20 “Hidden Gem” dystopian books to read after you finish A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Ever since I read The Giver in elementary school, I’ve been a huge fan of dystopian fiction. Dystopian authors such as Margaret Peterson Haddix and Scott Westerfield took the dark parts of our world and examined them under a microscope. 

Books like Uglies, The Hunger Games, The Giver, and Divergent were favorites, but lately I’ve been seeking out “hidden gems.” 

With the release of a Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, I felt the urge to write a dystopian book listicle. Some of these are lesser known indie books, while others are traditionally published. Most of these are YA,  but a few of the books on this list are adult dystopian books. I tried to avoid the “classics” such as Brave New World or The Handmaid’s Tale because they are well known. 

I hope you find a book that catches your eye. You can click the book covers to view the books on Amazon. Do you have a favorite dystopian book? Let me know in the comments.

Dystopian meets Fantasy – It’s 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl’s display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again. 

Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all–and in the process, they learn that there’s more to Cinderella’s story than they ever knew . 

The Girls of Innovations Academy are beautiful and well-behaved—it says so on their report cards. Under the watchful gaze of their Guardian, they receive a well-rounded education that promises to make them better. Obedient girls, free from arrogance or defiance. Free from troublesome opinions or individual interests.

But the girls’ carefully controlled existence may not be quite as it appears. As Mena and her friends uncover the dark secrets of what’s actually happening there—and who they really are—the girls of Innovations Academy will learn to fight back.

A dystopian society. A boy who’s given up on the world. A girl with the power to save it. 

Sixteen-year-old Angela and her father are the last survivors on Earth. She dreams of adventure and romance but only finds it in books. In the confines of her garden paradise, she’s untouched by contaminants that caused the rest of humanity to mutate into murderous beasts or die. But staying in the garden sure gets lonely.

When a seventeen-year-old boy stumbles upon Angela’s home with news about a thriving community, his presence challenges everything she knew about the world. She dares to leave her garden for the first time to find a better home. 

In the authoritarian society that she finds the line between man and mutant is murkier than she expected. Secrets from Angela’s past reemerge, and she learns life outside the garden isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Her father is in danger, and the men tasked with protecting the settlement are extremely fond of murder. With their lives on the line, can Angela create one last happy ending in a hopeless world?

Fans of dystopian societies, diverse characters, fantasy, and coming-of-age adventures with heart will fall in love with Saving Eden, a post-apocalyptic fairy tale.

A princess and a commoner join forces against an enemy who may steal their minds…or end their lives.

Seventeen-year-old Princess Nora is a frost eater who creates magical ice. Her royal life is luxurious but stifling.

Krey West has a rare magical talent: when he eats feathers, he can fly. His one goal is to find his missing girlfriend, Zeisha. He thinks someone in power abducted her.

Krey’s daring feats of magic earn him an invitation to the palace. Craving adventure and friendship, Nora offers to help him find Zeisha. He’s desperate enough to accept—though he hates the monarchy. 

The truth is more terrible than they could imagine.

Every night, Zeisha wakes in a dark room full of sleeping people, unable to remember what she did in the light. Her dreams provide violent glimpses into her forgotten days.

Zeisha is in danger of losing herself forever.

And Nora and Krey’s efforts to free her could cost them their lives…

Callum is a naught, a second-class citizen in a society run by the ruling Crosses. Sephy is a Cross, and daughter of the man slated to become prime minister.

In their world, white naughts and black Crosses simply don’t mix — and they certainly don’t fall in love. But that’s exactly what they’ve done. 

One touch is all it takes. One touch, and Juliette Ferrars can leave a fully grown man gasping for air. One touch, and she can kill.

No one knows why Juliette has such incredible power. It feels like a curse, a burden that one person alone could never bear. But The Reestablishment sees it as a gift, sees her as an opportunity. An opportunity for a deadly weapon.

A mutant searching for sanctuary. A hunter hot on her trail.

Lilah has heard rumors of a garden paradise known as Eden somewhere out in the wilds. Forced out of post-apocalyptic Chicago when her mutant abilities come to light, it’s her only hope of safety.

