas is poised to have a fantastic future, too. But only if she can keep her secret safe. On graduation night, Dani will have to make a difficult choice.

This is closer to The Handmaid’s Tale than The Hunger Games, set in a world inspired by Latinx culture and aesthetics. Fans love how two wives challenge the authority both with their sexuality and their participation in the resistance. A dark tale that scrapes close to political conversations of today.

The Assassin Game

The Assassin Game

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  • Author: Kirsty McKay
  • Genre: Thriller, YA
  • Awards: None found
  • Published: 2015
  • Books: 1

At Cate’s boarding school, there is a game of tag known as “Killer.” It’s played in the dark by members of the secret society known as the Assassins’ Guild. But nobody is supposed to die. But the rules of the game seem to have shifted.

This is a fun, high suspense read with a whole whodunnit vibe. The perfect read to get your heart rate up and keep you awake through the night.

The Belles

The Belles

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  • Author: Dhonielle Clayton
  • Genre: Dystopia, Fantasy, YA
  • Awards: Nominated for a Goodreads, Lodestar, and a Locus
  • First Book Published: 2018
  • Books: 2 with third in the works – The Belles, The Everlasting Rose


Orléans Belles control Beauty and Camellia Beauregard is one of these coveted elite. Those born gray are damned, and only a Belle can raise them to Beauty. Camellia has ambitions, however, craving to live in the queen of Orléans palace. When an opportunity arises, Camellia seizes it. But the queen has a special task for Camellia that will put her life at risk.

Ugliness being given a facade of beauty is an allegory for so much, and this entertaining series offers readers much to ponder. The prose and descriptions are as richly dressed up as The Belles. This is a slow burn with the captivating plot slid through like a silk ribbon.

Red Queen Series

Red Queen (Red Queen, 1)

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  • Author: Victoria Aveyard
  • Genre: Dystopia, Fantasy, YA
  • Awards: Goodreads (2015)
  • First Book Published: 2015
  • Books: 4 – begins with Red Queen

In this land, you are either a Red (commoner) or a Silver (ruler with god-like superpowers). Seventeen-year-old Mare Barrow is a Red. It feels as if her fate is sealed until she begins working at the Silver Palace. Within these walls, she makes a self-discovery about her own power within. Now she’s putting her life at risk to aid the resistance known as the Red Guard.

This series is like Game of Thrones with superpowers and a chosen one from the suppressed class. There is some badassery going on with a bit of love on the side. An entertaining dystopian read with a touch of magic.

Flame in the Mist Series

Flame in the Mist

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  • Author: Renée Ahdieh
  • Genre: Historical Fantasy, YA
  • Awards: Nominated for a Goodreads award
  • First Book Published: 2017
  • Books: 2 – Flame in the Mist, Smoke in the Sun

Seventeen-year-old Mariko is a skilled alchemist. But this means nothing in a society where her duty is to be a wife. Thus, she is sent to the imperial palace to be introduced to her betrothed. But on the way to the imperial palace, the Black Clan attack. Mariko is the only one in the convoy that manages to escape. She plots to infiltrate the Black Clan and get her revenge.

Readers enjoyed Mariko’s intelligence and bravery. The supporting characters are also well developed. The worldbuilding is intriguing, including horrifying Jubokko trees. There is plenty of action, making this page-turner a quick read.

Last Reality Series

Otherworld (Last Reality Book 1)

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  • Author: Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller
  • Genre: Science Fiction, YA
  • Awards: None found
  • First Book Published: 2017
  • Books: 3 – Otherworld, Otherearth, OtherLife

Simon, like many, thought Otherworld was just a cool game. Instead, Otherworld is now a reality.

Fans call Last Reality the series where Ready Player One meets The Hunger Games. The story is dark, with a plethora of villains and utter creeps. A thrilling and white-knuckle read.  

Under the Never Sky

Under the Never Sky

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  • Author: Veronica Rossi
  • Genre: Dystopia, YA
  • Awards: Nominated for Goodreads twice
  • First Book Published: 2011
  • Books: 3 – Under the Never Sky, Through the Ever Night, Into the Still Blue

Aria has been privileged to grow up in the protected dome of Reverie. Nor has she thought much of what dwells beyond the dome. But when her mother goes missing, Aria will need to venture out there. She doesn’t have a clue how’d she survive, however, until she meets Perry. He’s unlike anyone she’s ever met, untamed, but with his help, she at least has hope.

Fans adore the complex characters of this tale and the unique writing style employed. The worldbuilding captivated readers once they got past the first few chapters. Fans don’t read these books once, but repeatedly.

Matched

Matched

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  • Author: Ally Condie
  • Genre: Dystopia, YA
  • Awards: Nominated for an Imaginaire
  • First Book Published: 2010
  • Books: 3 – Matched, Crossed, Reached

Society knows what is best for you. They know who is best for you to love, where you are most suited to work, and when you should die. Cassia has never had a problem with the choices Society has made for her. But one night, there is a glitch, a second option is briefly presented. It probably isn’t practical, but suddenly following a different path appeals.

This is a dystopian love triangle of a sort. Unusually, it isn’t a tale of violence. So readers who had trouble stomaching the more gruesome side of The Hunger Games may feel better at ease reading this trilogy.

Legend Series

Legend

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  • Author: Marie Lu
  • Genre: Dystopia, YA
  • Awards: Numerous nominations
  • First Book Published: 2011
  • Books: 4 – begins with Legend

The Republic is formally the western United States and is always at war with the surrounding countries. Fifteen-year-old June is a darling of a family in the Republic elite.

