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Jen's YA Book Bucket List
YA dystopian bestsellers

Do you like reading YA novels like The Inheritance Games, Shatter Me, One of Us Is Lying, or The Hunger Games trilogy? If you're looking for recommendations for a novel with similar appeal, whether for yourself, for your book club, or for a gift, here's my YA Book Bucket List.

These novels are great for teens, young adults, and adults. Some are contemporary fiction. Others take place in a post-apocalyptic dystopian future world. Most include at least some romance. All of these books feature the journeys of great teenage characters that will touch your heart.

The works below range from 5-star-rated best sellers from New York Times and USA Today best-selling authors to hot new indie releases that have reached the top 100, top 10, and even the #1 spot on numerous Amazon best seller lists. All are fantastic and worth the read.

Which ones are you adding to your must-read Book Bucket List?

~Jen at mydreamcametrue.com

P.S. If you're a member of Amazon's Kindle Unlimited, the top 10 ebooks below are FREE to read!

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Books to add to your bucket list ...

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins

Teens fight for their lives in a government-sponsored death match.

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Above the Sky
by J.W. Lynne

A girl lives in a world where touching her soulmate is forbidden.

Eighteen-year-old Seven lives where all is peaceful ... except for the violent war raging above the sky. Lifelike humanoid robots and self-operated drones tend to everyone's needs, leaving people free to enjoy life's pleasures. But there are strict rules and few choices.

Every year, on Assignment Day, the path of each eighteen-year-old's life is laid out. Some are given the jobs for which they have shown exceptional aptitude and are "paired" for mating. The others are sent off to fight in The War and never return.

When Assignment Day comes for Seven, the assignments shatter everything she's ever believed. The rules force everyone to accept their fates, but Seven decides to do something unprecedented: to go against the Decision Makers' wishes.
The Giver by Lois Lowry The Giver
by Lois Lowry

A boy is assigned to an important position in his community and learns the truth about the past.

This haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.
The Unknown
by J.W. Lynne

Eight kids learn the shocking reason why they were kidnapped.

Eight kids, ages nine to seventeen, awaken to find that almost everything they have ever known has been stolen from them. They were ripped from their beds in the middle of the night and transported to an unfamiliar and unforgiving new world where there are strict rules, and they are punished if they refuse to obey.

As the kids grapple with their mysterious new reality, they struggle with disconcerting questions. Where in the world are they? Why were they taken away from their families? Will they ever get to go back home? And the most frightening question of all: Will this be the place where they die?
180 seconds book cover Jessica Park 180 Seconds
by Jessica Park

Two college students spend 180 seconds together and it changes their lives.

After a life spent bouncing from one foster home to the next, Allison is determined to keep others at arm’s length. Adopted at sixteen, she knows better than to believe in the permanence of anything.

One afternoon during her third year at college, Allison is roped into a social experiment where she is forced to interact with dreamy social media star Esben Baylor for 180 seconds.

The intensity of the experience overwhelms Allison and Esben in a way that unnerves and electrifies them both. Allison embarks on a journey to find out if what she and Esben shared is the real thing—and if she can finally trust in herself, in others, and in love. 
  The Darkness Outside
by J.W. Lynne

A teen is locked in a bunker to take a simulated trip to the moon.

Sixteen-year-old Lois is about to embark on a simulated lunar mission with her mom, dad, and thirteen-year-old sister, hoping to win a life-changing prize. They will be locked up with nine other families in a state-of-the-art bunker, where their every move will be judged by anonymous evaluators. Families that don’t have what it takes will be eliminated.

Lois thought that being eliminated from the competition was the worst thing that could happen to her.

She was dead wrong.
The Gender Game cover The Gender Game
by Bella Forest

A nineteen-year-old girl lives in a world divided by gender.

A toxic river divides nineteen-year-old Violet Bates's world by gender. 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. 
Configured book cover Jenetta Penner Configured
by  Jenetta Penner

A girl lives in a society where emotions are dangerous.

Seventeen-year-old Avlyn Lark is lucky to be alive, unlike her twin brother who died when they were four. And she's lucky to have been taken from her biological parents and assigned to a Level Two family. But mastering her emotions? That's a problem, especially when a rebel bomb blows up a building right in front of her.

