Books like Maze Runner have infiltrated the young adult fiction genre since the pentalogy’s debut in 2009. Award-winning author James Dashner crafted a post-apocalyptic, isolated community of misfit boys with no past memories. Thomas, the beloved 16-year-old protagonist, awakens in the Glade and begins an adrenaline-filled race for escape. Readers tightly gripped the pages as Thomas, Chuck, Teresa, and friends tried to solve the enigmatic, ever-changing Maze while dodging the horrifying Grievers. The WICKED adventures only got more intense in the following books like Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure.
Not only has Dashner’s heart-stopping survival series sold over 6.5 million copies, but it’s also been adapted onto the silver screen with star Dylan O’Brien. Gladers are holding their breath waiting for the next film to premiere in 2018. A second prequel titled The Fever Code will release this September, too. Until then, fans can dig into other books like Maze Runner for more non-stop action. Shelves of dystopian novels portray futuristic worlds where courageous teens must defeat corrupt governments and evil, undead opponents. If you’re searching for a great read, these 50 books like Maze Runner can get you hooked from page one.
Amy leaves everything behind to join her parents in the Project Ark Ship. She and 2,312 other passengers are cryogenically frozen aboard Godspeed and sent 300 years into the future to Centauri-Earth, a new planet. But 50 years before the scheduled landing, Amy’s chamber is abruptly unplugged. She violently awakens to find the cruel Eldest seized control of the ship. Can Amy escape her attempted killer again?
For fans of Maze Runner, this action-packed series begins after war nearly decimates the world’s humanity. Partials, engineered creatures, have wiped out populations with a deadly virus. Only a fraction of survivors remain on Long Island. Among them is Kira, a 16-year-old medical intern determined to stop the infestation. She persuades her friends and boyfriend Marcus to kidnap a Partial. But the harrowing mission sparks more questions than answers.
Red Rising introduces readers to a dystopian, color-coded society over 700 years after mankind populated other planets. Darrow, the 16-year-old protagonist, is a Red. The Reds toil endlessly to make Mars inhabitable for future generations. But Darrow finds that his fellow Reds are only slaves to the ruling Golds. After his beloved Eo’s hanging, Darrow joins the Sons of Ares, a Red terrorist group, to end the caste’s domination.
Beginning the Dust Lands series, this post-apocalytpic novel centers on Saba, a teenage girl living in a scorched, lawless wasteland called Silverlake. Along with her siblings Lugh and Emmi, Saba’s left scavenging landfills. But her twin brother is suddenly kidnapped by four shrouded horsemen. Saba begins a perilous quest into Hopetown for his rescue. The road leads her to joining the Free Hawks, fierce female warriors, and handsome daredevil Jack.
Orson Scott Card
Nebula Award-winning author Orson Scott Card wrote this 1985 classic about Earth’s future when humankind is imperiled by an alien species called “Buggers.” The government responds by training child geniuses. Andrew Wiggin, nicknamed Ender, is one child drafted to Battle School. Soon Colonel Hyrum Graff notices his superior tactical skills. Ender is promoted to general of the Salamander Army just as another Bugger attack is brewing.
Another of James Dashner’s books like Maze Runner is The Eye of Minds. This 336-page novel takes place in the 2120s when mankind has created a virtual reality called the VirtNet. As a rogue hacker starts manipulating VirtNet’s code for malevolence, Michael and his two friends, Bryson and Sarah, are recruited by the government. Together the trio must stop the criminal from causing mass destruction.
Four waves of alien invasions have decimated Earth and knocked mankind back to the Stone Age. Cassie Sullivan, a 16-year-old survivor from Ohio, is stricken with panic after her young brother vanishes. While searching the countryside for Sam, Cassie is shot by the “Others.” She narrowly escapes thanks to her rescuer, Evan Walker. After awaking at Camp Haven, Cassie must choose between following her fleeing instincts or trusting Evan.
Joy Montgomery, the 16-year-old orphaned daughter of Zephyr the Magnificent, lives in a dying Earth reigned by the ruthless Superiors. She’s among the Greenleigh orphans forced to build mechanical trees to keep their world breathing. Yearning for freedom from the Superiors’ abuse, Joy discovers her latent magic. With a mysterious stranger’s help, can she find a liberating spell for solace in the forbidden paradise beyond The Wall?
Perhaps the most famous books like Maze Runner are The Hunger Games trilogy. Years after North America is ruined, Panem is established with 12 districts surrounding the totalitarian Capitol. Annually, each district is forced to send one boy and one girl to the Arena for a televised death match. When her younger sister is chosen, 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen volunteers instead. Now her fate is sealed: kill or be killed.
