Girl's Guide to Surviving in a YA Dystopia

These are strange times and they’re only getting stranger. Luckily, I’ve read enough YA Dystopian novels over the years to be prepared. Here’s your comprehensive survival guide to getting through these tough times.


There’s a saying in business – “Dress for the job you want.” Well, when you’re stuck at home during the apocalypse, it’s easy to never change out of your pajamas. I say, dress for the story you deserve. Do you want to be Katniss Everdeen, dressed in leather and armed with a bow and arrows, or do you want to be caught out in your Spiderman pajamas (no offense Aru Shah)?

If there were ever a time to experiment with wearing a cape, donning a cloak, or rocking a full cosplay, now’s the time!


While I’m not advocating hoarding, make sure you have plenty of your favorite snacks on hand. While a YA heroine would likely throw caution to the wind and brave the outside world, her quirky sidekick would probably end up being bitten by a zombie for her efforts. Much better to have those Twinkies on hand. After all, what’s the point in surviving if you lead all your unwitting friends to their imminent deaths?


As in most YA dystopian books, you should harbor a healthy suspicion of the government. Are they doing things in your best interest or is this all a secret plot to mind-control the population? Was COVID-19 manufactured in a lab in China to silence the Hong Kong protestors? Was the outbreak caused by pangolins in the live animal market?

Conspiracy theories aren’t just for Shane Dawson anymore. They’re a way of life now. In a world where Siri and Alexa tap in to our conversations, maybe it’s best to put your electronics on lock-down. You never know who could be listening.


If there’s anything I’ve learned from books, it’s that you shouldn’t trust cryptids, super-intelligent animals, aliens or robots. They’ve been oppressed, hunted, enslaved or underestimated by humans for far too long and an apocalypse is their time to shine. While I absolutely advocate loving your human neighbors (from a respectable distance of six feet), I’ve spent enough time quarantined during COVID-19, that I’ve started side-eying both my cat and my roomba.

Don’t let you guard down. This is their time for revolution. If your hamster starts writing dastardly plans in a teeny-tiny notebook or your microwave becomes self-aware, don’t hesitate to strike back.


If there’s one thing YA Dystopias have in common, it’s that everything is usually bleak and dirty. If you’re not smeared in dirt, blood, mud or the body fluids of the undead, you’re doing it wrong. That’s why it’s smart to pack some baby wipes. There’s no reason to be gross. Especially if a little hygiene will keep the apocalypse at bay. And if you weren’t using toilet paper before, maybe now’s the time to start.

Remember – Aragorn is only hot in LOTR because we can’t smell him
through the television.


In most YA dystopias, the family unit is forcibly torn apart. That’s why it’s good idea to stay close to your family throughout these turbulent times. Just you know, six feet close…around the longest game of Monopoly you’ve ever played. Inside. You may end up wanting to kill each other, but at least you won’t be apart.


In some dystopias, being an individual can get you killed. Which is why it’s important to abide by hive-mind during this time. Repeat after me: The government knows what’s best. Corporations have my best interests at heart. I will be able to pay my rent. Nothing is wrong. Everything’s fine. This too will pass. There, now don’t you feel better?

Forget what I said earlier about wearing a cape. You’re probably better off in the new mask and glove uniform. Better yet, a Hazmat suit.

Read More.

If you’ve read the Giver, Divergent, the Hunger Games, 1984, Fahrenheit 451, you’ll know that during a dystopia, education is out and book-burning is in. Don’t be like them.

Pick up a book. Who knows? You might even find a key to survival.

What books are you reading during quarantine? Are there any essential rules I missed?

Stay safe and stay savvy,

2 thoughts on “Girl's Guide to Surviving in a YA Dystopia

  1. Fantastic post, Leigh! You really made my laugh.
    There’s too much po-faced nonsense out there 🙂

    …and I’m reading ‘A Long Petal of the Sea’ by Isabelle Allende (I decided to leave ‘The Testaments’ for now).


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