If you were captivated by Lois Lowry's 1993 classic, The Giver and are looking for what to read next, look no further!
The Giver, set in a false utopia, requires readers to contemplate community structure, government authority, as well as complex ethical questions and moral values. These recommended books are not all dystopian fiction, but I chose each one because it has some quality like The Giver, such as survival in uncertain circumstances, the importance of knowledge, or learning profound, life-altering secrets.
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The Giver can be a tough book to read; it is usually recommended for ages 11 or 12 and up, but can be read by 10 year olds, depending on their maturity level, therefore I've included both middle grade and young adult book categories on this list.
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Ages 10 and up
More specific age recommendations are listed in each review.
THE GIVER QUARTET by Lois Lowry
Once your child has read The Giver, they will enjoy reading the rest of Lowry's moving quartet. Each book takes place in the same world but narrates the lives of different character. Readers will discover the connecting thread of all four stories in the final book. Titles include Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son. Ages 11 and up.
WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead
This is book has an amazing "Wow!" ending. After an incident in which her best friend stops speaking to her, Miranda starts getting mysterious letters asking for her help. Miranda tries to interpret the letters and discusses time travel with another boy, Marcus. Part mystery, part sci-fi, part coming of age novel, this Newbery winner is not to be missed. Ages 9 and up.
THE FOG DIVER (series) by Joel Ross
In a world where a deadly fog covers most of the earth, the population lives high on the mountains. A boy named Chess, with fog in eyes, has the uncanny ability to survive in the fog. He and his friends scavenge for goods from past worlds by diving off a floating boat. They are determined to save their adoptive mother, who is suffering from fog sickness but Lord Kodoc is on the hunt for Chess, whose abilities he both fears and desires for his own purposes. This may all sound very melodramatic, but it makes for a very exciting story. Don't miss the sequel, The Lost Compass. Ages 8 and up.
THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON by Kelly Barnhill
The Protectorate has always sacrificed a baby to keep the witch in the forest at bay. Little do they know the witch has been saving the babies all these years. One year the witch decides to raise the baby herself, and inadvertently fills her with a fierce and strong magic. As the girl grows older and comes into her magic, a man in the Protectorate vows to find and vanquish the witch, revealing the truth about both the Protectorate and the witch. Ages 10 and up
HATCHET (series) by Gary Paulsen
Hatchet is a nail-biting survival story. After his plane crashes, 13-year-old Brian is the sole survivor. Brian has been dealing with emotional turmoil involving his parents and at first experiences despair at his precarious situation. However, his instincts kick in and he uses his self-taught survival skills to survive 54 days in the wilderness before his rescue. Hatchet is the first book in the 5 book series, Brian's Saga. Ages 10 and up.
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THE FALSE PRINCE (series) by Jennifer A. Nielsen
I love to put this title on book lists. I devoured this series as it was being published. The kingdom is in turmoil and a nobleman is determined to pass off an unknown orphan as the missing prince. He brings three boys to train at his estate, promising that the one who best completes the test will have a new life as the ruler. As a reader, I was constantly on my toes as to the outcome and a surprise twist will leave kids eager to read the next two books. Ages 9 and up.
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TUCK EVERLASTING by Natalie Babbitt
Here's a story that addresses the age-old wish for everlasting life. The Tuck family, having drunk from an enchanted water source have discovered that living forever is not as great as it sounds. Winnie, a 10 year old girl who decides to run away, meets the Tuck family and discovers their secret. A mysterious Man in the Yellow Suit also discovers the secret and pursues the magical water in search of profit. Winnie must help the Tuck family stay hidden and decide for herself if she wants everlasting life. A beautifully written, classic story. Ages 9 and up.
For Teens, ages 13 and up
THE BOOK OF DUST: LA BELLE SAUVAGE (series) by Phillip Pullman
This is the prequel to Pullman's His Dark Materials series (The Golden Compass, etc.), but even if your child hasn't read that series, this one will stand on its own. Malcolm Polstead lives in Oxford and is suspicious of the new order around him. When the baby Lyra (the heroine of The Golden Compass) comes to live in the neighborhood priory, Malcolm's adventures really take off. This book is just as good as the original trilogy! Ages 12 and up.
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THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak
My son read this book for school and loved it. He kept telling me how great it was and wanted to make sure I read it, too! Set in 1939 Germany it tells the tale of Liesel Meminger, who has lost her family comes to Munich to live with a foster family. The story is narrated by Death, an intriguing conceit. A tale set during the horrors of war can't help but be dark but this novel is a page turner that will have your kids up all night, like it did mine. Ages 12 and up.
DELIRIUM (series) by Lauren Oliver
Love is outlawed. In dystopian America, citizens are required to be "cured" at age 18, which renders them free of passion. An authoritarian government forbids contact between members of the opposite sex, rewrites history, and even bans poetry. As she approaches her "cure", Lena meets Alex, who throws her ordered world into chaos. Lauren Oliver has constructed a detailed world that will suck readers in and they will be unable to resist reading the rest of the trilogy. Ages 14 and up.
AURORA RISING (series) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
My teen rated this trilogy as "really, really good, mom." It's 2380 and a group of six cadets are preparing for their first mission as representatives of an interplanetary peacekeeping coalition. However, a mysterious and superhuman stowaway, Aurora, threatens the order. Full of high drama, intriguing personalities, thrills and laughs. Your teen won't be able to wait to read the next installment. Ages 14 and up.
FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury
A fireman who is tasked with destroying books starts to question society and government when a neighbor helps him look beyond propaganda. Reading this book to your teen will open up all sorts of avenues to conversations about Bradbury's dystopian world versus contemporary society. Ages 14 and up.