It is a truth universally acknowledged that teenagers are obsessed with death. Back in my day, we would demonstrate this by dying our hair with Kool-Aid and reading Stephen King books (or “Fear Street,” if we were intimidated by the size of “The Stand.”) Nowadays things have shifted a little bit to a trend of teens either fighting huge unseen political enemies in a dystopian future or terminal illness. Pretty bleak, but an upgrade from just having to decide between your vampire boyfriend and your werewolf boyfriend. And the box office loves it. So much bank comes from young adult novel adaptations that the movies are pumping out four movies for every trilogy. You may have noticed the inundation yourself.

There is no shame in reading YA as an adult. Harry Potter taught us that. If you’re looking to impress a lady, you might want to pick up some recommended YA books and do a little research–I recommend starting with Judy Blume or Sweet Valley High. But if you want to look really cool and know the difference between all the dystopian “Battle Royale” novels out right now, and just can’t find the time to read 300 pages of 14-point font, I’ve got a helpful bro’s guide for you.

“The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins

There’s a dystopian future where they make kids kill each other in an elaborate and very expensive arena. Why doesn’t some of the money from building that arena every year go toward public aid? Jennifer Lawrence shoots some arrows, but they just keep making her go into arenas. You’ve seen this. Are you pumped for “Mockingjay, Part 1” to come out?

Dramatic device: Manufactured by dystopian politicians.

“Divergent” by Veronica Roth

In a dystopian future, everybody is divided up by their skill set but! BUT! Shailene Woodley has three things she’s good at. And I guess they’re not skills so much as emotional capacities? Personality traits? They are Abnegation (selfless); Amity (peaceful); Candor (honest); Dauntless (brave); and Erudite (intelligent). It’s like society has to take a Briggs Meyers test at 16 but you can only be divided up into five really broad personality types. Whatever. Point is: It’s weird to be three things at once so Shailene Woodley has to be quiet about it or they’ll kill her for being a Divergent. The authority just doesn’t understand! You can be peaceful AND intelligent, and often both simultaneously. The point is, Shailene joins up with the Dauntless people and jumps off train tracks and blah blah blah political uprising. Fun fact: This book is so boring. It might have something to do with the author writing it on winter break her senior year in college. But hey, she got it done, and now she’s popping onto red carpets with young actress who makes their own toothpaste, whereas I am still sitting on that mystery novel. More power to her.

Dramatic device: Manufactured by dystopian politicians.

“The Maze Runner” by James Dashner

In a dystopian future, boys are dropped in a maze with no memories but their own name. Well, they are dropped just outside of the maze – the maze is full of slug creatures called Grievers whose sting gives you your memories of your past life back but also, you know, try to kill you. The kids have to solve the maze in order to get out of this terrible situation – but they are thrown into a tizz when a girl is dropped in. What do they do? Do they solve the maze? Do they all fall in love with the girl? Do they drag this out for three books in which the world expands to further emphasize the dystopian conspiracy? It sounds like “Hunger Games,” but there’s a maze. And the kid who had to win Joanna’s heart in “Love Actually” through simple drum beats (in the movie in theaters September 19.)

Dramatic device: Manufactured by dystopian politicians.

“The Fault In Our Stars” by John Green

In a dystopian future, Shailene Woodley has cancer. AND LOVE once a boy in her support group shows her what it’s like to live. They travel together through a Make A Wish-like charity to meet John Cena and also find the author of a book with an ambiguous conclusion. It’s all about allowing yourself to live by allowing yourself to feel and I’m ugly crying right now. The movie came out June 6, and if you are OK with ugly crying in front of a date, watch it.

Dramatic device: Love in the face of death.

“If I Stay” by Gayle Forman

In a dystopian future that looks a lot like right now, a cello prodigy falls in love with a bad boy (because he’s not a cello prodigy? Nope, turns out she’s the black sheep since she comes from a rock n’ roll family.) Bad news bears though: She gets into a car accident and falls into a coma. Can his teenage lurve convince her to stay? Is his teenage love greater than the time and patience and devotion needed to recover from a severe accident? My gut tells me he’ll be overdramatic about his devotion until they both go to college and then they’ll break up, but you can check out the book or the Chloe Grace Moretz film (in theaters now!) and find out for yourselves.

Dramatic device: Love in the face of death.

“The Giver” by Lois Lowry

In a dystopian future, everyone gets reeeeeeeal specific jobs – for example, some people are farmers and some people are mechanics and some people have to carry all the memories of a time before “Sameness” in the controlled community so that they don’t think too much or rise up on their own. That’s Jonas’ job. There’s also some puberty stuff addressed, which is sadly cut out in the movie to make room for Taylor Swift. Did you already read this in middle school? If so, let’s discuss the ending. (Spoilers! It’s ambiguous!)[ref] Do you want to go on a trip to hunt down Lois Lowry even though she kind of makes the ending less ambiguous in the three follow-up books she wrote?! [/ref] I know Jeff Bridges wants you to see the movie, but don’t. Read the book again.

Dramatic device: Manufactured by dystopian politicians.

“Why We Broke Up” by Daniel Handler

It doesn’t take place in a dystopian future or feature anyone dying or possibly dying or in the process of dying. It’s not a movie (yet – Hailee Steinfeld is said to be starring in the film that sadly seems to be in perpetual pre-production). But if you have ever been a teenager or known a teenager, you can relate to this simple story of a drama nerd girl dating a football player and why it all fell apart. Daniel Handler is without a doubt one of the best children’s and young adult writers of our time (and his adult novels are amazing too – though he writes primarily about the high school experience and opera.) You probably recognize him better by his pen name Lemony Snicket. While I am sure he is merrily rolling around in that “Series of Unfortunate Events” money, I really want his Daniel Handler works to be just as popular.

Dramatic device: Being an awkward teenager.