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Top 12 Dystopian Novels

Shane Dayton . . . Comments

Literature has been a defining part of culture since the beginning of language. The dangers of modern times have led to the writing of dystopian novels, novels which warn of an unhappy future. Many people think of Dystopian novels as purely science fiction—while science fiction is a natural fit for a dystopian story, not all dystopian books are considered science fiction. Without further delay, here are the 12 best dystopian novels.


Lord of the Flies
William Golding (1954)

?This novel isn’t the 12th best on the list (it would be rated much higher in my opinion) but it’s at number twelve because of the on going argument whether this is truly a dystopian novel or not. The definition of dystopia isn’t necessarily clear, though the general definition is that it is a society in which misery and negative conditions prevail (or a seeming utopia gained at horrifying costs.)

As far as a dysfunctional society, the island with its stranded little boys is it, and once the conch shell is no longer seen as authority, everything breaks apart. If anyone wants to argue that an anarchy could work, this book would be an immediate argument against it. This is an incredible psychological work, and I’d say their society is definitely dysfunctional enough to count as a dystopia.

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Handmaid’s Tale
Margaret Atwood (1985)

?This story comes from the first person Offred. Offred is a maid in a time when fertile women are forced to be breeding machines to keep the human population going. This takes place because the world is a post-nuclear world where many women can’t have children. This is a very theocratic society, and this book tends to be very pro-feminist and anti-religious, which causes it to often be protested. This is a great dystopian tale that is frightening because the logic of how the society became the way it is happens to be very believable.

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William Gibson (1984)


Most of William Gibson’s novels revolve around a dystopian future society, but Neuromancer may be the best of them all. This novel won the sci-fi “triple crown” for writers by winning the Nebula, Hugo, and Philip K. Dick awards. In the seedy underground of a Japanese city, a computer hacker is hired to work on the ultimate hack. In a world flushed with AI, virtual reality, genetic engineering, and corporations overpowering nations, the adventure follows. Gibson beat many modern sci-fi writers to the punch, and this dystopian novel is one of the most influential in modern times.

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Iron Heel
Jack London (1908)


Iron Heel is an excellent dystopian novel about the rise of a tyrannical corporate oligarchy in the United States. This book doesn’t pay attention to technology the way most future dystopian science fiction novels do now. This work stressed changes in society and politics, with the oligarchy formed by robber barons whom bankrupt all the middle class and seize power before enforcing a “caste system” of workers. This was a fantastic dystopian novel that was far ahead of its time.

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The Running Man
Richard Bachman (1982)


Written by Stephen King under the penname of Richard Bachman, “The Running Man” is a fantastic dystopian novel about a frightening future where ratings and entertainment takes form in a man hunt, and where even the “winners” are losers. This novel is far superior to the movie, and in my opinion is one of the best novels written by Stephen King. “The Long Walk” is also an honorable mention.

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Armageddon’s Children
Terry Brooks (2006)


I’ve probably read over 200 books the last two years, and among many good novels, “Armageddon’s Children” has been one of my favorites. This is one of the best novels written by Terry Brooks, and takes place in a post apocalyptic world around 2100, following (among others) a lone remaining knight trying desperately to fight off the demon onslaught and a group of street gang kids who roam the remains of Seattle trying to survive. The fantasy world of Shannara was supposedly spawned from the post apocalyptic wastes of Earth, and this series bridges the gap between the two.

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The Chrysalids
John Wyndham (1955)

?This dystopian novel is another example of a post-nuclear world. This time the dystopia comes from a “need” for purity. As humans are being born with increasing levels of mutations and deformities, the state decides to execute anyone who isn’t “perfect,” meaning even one extra toe can be a death sentence. This attempt at forcing perfection in a post apocalyptic world is disturbing and effective, and has spawned many imitators.

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The Children of Men
PD James (1992)

?Most people will know about the film with Clive Owen and Julianne Moore. The movie was very good, but is far different from the book. In this world, for reasons unknown, all men’s sperm count plummeted to zero, and without reason or explanation, mankind now faces its own extinction. The fear mongering during this time has allowed governments extraordinary powers to keep the peace, and when a woman becomes pregnant, the implications are enormous.

