Five Books To Read After ‘The Hunger Games’
If you’re like me, you might be suffering from some serious Hunger Games withdrawal. How can we be expected to wait 18 whole months for the Catching Fire movie to come out? That’s longer than a walrus’ gestation period! WALRUSES WILL BE CONCEIVED AND BORN BEFORE WE SEE THE SECOND HUNGER GAMES MOVIE. Just to give you a frame of reference. Lucky for you, I’m sort of an expert on dystopian young-adult fiction (don’t judge me), so I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list of books that will help distract you from the fact that The Hunger Games saga has ended and it’s going to be at least one walrus pregnancy before we get another fix.
Divergent by Veronica Roth – The world of Divergent has its own unique dystopian feel to it. Its citizens are divided into five factions based on personality traits (Amity, Dauntless, Candor, Erudite, and Abnegation), which makes for an interesting look at the different social and political constructions of the varying groups based on the characteristics they value. Tris, the heroine, shares Katniss’ toughness and her combat skills, though her journey is more about self-discovery than survival. If you’re looking for a book full of action that you won’t be able to put down, Divergent is a solid candidate. Plus, it’s a trilogy, so you’ve got two more installments to look forward to. The sequel, Insurgent, just came out this month, and the final book will be released next year.
Graceling by Kristin Cashore – I read this book the same summer I read The Hunger Games, and I was struck by the similarities between the kickass protagonist Katsa and The Hunger Games’ Katniss (starting with their names). Both are strong, fiercely independent young women who struggle to break free from the corrupt leaders that want to control them. Katsa is what’s known as a Graceling, someone “Graced” from birth with a special skill—in her case, a knack for survival, which manifests itself in outstanding fighting skills. Katsa meets Po, another Graceling, and the two join forces to try to overthrow the evil king. Graceling is much more rooted in fantasy than The Hunger Games, but it has a similar sense of, for lack of a better word, awesomeness. Give Graceling a try—you won’t regret it.
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater – If I told you this book was about killer horses, you’d probably immediately skip to the next entry on this list. But if I told you it was about people riding killer horses on a mythical Irish island, you’d be too intrigued to ignore it. Scorpio Races is more folklore than dystopian, but the sense of urgency that stems from competing in a potentially deadly competition is the same. The titular races are an annual event in which skilled riders attempt to race the bloodthirsty sea horses, many of which attack their riders mid-race. Young Puck Connolly enters the race in order to earn enough money to keep her family together. Stiefvater’s subtle but mesmerizing prose creates a vivid atmosphere that makes it feel like you’re there, watching the races first-hand. The characters (especially the dark and mysterious love interest, Sean Kendrick) are refreshingly grounded and un-flashy. What I love most about The Scorpio Races is how different it is from every other YA book out there. You can read my full review of The Scorpio Races here, or you can just trust that it’s amazing.
Matched by Ally Condie – Matched is like what you would get if you ran The Hunger Games through the ABC Family machine. It takes the love triangle aspect of The Hunger Games and brings it to the forefront, brought to life against a Brave New World dystopian backdrop. Main character Cassia starts off as a naïve teenager content to live within the carefully monitored confines of her seemingly utopian society. They control every aspect of their citizens’ lives, down to their mates, which are carefully chosen and announced at a Matching Ceremony when they reach the age of seventeen. When Cassia is Matched with her best friend Xander, she’s thrilled. But when she discovers that her original Match was the quiet and mysterious Ky, she starts a journey that leads her to question everything about her world. Matched is the kind of book that you can devour in one sitting without being overburdened by deep thinking or feelings of overwhelming sadness when all your favorite characters die. It’s light reading for sure, but sometimes that’s what your brain needs. And did I mention it’s also a trilogy? Look for book three this November. The film rights have also been sold, so Matched might be following in the cinematic footsteps of The Hunger Games.
Delirium by Lauren Oliver – Delirium has a lot in common with Matched. Both books involve a heroine who gets paired with a future mate, only to fall in love with someone else. The dystopian government entities remain faceless and out of reach during these two first installments in trilogies. Delirium’s stakes are a little higher than Matched, however. The society of Delirium has found a way to essentially cut out the part of your brain that allows you to fall in love, turning everyone into Stepford zombies who mindlessly follow the rules and regulations set down by their leaders, who ensure them that it’s all for their own good. Before her scheduled love lobotomy, Lena and her newfound love Alex make a plan to leave their home and live together in the “Wilds,” but nothing is ever easy in dystopian societies. Delirium is a gut-punch of an opener to this trilogy, which has a sequel already out (Pandemonium), and the third and final installment, Requiem, comes out next year.
Okay, you have your summer reading list. I expect a full written report on my desk by the end of August. You’re welcome, world!