Since this prompt is from a YA blog, I’ll actually recommend a YA book for once: “Delirium” by Lauren Oliver.
In the world of “Delirium,” love has been classified as a disease (“amor deliria nervosa”) and the root of all of society’s problems. At age eighteen, everyone is “cured” of love, a process that reminded me of the mood-regulating pills in “The Giver,” only scarier. The procedure leaves a distinctive three-pronged scar behind the ear, and that mark distinguishes the “safe” people from the dangerous, contaminated ones.
Anyone uncured could catch the deliria, and since it could be fatal, protagonist Lena is rightfully terrified of any encounters with her uncured peers. Her dystopian world isn’t nearly as harsh as Katniss’, and her upbringing is the perfect mix of relatable average (lower-middle-class family, pain-in-the-butt younger cousins, high school cross-country, a popular best friend, etc) and out-of-the-ordinary (her father died when she was a baby and her mother committed suicide a few years later). She believes her country is not perfect, but better than the alternative, which is to live as a starving, emotion-ravaged outsider in the unprotected parts of North America.
Then she falls in love with a boy from the outside, and her entire perspective changes.
“Delirium” is surprisingly well-written, aside from a few overwrought metaphors, and it’s extremely refreshing after the less-than-stellar prose of “The Hunger Games.” Lena goes through a believable character arc from obedient teenager to lovestruck rebel, and the dystopia is one of the more realistic ones I’ve read. Oliver was incredibly thorough: she blends religion and science into a credible belief system; her characters participate in after-school sports and have sleepovers at each others’ houses; music and books are not totally banned, but forbidden works (like “Romeo & Juliet” and some poetry) are taught as cautionary tales; and young couples are given four choices for their future mates, rather than just one a la “Matched.” It’s up there with the world of “A Handmaid’s Tale” as creepily possible future America.
The sequel was also enjoyable. Lena shows impressive will power, courage, and open-mindedness, and even if her character evolved a little unrealistically fast, she could teach Katniss a thing or two about what it means to be a member of a resistance. I’m definitely looking forward to the last book in the trilogy, and I recommend these to anyone looking for another dose of YA dystopian goodness.