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The Time Machine
H.G. Wells (1895)


“The Time Machine” is one of the best science fiction novels to ever be written. This novel is the story of “The Time Traveler” who builds a machine that allows him to travel to the far distant future. While this might not seem dystopian at first glance, but a seemingly gentle and happy society is plagued by predators who harvest people for food…if that doesn’t qualify as a crappy dystopian society, I don’t know what does. The hero tells his story to a man of his time, grabs weapons, and goes back into the future never to return. This novel is where the term “time machine” even came from.

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George Orwell (1949)


This isn’t the best written novel, but it is one of the big three of the dystopian science fiction novels. This could very well be the most recognizable of the big three, as “1984” is synonymous with tyrannical governments, fascism, and dystopian science fiction. Even the phrases “1984” and “Big Brother” are now part of the common culture. Orwell’s detailed novel shows how a government can manipulate the people by manipulating the truth and manipulating the news. This book is the source for arguing against a far right government getting unfettered power.

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Fahrenheit 451
Ray Bradbury (1953)


Guy Montag begins this classic novel as a fireman: meaning he is a man society calls on to burn all books, which are outlawed. Unlike “1984” or “Brave New World,” “451” doesn’t speak politically against the left or the right politically, but speaks against the dumbing down of society, specifically on how Hollywood pop culture slush and TV entertainment can create an entire nation of people who are not only incapable of fighting for their rights, but who don’t even realize the importance of doing so. This is a brilliant novel that shows Guy going from soldier of the state to an independent free thinker who must go on the run to survive.

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Brave New World
Aldous Huxley (1932)


While this dystopian masterpiece and “Fahrenheit 451” could be interchangeable as the top two, “Brave New World” gets the nod because the writing itself is the best. This novel is incredible, showing a society where left leaning thinking and self hedonism is taken so far to the extreme that one person’s utopia turns out to be an appalling place where the irony of a peaceful existence has caused society to lose all concept of art, honor, religious beliefs, or anything that often defines culture. The “utopia” has people who have no sympathy, no empathy, and this vision of a future is as chilling as any other on this list.

Buy this book at AmazonContributor: Shane Dayton

  • tngolferguy

    Great list. Another could be Jennifer Government. Just got done reading it. Basically, in the near future Corporations run the world. Good book.

    • Virginia

      In the near future??? That’s already happening…

    • Adriana

      Robert Kaplan’s “Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground” has the immediacy, depth, and nhgisit characteristic of all his work (all essential reading in my view). The topic in brief is what our military is doing in roughly 120 countries around the world, mostly far away from reporters and photographers. The book provides a window on the different faces of the American empire, and the soldiers–for it has fallen largely upon them to define America’s foreign policy on the ground–who defend it. The countours of the so-called long war are already visible in the range of activities–from building schools and clinics to training indigenous forces in counterinsurgency to fighting hot wars in Iraq and Afghanistan–as are the capabilities required to advance American interests. These include foreign languages, combat and survival skills typical of special forces, and above all, high-level problem solving outside the reach of the chain of command.At the same time, the book provides a candid view of the America that produces these warriors, the parts of the country and class system from which they are drawn, the personality traits typical of the different branches, and how they find meaning making extraordinary sacrifices so far away from home.

  • maazin

    wow I love Stuff to do with Dystopian

    • Trevor

      I read this book throughout three days. It atblousely captivated me and I definately think if it was made into a movie, I myself would go watch it, joined by many others. This definately deserves atleast 4 glasses.- Florence

  • copperdragon

    is Dune considered dystopian?

    • Marshall

      I think because the society, even if it is slightly dystopian, is not the main conflict, it does not qualify as a dystopian novel. It may have some elements of a dystopian novel, but it is so different from the rest of the novels on this list I don’t think it would truly qualify as a dystopian novel. Incredible book though.

  • MiSaNtHrOpE

    This list is excellent. However, I have just one complaint:

    You are missing two very important dystopian works:
    We the Living by Ayn Rand (the most "novelistic" of her novels; depicts Soviet Russia in 1922)
    and WE by Yevgeny Zamyatin, which greatly influenced both Orwell and Huxley.

