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Reading Recs

Dystopian books to read if you’re impatiently waiting for season 2 of THE LAST OF US

If the end of The Last of Us left you REELING, you’re not alone. So, we’ve rounded up some dystopian MUST reads to cure your season 1 hangover and give you new fandoms to obsess over while you’re at it! Scroll down for 11 dystopian books to add to your TBR.

Danger and Other Unknown Risks by Ryan North and Erica Henderson

Think The Last of Us…except, instead of a global pandemic, magic!

Here’s the deal—on midnight of January 1st, 2000, the world ended. But it wasn’t technology that killed it: It was magic. Now, years later, the Earth has transformed. Magic works (sort of). People are happy (sort of). But this new world isn’t stable, and unless Marguerite de Pruitt and her canine pal, Daisy, do something about it, it’ll tilt into deadly chaos. Good thing they’ve been training their whole lives for this and are destined to succeed. Or so they think.

Legend by Marie Lu

A post-apocalyptic society overtaken by a new government + main characters we can’t help but love on a mission? Sounds like Legend to us!

In Legend, what was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths . . . Until June’s brother is murdered, and Day becomes the prime suspect. 

The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold

This book is Station Eleven + The Last of Us, and will make you as wary of flies as The Last of Us made you of fungus!

When a deadly Fly Flu sweeps the globe, it leaves a shell of the world that once was. Among the survivors are eighteen-year-old Nico and her dog, on a voyage devised by Nico’s father to find a mythical portal; a young artist named Kit, raised in an old abandoned cinema; and the enigmatic Deliverer, who lives Life after Life in an attempt to put the world back together.

Matched by Ally Condie

In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

The Society has some serious FEDRA vibes. In Matched, Cassia has always trusted the Society’s choices. And when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, she is certain he’s the one—until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now she is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s ever known and a path no one has dared to follow. Between perfection and the truth.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

This list wouldn’t be complete without some bone-chilling monsters.

It’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother–or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

Sanctuary by Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher

If following Joel and Ellie as they escape and slip under FEDRA’s radar had you hooked, this is a must-read!

It’s 2032, and in this near-future America, all citizens are chipped and everyone is tracked. It’s almost impossible to survive as an undocumented immigrant, but that’s exactly what sixteen-year-old Vali is doing. She and her family have carved out a stable, happy life in small-town Vermont, but when Vali’s mother’s counterfeit chip starts malfunctioning and the Deportation Forces raid their town, they are forced to flee.

Orleans by Sherri L. Smith

First came the storms.

Then came the Fever.

And the Wall.

After a string of devastating hurricanes and a severe outbreak of Delta Fever, the Gulf Coast has been quarantined. Years later, residents of the Outer States are under the assumption that life in the Delta is all but extinct…but in reality, a new primitive society has been born. Perfect for fans of The Last of Us!

No Safety in Numbers by Dayna Lorentz

Did that first episode of The Last of Us leave your jaw on the FLOOR? Talk about an intense intro! No Safety in Numbers knows how to do just that.

A biological bomb has just been discovered in the air ducts of a busy suburban mall. At first nobody knows if it’s even life threatening, but then the entire complex is quarantined, people start getting sick, supplies start running low, and there’s no way out. Among the hundreds of trapped shoppers are four teens.

Proxy by Alex London

Miss traveling with Joel and Ellie? Get ready for a thrilling adventure across the country with Syd and Knox!

Syd’s life is not his own. As a proxy he must to pay for someone else’s crimes. When his patron Knox crashes a car and kills someone, Syd is branded and sentenced to death. The boys realize the only way to beat the system is to save each other so they flee. The ensuing cross-country chase will uncover a secret society of rebels, test the boys’ resolve, and shine a blinding light onto a world of those who owe and those who pay.

The Only Girl in Town by Ally Condie

This one is an exception, since it’s not dystopian! But if Joel and Ellie’s chilling journey through eerily empty towns and cities kept you on the edge of your seat, then this biting and breathless contemporary from Ally Condie about a girl who wakes up to find she’s the only one left in the world definitely needs to be on your list. Coming September 19, 2023!

Nightbreaker by Coco Ma

If the Infected gave you the creeps, we think you’d better prepare to meet the Deathlings…

Fifteen years ago, The Vanishing thrust Manhattan into darkness, forever changing the City That Never Sleeps. By day, resilient New Yorkers have adapted, clinging to the vestiges of their cosmopolitan lives. By night—well, you never go out at night unless you have a death wish. Coming September, 2023!

Bonus round: coming in 2024…

Hearts Still Beating by Brooke Archer

JUST announced and coming in 2024, so slot this one into your TBR for later when we’re all (hopefully!) enjoying The Last of Us season 2. Debut author Brooke Archer’s post-apocalyptic YA sapphic romance  is going to be EPIC.

In Hearts Still Beating, 17-year-old Mara is mostly dead, infected with a pathogen that has turned her and others into violent monsters. When a cure is discovered, she is resettled where her ex-best friend and first love, Rory, now lives. The two young women must learn to survive together or risk losing the girl they fell in love with all over again. 

Penguin Teen