America Singer, a fiery 17-year-old redhead, lives in a dystopian world with eight castes. Ones are the wealthiest while Eights are the poorest. America, a Five, is secretly in love with Aspen, a lowly Six. To her consternation, she’s Selected with 34 other girls vying for the Crown Prince Maxon Schreave’s heart. America has no interest in competing for the throne, until she accidentally meets the gorgeous Prince.
#11 – Delirium
In a near-future United States, love has been deemed a perilous disease. The totalitarian government forces every 18-year-old to undergo a procedure for “The Cure.” After witnessing her mother’s heartbreak, Lena Haloway is anxiously awaiting her 18th birthday. That’s until she meets Alex just three months before her treatment. He introduces her to the Wilds, a pack living under the regime’s radar. But can Lena take the risk of falling in love?
#12 – City of Bones
New York City never sleeps with vampires, warlocks, faeries, and evil spirits lurking. Clarissa Fray unknowingly enters the city’s dark underworld when visiting the Pandemonium Club. She’s drawn to the demon-killing Shadowhunters, especially their gorgeous leader Jace. Clary soon uncovers the truth that she’s not a mundane human. She’s thrust into an epic battle between the Shadowhunters and the Circle for the Mortal Cup.
#13 – Legend
Once the western United States, the Republic is a post-apocalyptic nation constantly at war. 15-year-old June is the prodigy daughter of the Republic’s wealthiest district. 15-year-old Day lives in the Slums. When June’s brother Metias is killed, Day becomes the prime suspect. She becomes hell-bent on avenging the murder, until she uncovers the Republic’s sinister secrets. Teaming up with Day, June enters an exhilarating game of cat and mouse.
#14 – Enclave
Debuting The Razorland trilogy, this YA novel introduces a post-apocalyptic New York City that’s been decimated by plague. Humankind has retreated underground into enclaves. On her 15th birthday, Deuce becomes a Huntress and gets partnered with Fade, a Hunter from Topside. Together they find that a neighboring enclave was killed by Freaks, terrifying tunnel monsters. But the Elders ignore their warnings and exile Deuce and Fade to daylight.
#15 – Uglies
Uglies begins a science fiction series about a post-scarcity, dystopian world 300 years in the future. The totalitarian government forces citizens to undergo cosmetic surgery at 16 to become “Pretty.” Tally Youngblood, a 15-year-old Ugly, is awaiting her operation. She befriends Shay, a fellow Ugly who urges Tally to avoid conformity with her in Smoke, a distant settlement. Although Tally declines, the cruel Dr. Cable forces her to locate Shay or stay Ugly forever.
#16 – Graceling
Katsa, the King’s niece, could kill a grown man with her bare hands since age eight. King Randa capitalizes on her Graced combat skills by making her his enforcer. But Katsa unexpectedly meets the stunning Prince Po. She joins forces with Po to rescue his grandfather, Tealiff, from coldblooded kidnappers. Their journey turns mortally dangerous when they discover Katsa’s true Grace and a secret that could annihilate all seven kingdoms.
#17 – City of Ember
This Mark Twain Award-winning novel begins the four-part Books of Ember series where darkness shrouds the post-apocalyptic Earth. Ember has been humankind’s last refuge with electricity for two centuries. But now the lamps are flickering. 12-year-old Lina Mayfleet and her best friend, Doon Harrow, are determined to fix the failing generator. After locating cryptic, ancient instructions, the pair heads into underground tunnels. Can they find a solution before blackout?
#18 – Matched
Published in 2010, Matched begins a YA trilogy about a futuristic, seemingly uptopian Society. Here the government maintains supreme power by “matching” citizens to their home, job, and mate at 17. Teenage Cassia Reyes is overjoyed that she’s Matched with her best friend, Xander. However, a tech glitch causes her microcard to display a picture of Ky Markham. Is this shy, handsome outcast her true Match?
#19 – Birthmarked
Caragh M. O’Brien
Birthmarked takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where the sun-baked world is divided. Gaia Stone, a 16-year-old midwife, lives outside the Wall. Gaia and her mother are dutifully responsible for handing over three babies to the inner Enclave each month. But then her parents are inexplicably arrested by the Enclave without offense. Gaia begins to question their elite authority and plots a perilous rescue attempt.
