Last Updated on November 29, 2023 by Louisa
I love a dystopian romance novel because it always excites me and terrifies me simultaneously.
They transport you into a new world in the future where everything seems the same, but different, in the most unimaginable ways.
The creativity and innovation that goes into creating these worlds have always been something I’ve admired about dystopian authors.
Paired with romance, and you’re into a winning genre.
If you’re intrigued by the concept of dystopian romance books, but you’re not sure where to look, don’t worry, I’ve got your back.
In this guide, I’ve pulled together the most tantalizing dystopian romance novels to add to your reading list.
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What To Expect From Dystopian Romance Books?
Dystopian romance novels are a thrilling blend of danger and love, set in an alternate world that’s been torn apart either by civil unrest, social issues, or oppressive power structures.
These stories often feature complex characters who are struggling to survive amidst the chaos while also exploring the possibility of love in a dangerous environment.
You can expect secondary themes of family conflicts or struggles, community, loss of identity, politics, morality, and hope.
Dystopian romance books typically feature a plot packed with suspense and action, with intrigue and unexpected twists.
The romance element may not always be at the forefront, as characters often face moral dilemmas, not just about romance but about the world they live in while striving to find a place where they can survive in a new world.
What makes dystopian romances so exciting is that the stakes are often high, but so is the potential for finding real love between two people amidst an uncertain future.
As well as having a love story you can swoon over, readers can expect to be faced with some thought-provoking messages to ponder on whilst they are excited by the action sequences.
The Best Dystopian Romance Books
So without further ado, here are the best dystopian romance books to add to your reading list.
1. Divergent – Veronica Roth
I begin my list with one of my favorite dystopian novels in the young adult genre. Divergent is an international bestseller and multi-award winning book.
In a dystopian future, the very changed city of Chicago is ruled by factions. A world where one girl is presented with a choice will have repercussions that will change the world around her.
Tris, like all sixteen-year-olds, must choose her faction from one of five: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amnity, and Erudite.
But her family has grown up in Abnegation, so her choice will be between her heart and her family. And she makes a decision that shocks everyone.
After she chooses Dauntless, she is put through an intense investigation along the way. As she navigates this new faction, she learns a secret that could be the downfall of everything she knows.
This is a gripping, fast-paced novel. It challenges the ideas around categorizing yourself and finding your purpose and life. And of course, Divergent has just the perfect amount of romance.
Related Reading: The Best Books Like Divergent and The Hunger Games
2. The Darkest Minds – Alexandra Bracken
This is the first in a fairly recent series about a dystopian world where children are the dangerous ones. A quick, exciting novel that makes the reader rethink what they think is dangerous.
America’s children are dying, and no one knows why. On her 10th birthday, Ruby wakes up, and everything has changed, enough that she is immediately sent away from home and to a government “rehabilitation home” called Thurmond.
Because unlike all the other children who have died, Ruby has been left with something worse, dangerous powers that she can’t control.
She’s kept her extremely volatile abilities a secret until she breaks out of Thurmond at 16, looking for other kids like her.
I enjoyed The Darkest Minds a lot, and even though it was written a few years ago, it feels very relevant today.
The writing is excellent, and it’s a page-turner that will have you asking, “what’s next?” to the very last page.
Related Post: Books Like Darkest Minds
3. Shatter Me – Tahereh Mafi
Shatter Me is beautiful romantic tale set in a chaotic world where everything is quickly going wrong. The story of a girl who turns what she thought was a curse into a weapon.
Juliette hasn’t touched anyone for almost a year. The last time she did, she was accused of murder and thrown into a jail cell by the Reestablishment.
She doesn’t care as long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else. The world is too busy to focus on one girl whose touch is poisonous.
Until the Reestablishment, in the swirling whispers of war, realizes that they have their perfect weapon or warrior locked away.
Time to set her free.
This is a fast read, the first of a series of five, so if you love it, have no fear! There are more. The world of Juliette and the Reestablishment await you.
