As someone who named herself Utopia State of Mind, the concept of utopias and dystopias have always fascinated me – this concept of a utopia being an impossible idea and one that is based on a dystopia for someone else. When I was listening to my old iPod I found, I was thrown back into my teenage dystopia nostalgia. Today I’m going to be sharing my nostalgic love for The Hunger Games and some recommendations for similar vibes!
To begin with, I will never forget that my dad listening to The Hunger Games audiobooks is the whole reason I even picked them up. What can I say? Taste seems to run in the family. If you haven’t read or seen the books and film, it’s basically a world there are deadly survival games pitting the district representatives against each other. Throughout the series it becomes more than just a competition for survival and instead turns into rebellion and critique of their society. But since the beginning mostly revolves around a competition, my first two recommendations tackle different elements of the games itself.
You have to check out All of Us Villains if you like your competitions with deadly magic and also want a series to pour your heart into. This one has a similar constrained environment, like The Hunger Games, and mixes curses and dark magic with a fight to the death. My favorite element has to be the magic because it’s one that does not shy away from sacrifice. At the same time this one is multiple POV so if you were ever obsessed, like I was, with Finnick and wanted the most recent Hunger Games world novel to be him instead of Snow, then maybe a multiple POV story will be up your alley.
For an adult fantasy read that I am seriously obsessed with – and another series starter – you have to read The Blood Trials. This one has a serious Roman-esque vibe to the social structure and the main character, Ikenna, has to enter the Blood Trials to have a shot at figuring out who is responsible for killing her grandfather. This one channels the whole the-elements-could-kill-me which is also in The Hunger Games! So there’s danger from the elements and the competitors with a good dose of conspiracy as well.
For this next recommendation, there is no deadly competition, and I haven’t read this one yet, but it’s Survive the Dome. Jamal travels to attend and document a rally protesting police brutality, but the city is suddenly covered by a dome. This dome means that their city turns into a total militarized shut down and they have to fight the corruption. So while this doesn’t have the magical competition, I think that this appeals to the heart of the dystopia genre with social commentary and revolutionary unrest. This theme in The Hunger Games continues to grow as the series continues, so I wanted to include a book that touched upon this.
That being said, if you’re just like, give me the magical competitions, I compiled a list of honorable mentions. These aren’t dystopias, but feature magical competitions:
The City of Dusk – adult fantasy about heirs of houses somewhat competing to be named the next ruler of the city
A Far Wilder Magic – YA fantasy about a sharpshooter and alchemist who have to team up in a magical hunting competition
A Magic Steeped in Poison – YA fantasy with a deadly tea competition which also features court politics and betrayal
The Atlas Six – adult fantasy with multiple POVs about six magicians competing for entry into the society and a seemingly endless supply of knowledge
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Lili began her reviewing journey as a tired academic who wanted to distract herself from journal articles. She is obsessed with SFF books, enamel pin collections, dabbling in makeup, and carries a book wherever she goes. If you like discovering new reads, diverse books, and wry humor, you can find Lili on Instagram, Youtube, Twitter & TikTok.