Fifteen-year-old Day is the Republic’s most wanted criminal. The path of these two crosses after June’s brother is murdered.

Fans adore the main characters and the non-stop action. This is a fun, fast-paced mystery with some unexpected plot choices.

Gone Series

Gone (Gone, 1)

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  • Author: Michael Grant
  • Genre: Dystopia, YA
  • Awards: Nominated for a Golden Duck
  • First Book Published: 2008
  • Books: 9 – begin with Gone

Everyone vanishes without a trace but the young. Tech is disappeared too. Animals begin mutating, and teen society begins to resemble Lord of the Flies. As factions fight and others cower, time ticks on. Fear for your fifteenth birthday because that’s when you’ll disappear too.

Fans loved this series so much Grant made the series nine books long. There are mutants, adventure, and kids developing superpowers. The first book pulls readers in from the moment go and the zooms. A gripping dystopian YA for those that enjoy a bit of horror too.

Rebel of the Sand Series

Rebel Of The Sands (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

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  • Author: Alwyn Hamilton
  • Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, YA
  • Awards: Nominated for a Goodreads award three times.
  • First Book Published: 2016
  • Books: 3 – Rebel of the Sands, Traitor to the Throne, Hero at the Fall

Miraji is a desert nation where mythical beasts roam in the wilds and djinn hide. It’s a harsh place to live if you are human, even worse if you are a woman. Amani Al’Hiza is both, in addition to being orphaned and poor. Unfortunately, her gift for gunslinging will only get her so far; eventually, she will be wed or dead. But at a shooting contest, she meets Jin. The encounter will change her life.

This dreamy yet harsh worldbuilding is the perfect backdrop to complicated characters. This gritty tale twists as mythology and secrets are dolled out. A sweeping magical saga.

Unwind Dystology Series

Unwind (1) (Unwind Dystology)

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  • Author: Neal Shusterman
  • Genre: Dystopia, YA
  • Awards: None found
  • First Book Published: 2007
  • Books: 4 – begins with Unwind

After the Second Civil War, life is sacred from conception until thirteen. Between thirteen and eighteen, however, teenagers can be “unwound” if their parents desire. If unwound, the teen’s organs are transplanted into donors; thus, they still “live.” Three teens are facing being unwound, but together they may be able to change their fate.

Think Never Let Me Go meets The Handmaid’s Tale. This is a series about children and their powerlessness in a society that makes all the decisions for them. It is a horrific and disturbing read of survival that sparks plenty of conversations. 

The Tribe Series

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf (The Tribe)

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  • Author: Ambelin Kwaymullina
  • Genre: Dystopia, YA
  • Awards: Aurealis Finalist
  • First Book Published: 2012
  • Books: 3 – The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf, The Disappearance of Ember Crow, The Foretelling of Georgie Spider

Ashala Wolf is captured by the man who is committed to destroying her tribe. Injured, she can’t resist the machine that pulls secrets from her mind. Worse, her betrayer watches the whole thing.

Set three hundred years into the future, this series is influenced by Australia’s immigration policies and the past treatment of Aboriginal people. The books have a fairly original plot that is engaging, and the social commentary is careful not to preach. A layered and compelling read.

S.T.A.G.S.

S.T.A.G.S.

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  • Author: M.A. Bennett
  • Genre: Thriller, Mystery, YA
  • Awards: Warwickshire Secondary Book Award (2019), Sussex Coast Schools Amazing Book Award (2019)
  • First Book Published: 2017
  • Books: 3 – S.T.A.G.S., D.O.G.S., F.O.X.E.S.

Greer MacDonald is having difficulty fitting in at St. Aidan the Great boarding school (S.T.A.G.S.). Thus, she is over the moon when she is invited to a weekend of “hutin’ shootin’ fishin’.” It is being held on the property of the most popular boy, Henry de Warlencourt. But when Greer arrives, she discovers this isn’t your hunting weekend.

This thriller is full of info on medieval history and blood sports. Despite the gruesome premise, there is some humor woven in between the twists and tension. Film buffs will especially enjoy this one.

The Declaration Series

The Declaration

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  • Author: Gemma Malley
  • Genre: Dystopia, YA
  • Awards: Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults (2009)
  • First Book Published: 2007
  • Books: 3 – The Declaration, The Resistance, The Legacy

2140, children are nearly extinct, and it is illegal to be young. Longevity drugs are available to all who desire, so long as you’ve signed the Declaration agreeing not to reproduce. Those that defy the rules are labeled as outcasts, their children labeled as Surplus status. But there is an underground movement ready to change the status quo.

This is built on an intriguing premise: if we found a way to keep humanity alive without children, would we choose it?  Is living forever the desirable goal? A frightening and adventurous read.

Uglies

Uglies

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  • Author: Scott Westerfeld
  • Genre: Dystopia, YA
  • Awards: Numerous nominations, won Golden Duck (2006), Imaginaire (2008),
  • First Book Published: 2005
  • Books: 4 – begins with Uglies

Tally can’t wait for her sixteenth birthday. Just a few more weeks, and she’ll have the operation that turns her from ugly to pretty. But Tally’s friend Shay isn’t so sure she wants to do this and runs away. Now the powers-that-be are giving Tally a choice: find Shay, or Tally will never be pretty.

This dystopia has a truly ugly underbelly to its world. Tally’s journey to find Shay isn’t just physical but a mental awakening too. Fans love Westerfeld’s storytelling style and the way he creates a futuristic world and society. A good choice for readers that get a kick out of their dystopia having a love triangle. 

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