If you look around in the media today, it’s easy to see that the Dystopian genre has blown up (pun intended, since it’s usually all post-apocalyptic).
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Thanks in part to the popularity of book series like The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner and their adaptations into movies, readers are itching to get their hands on even more dystopian titles to see which one will be the next big thing.

One thing that all of these titles have in common is that they fall under the Young Adult category, with teen protagonists showing us the world as they struggle to make the best out of tough situations. Dystopian books in general deal with some pretty heavy source material—elitist societies where those born with a silver spoon stand on the backs of the downtrodden who do all the heavy lifting, diseases wiping out almost an entire population, wars tearing the world as we know it apart and forcing those left behind to rebuild, zombie outbreaks, and natural disasters changing the earth as we know it. Though they might sprinkle in the general teen angst, the protagonists deal with a lot more than what to wear to the next school dance or what college to go to.
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With the insurgence (Insurgent! Get it? Tris? No?) of Young Adult Dystopian novels invading our pages and our books, it begs the question of where the New Adult Dystopian novels are hiding. After all, it’s not just teenagers dealing with these post-apocalyptic circumstances. What happens when you have protagonists in a dystopian book that fall into the age range of the New Adult category? You might be surprised to find that some of them are hiding in the Young Adult Dystopian lists you might be browsing for your next post-apocalyptic read.
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With the popularity of this genre in Young Adult fiction, it’s no surprise to find some titles still use that categorization or just get put under the YA branch because the protagonist is still technically considered a teenager. Let’s take a look at some titles currently categorized as Young Adult Dystopian but might be considered New Adult:


In this society, love is viewed as an illness you must be cured from at the age of eighteen. Lina, the protagonist, is just months away from her procedure and looking forward to it, having witnessed this disease destroy her mother and break her family apart. Once cured, she will continue on the path set out for her. That is, until she meets Alex, an outcast from the Wilds and sparks begin to fly--those of love, and a revolution unfolding before them.

Lina is about to turn eighteen and dealing with some pretty heavy decisions concerning the rest of her life--choose to have the ability to love, or choose to go with societal norms and expectations. This book might straddle the line between Young Adult and New Adult, and possibly even graduate into New Adult territory completely as the series continues with books two and three.


In a world where greyskins—Morrow’s own version of zombies—are running rampant, nineteen year-old Mora must find a way to get protection for her small village, even if it means turning to the powerful and evil Jeremiah to get it. As she undertakes a journey to gain an audience with Jeremiah, she discovers that she has an ability no other human has known to have. She meets others like her, who call themselves the Starborn, and together they set out on a quest to rid the world of the greyskins and eliminate the threat that Jeremiah is proving to be.

Mora is definitely a New Adult protagonist. She's nineteen, and burdened with the responsibilities of taking care of her family, eventually her small village, and then much more than that as the story unfolds. 


In this strict society where the government decides everything for you, all seventeen year-olds are matched with their mate and given a period of courtship before being forced to marry at the age of twenty-one. When Cassia’s match glitches and she is shown the face of a known outcast, she finds that she can’t stop thinking about him and begins to doubt the government and the world she knows.

Even though the protagonist is seventeen at the start of this series, I think this might also straddle the fence between Young Adult and New Adult, given that they are dealing with issues such as marriage and the beginning of adulthood.


Melanie Stryder is a 21 year-old human chosen to be the host for Wanderer, a member of the parasitic alien race taking over humans. She is able to fight off Wanderer’s control and the two form a sort of reluctant union as Melanie shows Wanderer memories of Jared, one of the humans hiding from the alien Souls taking over. Together they set off to find the man they both love and find a way to coexist in a world where the Souls have taken over and those left behind want them all dead.

The Host has been categorized as Adult fiction, but it was released before the New Adult category hit its stride. Melanie definitely falls into the New Adult age range at twenty-one, which makes this a definite New Adult title, regardless of how it is marketed.

Looking for more New Adult Dystopian reads? Here’s a list of titles for you to choose from! Don’t see a title that you think fits the bill? Sound off in the comments to let us know where you’ve been getting your New Adult Dystopian fix from.



  

Find these titles on Goodreads:

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  1. Does Amazon have a New Adult section out of interest? My own SciFi novel WICK is listed as YA as one if the 5 POV characters is a teen, but equally, two are in their early 20s and two are older. It made me wander why it got placed in YA rather than NA?
    I like the cover for Spark Rising above. Does anyone know if it's any good?

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    1. As an official category, they have 'New Adult & College Romance' nestled under the 'romance' genre http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=lp_158566011_nr_n_12?fst=as%3Aoff&rh=n%3A133140011%2Cn%3A%21133141011%2Cn%3A154606011%2Cn%3A158566011%2Cn%3A6487838011&bbn=158566011&ie=UTF8&qid=1438615426&rnid=158566011 However, if you just search 'New Adult' in the Kindle store you'll see a bunch of different genres pop up http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=new+adult

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    2. Kate Corcino is an amazing writer. You should definitely check out Spark Rising.