    I think all three of the big dystopian novels (1984, BNW, F451) are true; that is to say, I think we have elements of all three: We have an ambitious government, we watch too much TV, and most people in America don't even really care. We also have pervasive, terrible influence of religion in society, which, is detailed in The Handmaid's Tale (especially Becky Fischer [Jesus Camp] as Aunt Lydia, who is the most terrifying villain I have ever come across.

    • Carlos

      “We also have pervasive, terrible influence of religion in society”

      Despite the fact that believers give more to secular charities than non-believers do? Despite the fact that religious followers are more likely than the non-religious to donate money and time?

      Better get your facts straight. There are people who do terrible things in the name of religion. So what? People can do terrible things in the name of anything. If anything, the facts show that religion has an overall more positive influence on society than negative.

      • Alex

        First, that to say that every true believer or person involved with religion is bad or fits the same mold would be a mistake, however, organized religion viewed as a whole is extremely problematic to almost every culture on Earth. It sponsors extremism and elitism across the board, and an us vs. them mentality. In the U.S., the religious right spreads disinformation, abhors education, and is a constant barrier to developmental science. It causes more of the problems we face today from the environmental to foreign policy, than it does positively keeping a select group of people from fearing their own mortality. There are many people that identify as religious followers, pointed out in your link, that do so for only family or traditional reasons. These people barely if at all practice religion. In the PC world we live in, anyone bringing up that they question religion’s sensibilities faces being ostracized by their family and communities, so that many would rather not rock the boat. Your point really proves nothing as many atheists have been some of the world’s largest philanthropists it’s ever seen. If a dystopia ever comes to pass, then I’m afraid it will be at the hands of mankind’s inability to mature and embrace an educated future filled with open thinkers. It’s the 21st century and it’s time we act like it.

  • Randall


    Some of this list is on the mark, but some of it seems like you haven't done your homework. Neglecting to include Zemyatin's "We" is a bad oversight–it's one of the seminal dystopian novels of the 20th century, a huge influence on "Brave New World" and specifically mentioned by Orwell as one of his inspirations for "1984."

    Leaving off Vonnegut's "Player Piano" and Koestler's book… I think it was "Darkness at Noon" are oversights as well….

    What about Harry Harrison's "Make Room, Make Room"?

    But you DO include "The Handmaids Tale," which is the most overrated, pretentious piece of crap spit out in the last 30 years.

    And I don't view "The Time Machine" as dystopian per se. It's more a post-war devastation piece…. there's no real "society" there that Wells is using as an ugly mirror image of ours… oh, people have argued that in a loose sense that the relationship between the Morlocks and the Eloi *is* representative, in some ways, of modern society—but this isn't painted in a dystopian sense.

    • Name

      My thoughts exactly on Zamyatin’s “We.” As good as Fahrenheit 451 is, it did not do nearly as much for the dystopian genre as “We.” The toss-up for number 1 should be between “A Brave New World” and “We” because they were the earliest recognized dystopian novels and they were written, to the best of my knowledge, independently (Huxley wasn’t aware of Zamyatin’s work when writing BNW).

  • Oh – interestingly, Huxley also wrote a book called the Island which is a utopian novel. I have it beside my bed but stopped reading it when I bought a new copy of Atlas Shrugged which I am now reading again. Who is John Galt?

    • Havanur

      Batmanners Posted on Well, well I googled my olinne username (using the same one since 2000) and found this Interesting how Batman + Ann Landers gave you this. I don’t know what I put together to come up with this, but it stuck and it’s something NOBODY ever has, so I don’t have to be JohnTheMan231 on one site and JohnTheDude294 on another For a second I thought this entire article was about me

  • Dave's_Kicking_

    I just have a question about the description of 1984. It says it is an argument against far right governments… perhaps its just a confusion of terms on my part but: The government described in 1984 basis itself off of a concept called Ingsoc (English Socialism).. wouldn't that be a far left?

    … just a question.

    • Churl

      Very much agreed: 1984’s dystopia could just as easily describe SOCIALISM taken to its ultimate extreme as well as it could describe FASCISM. Both systems advocate governments that elevate the State at the expense of the individual. All strong centralized governments are potential Big Brothers, and “strong centralized government” is socialism’s raison d’etre.

  • anthony p

    Whats a book again?

