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I’m going hard on my book club theme this month, I guess. I’ve also just wanted to do another loved, hated, can’t wait to read post and dystopian books are something that I read a lot of and had enough to cover the loved and hated.
You’ll notice a couple of trends in this post: I can tell you why I hated a book but struggle with sharing what I like. I just liked it, ok? And I tend to like the beginning of a series but not the end.
I did one of these last July, I think when I did my thrill-a-thon read along! This is just a fun way to share some older books I’ve read and loved, some I’ve very much not enjoyed, and others I have on my TBR.
If you have advice on articulating what you like about a book, I’d love to hear that in the comments!
- If you want to listen to some of these, consider trying Audible! You can get your first month free (one free book) plus tons of others they have for free. Get that Audible deal here.
- If you’re on more of a budget, try Scribd! You can get your first month free there. You can read books and listen to audiobooks. It is unlimited (especially the reading) but if you listen to tons of new audiobooks you may be restricted after a few. I don’t listen to enough to confirm this, but I do use Scribd myself and like it a lot.
- If you want to read more on your Kindle but don’t want to buy books, Kindle Unlimited is a wonderful option. It’s $9.99 a month but if you read a lot and like to read more than just new releases, it could be worth it. Get Kindle Unlimited here!
- Get $5 off of $25 from BookOutlet! This is a great place to find new books for pretty cheap. They also have sales quite a bit, so keep an eye out for those. I tend to check here for books I want if they’re more expensive other places. They don’t have everything but they do have a lot. Get that deal here.
- Thrift Books has become my go-to when I’m looking for a book and want it cheap. It’s great if you like buying used books. With this you can get a free book after spending $30!
- Shop my book lists here! You can find every book list I have on Bookshop.org (except my monthly round-ups) and I add everything I can but they occasionally won’t have some. I do occasionally add extras though. If any lists are empty, they’ll be filled in shortly! Shop my bookshop.org book lists here.
I actually had a hard time thinking of four that I loved because most that I read I think are pretty much just fine. They’re not great, they’re not terrible, but I managed to find four that I enjoyed a lot more than others.
The Seven Stages of War have left most of the planet a charred wasteland. The elite students of the university are in charge of renewing it and are chosen through The Testing.
Malencia Vale is honored to be chosen for it and eager to prove her worthiness as a student and future leader. But on the night she leaves, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies – trust no one.
Why I loved it: It’s a classic first-in-a-series Dystopian book. It’s nothing particularly unique but I really enjoyed the whole premise of it. I also loved the whole series and I know a lot of people complained about it but I’m a fan.
Kids around the country strive to be part of The Testing so they can go to the university which I liked. Instead of having to fight for survival or to feed their district, they just want to go to school which turns out to be not what anyone knew at all. I loved it.
The Hunger Games
The ruins of North America are now known as Panem, a luxurious capitol surrounded by twelve districts. Every year, one boy and one girl from each district are chosen to fight to the death in The Hunger Games to keep citizens in line.
Katniss has been close to death before but when her sister is chosen for the games, she volunteers to take her place and considers this a death sentence. But survival is second-nature to her and she isn’t just fighting for her life now, but for love, too.
Why I loved it: It’s just the modern-classic YA dystopian. The fact that kids, for some reason, are chosen to fight to the death to feed their district is just wild. Like, why kids? Why not the adults? How can you not like it? If you don’t like it, I’d love to hear why!
The Rule of One
In a near-future United States, a one-child policy is heavily enforced. Everyone follows the Rule of One but Ava and Mira Goodwin slipped through and secretly live as identical twins.
They’ve lived as one for eighteen years but now their worst nightmare is coming true: they’ve been exposed and have to fight for their lives.
Why I loved it: One thing that intrigued me with this is that it’s in the near future United States, so it’s not horribly far off and felt like it could actually happen. Some of the technology maybe not, but the government and the Republic of Texas? Yes.
I liked the twins and seeing how their relationship evolved once they were outed as two people. I enjoyed it a lot and read the second one right away then impatiently waited months for the final one.
