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Best Dystopian YA

Award-winner Colleen Nelson's latest is the YA novel Pulse Point, written with Nancy Chappell-Pollack. In her list, Nelson shares other Canadian dystopian titles that inspired her. 

*****

Pulse Point is my first attempt at any genre other than realistic fiction. Writing about an alternate world proved to be more difficult in some ways than writing about the one we actually live in, but it also stretched my creativity and posed a lot of questions about the way we do things and why.

Pulse Point takes a "cli-sci" approach to dystopia. In the book, climate change has made our world uninhabitable so people deemed genetically desirable are allowed to live in Cities, self-sustaining domed structures. My favourite part of reading dystopian books is learning the many versions of our world that authors create. 

*

Blood Red Road, by Moira Young

Narrated by an illiterate main character as she sets out to reunite her family, this book had me hooked after the first page. The dystopian world in Blood Red Road is brutal and harsh, but the tenderness between the characters proves that humanity can be found in even the most unforgiving of places.

*

The Scorpion Rules, by Erin Bow

The premise is genius and I’m going to go on a limb and say that Erin’s predictions about AI might be eerily accurate. In her book, Artificial Intelligence has decreed that in order to maintain peace, each nation will send a hostage who will be sacrificed if war is declared. The Scorpion Rules blends politics, morality and economy to create a world where goats are currency and the Prairies are the economic hub of a continent.

*

Transferral, by Kate Blair

In this dystopian world, convicts are punished through transfers, transfusions of sicknesses from law-abiding citizens. The catch is that the main character, Prime Minister’s daughter Talia, has to decide if survival is worth losing her morals. I also loved Kate’s book Tangled Planet; it’s more in the sci-fi realm, but an equally great read. (Check out her blog to learn about all the research she did to write it!)

*

The Marrow Thieves, by Cherie Dimaline

The Marrow Thieves was the book I wanted everyone to read this year. In this book, Frenchie, along with other Indigenous people, is being hunted for his marrow. GG winner Cherie Dimaline has written a book is about more than the dystopian world the characters inhabit—it’s about friendship and love and what makes us all human. And it’s AMAZING.

*

About Pulse Point: 

Pulse Point is set in a future where the climate has made the world inhospitable to humans. In order to survive, people live in self-sustaining domed cities. The City that Kaia and her family live in is run by Overseers, guards that ensure all the Citizens follow the guidelines so the City can maintain its “Energy In = Energy Out" policy. Citizens are only allowed to use the energy they create. Energy production is calculated and displayed on their pulse point, a transmitter embedded in a person's finger. When a Citizen is no longer able to produce energy, they are Balanced, or killed.

May 31, 2018

Books mentioned in this post

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Pulse Point

by Colleen Nelson & Nancy Chappell-Pollack
edition: Paperback
also available: eBook
  • age: 10 to 16
  • Grade: 5 to 11
tagged:

For Kaia, setting foot outside can be deadly. Climate change has made Earth too dangerous for people to live anywhere but inside the City. Run on the energy created by its Citizens and sustainable in every way, the City uses microchips, called pulse points, to control the energy its inhabitants use. When Kaia's pulse point malfunctions, she experie …

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Blood Red Road

Dustlands: 1

by Moira Young
edition: Paperback
  • age: 12 to 18
  • Grade: 7 to 12
tagged: apocalyptic & post-apocalyptic, dystopian

This fast-paced young adult debut novel has it all: smart, savvy characters making their way through an eerily dystopian society, with all the requisite action, adventure and romance characteristic of the genre vividly and at times, chillingly, portrayed.

In a wild and lawless future, where life is cheap and survival is hard, eighteen-year-old Saba …

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The Scorpion Rules

by Erin Bow
edition: Hardcover
  • age: 14 to 18
  • Grade: 9 to 12
tagged: survival stories, lgbt

The children of world leaders are held hostage in an attempt to keep the peace in this “slyly humorous, starkly thought-provoking” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) novel.

Greta is a Duchess and a Crown Princess. She is also a Child of Peace, a hostage held by the de facto ruler of the world, the great Artificial Intelligence, Talis. This is how …

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Transferral

by Kate Blair
edition: Paperback
also available: eBook
  • age: 12 to 18
  • Grade: 7 to 12
tagged: dystopian, girls & women, politics & government

London, England, present day. This is the world as we know it, but with one key difference: medical science has found a way to remove diseases from the sick. The catch? They can only transfer the diseases into other living humans. The government now uses the technology to cure the innocent by infecting criminals.

 

It is into this world that Talia Ha …

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Tangled Planet

by Kate Blair
edition: Paperback
also available: eBook
  • age: 13 to 18
  • Grade: 8 to 12
tagged: mysteries & detective stories

It's taken 400 years of travel, but the starship Venture has finally arrived at its destination. Beta Earth is an uninhabited, untouched planet that seventeen-year-old engineer Ursa has to colonise with her crewmates.

 

The first night Ursa is on Beta Earth her world goes out of control when she encounters a dead body. She's positive she saw a large …

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The Marrow Thieves

by Cherie Dimaline
edition: Paperback
also available: eBook
  • age: 13 to 18
  • Grade: 8 to 12
tagged: aboriginal & indigenous, environment, dystopian, own voices

Winner of the 2017 Governor General's Literary Award (Young People's Literature - Text)
Winner of the 2017 Kirkus Prize
Winner of the 2018 Sunburst Award
Winner of the 2018 Amy Mathers Teen Book Award
Winner of the 2018 Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit and Métis Young Adult Literature
Just when you think you have nothing left to lose, they com …

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