    • Kakoli

      Thanks so much for your thoughts and rnfteclioes Mr. Jim.Ia0appreciate this comment verya0much. We just had aa0friend, professor from Berkeley, visiting this weekend and we engaged in aa0long conversation (last night) on the problems with primary age/lower elementary kids watching the popular cable shows targeted for teens (i.e., icarly, phineas and Ferb, Shake it up), which are shaping and norming kid’s ideas of how siblings and friends, across genders, can and should behave. The influence it has in norming language like “butt head”, “wedgies”, idiot, stupid, etc. and the influence they have in norming teasing, cruel jokes, and the obsession of young (very young) boys on the older teenage girl, just to name aa0few, should be of concern to us as parents also. Antonio and Ia0were called to task– to sit and watch these shows for ourselves to determine if we think their content is appropriate for our young kids toa0watch.I think your invitation to research the content and appropriateness of this film can (and should) be extended to what our kids watch on TVa0also.Best,Rosalee(Kinan, Hyazna and Kuyuchik’s mom) p.s.Small fact:Violence on TV has increased by 75% from 1995–2005 (Kimmel, 2011).

  • Arisma

    I've gotten around to some of the books on this list and have enjoyed them all. I'll be sure to look into the ones I've not yet devoured.

    I'm not entirely sure if it classifies strictly as dystopian, but the Wraeththu books are amazing. Has anyone else read them?

    • Defi

      There isn’t really much vclienoe that would scare aa0lot of the elementary students. There is no sex or nudity, that website doesn’t know what they are saying. Ia0am in the middle school and I’m in 8th grade. There is no way Ia0would have been able to see that movie if there was sex and nudity in it. Ia0understand your concern but it’s not that bad once you see it. The book is way more inappropriate then thea0movie.

  • 23RedLeader

    lord of the flies was a gread read…i was forced to though by my 9th grade teacher!

  • 23RedLeader

    *great* typo, sorry!

  • Mom424

    Great List Shane! My reading list is getting way too extensive.
    Going to have to become a hermit to get caught up. Five more to add.

  • Shaboinka86

    Wasn’t it Clive Owen and not Richard Gere in Children of Men?

  • cheapswill

    Great list! I will definitely add a couple of these to my “must read” pile.

    A small correction about #5… the film version of “Children of Men” stars Julian Moore and Clive Owen, not Richard Gere.

  • Squall

    It was simple, but I always loved The Giver by Lois Lowry.

  • Drelo

    Did anyone read Synners by Pat Cadigan?

  • copperdragon

    great list! I’ve read 6 of the 10, with 1984, Brave New World and Time Machine as my favorites.

    how about Animal Farm? Dystopia from a different point of view.

  • cparker

    My definite favorite was the classic 1984. However, even though not literature but a comic, V for Vendetta impressed me as well.

  • littlegraysheep

    Forest Gump is the scarriest! I hope nixon never becomes president!

  • Random

    Great list! I remember reading Lord of the Flies in high school…all I can say is poor Piggy!

  • Csimmons

    I have read the top 3 and agree with #1, it truly has the best writing.

  • Q

    The perfect thing about Brave New World is that there is really nothing wrong with it. Everyone is happy and the only purpose of the government is to keep everyone happy. Racism, crime, poorness, genetic disease, old age, filth, and selfishness are all gone. Even those who do not conform can live out their lives is full happiness on islands around the world.

  • Emeraldi

    Fantastic List! Has anybody here ever read ‘Amusing Ourselves to Death’ by Neil Postman? Its not a novel by sorts because its not a fictional story, its more of an academic commentary. If you liked the books on this list, especially 451 and A Brave New World I would definitely check it out.

  • DanOhh

    One of my favorite dystopian books I read was Curious George: The story of a world were men can to only wear yellow and big hats plus they have monkeys for servents.

  • romerozombie

    Out of the books mentioned, I’ve only ever read The Long Walk, which I think is much better than The Running Man.

  • romerozombie

    …And I’ve read The Running Man. ooop.

  • islanderbst

    so we got top dystopian films last week, now dystopian novels? someone needs to cheer up a bit!

  • Mandi

    Great list! The one I’m really surprised isn’t on here is Stephen King’s “The Stand”. Scared the crap out of me the first time I read it and every time since.

  • poptart

    Clive Owen is in Children of Men, not Richard Gere.

    Besides that, this list is great!

