8 of the Best YA Books Set in Post-Apocalyptic Cities

Enough things have happened this year that when you look at a dystopian, post-apocalyptic novel, you might see too many similarities. The world ending and becoming something else entirely has been a topic in YA novels for a while. Apocalyptic books make you intrigued about what could happen if a massive disaster fell on Earth and changed it completely. Well, the future is now and we are living it.

With a pandemic currently happening, we’ve seen many changes in the world recently. You can’t help but think about certain movies, books, and graphic novels where the whole story and concept is exactly about that, you know? “That’s too much like what’s happening right now!” is something that you might say if you read one of these books. These apocalyptic cities where these YA books are partially or completely set might be too real for some of us.

The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow

So, aliens. In The Sound of Stars, aliens have invaded Earth. And they hunt by sound; they can even hear your heart beating and, with that skill, kill you.

Janelle, or Ellie, survives inside an apartment building in Manhattan. Some tenants escaped to other places, some stayed. It’s there that she creates her secret library. The aliens, Ilori, prohibited art: books, music, instruments.

After meeting an Ilori, Morris, the two embark on a road trip where they show you bits of the United States and what was left behind: aliens keeping public libraries to remember history, to remember what and who was there before; abandoned houses that look like the people who lived there just disappeared. There are a lot of ghost towns where once upon a time there was life.

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

Vampires are the rulers of the cities. The protagonist, Allie, lives in New Covington at the start of the book. This city is ruled by Prince Salazar, a vampire, and everyone must follow the rules or else get killed. And vampires do love blood.

The citizens inside these cities are practically trapped there by the Outer Wall; this massive wall of iron, steel, and concrete that makes it impossible to escape. Though who would want to escape when beyond the Wall lies the “kill zone”: a place that is so deadly it is only there to keep the rabids away from the Wall.

So with all of these dangerous creatures, Allie is at a disadvantage from the beginning. But then, fate has other plans for her, when she is suddenly turned and becomes a vampire.

Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera

Nalah lives in Mega City as the leader of the all-female gang, Las Mal Criadas. They are in charge of maintaining the curfew in the city where Déesse rules. Nalah’s dream is to live in the Mega Towers, a tall trio of rectangular buildings that aren’t falling apart like others. There, she can be elite.

The story of this dystopian world is that men destroyed the city with their greed. And Déesse’s great-grandmother trained the women to defend themselves against men. And so Mega City became a city of women. Past their borders is a whole other world, but they do not go beyond for their own safety.

War Girls book cover

War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi

The year is 2172. Climate change and nuclear disasters have turned the world upside down. The lucky people who fled the world now live in space colonies. The unlucky ones stayed.

Onyii dreams of Briafra, a city of buildings made of glass that touch the sky. A place where the contamination doesn’t reach, where you can pick fruit straight from the trees. But her reality is nothing close to that. Here, in the camp where she lives, she can find trash on the ground, ancient smartphones polluting where she walks, Fanta plastic bottles reminding her of a world that was.

The Fever King by Victoria Lee

In a former United States, Noam wakes up in a hospital bed, finding out he’s the only survivor of a virus that kills. But the problem is what it leaves behind: magic. Magic has destroyed everything. New York, Berlin, Kyoto, the major cities. Now they are only stories in books.

Noam used to live in Durham before he was transferred to the government complex. All the buildings were originally “something else.” For example, Noam’s building was a bookstore once upon a time. It depends on the events happening at the moment that make things change. After the catastrophe, everyone died. Everyone except Minister Lehrer, the one boy who overthrew a nation and became its king.

The Last 8 by Laura Pohl

When Clover looks up to the sky, she doesn’t see stars, she sees spaceships. The alien apocalypse is happening right at that moment. And when they attack, Clover finds herself the only person left on Earth.

Six months later, her only companion is a dog. They can’t stay in one place for fear of encountering aliens, so they travel. Every town they visit is a ghost town—not a single soul in sight. But then she hears a girl named Brooklyn on the radio. There are more humans.

Want by Cindy Pon Book Cover

Want by Cindy Pon

Pollution and viruses roam Taipei. You have to use special suits for protection, but only the rich can afford them. Without them, you get an early death. Jason Zhou wants to change that, and to do it, he needs to infiltrate the world of the wealthy. But entering a new world is far harder than he thought, and secrets might get him killed.

books about angels

Angelfall by Susan Ee

Penryn lives in Silicon Valley, but it’s far different from what it was before the angels touched the Earth. While street gangs rule the day, the supernatural creatures appear at night. And they take Penryn’s sister with them. With the help of a fallen angel, Penryn will travel Northern California to find her.


As you can see, these post apocalyptic cities in YA have managed to tell reality somehow? Who would have thought. You can check out the best post-apocalyptic books of 2019 or these ones from 2018.

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