Riot Recommendation

Dystopian Coming of Age Stories: A Reading List

Cassandra Neace

Staff Writer

Cassandra Neace is a high school English teacher in Houston. When she's not in the classroom, she reads books and writes about them. She prides herself on her ability to recommend a book for most any occasion. She can be found on Instagram @read_write_make

takenThis installment of the Riot Recommendation is sponsored by Taken by Erin Bowman.

There are no men in Claysoot.

At midnight on every boy’s eighteenth birthday, the ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends…and the boy is gone.

The villagers call it the Heist.

Gray Weathersby is prepared to meet his fate–until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept. Desperate for the truth, Gray takes his chances and climbs over the wall that surrounds Claysoot, which no one has ever crossed and survived. On the other side is a world unlike anything Gray believed possible. And the answers he finds there could be deadly.


You know how the classic coming of age story goes. Boy or girl grows up, goes out into the world, encounters challenges, and tries to make sense of it all. But dystopian coming of age stories? They’re something else. Boy or girl grows up, realizes the world isn’t at all what they thought it was, and struggles to survive in their new reality. The stakes are high and the emotion higher. As if being a teenager isn’t hard enough?!

We asked you to share your favorite stories about young people coming of age in dystopian worlds, and this is what you came up with:

The Giver series by Lois Lowry

The Uglies series by Scott Westerfield

Books of Ember series by Jeanne DuPrau

Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness

Dustlands series by Moira Young

Matched series by Allie Condie

Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer

Divergent series by Veronica Roth

Legend series by Marie Lu

Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins

Tomorrow series by John Marsden

Unwind series by Neal Shusterman

The Pure Trilogy by Julianna Baggott

Enclave by Anne Aguirre

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Never Let Me Go by Kazou Ishiguro

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

America Pacifica by Anna North

Emergence by David R. Palmer

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Anything we missed?

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