The majority of YA dystopian novels feature large battle and war scenes, and most include a torture performed on the protagonist. In the beginning, dystopian novels focused on the government’s control and these are the kinds of stories that are safer for younger readers, especially if teachers or parents are concerned about the action. The following dystopian novels don't focus on horror to move the plot along.
1) The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Young Adult Fiction
Tally Youngblood waits for the day she can turn Pretty, which is a surgical procedure where each person is physically altered to resemble the most aesthetically pleasing human being. However, only months away from her transformation, Tally meets Shay and questions whether being Pretty is justified, or if those in power have a secret meaning behind it. Survival scenes and attacks include some details, but nothing graphic for young readers.
2) The Giver by Lois Lowry
While this is an older novel, the story of Jonas is one that really shows children and middle grade readers what the results of an utopian society would look like and how quickly it crumbles. The graphic images of war and hunger that the Giver provides Jonas are not detailed enough to scare a child, because these are the images that pop up on the nightly news stations that are already playing in his or her home.
3) Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Young Adult Fiction
Lena Haloway lives in a world where scientists have found a cure for the deliria, or love. After a certain age (or under special circumstances), every teenager undergoes the surgery to eliminate love from their hearts and minds because it is the passion, jealousy, and blindness of love that is believed to have destroyed the world. An interesting spin on dystopian novels that makes the reader question the ways that humans are flawed.
4) 1984 by George Orwell
A squirmish older reader will appreciate 1984 if she or he wasn’t already subjected to it in high school. The idea of a totalitarian government taking control of our actions to the point where they can guess what a person is thinking about is one that ran the risk of possibly existing, but what about the histories of countries now and those immediately following World War II? For the reader who wants to know the how rather than the often graphic what next, this novel will satisfy him or her.
For further detailed reviews of The Uglies and Delirium, check out the Dystopian Wonders blog postings.