Hello and welcome to another Top Reads post! I’ve covered quite a few adult and YA dystopian reads in my 21 years, and below are my top picks for anyone wanting to try and get into dystopian literature. These are my absolute favourites (I’ve even thrown a poem in there). There are a couple of YA dystopian series I’ve read but haven’t included here, as I thought they just became plain boring after the first book and a half. The very last series I mention (the Divergent series) I have mixed feelings on, but have included it anyway because overall it was a great read.
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley- This is a dystopia disguised as utopia. A world where people are drugged up and constantly kept happy- but art, culture, books and general free thought isn’t allowed. Loved the twist at the end. Full review right here.
1984, George Orwell – This is a parallel to the above. This dystopia is obviously a dystopia. The media lie and cover things up, the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor. The poor have the man power to overthrow the ruling Big Brother, but aren’t encouraged to think and so to see a different future. Forbidden relationships, fake news, brutal law enforcement, and torture in Room 101. Full review here.
We, Yevgeny Zamyatin- This is massively underrated as a dystopian book, although it has a lot in common with 1984. The ending is very similar, but no spoilers in this post! I don’t believe I’ve written a review of this novel yet, and so keep your eyes peeled in the future. One of my favourite dystopian novels of all time, possibly in the top three.
The Hunger Games Trilogy, Suzanne Collins- This is my favourite YA dystopian series. I completely fell in love with it. Its one of the only things (excepting London Grammar), where I can say that I liked it before it was cool. Katniss is one of the best female YA characters I have come across in this specific genre of fiction.
Eighteen Hundred and Eleven, Anna Letitia Barbauld – This is actually a poem. It criticises Britain’s role in the Napoleonic Wars, and imagines a future where Britain as an empire has declined, and America’s empire is on the rise. Barbauld gives the vision of London (and Britain itself) joining other ancient civilizations long gone. Its got some pretty dystopian elements, and wasn’t well received at the time because of this.
The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood– I have just reviewed this right here. One of the best dystopian reads I’ve had in a while. Imagine a future civilization where women are little more than breeding tools, and have lost all feminists past and present fought for. This is a hard-hitting piece of fiction, and I recommend it to all. Margaret Atwood’s style of writing is very easy to get into, and if you like her style then you may want to check out The Penelopiad (not dystopian, but thought I would throw it in there)
The Time Machine, H.G.Wells- This was the very first dystopian novel I probably read. I watched the film when I was small, and loved it so much I actually bought a copy of the novel. It took me ages to get through it, and then I didn’t understand much of it (I was only maybe 10), but I came back to it a year or two later and fell in love with H.G.Wells’s work. Basically: a man makes a time machine and travels forwards in time, to find the human race has evolved into two new races. This is possibly my absolute favourite dystopian read.
Lord of the Flies, William Golding – I know that some people may not refer to this as a dystopia, but the novel actually hints at events occurring in a parallel Britain, and so I’m going to call it a dystopian novel. The time frame appears to be 1950s-ish, but Britain is actually engaged in a fictional atomic war when the boys crash-land on the island. And the society they set up is certainly far from utopian.
Divergent Trilogy, Veronica Roth (SPOILERS AHEAD)- This is the point of my mixed feelings. Loved the idea of this fictional dystopia, where you have to choose to belong to a “faction” that prizes one core attribute, the lack of which is what the members believe lead to society breaking down in the past. You have Dauntless, Erudite, Amity, Abnegation and Candour. I even loved the twist of Tris (the protagonist) dying at the end. BUT, this series was just too focused on falling in love and romance for me. Sometimes I feel it can take away from the novel. However, if you like a bit of romance and want a dystopian read, then this is for you (also check out Delirium, that’d be right up your street).
Next on my reading list:
Never Let Me Go
A Clockwork Orange
Has anyone read any of the above? What did you think and which would you recommend to me the most?