This Mortal Coil
All hope seems lost for Catarina when a lone soldier, Cole, shows up with news of Lachlan Agata’s death. Her father was the world’s leading geneticist and the best shot at defeating the deadly Hydra virus. Deep in Cole’s genehacked enhancements she finds out Lachlan made a vaccine and it’s Cats job to decrypt and unravel it, but the closer she gets, the more at risk she is from Cartaxus.
Why I loved it: I loved that this one was a little different than most dystopians. I think it was a good mix of survival/dystopian. It wasn’t like most where everyone that’s left survived a virus or was just part of a changed society, but the virus was still ravaging the country.
It was still futuristic with all the technology they had which I thought was really cool. Someone was recently telling me about Nerualink by Elon Musk and this was the first thing I thought of.
This was not hard to find four books for. Well, three were pretty easy and the fourth I had a hard time with. It was between Mockinjay and The Rule of All, which thinking about it now is maybe one I liked less. But I’m keeping Mockingjay here. You can see what I thought of The Rule of All here though.
With the truth of Recruitment finally revealed, Kress and Render lead her group of Seventeens on a dangerous journey where nothing is ever quite what it seems.
I did not like this one, obviously, and the first one was just OK, so I don’t think you should bother with either. But the first was better than this one, still not great.
Why I hated it: This is direct from Good Reads because I had some pretty specific thoughts about this.
Two big issues with this book.
1. The author makes it seem like the entire Southwest US is all red except for in the mountains. It’s not. At all. They leave the west gate of Salt Lake City and it’s just red as far as they can see? No. Not for hundred of miles south. Reno? No. It’s brown along with most of the desert. And it’s only 20 years in the future, there’s no way all of the desert became red.
2. NO WAY is a 13 year old running some rebellion takeover. She sounds like she’s 40. I get that situations like this could age you faster than normal but that’s just too much for me.
Ok three things. Canadians are flooding the northern border because of climate change in the southern provinces. Really? The southern ones? Not the ones in the north that are actually being affected? And why are the southern provinces affected but not the northern states they’re flooding in to?
I take back that 2.5. It’s just 2 for me
This is the final book in the series and as much as I hated this one, the first two were enjoyable so i don’t want to ruin anything here in case you want to read those.
Just know the series pay-off is not good but I liked the first two enough. I would just stop after number two though.
Why I hated it: I’m pulling this one direct from Good Reads, too because there were so many thoughts about this one. Thinking about this one still baffles me and I just can’t wrap my head around this.
There are spoilers here but since none of the story made sense anyway, I’m not sure it will matter if you read them, but you’ve been warned: SPOILERS BELOW!
Ugh. Where to even start? The non-ending? The shockingly high number of typos and errors? The details that don’t make sense?
Ok. The non-ending. WHAT WAS THAT!? I read over 600 pages total in this series to not even really know how it ends? Is everything the same as it was this whole time?
Her friends that despised OBK now all love it and somehow she disrupts everything with one prick of blood but we don’t even know how? Nothing even changed. The government or OBK or whatever still controls everything as far as we know so this was all for LITERALLY NOTHING.
There’s a disclaimer in the beginning that it was written and edited in the UK so things like spelling and punctuation may differ from the US but this has to many mistakes, typos, weirdly worded sentences (like they wrote it then changed it but didn’t take out all the words they should have) that have nothing to do with UK English. Also, was this even edited at all!?
Now for some random thoughts I noted while I was reading which I literally never do these just bothered me that much:
Logan and Peter couldn’t be seen together in public becaus eots suspicious but they have lunch together immediately and at work! Where people know them! Then they meet up again in public.
In the second book her story was that she spent time with homeless people but this one says they’re extinct
Why are they in a quarantine? Why a lockdown? What contagion does she have?
How does the entire world get this lifelong AV update thing? Do they have some technology in them already? I don’t get this.
Did OBK shut down the entire world after the attack? Just the US? What was the threat they told people? Do I just not remember?
How does peter delay his appointment so long? It’s originally the next day then all of a sudden it’s over a week later? And he just isn’t going to work during this or what?
There is just one world government now? Is that what this is?
I’m glad this is over.
I know a lot of people do love this series and it is fairly popular. This is the third (and thankfully final) book in the series and I don’t want to ruin anything so I won’t put the description here.