  • D Holmes

    I try really hard to complain about the lists, but this is starting to get frustrating.
    Whats with lack of Philip K. Dick in these lists?

    First most influential sci-fi writers and now this.
    Please, at least give this fantastic writer some credit.

    He kinda knew a thing or two about science fiction and dystopian novels with ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’, ‘Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said’, the novella ‘Minority Report’, ‘Ubik’, ‘The Man in the High Castle’, and so and so forth. Any of these are great examples of a dystopian novel.

    *Flame resistent pants on*

  • JMC

    This Perfect Day should have made the list. I’m also astonished that you put BNW at #1 for “best writing.” On the contrary, of the dozens of dystopian novels I’ve read BNW has some of the worst, least engaging writing of all of them.

    • annonymous

      I agree. This Perfect Day is a thousand times better than BNW. So is 1984! I've read thousands of books, and I couldn't even get through BNW whatsoever.

  • D Holmes


    I loved the Long Walk as well, but I think th Running Man is a better representation of a dystopian society. The Long Walk focuses less on the dystopian society itself, but more on the boys themselves and how they took the greatest chance to survive within this society.

    The Long Walk is fairly mum on the world outside of this boy’s heads besides a breif rundown in the begininng. Which I think makes the book more effective as it forces you to wonder what state the world would have to be in if there was a very popular game where 99 TEENAGE boys die (a hundreth if you also take in the death of one’s humanity and connection to the world). Its all good fun.

    The Running Man goes into much greater detail into how that society is a dystopia. Such as how the “Games” control the people and their lives. How people find enjoyment in watching people with bad hearts and cripples continuosly run on treadmills for bucks. About what drives people to put themselves through that. It presents the problems in that society without posing questions.

    If any of that made sense, let me know.

  • Jackie

    I’m glad The Long Walk was mentioned. Everyone should read that book, it was really unnverving, creepy and just plain scary.

  • D Holmes: feel free to send in a list – I accept and often publish submitted lists – then you don’t need to be frustrated any longer! :) Oh – and check this out:

    Dick is number 11 – we haven’t ignored him completely :)

  • D Holmes

    Or maybe hug.

    Perhaps someone didn’t get enough attention as a child? ;)

  • Tenebrae

    I think “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” should have gotten an honorable mention, at least. It’s truly tragic and beautiful at the same time.

  • D Holmes

    I remember that list from a way back, but I find it a crime to not include him in either of the previous lists (crime in MY world, at least. Which has zero influence).
    I’ve considered sending in a list of that type, but I don’t want to be redundant.

    I do have a couple of presidental lists in the pipeline. I can promise that they will create some interesting debates.

  • D Holmes: great! Political lists are always interesting – I look forward to it.

  • Chris

    There are some excellent books on this list, and after seeing the Running man film with Arnold, I have always wanted to read the book.

  • JMurf

    Was Huxley half responsible for triggering Timothy Leary’s obsession with conscious expanding drugs? Just wondering, I could be wrong

  • AmazingThor

    Pretty much all of the Bachman books (A collection of Stephen King’s pseudonym). The collection of his first four is now out of print but they have released them all as separate books: Roadwork, Running Man, Long Walk, Rage (unfortunately not reprinted at SK’s request).

  • Purdnasty

    awesome list

  • Teedyman

    Great list, but one problem I feel – I didn’t see A Clockwork Orange anywhere. Why? – If that isn’t distopyia i don’t know what is.

  • Teedyman: It is interesting you should say that – a lot of people complained about the inclusion of Clockwork Orange on the top 10 dystopian movies list. And to be honest, I think that Burgess wrote other books that were far more dystopian than Clockwork Orange – The Wanting Seed for example – perhaps his greatest work. A quote from the book:

    “‘Brutality!’ cried Tristram. The class was at last interested. ‘Beatings-up. Secret police. Torture in brightly lighted cellars. Condemnation without trial. Finger-nails pulled out with pincers. The rack. The cold-water treatment. The gouging out of eyes. The firing squad in the cold dawn. And all this because of disappointment. The Interphase.'”

  • Ginger Lee

    Sadly missing:
    A Clockwork Orange
    Animal Farm
    Dick’s short stories
    V for Vendetta graphic novels
    Sin City graphic novels (fairly dystopian IMO)

    I also consider Moore’s Utopia a form of the dystopian genre in that when it compares to reality it cannot exist. I got into a debate w/ a professor about that.