4. The Selection – Kiera Cass
The perfect combination of dystopia and romance, and its popularity speaks to that. An intriguing world of popularity and castes where 35 girls have the chance to escape.
It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance, The Selection, these girls could be swept away from lives of war-torn poverty to those of glitz and glamor.
The 35 are taken to the castle of Prince Maxon, where they have the chance to be chosen as the next queen.
But for America Singer, the Selection isn’t a gift, it’s a tragedy.
She leaves behind a secret lover in a caste below her to enter a competition in a city threatened by rebel attacks. But when she meets Prince Maxon, everything changes.
A compelling story of a world not that different from our own. While this is a fun, fascinating read, it is also a great intro into an approachable social commentary about wealth, class, and war.
Related Reading: Books Like The Selection
5. The Host – Stephenie Meyer
From the beloved author of the Twilight series comes a tremendous dystopian story with just a hint of romance. The Host is about a strange world where an invisible alien force is slowly taking over.
Melanie Stryder refuses to disappear, even as a new soul, an alien, enters her body. The Wanderer, her “invader,” doesn’t expect her host to be this tough.
Melanie fills The Wanderer’s mind with the thought of the man she loves, Jared, a human still in hiding. Soon The Wanderer, too, yearns for a man she hasn’t met.
Together, forced allies sharing one body, they set off to find the man they know both love.
A beautiful alien romance novel in the face of an intense dystopian world. This is a book that will have you question what it means to be human and what it is that you genuinely want.
6. Cinder – Marissa Meyer ( first in series)
This is one of my favorite dystopian romance books that beautifully blends elements of sci-fi and fantasy stories.
Cider is the first in this inventive series, called The Lunar Chronicles, and one of the best recent series of its time.
In a twist on a classic Cinderella story, Cinder is a cyborg, a second-class citizen in the world of New Beijing.
Hated by her stepmother and blamed for her sister’s illness, Cinder finds joy in her work as a mechanic.
But when she meets Prince Kai through a twist of fate, she is caught in a much bigger conflict than herself or even Earth.
A fascinating twist on fantasy, set on an Earth far in the future. This is the perfect new read if you love dystopia romance.
7. More Than This – Patrick Ness
Patrick Ness’s works are carefully woven plots filled with elegant, intelligent plot points that will have you rethinking everything you know.
A boy drowns, alone in his final moments, but then he wakes up.
Thirsty, bruised but still breathing. As he struggles to understand what has happened to him. He wonders if there is more to this life or death.
A thought-provoking novel and a must-read, this is a dystopia, but like you have never read it before.
8. Pestilence – Laura Thalassa
The first in a series based on The Four Horse Men of the Apocalypse first comes to Pestilence.
He has come to Sarah Burn’s town, and everyone she knows will die unless she does something.
So as Pestilence comes riding in, she shoots him off his steed, but unfortunately, he can’t be killed.
The angry horseman takes Sarah captive, ready to make her suffer for trying to interfere. But the more time the two spend together, feelings begin to emerge. She will have to choose between her heart and her world.
A sexy romance novel in the middle of a great dystopian story, this is an excellent read if you are looking for the best of both worlds.
9. Matched – Ally Condie
The first in a somewhat new series that continues the legacy of dystopian classics here comes Matched by Ally Condie.
In Society, the officials decide everything, from where you live and work, to who you love and when you die. Cassia has always trusted the choices made for her, it’s the price you pay for a perfect life.
When her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows everything is as it should be. Until she sees another face.
Now, she is torn between the life she has always known, and something new. Comfortable or passionate, she must decide.
A gripping story that will make you do a double take and reconsider how you live your life and who is making your choices.
10. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
The first in the trilogy by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games, has become the best modern example of the pinnacle of dystopian fiction.
Katniss is surviving, holding her family together in the dangerous world of the Capital and the Districts.
Everything is going fine, she hunts, takes care of her sister, and keeps a watchful eye on her mother.
That is until the day of the Reaping, the annual punishment for the long-ago uprises by the Districts toward the Capital.