On Configuration Day, Avlyn's official transition to adulthood, she's hired by Genesis Technologies, the government firm that monitors every citizen. Now, instead of blending in, Avlyn fears she'll be exposed for what she really is. If Gen Tech finds out how deeply she feels, it will ruin her life. And if they find out about her secret meetings with a mysterious member of the rebel forces, her life will be more than ruined. It will be over. 
by Laura Frances

A nineteen-year-old girl is forced onto a dangerous path.

There is no sun. There is no moon. There is only gray—the smog belched from coal-fueled factories. The Workers silently shuffle to their assigned posts. The Outcasts watch from the alley walls. On every corner, a Watcher stands stone-faced, a rifle in hand. This is the only life that exists. Beyond the mountains is a mystery and a dream. But dreams are foolish in a place like this.

Hannah has spent nineteen years dodging Watchers and doing as she is told. But when she wakes to the valley exploding in revolution, Hannah is forced onto a dangerous path, where nothing is what she believed. Suddenly freedom is in her grasp, and the way there requires working with the men she fears most.
Reason to Breathe by Rebecca Donovan Reason to Breathe
by Rebecca Donovan

An abused teen girl finds love.

In the affluent town of Weslyn, Connecticut, where most people worry about what to be seen in and who to be seen with, Emma Thomas would rather not be seen at all. She’s more concerned with feigning perfection—pulling down her sleeves to conceal the bruises, not wanting anyone to know how far from perfect her life truly is. Without expecting it, she finds love. It challenges her to recognize her own worth―at the risk of revealing the terrible secret she’s desperate to hide.
Turtles All the Way Down Turtles All the Way Down
by John Green

A teen girl suffering from anxiety disorder goes on a mission.

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green

A teen girl with cancer falls in love with a teen boy with cancer.

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky The Perks of Being a Wallflower
by Stephen Chbosky

A teen boy copes with first love, the suicide of his best friend, and his own mental illness.

Charlie is a freshman. And while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. He is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can't stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.
Divergent by Veronica Roth Divergent
by Veronica Roth

In a society where everyone must choose one faction, a teen girl discovers that she's Divergent, and therefore does not fit in to one faction.

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey The 5th Wave
by Rick Yancey

A teen girl tries to survive in a world devastated by the waves of an alien invasion that have devastated the Earth's population.

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie's only hope for rescuing her brother--or saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death.
Before I Fall cover Before I Fall
by Lauren Oliver

A teen experiences multiple versions of the last day of her life.

For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—"Cupid Day"—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.

However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined. 
Red Queen cover Red Queen
by Victoria Aveyard

A seventeen-year-old girl learns she has  magical powers.

Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood—those with common, Red blood serve the Silver-blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor village, until fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.
The Maze Runner by James Dashner The Maze Runner
by James Dashner

Awakening in an elevator, remembering nothing of his past, a teen boy emerges into a world of about thirty other boys, all without past memories.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround them is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying: Remember. Survive. Run. 
Looking for Alaska by John Green Looking for Alaska
by John Green

A boy falls in love with a self-destructive girl at his boarding school.

Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (François Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. 
If I Stay by Gayle Forman If I Stay
by Gayle Forman

A teen girl who is critically injured in a car accident is caught between life and death.

In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. 
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl cover Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
by Jesse Andrews

A high-school senior is forced to befriend a girl who is dying of cancer.

It is a universally acknowledged truth that high school sucks. But on the first day of his senior year, Greg Gaines thinks he’s figured it out. The answer to the basic existential question: How is it possible to exist in a place that sucks so bad? His strategy: remain at the periphery at all times. Keep an insanely low profile. Make mediocre films with the one person who is even sort of his friend, Earl.
This plan works for exactly eight hours. Then Greg’s mom forces him to become friends with a girl who has cancer. This brings about the destruction of Greg’s entire life. 
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs

A teen boy discovers a mysterious and dangerous place.

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive. 
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher Thirteen Reasons Why
by Jay Asher

A teen boy learns that there are thirteen reasons why a girl at his school decided to end her life, and he is one of them.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.
On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.
Matched by Ally Condie Matched
by Ally Condie

A teen girl who lives in a society where people are matched with their life partners questions whether she was matched with the right person.

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow. 
Legend by Marie Lu Legend
by Marie Lu

A teen girl goes searching for her brother's murderer.

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day is the suspect. Day and June are caught in a game of cat and mouse. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

You might also enjoy these popular posts:

Blind date with a YA book
Descriptions of great YA books in ten words or less
YA Dystopian Book Bucket List
Blind date with a dystopian book
YA Contemporary Book Bucket List