It's a whole new world out there...


Seventeen-year old Jackson is pretty smart. Living in a future where kids are split into two types of institutions, Learning Communities and Local Academies, Jackson's life is relatively normal until one day he is attacked in the street and left for dead.

After that, things become weird. Teachers don't know who he is, claiming they have never seen him before. It seems that his whole life has been erased and after spending so much time at a top Learning Community, he is taken to a Local Academy - which is more like a prison - and enters a world where fighting is the new way to gain respect.

Will he escape and form an allegiance with the other students or will the new world he lives in consume him?

The Disappeared by CJ Harper

Being well versed in creating a whole new world, check out C.J.'s pick of the weirdest and most wonderful dystopias out there..

10. Birthmarked by Caragh O’Brien

I love reading dystopian books and I always like to think about how I would behave in the kind of world described in the story (in my mind I mostly behave like Buffy). What I loved about trainee-midwife Gaia in Birthmarked is that she doesn’t act like a hero right from the beginning; she DOESN’T do what her heart tells her. Instead, she follows the rules and gives up a new-born baby from her community to the all-powerful Enclave.

Actually, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that if I was living in dystopia I would be a bit of a wimp. I would probably follow the rules too. Eventually, Gaia is very brave and breaks into the privileged enclave to try to rescue her parents. I like to think that eventually I’d get up the guts to be really brave too. Either that or I would find a really kick-ass hiding place.

9. The Declaration by Gemma Malley

In the future, in order to avoid over-populating the planet, life-prolonging drugs are only given to those who sign a declaration agreeing not to have children. This is the story of Anna, one of the ‘surplus’ children illegally born to parents who signed the declaration. I’m the fourth out of five sisters, so I know what it’s like to feel like there are too many of you (when you split a Vienetta between seven people it doesn’t go far).

What I liked about Anna’s narration is that she’s totally indoctrinated with the government line. It’s only when she meets Peter that we witness her gradual realisation that what she has been taught to believe is not the truth. The Declaration is a brilliant combination of an exciting escape story and a haunting tale that leaves important questions lingering in your mind.

8. Never Let Me Go by Kazou Ishiguro

Katy shares her memories of an exclusive boarding school where teenagers are encouraged to be creative and taught they are special, but what exactly are they being prepared for? I know you’re probably sick of love triangles but this story features one that is different, this one is BELIEVABLE.

When I spotted Kazou Ishiguro at a publisher’s party I managed to squeeze my way to the front of his crowd of admirers. I really wanted him to sign a copy of Never Let me Go for my sister, Chani, who is a huge fan. Unfortunately, I was a bit excited, a bit awed and a bit out of breath (which was absolutely not because I been elbowing other fans out of the way) so I only managed to squeak out a few words. Kazou Ishiguro may have got the idea that MY name was Chani and my sister may have ended up with a book that says ‘To Chani, it was so nice to meet you, from Kazou Ishiguro.’ But he is a very nice man and Never Let me Go is a beautifully written book. 

7. Pleasantville

David and his sister are transported into his favourite 1950s TV show. I love old TV shows and I think I would be as thrilled about falling into a vintage sitcom as David is (although I might be as unhappy about wearing a pointy bra and sensible shoes as David’s sister is). David thinks living in Pleasantville is much better than his own life, but gradually he realises that the characters he loves so much are living their lives without colour.

By helping them fulfil their hopes and dreams he and his sister learn a lot about themselves. I love films like this that tell a serious story, but still have some funny moments. Even when I’m writing something dark I like to throw in some black humour.

6. Gone by Michael Grant

We’ve all had dreams about this one: on an ordinary school day all the adults disappear. One moment they’re there, the next they’re gone. But would it be as great as you imagine?

Gone is a scarily realistic story about what would happen if everyone over fourteen disappeared. Some of the children try to work together to look after the youngest kids, but some others are more interested in gaining power and possessions. Gone also features super-natural powers, gang warfare and a little bit of romance. Just like my high school then.

Click NEXT to check out the Top 5 including body parts fused to household objects and a world where cosmetic surgery is the only way to get ahead >>