And now, every year, 24 children are chosen as a punishment and a reminder. But when Katiness’s little sister is chosen, she selflessly volunteers, pushing herself into a new type of survival.
In this modern reimaging of the Greek myth of the Minotaur, a whole system is challenged by love.
This is a must-read in the world of dystopian romance, and I highly recommend you read the book if you have only seen the movies, it has so much more to discover.
11. Red Queen – Victoria Aveyard
This is a striking new dystopian story from Victoria Aveyard and the first in an amazing series.
The world is ruled by blood. The Reds are the commoners, and the Silver is a royal elite gifted with intense, god-like powers.
Mare Barrow is a Red who has spent all her life in poverty, that is, until she begins to work in the Silver Palace.
Surrounded by her enemies, she realizes that she, too, possesses a dangerous power, one that could upset the balance of everything she knows.
The Silvers hide her, declaring that she is a long-lost princess and engaging her with one of their princes.
But in the background, Mare begins to work with a resistance group. She is torn between sides and between loves.
Red Queen is a compelling story about division, class, and privilege. It is also a fun dystopian romance, blanched elegantly with drama and action. If you think this sounds like an exciting book to read, you might like these other books akin to Red Queen.
12. The 5th Wave – Rick Yancy
In this book by Rick Yancy, the world struggles through an apocalypse. The survivors try to make sense of and live through the new world they inhabit.
The first wave was darkness, but as each new wave comes, the odds of surviving slimmer.
At the beginning of the 5th wave, Cassie runs away from the newest invasion, Them. They only look human, but they hunt down the humans and have killed so many.
For Cassie, to stay alone is to stay alive. That is until she meets Evan Walker, who soon becomes her only hope of finding her brother or saving herself.
So Cassie is faced with a choice, who can she trust?
This is a fast-paced, action-filled story with a hint of romance. A great, quick read.
13. Gone Dark – Amanda Panitch
A dystopian survivalist story in a world not too far away from ours today. It’s also very relevant to survivalism and doomsday prepping, and this story wonders if they might have it right.
It’s been five years since Zara escaped her father’s survivalist compound and five years that she has been trying to forget why she left.
That is until the entire USA power grid is cut off. In the disaster, Zara is forced to use everything that she has been taught and never wanted to use again.
But even in the chaos, she has found a group of friends, and together, they journey back toward her father’s compound.
With each movement forward, Zara fears she isn’t ready to face her past, but soon it will be staring her in the face.
This is a new fantastic read, only published last year, so get ahead of the curve and give it a try.
14. House of Sky and Breath – Sarah J. Maas
Another great book by the beloved Sarah J. Mass is House of Sky and Breath. This is the newest in her Cresent City series.
Bryce and Hunt are trying to find a normal again, they have saved Cresent City, but now they want to relax and see what the future might hold.
The Asteri have left them alone, but as the rebels chip at their power, the threat grows again. Soon, Bryce and Hunt get pulled into the rebel plans.
They are left deciding between being easy and comfortable or making fundamental changes. And they know what they want to do.
This moving story challenges its readers to figure out what choices they would make and what they would do to see real change. A must-read in the newest world of dystopian romance novels.
15. NERVE – Jeanne Ryan
This compelling story combines all the best elements of dystopian romance stories and social media to craft a highly relevant work.
Vee isn’t sure about NERVE, the online game of dares, but soon the prizes and the possibility of a new love pull her in.
With Ian as her teammate, it’s easy to keep going, even as the dares get harder and harder.
At first, there is a thrill in the audience of Watchers that cheer them on, but soon their presence feels like a threat.
But then everything gets much darker; what will Ian and Vee put on the line to win the Grand Prize?
This is a thrilling, neon dystopian love story about a world like ours. Where people play games and then pay the price.
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Final Word on Dystopian Romance Books
So there you have it, those were fifteen of my favorite dystopian romance books, and as you can see, there are many great options to choose from.
Whether you like action-packed books or something a little mysterious, there’s something for everyone on this list.
If you have any more suggestions, let me know in the comments.