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Best Dystopian YA

"My favourite part of reading dystopian books is learning the many versions of our world that authors create."

Book Cover Pulse Point

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. 


Book Cover Blood Red Road

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.


Book Cover The Scorpion Rules

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.


Book Cover Transferral

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!)


Book Cover The Marrow Thieves

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.

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