But she’s not the only one roaming the wastelands.

On Adam’s first mission as a newly-qualified Warden, he is tasked with finding and destroying the heart of the Resistance–Eden.

When Lilah’s and Adam’s destinies collide, neither can deny the spark of attraction between them, but how long can they journey together before their secrets come to light?

When Lilah lets down her barriers, Adam sees her for who she truly is and is faced with an impossible choice–between duty and his heart.

Finding Eden is a gripping dystopian adventure, perfect for fans of Delirium, Shatter Me, Divergent, and The Hunger Games.

A toxic river divides nineteen-year-old Violet Bates’s world by gender.
Women rule the East. Men rule the West.

Welcome to the lands of Matrus and Patrus.

Ever since the disappearance of her beloved younger brother, Violet’s life has been consumed by an anger she struggles to control. Already a prisoner to her own nation, now she has been sentenced to death for her crimes.

But one decision could save her life.

To enter the kingdom of Patrus, where men rule and women submit.

A simple DNA test is all it takes. Just a quick mouth swab and soon you’ll be matched with your perfect partner—the one you’re genetically made for.

That’s the promise made by Match Your DNA. A decade ago, the company announced that they had found the gene that pairs each of us with our soul mate. Since then, millions of people around the world have been matched. But the discovery has its downsides: test results have led to the breakup of countless relationships and upended the traditional ideas of dating, romance and love.

Now five very different people have received the notification that they’ve been “Matched.” They’re each about to meet their one true love. But “happily ever after” isn’t guaranteed for everyone. Because even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking than others…

Lauren Olamina and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods remaining on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren’s father, a preacher, and a handful of other citizens try to salvage what remains of a culture that has been destroyed by drugs, disease, war, and chronic water shortages. While her father tries to lead people on the righteous path, Lauren struggles with hyperempathy, a condition that makes her extraordinarily sensitive to the pain of others.
 
When fire destroys their compound, Lauren’s family is killed and she is forced out into a world that is fraught with danger. With a handful of other refugees, Lauren must make her way north to safety, along the way conceiving a revolutionary idea that may mean salvation for all mankind.

They believed Daeios would be a safe haven.

They were wrong.

Fleeing apocalyptic weather, survivalists Shea and her family seek safety deep underground in Daeios. Fear drives them to the shelter as the killer storm worsens. They reach the shelter just before permanent lockdown. Now they’re 140 feet down, protected from the storms to live out their shortened lives until the food runs out and they starve to death. It buys them about a year.

But it soon becomes clear that they’re trapped in a nightmarish existence.

When the Elders who run Daeios announce their plans to breed with all fertile females to repopulate the earth, Shea knows they will force her to breed. She plans to fight off her seed-bearer.

The punishments of the Daeiosians begin, including long periods of total darkness with the Daeios song blaring repetitively. Each time the darkness and music finally stop, several more people are missing. It’s especially clear that the Elders are getting rid of the other men. What happens to the people who disappear into the total darkness of Daeios?

Supernatural powers destroyed the world…
…now four unlikely heroes have to save it.

The world ended two years ago. They called it the Awakening: the supernatural event that gave some people powers and left others normal. Nations went to war and millions died.

Sean was one of the first to Awaken, but it wasn’t until he walked in on his brother’s brutal murder that he learned of the darker nature of his power: blood calls to him, and he to it.And in that moment, he showed his brother’s murderers no mercy.

Now Sean must fight to keep his inner demons in check, and his path to redemption begins with the establishment of a sanctuary for people like him, people with powers: the Awakened.

A dystopian future, an abandoned world, a twisted eternal paradise…

After scientists built portals to travel to the spirit realm, humans left the earth for a magical existence. All that remains for the few people who stayed behind is a haunting reminder of the way life used to be. But paradise isn’t perfect. The realm has secrets of its own.

Fawn was born an orphan and forced into years of indentured service in the realm. She knows the dark side of humanity, but her new job at The Nocere requires her to serve a different type of evil. When world shattering events push her toward her destiny, she alone must face the monsters to save the ones she loves.

