9 Top Dystopian Reads (and what I want to read next…)

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. Continue reading

The Handmaid’s Tale: Book Review

1500221125976This book has been on my reading list for a long time, since reading The Penelopiad in a first year uni module, back in 2014. Its taken me three years to get around to it, but I have finally read the book. Now I feel I can start on the TV show!

The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel written in 1985, by Margaret Atwood. In the USA, a wave of totalitarianism has swept over the land, creating a place where some women are used as “Handmaids”, an odd kind of surrogate to those in power. This new world is called Gilead. Many women have been left sterile due to pollution levels (it is implied that the rest of America outside the confines of the novel- “The Colonies”-  is barren and toxic, with those living in these areas suffering some kind of radiation sickness where the extremities and even the skin peels away), and STDs. The world inside the borders of what I suppose is a large compound where the characters of the novel live (at least as big as a city), and is a strange echo of a literal reading of the Old Testament views on women. Many references are made to the biblical, but in the most fanatical ways. Women are not allowed to have their own money, read, and modesty is a must. Offred, the protagonist and narrator, vaguely remembers a time before this came to pass, before she had to become a Handmaid. There are implications that outside the world she lives in, war between the fanatics who run the compound, and other religious and social groups, is still raging. Offred knows she has another name from this past, but never mentions what exactly it is. Her memories are brief and fragmented, so that as a reader you understand she had a partner called Luke (previously divorced, and under this new law divorce doesn’t exist, making Offred an adulteress), a feminist mother, a friend named Moira, a young daughter, a rigorous academic education (she often remembers things she learnt in past times), and a job which required a knowledge of technology. We understand that as things worsened in society (all women’s bank accounts were closed and the women laid off of work, the money in the accounts being transferred to the next male of kin), Luke, “Offred”, and their daughter attempted to escape across the borders. Luke was shot (it appears, we have no idea if he is dead or alive), Offred captured and forced to become a Handmaiden, and her daughter taken somewhere else.

There’s all the background you need to know. I want to leave the finer points and weirder little things, and of course THE ENDING, for you to discover yourself. There aren’t any major spoilers above, but from this point on, there will be. There are a few things about this novel, a few messages in it, which I think are very important. Grab a cuppa, because this is a long review/discussion. Skip to the last one if you don’t have time. Anyone who has also read this, please chip in below and let me know what you thought: Continue reading