One of our favorite romance genres to read are the dystopian ones. Dystopian stories are popular for a reason as you are given free rein to build whatever world you want, whether you are keeping plenty of realistic elements, or creating something more original.
However, these stories tend to show how humanity and characters function when the world is at its worst. Because of this, it is a super interesting setting for a romance story, and the typical romance plot lines can have new twists that make for a more engaging narrative!
The plot lines in a dystopian romance tend to be more tense, and there is plenty of opportunity for drama and action if that is something that you want to lean into. It is understandable why these series are so popular, and why there are plenty of long running series that start off with a dystopian romance premise.
While this genre is probably most popular for a YA audience, there are also plenty of adult novels with this premise that we love.
So, if you want to read your first ever dystopian romance and you want to know what will suit you best, or if you are a long time fan of dystopian romances and you want a recommendation for a new one, hopefully you will find something you like on this list!
This is one of our favorite novels that is set in a fantastical futuristic setting. This novel written by Kincaid follows humans that have abandoned Earth long ago and are now spread over various planets and history has progressed to a point where crazy happenings like the Roman Empire being reborn have occurred.
The character Nemesis is known as a diabolic, which is close to what we would call a test-tube baby. These diabolics were created to have stronger physical capabilities, and were made specifically for loving and caring for a certain human and tasked with protecting them. For Nemesis this is Sidonia.
However, both Sidonia and their family are killed by an Emperor that is hungry for power, so Nemesis ends up allying with their nephew Tyrus with the hopes of getting revenge.
One of our favorite aspects of this story is the amount of political intrigue that is included, but made interesting and engaging in a dystopian setting.
While what we described may not sound much like a dystopia to you, the reason we describe it as such is that ideas of meritocracy and democracy have crumbled leading to a very unrecognizable society from our perspective.
Following Nemesis throughout this story is fun and unique to read, they manage to be a likeable protagonist while having unique traits like lacking empathy, so seeing them grow to care for characters other than Sidonia is interesting.
While we have not mentioned it much in this description, it is worth saying that, while we can not spoil too much, the romance aspect is high quality!
This story is a slightly more typical post-apocalypse dystopia with the twist that angels have now descended and the world our protagonist Penyrn previously knew, is no longer the same. There is now a new order with street gangs ruling with violence.
Penryn is living with their younger sister who lives with a wheelchair, and their mother who has schizophrenia, so they are aware of just how vulnerable the situation they live in is. However, this changes after Penryn meets Raffe who is an angel who has had their wings torn off their back.
This is helpful since Penryn needs help to save their sister who has been taken by merciless angels. Luckily, this series has been completed, however the author has not since written any others since these three novels. The first two entries in the series are particularly worth reading, and the romance between the realistic and smart Penryn and Raffe is engaging to read.
While this novel has been around for a while, it is still worth reading for how well it is written and how much the narrative will stick with you. We follow the dour Saba who is night while their twin brother Lugh is day, he talks while she lives her life in the shadows. They both live in the shadow of the former Wrecker civilization, and live their life in landfills.
However, life changes for Saba as their brother gets kidnapped and they are the only one that can save him. However, it is not easy when Saba runs into plenty of problems and distractions along the way like Jack who is a charming daredevil and they insist on helping Saba.
We love how Young writes dialogue in this series with no use of speech marks, you could assume it would get messy, but the realistic dialogue makes it all believable. It is worth pointing out that while you can read the whole series, the first story is definitely the best with the second getting a bit too angsty for our taste, and the third is just a bit disappointing, unfortunately.
If you love your dystopian romance to have an unconventional space fantasy, then this is a recommendation you will not want to skip.
We follow our main character Andra who does not remember being on a migration from earth, however once they awake, they are on a far off planet and it is 1000 years later than anything they remember, and everything and everyone they know is dead after the world changed.
There is now a completely different culture and language and there is practically no knowledge of how science works with superstition being more common. The person who works for her is Zhade who found her frozen in a cave, and he believes she is instead a goddess, however she is able to use this to her advantage to help her get home.
The way dystopia is handled here is unique, and it is interesting to see this utilized to show how knowledge can regress.
When it comes to a more standard dystopian romance, this is where it’s at, however, this does not mean that Shirvington’s work is not worth reading. Our main character Maggie is shown to be living in a society where there are M bands that have been built by the foreboding Mercer Corporation and these bands rule how you live.
They will tell you how you match with someone every time you meet someone, including a potential romance. The conflict comes with Maggie’s father who had once worked for this corporation, but has now disappeared, and Maggie wants to know why this happened.
However, in her journey to discover why, she has to rely on Quinn Mercer who is the heir to this corporation. We love to read Maggie’s charming but manipulative story, and even if it makes Quinn look a little plain when compared, it is still a fun ride.
More Than This is the type of story that will stick with you for its unique approach to storytelling, and the way Ness writes his lead character Seth is incredibly engaging and endearing. The story follows Seth who knows that he should be dead, but after he has woken up after drowning, he does not know where he is, and why everything is deserted.
The reason for why this is, is what the narrative hinges on, and discovering this is part of what makes this such a hard story to stop reading. We do not want to give away too much as the more you know, the more tension you will lose, however, even if you knew everything, reading and rereading the story will always be a joy.
It is worth noting that the romance is treated as part of the mystery instead being part of Seth’s backstory, however, it is still an engaging aspect of the story!
If you have somehow never heard of this incredibly popular series by Mafi, then you are missing out. The series focuses on the teen protagonist Juliette who has been put in prison under murder charges by the Reestablishment because she has a fatal touch, but outside her prison, the rest of the world is ending because of the spread of disease and drought.
The survivors however, have realized that Juliette could be a weapon and this is where the narrative starts. While it has been quite popular, with Warren being an antagonistic love interest being a draw, some people dislike it, so hopefully you will be a fan!
Hopefully this has given you some ideas for a dystopian romance you want to try and read next. These are just some of our favorites which we have selected, but this is a genre that seems to never slow down with releases, so always keep an eye out for new entries!