Since the success of The Hunger Games and Divergent, young adult dystopian fiction has risen to new heights. They have ushered in an army of strong female protagonists, leading to hundreds of similar novels filling bookcases and electronic devices around the globe. If you’ve already devoured The Hunger Games trilogy and Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant, where should you turn next? If you’re looking for books like Divergent or The Hunger Games, we’ve got some recommendations for you below.
6 Books like The Hunger Games & Divergent
The Tripods Trilogy – The White Mountains, by John Christopher
It is possible to find books similar to Divergent published in the last decade, but if you go back in time, you’ll be in for a real treat. There was a dystopian trilogy called The White Mountains that began with the 1967 publication of the first book, The White Mountains.
People are subjected to “capping” by the Tripods, which are three-legged machines that roam the world under the control of the mysterious masters at the age of 13 and whose existence is kept secret. After he turns 13, Will looks forward to his own “capping,” which means that he’ll be considered an adult. After a chance encounter with Ozymandius, a “fake-capped” man, Will is introduced to an alternate reality where he discovers the ruthless rule the Tripods exercise over humankind.
Although Divergent was released 40 years prior to the Tripods Trilogy, the two books share many of the same underlying themes. In addition to confronting a terrifying reality, Will and Tris must join a resistance movement against totalitarian rule.
Those who enjoyed The White Mountains may also enjoy The City of Gold and Lead or The Pool of Fire. After adapting The City of Gold and Lead, the BBC TV series broadcast in the 1980s had to stop production because of a rapidly expanding budget. This trilogy is still a must-read for fans of dystopian fiction if you want to learn what happens to Will.
The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette)
Other books like Divergent include this political thriller set in an alternate universe where Goblins and Elves coexist peacefully. As he is the only survivor after the death of his father and his entire family, Maia is thrust into the role of ruler of the goblin kingdom. As with Tris, Maia is trapped in a situation he didn’t initiate.
Imperial court politics can be difficult to navigate, and his lack of social grace and etiquette causes him a lot of headaches. Even his own bodyguards can be a source of intrigue and cultural resistance.
Class and culture are also addressed in a similar manner by Divergent. Like Tris, Maia lacks formal education and is at odds with the court, but he, too, must serve as a focal point for society’s disparate groups if real change is to be achieved. Divergent-like dystopian novels like The Goblin Emperor can benefit greatly from the book’s warmth in tone. Recommendation: Definitely.
The Maze Runner, by James Dashner
When discussing books like Divergent or The Hunger Games, it’s impossible not to include The Maze Runner. Dashner’s novel, which came out a year after The Hunger Games, throws the reader right into the middle of a mystery.
There is a metal lift that takes the main character, Thomas, to a place called “the Glade” (does that sound familiar?). Thomas, on the other hand, has no recollection of his past or present. When Thomas learns that the Glade is run by two boys named Alby and Newt, the story veers into the realm of Lord of the Flies. As the lift returns each month with food and supplies, including weapons and a new boy who has no memory, they enforce simple rules to keep order.
The Glade is encircled by 4-mile high concrete walls that protect them from a dangerous maze. Thematically, The Maze Runner is similar to both The Hunger Games and Divergent, but it goes a step further in its exploration of the subject matter. The children have formed a strange kind of society because there is no rule stating that “gladers” must fight each other to the death.
As the story progresses, the narrative becomes more urgent, taking readers on a wild ride with Thomas and his friends as they race against time to escape the maze before the creatures that stalk it catch up with them. Anyone looking for a fast-paced, action-packed novel should give this one a try.
Have you already read it? See our list of additional books that are similar to The Maze Runner.
Aversion, by Kenechi Udogu
The search for books like Divergent and The Hunger Games is a quick and painless process. It can take some time to find a novel that is both similar and unique. Udogu calls Aversion “paranormal fiction,” and after reading it, it’s easy to see why.
Protagonist Someone who “averts” people from disaster is Gemma. As a way to keep them from making bad decisions, she pushes an idea into their heads. When she fails to complete ‘an aversion’ on Russ Tanner, things start to go downhill. Is she, or isn’t she?
aversion subjects are required to forget, so Russ is doing everything he can to learn more about Gemma. Like Tris and Katniss, Gemma is an outsider. she does not connect as well as she’d like and because of her power tends to naturally distance herself.
It is up to her to challenge her beliefs about reality and what the future holds if she gives it a chance, just like Tris and Katniss. Aversion, the first book in the ‘The Mentalist’ series, is a great alternative to books like The Hunger Games or Divergent.
The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey
Aliens have invaded Earth again in The 5th Wave. We’ve been there, done that. This isn’t your typical alien invasion story until you learn how Cassie and her family have survived five waves, each one claiming a member of their family.
Cassie is a likable character, so it’s a good place to start in a novel. When she meets Evan Walker, a man who may or may not be her last hope, things really pick up. Both The Hunger Games and Divergent have a strong influence on her thoughts and actions, and she has a similar desire to save her brother from “the others” while staying alive.
The reader’s desire to follow Cassie to the end of her story, good or bad, is bolstered when the reader is dropped into a world that has already been devastated by alien invasion. Determining whether Evan is on Cassie’s side or not is a well-worn plot device, but it never gets old. It’s a worthwhile read and more in-depth than the film version.
The Selection, by Kiera Cass
Listen to your bard sing you another tale of woe as you toss a coin into the jar. It’s easy to see why books like Divergent and The Hunger Games are so popular when you read The Selection. Caste-based society in the not-too-distant future? Check. The rich and powerful at the top, the addicted, the unemployed, and the impoverished at the bottom: who are we to judge? Check. When it comes to writing, “often the story itself is less important than how you tell it.” “America” the protagonist is well-told by Cassie.
The aforementioned Royals and elites are referred to as ‘Ones’, while the rest of society is referred to as ‘Eights.’ Her violin allows her to enjoy a lower-class lifestyle, which she enjoys because she can entertain others while playing. One thing leads to another when America is forced to enter the prince of Illea’s “Selection,” in which young women compete for his hand in marriage after an unfortunate breakup and pressure from her mother.
Katniss and Tris’s struggle against a society they don’t want to be a part of mirrors America’s drive to succeed in this controversial ad for young independent women. I wouldn’t recommend this as an excellent example of progressive feminism but it’s still a popular read for many.
Is this your first time reading it? See our list of additional books that are similar to The Selection!