Why I hated it: Nothing happens! Literally nothing happens. I read what, like, 700 pages combined between the first two books to get to this and I still DNF’d it! It’s at least 200 pages too long and even at 300 pages in, NOTHING HAPPENS! Ugh. I’m mad just thinking about it now haha.
The best part about this book besides it being the end, was that it wasn’t a typical “war then freedom third book in a dystopian series” book. But I still didn’t like it.
I even looked up spoilers for the end before I decided to DNF it and SPOILERS: she doesn’t even end up with either guy! They all just go their separate ways! Which is totally fine and better than something forced that doesn’t really fit the character, but it’s just. Ugh.
Since this is such a popular book and movie series, I’m still going to include a description here since most people probably already know what happens. So, SPOILERS BELOW just in case.
Katniss wasn’t randomly rescued from the Quarter Quell. That was by design as she was unknowingly the face of the revolution as District 13 comes out of the shadow to overthrow the government.
The success of the rebellion lies on Katniss’s willingness to participate and change the lives of everyone in the future.
Why I hated it: Ok, so I didn’t officially hate this one but I didn’t like it that much either. SPOILERS BELOW!!
Oh, forcing characters into something that doesn’t really fit at the end of a series? Katniss and peeta’s kid? Oh, yeah, that’s what I mean. I know some people like that ending, but it felt forced and not like what Katniss wanted or needed.
I think she needed to just be herself and work through, oh, you know, the trauma of being in two Hunger Games and the face of a rebellion that you didn’t want to do? I always saw her as child-less and more ‘fun aunt’ than mother. I just didn’t like it.
I also don’t like when the third book in a dystopian series is just war. And that’s all this was. War. That’s one thing I liked about The Testing series so much, there isn’t a full out war. There is rebellion and some fighting but not like this.
Can’t wait to read
Finally, the ones I can’t wait to read. These were easy to pick since I’ve wanted to read all of these for a while but there are a million dystopians on my TBR so I wouldn’t have had a hard time picking any.
It’s 2032 and all citizens are chipped and tracked. It’s almost impossible to survive as an undocumented immigrant, but Vali and her family are doing it.
It’s all going well until her mother’s counterfeit chip malfunctions and they’re forced to flee to California, a sanctuary state walled off from the rest of the country, when Deportation Forces raid their town.
Why I can’t wait to read it: I’ve started to enjoy and look forward to near-future dystopians more than I originally thought. Recruitment (the first Render book) takes place in like, 2032 also and I hated that. It didn’t work for that one but I also think it made it seem like the landscape and geography of the US dramatically changed and I just don’t think it could that much in so little time.
But this is something that I could absolutely see happening because, well, immigration is a current hot topic and not something I see changing quickly. Plus, you can already get chipped for stuff, so this one just feels like it could happen which is interesting to me.
Shae has led a seemingly quiet life but has been secretly keeping her fears at bay, of the disease that took her brothers life, of her dreams bleeding into reality, of the Bards, a group of justice seekers claiming to use the magic of Telling to keep the community safe.
But when her mother is murdered, she can’t pretend anymore.
Why I can’t wait to read it: I honestly don’t know why I’m so excited to read this one, but I am. I won it from Good Reads last year and forgot about it but when I saw it at bookstores I was like, oh yeah, I want to read that, and then realized I had it!
I think the really cool cover helps.
Layla and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens. Now she’s fighting for freedom with the help of new friends in the camp and her boyfriend outside of it. They’re leading the revolution in the camp against the director and his guards.
Why I can’t wait to read it: This is another near-future one that just seems really intriguing to me because it’s absolutely something that could actually happen. Like, it’s actually scary thinking about how likely this could be and I just really look forward to this one.
The Grace Year
Speaking of the Grace Year is forbidden. In Garner County, girls are told they can lure grown men from their beds and drive women mad with jealousy, that their skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac. This is why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild to return purified and ready for marriage. If they return at all.
Why I can’t wait to read it: This one sounds a little weird but I am very curious about what really happens during this mysterious sixteenth year. I’ll definitely be reading this one very soon. It’s different than typical dystopians since most focus on fighting for survival in some strange way, and this also does but in a totally different way than I’ve seen before.
Have you read any of these dystopian books? Which ones? What are some you’ve loved, hated, and can’t wait to read?