What’s a dystopian novel? Well, have you wondered what would be our future if suddenly the world ended in an apocalypse? Barren lands with only a few humans to take humanity ahead, an oppressive government, or a group of rebels revolting against the status quo. The possibilities are endless. And a dystopian novel basically explores these speculations, based purely on the imagination of the author. From young adult tales to classic sagas, there are several dystopian books that gives a view of what the post-apocalyptic era might hold for us. Today, let’s explore some of the best titles that cover this genre. Read on and select a few to add to your library.
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
- The Mazerunner by James Dashner
- Divergent by Veronica Roth
- 1984 by George Orwell
- Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
- The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard
- We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
This young adult fiction novel takes you to Panem — after the destruction of Rome. The citizens live in 13 districts under the oppressive regime of the Capitol — home for the elite sections of society. Each year, 13 participants are chosen from the districts and pitted against each other in a tournament where they fight to the death for survival. The winner or the champion is the one who survives at the end. And all this for the entertainment of the Capitol. The trilogy has also been adopted into a movie franchise, starring Jennifer Lawrence as the protagonist – Katniss Everdeen.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood’s classic novel transports you to a dystopian world where Christian fundamentalists have overthrown the government in a post-nuclear era. It, in fact, paints a picture that’s very much plausible if you consider the gender discrimination and religious theocracy currently. In this harrowing tale, you see an age plagued by infertility where women are forbidden from reading and the fertile ones are forced to be used as breeding machines. A must read for a scary interpretation of the future that’s indeed possible.
The Mazerunner by James Dashner
Comprising three titles — The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, and The Death Cure — this trilogy follows the story of Thomas who wakes up in a lift, without memory of anything. He arrives at the Glade, where he meets other boys who also recall only their names. The Glade is surrounded by towering stone walls, beyond which lies an endless maze — the only way for escape and no one has made it out of there alive, ever. And then everything changes when a girl arrives and delivers a message. Interested already? Read it to join the race.
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Divergent is the first installment of the trilogy written by Veronica Roth — followed by Insurgent and Allegiant. It tells the story of Beatrice Prior in her post-apocalyptic world in Chicago. The society is divided into five factions according to the particular virtues of its residents. The selection to a particular faction is performed for all 16-year-olds on a certain day. Beatrice is conflicted on whether to choose the faction of her family or go for what she really is. And the decision surprises everyone, including her. What follows is her struggle to adapt to the newly chosen path, accompanied by unraveling the secrets of this supposedly perfect society.
1984 by George Orwell
Did you know that Room 101, Newspeak and 2+2=5 are all based on this novel by George Orwell – written way back in 1949? Therefore, it easily makes its entry into our list of best dystopian novels of all times. Set in an eerie dystopian world, plagued with constant surveillance and media oppression, this book makes us closely relate the events to our current scenario. Scary, is it not?
Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
Another terrifying take on the future, this story is set in dystopic Toronto, Canada. While the rich and middle-class sections of society live in the suburbs, the underprivileged and poor masses stay on the streets. In fact, the privileged feed on the impoverished. Accompanied by magic and folklore, this novel — a beautiful amalgamation of science and fantasy — is indeed one of the best in the genre of post-apocalyptic fiction.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
You should definitely read this book if controversies are your thing. This terrific dystopian novel was banned after its release for “questionable themes”. In the book, Bradbury describes an American society that advocates burning of books, oppressing of ideas and the freedom of the press, and illegalizing intellectual thoughts. Fahrenheit 451 takes you to a world where this doctrine has been forcibly enforced on the city’s inhabitants.
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
There are so many movies and books on time travel — the idea being popularised by H.G. Wells in his book – The Time Machine. The novel outlines the chronicles of a time traveler whose machine transports him to certain terrifying, dark, and dystopian places and unfortunately, he also witnesses the end of the world. One of the most influential books in science fiction, you should definitely give it a read.
The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard
You must know about Noah and his Ark right? Well, this novel is another vivid take on the world being destroyed by floods caused by global warming — something we imagine quite possible in the future. Whilst major cities of Europe and America are drowned in tropical lagoons, a biologist collects living species and is plagued with strange dreams. Ballard did imagine these events long back, but don’t you think this is actually a possibility?
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
‘We’ was written by Zamyatin — inspired by his experiences from the Russian Revolutions of 1905 and 1917 and his tenure with the Russian Navy during the First World War. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic future where the urban cities are made with glass and constantly observed by the secret police. People have numbers and no names. A clear picture of the Communist way of life. Read it to savor some really great plot lines.
So this completes our list? Do you think some other titles should feature in the top 10? Let us know in the comments below.