Top 5 Dystopian Stories to start the New Year

Top 5 Dystopian Stories to start the New Year

The dystopian genre powers on with more directors lining up to make movies of some excellent books.

Try these Top 5  Dystopian Stories for a different perspective on life as well as entertainment. It contains several of our absolute favorites.

1. Wool – Hugh Howey

Part of the Silo series, this book is a rare gem in dystopian sci-fi. Howey shows a knack for creating well-rounded, believable characters that readers can empathize with and root for. The storytelling is also nothing short of exceptional; the plot keeps building up and will keep you on your toes, turning the pages to see how things will unfold. With more dystopian stories getting film adaptations, Wool is one of those books that you will wish actually gets made by a film studio someday soon.
Dystopian Stories

2. Uglies: Uglies; Pretties; Specials; Extras – Scott Westerfeld

Dystopian Stories

Imagine a world where one’s quality of life relies on being beautiful, and all children are born ugly, until they turn 16 year-old and are given plastic surgery as an initiation rite. This is the premise of Westerfeld’s dystopian trilogy (plus). As the first book of the trilogy, Uglies introduces a solidly constructed setting, so readers understand how the world got to where it is.  As the series develops the pitfalls of social media are explored, along with the boundaries of controlling society.  How far can you?  Oh, and you will want a hoverboard too.  A firm favorite dystopian story series.

3. The Host: A Novel – Stephanie Meyer

Dystopian Stories

Forget Twilight. It would not be fair to compare The Host to Meyer’s highly popular teen girl-meets-vampire series. And forget the film which did not do this book any justice either. The novel is well-paced, balancing quieter moments where one can get to know the characters better with action sequences. The idea of aliens inhabiting human bodies may or may not be your cup or tea – same goes for sparkling vampires – but this is definitely a book worth giving a chance. Meyer may not be the next big name in genre fiction, but she does deserve credit for showing growth as a writer. One of our favorite books.

4. The Windup Girl – Paolo Bacigalupi

Dystopian Stories

Rarely is there a book that comes along with such originality that one would practically beg for a sequel. The Windup girl is set in the bleakest of bleak futures; in a world where petroleum-powered technology is scarce, solar tech is non-existent, and power is generated by human labor with calories as currency. What makes The Windup Girl a worthwhile read is that it explores the theme of humanity. Perhaps the simple takeaway message here is that we all have the power to make defining choices, no matter how depressing the state of the world seems to be.

5. Obernewtyn: The Obernewtyn Chronicles 1 – Isobelle Carmody

Dystopian Stories

As the first book of the series The Obernewtyn Chronicles, Obernewtyn introduces readers to Carmody’s intriguing post-apocalyptic world and the main character, Elspeth. Like most introductory books, it starts off on the slower side so readers can familiarize themselves with the setting. But keep on reading, because a lot of excitement, action and adventure do eventually follow. If you are looking for a longer series with a story that expands beyond the typical trilogy, the Obernewtyn Chronicles may just be what you are looking for.

20th Century Dystopian Novels to Read

20th Century Dystopian Novels to Read

The Dystopia theme has undergone a revival in recent years with a spate of dystopian movies such as Hunger Games, Maze Runner and Divergent.  Many recent dystopian movies originated with a novel, or series; resulting in a series of movies, usually spawned from the book series. This genre of literature explores alternate societies with degraded social and/or political structures.

Dystopian novels have been around since the 1700’s! Gulliver’s Travels (Jonathon Swift – 1726) is considered one of the very first in the genre. Early 19th century dystopian novels include The Time Machine (HG Wells, 1985) and The Begum’s Fortune (Jules Verne – 1879). In 20th Century the genre expanded, as literacy, printing and the world expanded. Dystopian classics such as We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (reviewed below) and Brave New World (Aldous Huxley – 1931) were written early 20th Century.

So dystopian fiction is not new. Yet, you may have noticed many of these dystopian movies appear to have been aimed at the “young adult” market.

WhyToRead believes this is because young adults are more likely to question the status-quo. Traditionally, teenagers and young adults look to explore extreme ideas, often around political ideals as they develop their own knowledge and perception of the world and its problems. Dystopian novels helps teens and adults explore themes and life lessons about power, freedom and ideals in a safe environment – their imagination.

