The Hunger Games Guide to Dystopian Fiction

Anyone feeling the fallout of a post-Hunger Games world? Fortunately, dystopian fiction is a hot commodity right now in YA Literature, so no worries, I can recommend a couple of books to give you the radioactive glow you’re wanting. In this series, I hope to point you to some new authors on the scene as well as some classic dystopian works you may have skipped over in middle school or high school. First up, Lauren Oliver and her Delirium trilogy.

Lauren Oliver is young and new on the Young Adult Fiction scene, plus she’s also a great writer, which is nice. Her new novel Pandemonium just came out in February, serving as the sequel to Delirium, where we are introduced to Lena Haloway, a teenage girl living in a dystopian America.

In DeliriumLena Haloway lives in Portland (Maine), where she is about to face her procedure to cure all symptoms of amor deliria nervosa (once called love) by her government-controlled society. Lena and the people in her culture consider falling in love an infectious disease, and when the disease spreads, it causes discord, hatred, rash decisions, nuclear war, etc. The “cure” comes to all citizens at the age of 18, where the government removes all symptoms of deliria. The government then assigns citizens towards their future education, career path, future spouse, and the government’s presumable safety net in keeping peace and order. Until the cure happens, Lena attends an all-girls school, where she learns the dangers of the disease, and she waits expectantly for the day where she can forget her past. However, just a couple of months before her procedure will take place, Lena meets Alex, who will change every notion she ever considered about her world.

[I’m trying to avoid spoilers, but it’s hard when one book picks up where the other one stops, so just get both books this week, OK?]


Pandemonium, the second book of the trilogy, develops the character of Lena even more as she tackles the Wilds and plunges herself in the thick of the resistance against the current government. A strong second novel, Pandemonium fulfills its obligations of continuing the narrative from where Delirium ended, yet whetting the reader’s appetite for the final act. Pandemonium did leave me disappointed because some of the plot pieces fell into typical teenage love scenarios (you know, as typical as you can get in a dystopian future). However, I loved seeing Lena grow stronger as she faced challenges throughout the novel. She’s a very real character to me, facing the challenges of growing up, dealing with death and abandonment, and ultimately, experiencing the complexities of love and all of its phases.

Why Should a Thirty-Something Mom Read This?

Oliver appeals to me because she provides an interesting world with fast-paced plot and intriguing characters. As a mom, I don’t always have time for deeply involved symbolism or complexities in language (sometimes I do. I’m just so tired, you know?). More importantly, Oliver has some writing chops. I like that. Her depiction of fight or struggle scenes are especially good. An experienced reader will, more than likely, see some of the plot points coming. Overall, the plot remains tight and draws appropriate light to main character’s inner struggles.

Oliver’s breakout novel Before I Fall does not follow the Delirium characters, but I have read and heard from friends that it is also a great book. Read my buddy Lauren’s review here. It’s going on my list. Oliver has also released an ebook called Hana, which follows the life of Lena’s best friend Hana and her adventurous summer before her “cure.” If anybody would like to buy me a Kindle, I would gladly read this as well. Thanks!

What are some other dystopian future favorites? 

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  1. #1 by Lauren@THCW on May 16, 2012 - 7:03 am

    Love both these books! Haven’t read Hana yet, although I keep meaning to. I do want to point out that Before I Fall is not a dystopian, but it’s still really good. Lauren Oliver is one to watch.

  2. #2 by kellywiggains on May 16, 2012 - 7:35 am

    Yes, thanks for clarifying Lauren. I’m excited to read it – if the teenage girl who’s currently reading it would ever bring it back to the library!

  3. #3 by Steph on May 16, 2012 - 9:21 pm

    Dystopian futures are some of the most popular choices in my library. I love them because many of them are fairly clean. The bad language is limited, the romance scenes are what you would prefer for middle school readers, and they are good discussion starters on a variety of topics. I particularly like Matched by Ally Condie and the Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. Most of the girls are flocking to those choices, while many of my boys are reading the Maze Runner by James Dashner. I’ll have to add this series to my summer reading list.

  4. #4 by kellywiggains on May 16, 2012 - 10:24 pm

    I’m currently reading Matched, and I’ve picked up Uglies and Maze Runner before, but they fell to the bottom of my reading stack. I’m going to keep trying though. I like that most of the dystopian fiction choices have so much ground to cover, they don’t have time for steamy romance – leaving only time for a few butterflies before they prevent another mass government coverup or whatever. Thanks for stopping by!

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  1. The Hunger Games Guide to Dystopian Fiction: An Analysis « Kelly Wiggains
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