#20 – The Moon Dwellers
Fans of books like Maze Runner will adore David Estes’ sci-fi novel about a post-apocalyptic, underground society called the Tri-Realms. 17-year-old Adele belongs to the middle-class Moon Dwellers. When her parents and sister are kidnapped by the elite Enforcers, Adele becomes unjustly imprisoned for their treasonous crimes. Here she conspires with fellow inmates, Tawni and Cole, for escape. Can she beat the odds and evade the deranged President’s wrath?
#21 – Mortal Danger
Starting Ann Aguirre’s The Immortal Game series, this YA novel centers on Edie Kramer, a high school sophomore pushed to suicide by bullies at Blackbriar Academy. She’s about to jump from the Brooklyn Bridge when the handsome Kian suddenly appears. He offers her an alternative: three favors. Edie wishes to be beautiful and get revenge. But she’s now indebted to a “company” of immortals and sucked into a deadly game.
#22 – The Hunt
Mankind is facing extinction as vampire-like monsters seize control. Gene, one of the last remaining humans, hides in plain sight by wearing fake fangs. He goes to great lengths to conceal his identity and avoid becoming his classmates’ lunch. Then Gene is chosen for the next Heper Hunt. His carefully constructed life crumbles as Gene meets an alluring girl and attracts suspicion from some ruthless hunters.
#23 – Wither
Botched tries to engineer a perfect race have created a genetic time bomb. Males have a lifespan of 25 years, and females live just 20 years. Rhine Ellergy, a 16-year-old, has only four years left alive. Rhine is kidnapped and sold into marriage to Linden. She soon finds that her husband’s father is a bizarre doctor hoarding corpses to find a miracle cure. Together with Linden’s servant, Gabriel, Rhine must escape before time ceases.
#24 – Incarceron
Incarceron takes readers to a futuristic prison so immense it contains entire dilapidated cities and barred corridors. Finn, a 17-year-old prisoner, has vague memories of living on the Outside. He’s determined to follow in Sapphique’s footsteps and escape. His chance to break fee comes from Claudia, the warden’s daughter. She’s determined to leave her sequestered life and arranged marriage. Finn and Claudia discover a crystal key. Can it liberate their future?
#25 – Skylark
Lark Ainsley lives in a dystopian society sustained by a domed barrier of energy. The totalitarian government harvests teenagers’ innate magical energy to keep the dome aloft. At 16, it’s time for Lark to begin her harvesting. But soon the city discovers that she’s a Renewable and able to regenerate power. Lark’s now forced to flee an unimaginable fate as the city’s human battery.
#26 – Divergent
Veronica Roth’s books like Maze Runner start with Divergent. This best-selling, YA novel features a post-apocalyptic Chicago divided into five factions. 16-year-old Beatrice Prior was born into an Abnegation family. At her Choosing Ceremony, her aptitude test is indecisive, so Beatrice chooses to join Dauntless. After renaming herself Tris, she begins initiation training with instructor “Four.” But Tris discovers she’s a Divergent and won’t fit into one faction.
#27 – Pure
Nuclear detonations have left Earth in a pile of ash and dust. Pressia, one of the burned survivors, lives in rubble behind a barbershop with her grandfather. She’s determined to avoid capture by the militia. Meanwhile, Partridge is among the unmarked Pures living under a Dome. Battling claustrophobia, he risks his life to escape the Dome and find his mother. When Pressia and Partridge meet, their worlds forever fuse.
#28 – Mortal Engines
Philip Reeve’s quartet of teen sci-fi novels takes place in a dystopian, steam-powered future ravaged by the “Sixty Minute War.” Nomadic leader Nikola Quercus installed motorized wheels for London to move and consume the resources of smaller towns. Tom, an apprentice at the London Museum, uncovers the mayor’s deadly plot for domination. He teams with the historian’s daughter, Katherine, to stop the carnage. Can they survive in this city-eat-city world?
#29 – The Giver
This Newbery Medal winner portrays the life of Jonas, a 12-year-old living in a “utopian” world without poverty, crime, or illness. Careers are chosen sensibly by the Elders. Jonas has been selected as the Receiver of Memories. His life assignment requires Jonas to process the community’s collective memories. Now Jonas is haunted by the deep, dark secrets of his society before Sameness. He meets the Giver and plots an escape to Elsewhere.