Decades after a war that tore the country apart, New America is filled with dark secrets hidden behind deceiving smiles and polished shoes. This is the America that Thomas Kent and Regina Banks can’t live in any longer—nor can their team of outcasts. 

New America is controlled by an elite, mysterious organization with a puppet for a president. They have plans to make America great again and will stop at nothing to make their vision happen. They’ve also built a wall meant to keep people safe and protect what’s theirs. With a sweet-sounding voice on Wolf Radio meant to soothe the masses and make people feel safe, they are taking control over everything. But, living in the shadows of New America are diverse people with remarkable talents, and abilities. The oligarchy in power wants them permanently behind their borders, silenced, or destroyed. 

Despite all this, 9 remarkable teenagers vow to live in the shadows no longer, and unveil the truth that is the 12th Factor. But, will anybody listen? Will others join the fight?

After surviving one apocalypse, a second threatens to erase what remains of humanity.

The apocalypse happened, taking the world by surprise, and after the five year Z Wars, a vaccine discovered, saving the few remaining lives.


City-states rose, becoming nations and kingdoms. Some people fled to the badlands pursuing their own ideas of freedom.


Ambitious men who crave power make plans to rain devastation, in a modified virus on a wealthy, rival nation.
What seemed like a blessing to the man tasked with the mission, ends up being a burden with the weight of decisions.
A chance meet with a witch reveals his angelic ancestry, he learns magic is real, but will death be his destiny?

The year is 2043. Flesh-eating monsters are real, militia duty begins at sixteen, and the contenders in the fight ring are the new rock stars of the world.

Twenty-year-old Kit O’Brien grew up as an orphan in a survivor camp, fighting alongside the militia to keep the last of humanity alive. But as the final vestiges of the infected die out, bloodthirsty raiders soon become a bigger threat – and while the militia’s attention is diverted outside, Kit discovers something much worse lurking within the walls of their camp.

If you like fast-paced post-apocalyptic fiction with a dash of action and mystery, then you won’t want to miss this page-turning novel.

In a society where unwanted teens are salvaged for their body parts, three runaways fight the system that would “unwind” them 

Connor’s parents want to be rid of him because he’s a troublemaker. Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs. Lev’s unwinding has been planned since his birth, as part of his family’s strict religion. Brought together by chance, and kept together by desperation, these three unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing their lives hang in the balance. If they can survive until their eighteenth birthday, they can’t be harmed — but when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away. 

In an alternate United States, love has been declared a dangerous disease, and the government forces everyone who reaches eighteen to have a procedure called the Cure. Living with her aunt, uncle, and cousins in Portland, Maine, Lena Haloway is very much looking forward to being cured and living a safe, predictable life. She watched love destroy her mother and isn’t about to make the same mistake.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena meets enigmatic Alex, a boy from the Wilds who lives under the government’s radar. What will happen if they do the unthinkable and fall in love?

Men and women are separated to achieve permanent peace. No competition, no jealousy, no love. But what if everything you thought to be true, was just a facade to enforce compliance?

Andrea knows two things about turning eighteen:

  1. She is now required to partake in sexual encounters
  2. She is about to meet a man for the first time

What she didn’t expect:

Her entire world being altered

Two students will compete. Only one can win…

Jada Breaker is on track to graduate from Station Alpha when her best friend is murdered in a terrorist attack. Now, all Jada wants is to stop the violence between her home and Planet Earth – and there’s only one person standing in her way.


When Rowan Miles is assigned to compete against her, Jada knows it’s her responsibility to crush the competition. And that’s fine – how hard can it be to outwit a handsome high-school boy from Earth?


Apparently, harder than she thought. And the discovery of a shocking piece of evidence tied to her best friend’s death certainly isn’t making Jada’s life any easier.


As Jada unravels a complex tapestry of lies, cover-ups, and diversions, she’s forced to question whether the interplanetary terrorists truly live on the Earth below… or if they’re the people she sees each and every day.

Want more “Hidden Gems?” Check out this list of indie Books by Black authors.

Published by keshiamcentire

Journalist, Blogger, Dreamer. Portfolio at Keshiamcentire.wordpress.com. To change the world you'll need a pen.

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