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    3. Aha! See, where id' searched for it and didn't see a 'New Adult' parent category, I missed it. D'oh!

      The book sounds intriguing. I may have to add it to my list.

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    4. I definitely want to read that one! And pretty much every other book I posted about. ;) I love the cover for Spark Rising, and also for Bait. The title along with the lone figure standing with a backpack before such a creepy scene really sets the tone!

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    5. You're quite right, the Bait cover is rather striking.

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  2. Love seeing dystopian creeping into NA! Great post, Mara! :-)

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  3. Dystopian? Isn't that just another way of "art imitating life"?

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  4. I love seeing more and more books in the NA dystopian genre! It was lonely in there for a while :) Lol. Great post!

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  5. add the testing by joelle charbonneau to your list, a great dystopian trilogy

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    1. Thanks for the rec! I added it to my TBR list. Sounds awesome--LOVE the idea of education becoming an elitist type thing in a post-apocalyptic future!

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  6. I love, love, love all of the research you put into this article! Well done. :D

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  7. Thanks for turning us on to new NA apoc and dystopian reads. Nice to know it's expanding out of YA.

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    1. I love seeing it expand into NA. Most of the authors I spoke to about why they market as YA instead of NA (sure to end up being another post at some point lol) said that they can see their books as NA but don't market it that way because of the romance element most people still assume NA to be. As NA continues to expand, I'm really looking forward to more authors breaking into the category with other genres. I can't wait to see where it leads us! (Obvious answer: Lots of amazing NA reads across all genres!)

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  8. Thanks, everyone! I love seeing New Adult expanding into other genres, especially ones usually dominated by YA like Dystopian. I'm on a Dystopian kick right now, so my TBR list just expanded significantly with this post! haha

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  9. It's interesting to look at books that were categorized before specific categories existed (I know that's not the case with all these). How recent, in terms of the book world, is YA? And I was just reading about the split between horror and fantasy in 1987. Totally beside the point, though. This is a great list of books. Thanks!

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    1. Exactly! I actually had to do a quick Google search to remind myself of when exactly New Adult was established. Especially concerning The Host since it is very much NA as far as characters' ages.

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  10. Another question then. Would a book being classed as dystopian depend entirely on the POV characters viewpoint? For example, would The Hunger Games have been less dystopian if told from the viewpoint of one if the well off non pledges? By the same token, my own work sees characters that view their world as dystopian and others that are perfectly comfortable.

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    1. I don't think it depends on the character's viewpoints so much as the world with dystopians. If you Google the definition of the dystopian genre, this is what comes up: Such societies appear in many artistic works, particularly in stories set in a future. Dystopias are often characterized by dehumanization, totalitarian governments, environmental disaster, or other characteristics associated with a cataclysmic decline in society.
      So I think it really is all about the world and how the characters interact both with that world and within that world. There doesn't always have to be a revolution in sight, and if there is, the main characters don't necessarily have to be knee-deep in it. I'd personally LOVE to see a book that has the typical secondary characters that are nowhere near the rebellion tell the story. But I digress. ;)

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    2. As an alternative viewpoint from Tor.com (http://www.tor.com/2011/04/11/dystopian-fiction-an-introduction/)

      "Whether or not a society is perceived as a dystopia is usually determined by one’s point of view; what one person may consider to be a horrible dystopia, another may find completely acceptable or even nigh-utopian. For instance, if you don’t care about procreating, then living in a world in which the birth rate is strictly regulated wouldn’t seem very dystopic to you; to someone who values that very much, however, having society tell you how, when (or how often) you can procreate would seem like something out of a nightmare. Or a person who doesn’t enjoy reading or intellectual thinking might not care if books are banned… or even hunted down and destroyed, as in Fahrenheit 451, whereas you, dear reader, would probably care very much."

      I find things like this fascinating as I often hear arguments about the genre or classification of things, books or otherwise, so seeing different views side by side provides much food for thought.

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    3. That's actually a very good point! I'd never thought of it that way. So I guess a better answer would be to say that it would depend on both the world and the character's POV. If you have the POV of the bad guy running things in a post-apocalyptic world, things might not seem so bad from his/her POV. Then again, I think readers are clever enough to read between the lines of what is going on from a character's POV to see what the world truly is. But character POV definitely plays a role!

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  12. Interesting article. I'm writing a Dystopian trilogy. I figured it should be YA because the protagonist is just turning 17 and is still in school. Her love interest, however, is 18. In their society, 17 is considered an adult. It's not heavy on sex (which I don't think should classify a book as YA or NA) but does have the heavy hitting topics--death, espionage, betrayal.

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    1. Sounds like yours might have the potential to graduate into NA, or already be NA since the age of 17 is adulthood in your world. I market my fantasy as upper YA/NA because two of my main characters are 17 at the start of the series.

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    2. I like the upper YA/NA designation.

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