5 Twentieth Century Dystopian Novels

1. We – Yevgeny Zamyatin

Dystopian Novels

Written in 1920 and often regarded as the author’s satirical take on the political events leading to the foundation of the USSR, the world in We was built on the premise of a future where a single governing body rules over nameless citizens with no individuality. Many themes are explored here; from freedom and love to privacy and perfection. Overall, the novel was written in the true spirit of dystopian fiction whereby it present the idea of what could have been, thus offering readers an alternative view of reality. This is a classic that fans of the genre should not pass up.

2. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

dystopian novels

Rarely are there novels that can strike a chord with readers because of how familiar the events in its fictional world are to that of reality. The Handmaid’s Tale touches on themes such as human rights and gender discrimination – all of which are still a reality in many parts of the world – with many allusions to biblical stories. The story does not progress in a linear fashion though; so expect flash backs and forwards, but because it is written in Atwood’s characteristic masterful prose, it is impossible not to be absorbed by this book.

3. Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand

dystopian novels

What happens when a nation’s prominent industrialists refused to give into aggressive new regulations and allow the economy to collapse? Atlas Shrugged showcases the application of Rand’s objectivism philosophy which some reader may not find themselves approving of. Whether one agrees with the novel’s underlying philosophy or not, Atlas Shrugged is still a book that should be on everyone’s essential reading list – even if it is just for the sake of challenging your own views.

4. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K Dick

dystopian novels

Although it was first published in 1968, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? remains a Sci-Fi classic that is ahead of its time, simply because some aspects of the grim future envisioned in the book seem not too detached from reality. In the novel, humanity is defined by the ability to feel empathy for all life forms, even artificial life. The protagonist is then faced with the question of his own humanity when he meets an android he is assigned to ‘kill’, only to realize that even androids are well-aware of their own mortality. It should be noted that this book was the source material for the 1982 movie, Blade Runner.

5. Running Man – Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King)

dystopian novels
In the year 2025, what could a man desperate to save his family do to get a large sum of cash? Well, appear in a life-or-death reality TV show, of course! The concept of a reality TV show seemed far-fetched in 1982, when Running Man was first published, which would only give the novel’s premise an edge. But even after an era of reality show -saturated television, the book still proves to have a powerful impact on the readers. It is fast paced, neither too complex nor too simple, and definitely impossible to put down – a testament to Stephen King’s storytelling prowess, which was already evident in his early days as a writer under this pseudonym.

Top 5 Best Dystopian Novels Ever Written

Top 5 Best Dystopian Novels Ever Written

Best Dystopian Novels

Below are the Best Dystopian Novels and Post-Apocalyptic Fiction books ever written, ranked based on customer ratings and international sales numbers. If we missed your favourite novel, let us know in the comments below.

Top 5 Best Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic Fiction Novels Ever Written

1. 1984 – George Orwell

Best Dystopian Novels

Orwell tried to depict a totalitarian state, where the truth didn’t exist as such, but was merely what the “Big Brother” said it was. Freedom was only total obedience to the Party, and love an alien concept, unless it was love for the Party. A terrifying glimpse into the future that could be, or already is.

2. The Giver – Lois Lowry

Best Dystopian Novels

Jonas lives in a “perfect” world where war, disease, and suffering have all been eradicated. Everything is in order; everything is under control. The people have no worries or cares. The Community strives for “sameness,” in which everyone and everything are the same and equal. To help the Community function as a cohesive unit, each member is assigned a position in society. When Jonas turns twelve, the Community selects him to be the new “Receiver of Memories.” Only the “Giver” knows the truth and memories of the past, and now he must pass these memories on to Jonas.

3. Brave New World- Aldous Huxley

Best Dystopian Novels

The book takes place on a future Earth where human beings are mass-produced and conditioned for lives in a rigid caste system. As the story progresses, we learn some of the disturbing secrets that lie underneath the bright, shiny facade of this highly-ordered world.

4. Fahrenheit 451: A Novel – Ray Bradbury

Best Dystopian Novels

In Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury’s classic, frightening vision of the future, firemen don’t put out fires–they start them in order to burn books. Bradbury’s vividly painted society holds up the appearance of happiness as the highest goal–a place where trivial information is good, and knowledge and ideas are bad.

5. Lord of the Flies – William Golding

Best Dystopian Novels

Lord of the Flies is a 1954 dystopian novel by Nobel Prize winning English author William Golding about a group of British boys stuck on an uninhabited island who try to govern themselves with disastrous results.