#30 – Sand
From the author of the Silo saga, this fantasy novel shows a post-apocalyptic world forged atop shifting, infernal sand dunes. Four siblings: Palmer, Vic, Connor, and Rob, find their lives scattered. Haunted by his father’s abandonment 12 years ago, Palmer wants to earn his family’s respect by sand-diving. He plunges beneath the desert’s floor, searching for relics from the former city. But Palmer’s about to embark on his most dangerous dive.
#31 – The Left Hand of God
Thomas Cale, a 16-year-old soldier, has grown up imprisoned at the Sanctuary of the Redeemers. He’s one of thousands of young men kidnapped or sold and trained for hand-to-hand warfare. They’re preparing for an imminent holy war between the Redeemers and Antagonists. Thomas feels hopeless than there’s life beyond the compound’s walls, until he finds a secret door. What follows is a daring, jaw-dropping escape.
#32 – BZRK
Everyone loving action-packed, dystopian books like Maze Runner will enjoy BZRK. The near-future Earth is plunged into war for control of the human mind. Conjoined twins, Charles and Benjamin, own the Armstrong Fancy Gifts Corp. The brothers are plotting to create a utopia without wars, hunger, or free will. The only resistance comes from a group of teenagers code named BZRK. Can they find victory in this nano-level war against madness?
#33 – A Confusion of Princes
As a child, Khermi was kidnapped from his parents and enhanced with superhuman strengths. Reaching adulthood, he’s trained to become a Prince of the intergalactic Empire. But his Master of Assassins warns Khermi that he’s in grave danger. Other Princes want him dead to become Emperor. After one particularly heated space battle, Khermi meets a young woman named Raine. She begins to challenge his view of the Empire.
#34 – Inside Out
Maria V. Snyder
Inside Out tells the story of Trella, a scrub working in the lowest level of the post-apocalyptic world. Nicknamed the “Queen of the Pipes,” she’s responsible for keeping Inside clean for the elite Uppers. Trella secretly sneaks from the ductwork into the Upper level. She’s successfully avoided the Pop Cops, until she accidentally sparks a rebellion. Now Trella becomes the Inside’s go-to leader for stopping the oppression.
#35 – Shatter Me
Tahereh Mafi’s dystopian thriller centers on Juliette, a superhuman 17-year-old born with a mortal touch. Three years ago, Juliette touched and accidentally murdered a small boy. She’s sent to an asylum by The Reestablishment. It’s exactly 264 days without human contact before Juliette receives a handsome cellmate, Adam Kent. But as the world deteriorates, The Reestablishment recruits Juliette. She’s forced to decide between being a weapon or warrior.
#36 – The Darkest Minds
On her 10th birthday, Ruby’s life changed forever. Something frightening caused Ruby’s parents to lock her in the garage. She gets sent to Thurmond, a cruel “rehabilitation camp.” She learns that she’s survived a mysterious illness that wiped out most American children. Now 16, Ruby and the others have superhuman skills they can’t control. Faced with a brutal fate, Ruby plans escape to a safe haven, East River.
#37 – Renegade
Renegade introduces an underwater, utopian world called Elysium. Here 16-year-old Evelyn Winter lives a seemingly perfect life. She’s been chosen from hundreds of children to become the Daughter of the People. Evelyn’s devoted herself to The Law, until a gorgeous Surface Dweller named Gavin accidentally stumbles into Elysium. She discovers the startling truth that her mind is being controlled. And her “Mother” has a secret that could destroy her.
#38 – The Water Wars
Hundreds of millions of people have succumbed to dehydration. The post-apocalyptic Earth is facing deadly drought. Precious water is being controlled by a powerful few. Vera and her older brother, Will, are struggling to care for their ill mother. They befriend Kai, the wealthy son of a wildcat water-driller. But then he mysteriously vanishes. The siblings track Kai to a shady monopoly planning to exploit his clairvoyance.
#39 – The Hollow People
The Hollow People takes readers to Tarnager, a sinister, fortress-like island where the rules of Dr. Sigmundus are strictly followed. Dante is a lowly kitchen boy who’s raised himself after his mother’s suicide. Bea, a doctor’s daughter, is preparing for her coming-of-age ceremony where she’ll take Ichor and begin her dream-free life. But when Bea and Dante’s lives cross paths, she begins to question the lies she once accepted.
#40 – The Forsaken
Lisa M. Stasse
Alenna, an obedient orphan, lives in a super-country called UNA that was once the United States, Canada, and Mexico. She’s lead a meek, boring childhood since her parents were taken by police. Now turning 16, Alenna must take the Government Personality Profile Test. Her results unexpectedly find a high capacity for crime. Alenna’s suddenly shipped with other deviants to Prison Island Alpha and thrust into chaotic civil war.
