The Center for Children's Books


Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Dystopia - May 2008

Selected and annotated by Emilyn Larsen-Ferree


Adlington, L.J. The Diary of Pelly D, Greenwillow Books, 2005. Grades 7-10.
Tony V is part of a clean-up crew demolishing City Five after the end of the War. He finds the diary of a girl named Pelly D., who describes her carefree life that increasingly turns dark as her diary progresses. There were three major gene families, the Atsumisi, Mazzini, Galrezi, but the first two turned on the third. Pelly D.’s diary reveals the events from her perspective as the Galrezi are exterminated, and Tony V must deal with his newfound knowledge of the events of the War. Events the government is trying to cover up.

Blackman, Malorie. Naughts & Crosses, Simon & Schuster, 2005. Grades 9-12.
Callum and Sephy have been friends since childhood when Callum’s family were servants in Sephy’s family’s household. Sephy is a Cross, the ruling class of society due to their dark skin, and Callum is a naught, white skinned, and therefore blank in society. Sephy and Callum strongly desire to be together, but their society is going through social upheaval and both also wish to stay true to their families, who want them to stay apart.

Carman, Patrick. Atherton: The House of Power, Little, Brown and Co., 2007. Grades 5-8.
Atherton is a three-tiered world with a strictly divided social structure, where the elite live on the topmost tier, called the Highlands. Edgar is an orphan who lives on the middle tier, Tabletop. His life changes when he finds a book that reveals that the Highlands are sinking and will soon be on a level with Tabletop, upsetting the social structure.

DeVita, James. The Silenced, HarperCollins, 2007. Grades 7-9.
Sent to a concentration camp-like Youth Training Facility due to her parents’ political activity, Marena is not content to let the Zero Tolerance party control her life. Beginning with small acts of rebellion and later forming the White Rose as a resistance movement, Marena challenges the status quo and the control of Zero Tolerance.

Gates, Susan. Beyond the Billboard, Harcourt, 2005. Grades 6-9.
The twins Ford and Firebird live near a large city, but are disconnected from it by the large billboard separating their land from the edge of the city. Their grandmother and father have repeatedly told them of their connection to the swamp where they live and their independence from the city. This all breaks down following two tragedies and exposes the elaborate set of secrets that have surrounded their lives.

Goobie, Beth. Flux, Orca Book Publishers, 2004. Grades 8-12.
Nellie and her mother left the strictly controlled Interior for the Outbacks when she was ten. Eight months later her mother disappeared. Now twelve, Nellie protects and feeds herself with her ability to alter her molecular state to enter parallel realities (levels). She is unsure where this ability comes from, until the Skulls, a group of troublemaking boys in the Outbacks, shave her head to reveal four scars in her scalp. This book is the first in a series and the answers to the disappearances of Nellie’s mother, and now some of the children in the Outbacks, are far from being clear to Nellie.

Goobie, Beth. Fixed, Orca Book Publishers, 2005. Grades 8-12.
At the end of Flux, Nellie finds out she has a twin sister, Nellie Joanne (an advanced cadet in the Black Core program). Nellie Joanne has been brainwashed in her program and believes she kills heretics for the Goddess. Nellie and her friend Deller decide to try to rescue Nellie Joanne, but she kills Deller and takes Nellie to her superiors. Nellie Joanne begins to question what she has always believed to be the truth and must decide between that and what her sister tells her is true.

Keaney, Brian. The Hollow People, Alfred A. Knopf, 2006. Grades 7-9.
Dante and Beatrice live on an island where the teachings of Dr. Sigmundus are law, the adults are pacified by a drug called Ichor, and the lands outside the island are just as dangerous as their current home. Bea is nearing her coming-of-age when she will receive her first dose of Ichor, when hope in the form of a mysterious patient who is strong enough to resist Ichor and electroshock therapy arrives at the hospital where her parents work.

Lanagan, Margo. Black Juice, HarperCollins, 2004. Grades 7-12.
This collection of ten stories encompasses everything from a boy witnessing his sister’s public execution to a girl who has been cast out by society saving a boy from the creatures that made her an outcast and having him betray her kindness. These stories see all of their characters undergo life changing events that change them for the better or for the worse.

Lanagan, Margo. White Time, HarperCollins, 2006. Grades 9-12.
Lanagan here presents a collection of ten short stories that challenge the imagination and plays with multiple word meanings. Stories include those such as “The boy who didn’t yearn” about a young, lonely, psychically gifted girl who creates the perfect boyfriend from her own wishes.

Malley, Gemma. The Declaration, Bloomsbury, 2007. Grades 7-9.
Anne is born a surplus child of parents on longevity drugs. She is taken and indoctrinated and goes on to teach others self-loathing and obeying orders. Then Peter is brought to Surplus Hall, and his arrival is shocking because he is a teen and refuses indoctrination. He tells Anne of the world outside and its possibilities and makes her begin to question her life at Surplus Hall.

McNaughton, Janet. The Secret Under My Skin, HarperCollins, 2005. Grades 6-10.
In the twenty-third century, children without parents and a low Use-Rating, like Blay, are lucky to be fed and sheltered. Blay is sought out to tutor Marella, a young woman with a unique status, because her library record indicates she is a good reader. Marella shoves the studying off on Blay, and Blay takes the opportunity to educate herself just as her world undergoes revolution and the social system is turned upside down.

Stahler, David. Truesight, HarperCollins, 2004. Grades 5-9.
Jacob lives in a created colony, Harmony, in which people are genetically modified to be born blind. Harmony residents are raised to be disdainful of Seers because they neglect each other and their inner lives in favor of concentrating on their appearances. When Jacob begins to see after a series of headaches, he realizes the hypocrisy and corruption of Harmony but can say nothing to others or risk their contempt due to his ability to see.

Stahler, David. The Seer, HarperCollins, 2007. Grades 6-9.
Second book in The Truesight Trilogy. In this installment of the trilogy, Jacob leaves Harmony after his ability to see makes him an outcast among the Blinders. He enters the world of the commercial cities to find his childhood friend Delaney. Jacob also begins to experience nightmares related to his growing powers, which he does not yet understand.

Westerfield, Scott. Uglies, Simon Pulse, 2005. Grades 6-10.
Tally is an ugly, looking forward to the day she turns sixteen and undergoes surgery to become a Pretty and go to New Pretty Town. In the meantime, she pulls tricks with her friend Shay, who doesn’t share her desire to become a Pretty. Shay leaves the city to join others who don’t want to be Pretties, and Tally is recruited by Special Circumstances to find and turn in the rebels. Things become more complicated when Tally begins to sympathize with the rebels.

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