#41 – The Farm
Undead, vampiristic monsters called Ticks have invaded America. Surviving young people are herded and quarantined on the Farm. 17-year-old Lily and her autistic twin sister, Mel, are among the latest roundup. Lily secretly plots their escape to avoid being sacrificed by the Dean. But Carter, a former schoolmate, shows up and complicates her plan. Carter warns Lily that behind the Ticks is an even more ominous threat to humankind.
#42 – Ashes
Ilsa J. Bick
An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) flashes across Earth, killing electronic devices and billions of people. Alex, a troubled orphan, was hiking into secluded wilderness in Michigan when the pulse zaps the ground. She bands together with a small group of survivors, including Tom and Ellie. But Alex soon discovers that not everyone can be trusted. Rage-infected humans are beckoning a zombie apocalypse no one may endure.
#43 – Ashfall
Alex, an ordinary teenage boy, is enjoying a weekend home alone. That’s until the supervolcano beneath Yellowstone National Park suddenly erupts. His hometown plunges into darkness and three feet of ash. Desperate to find his family, Alex dons skis and begins a harrowing trek. Along the way, he meets the strong-willed Darla. Together, they must fight off the looters, murderers, and cannibals as civilization crumbles into pieces.
#44 – The Supernaturalist
Unwanted by his parents, 14-year-old Cosmo Hill is sent to the Clarissa Frayne Institute for Parentally Challenged Boys. Here the totalitarian government employs orphans in testing highly dangerous products. Cosmo ends his first day covered in burns and bruises. So he seizes a chance at escape by joining the Supernaturalists, teens who can see Parasites that feed on humankind. Soon they’re caught in a web trying to save what’s left of Satellite City.
#45 – Living Hell
Living Hell portrays a post-apocalyptic world where life on Earth only exists in history books. 17-year-old Cheney has lives his entire life aboard the Plexus spacecraft. The self-contained, serene ship nurtures more than one thousand people. That’s until a radiation wave causes Plexus to turn terrifying. The ship now recognizes its inhabitants as parasitic intruders needing eviction. Cheney and his friends must fight back before Plexus destroys them all.
#46 – Shade’s Children
Inspiring many books like Maze Runner, Shade’s Children is a classic 1998 novel taking place in a futuristic wasteland ruled by evil Overlords. It’s been decreed that no children can live past their 14th birthday. At this age, adolescents are harvested for the building of machine-like monsters who exterminate adversaries. Shade, a mysterious, computer-generated adult, picks four children to escape this horrific fate. Can they plot the Overlords’ downfall?
#47 – Variant
This Whitney Award-winning novel centers around 17-year-old Benson Fisher. He’s excited to leave his dead-end life and study on scholarship at Maxfield Academy, until he arrives. Benson discovers that there’s no teachers or grades. The school’s split into three “gangs” and surrounded by wire fencing. Video cameras monitor every student’s move because breaking the four rules equals death. Now all Benson wants is to escape this haunting, bizarre prison.
#48 – Ashes, Ashes
Epidemics, floods, and droughts have wiped out 99 percent of Earth’s population. Everyone 16-year-old Lucy knew has succumbed to plague. For a year, Lucy has survived alone in the wilds of New York City’s Central Park. When she’s attacked by vicious dogs, she reluctantly joins her mysterious rescuer, Aidan. As their romance develops, Lucy makes herself home in Aidan’s Scavenger camp. But she’s secretly being targeted by the cruel Sweepers.
#49 – Unwind
The United States is left dilapidated after the Heartland War was fought over abortion. The government now allows parents to “unwind” their children from 13 to 18 years old. Unwanted teens are killed for their body parts at harvesting camps. Desperate to avoid being unwound, Connor Lassiter, Risa Ward, and Lev Calder attempt to hide. They find solace working with the Admiral at an airplane junkyard, but will they reach their 18th birthdays?
#50 – The Shore of Monsters
David J. Nix
A century earlier, murderous monsters obliterated most of humanity and cursed infant boys with plague. Few, strong-willed women are maintaining the race in small, island communities. 17-year-old Sky Calloway has been recruited by the Order to scavenge for limited resources. Her search takes her to the monster-infested shore. After a terrible attack, Sky’s left alone to survive among the dark, feared creatures.
Satiate your hunger for more thrilling reads with high-stakes plots in troubled, ruthless worlds by picking up some of these 50 great dystopian books like Maze Runner.