    Mein Kampf has it’s own dystopic undertones with a non-Nazi view from the reader, but I don’t know if that’d count.

    I also agree w/ Mandi about The Stand.

  • Nelia

    Handmaid’s Tale is brilliant, I love Atwood’s stuff. So many excellent books on this list! Though I have to agree with Teedyman, A Clockwork Orange would have been a good addition. I’m not sure of your exact criteria, however, so I’ll assume you have your reasons.
    And it has been mentioned a couple times, but I’ll throw in another vote for Richard Gere not being in Children of Men… Can we edit it to Clive?

  • rearden

    jfrater: glad to hear it. :)

  • Argh! (Re the Richard Gere error) – I have fixed it.

  • Riley

    I had to read the Crysalids in school… and I HATED it. Maybe I was too young at the time, but it was probably the worst book I was ever assigned.

  • SocialButterfly

    I honestly wasn’t sure what Dystopian menat until I read this list. I instantly started wondering if The Chrysalids was going to be on here.

    The Chrysalids was one of my favourite novels from school. I read it occasionally now to remind myself of the themes. It seems to be a love it or hate it type of book (see post #46) but I thought it was great.

    Thank you for including it!

  • ian

    lord of the flies is a good book. i had to read it on my because my school banned it. why, i still dont know. but id have to agree with a few of the comments ive seen animal farm deserves a place on this list.

  • romerozombie

    I agree with what you said DHolmes, and that’s why I think The Long Walk its better – there’s more humanity in it, and the ambiguity of their situation, not knowing all the ins-and-outs of their dystopian is more harrowing, I think.

  • romerozombie

    *dystopian society

  • Borg

    It’s hard to say whether Lord of the Flies is, in fact, a dystopian novel. The inspiration for the novel stems from the idea of a “state of nature”, a state existing prior or apart from society. There is no society in Lord of the Flies and the story’s plot revolves around the absence of regular society’s influence on the boys. If a dystopia is defined as a SOCIETY in which misery or negative conditions prevail then I don’t think Lord of the Flies applies.

  • Tonny SS

    It’s that thing with just words and letter where people read and use imagination, I think.

  • victor

    I’ve read both f451 and 1984 n IMO I believe that 1984 should be above f451….no valid reason only because I liked it more and it seems to have more of a lasting effect than f451.

    Brave new world is my next book (ap reading list) hopefully it is as good as every1 says

  • Jordan G

    World War Z
    The Stand

    These are my favorite dystopian novels.

  • danielle

    Brilliant list!
    Though I haven’t read most of them, I would agree with most everything but the chrysalids. Something about that book I just couldn’t enjoy…
    Brave new World as number one just fits perfectly, though.

  • The problem with calling “Brave New World” dysutopian is that…well, the population is happy. Albeit, they are happy because they are conditioned to be happy, but still, they’re happy. Very few are disatisfied.

    Not saying that I’d want to live in that world though.

    Good list – I look forward to these kind of lists!

  • Excellent list! I love utopian/dystopian novels, although there are many on this list that I have not read. Thanks for the leisure material suggestions. =)

  • Dana: I believe it is considered dystopian when a society if forcefully drugged by the government – regardless of how utopian the result may be :)

  • alexlwe

    i thought 1984 was very well written… It made animal farm a lot easier to understand.

  • Jamie: Well, you have a point there. I’d still like to get my hands on one of those vibro machines though to suck all the fat out…

  • Dana: haha – I would like to get my hands on the drugs!

  • rational

    i just finished reading a book called “The Road” which was a great read, its dystopian but it is vauge on what happened, you get the jist of nuclear war though. there is no “message” in it, just a father and son trying to survive in a world o no food, no communication, no sunlight no anything except for the occasional gang of bad guys who are out to get what you have since there are such scarce resources. emotionally involving and just a great read

  • NERD LIST!!!! lol JK JK!!!! It’s a good list!

  • mariecardona

    I’m a high school English teacher, and in my freshman honors class, I changed the curriculum to feature a large dystopian unit because I looove it. This year, we read Night (Elie Wiesel) for totalitarian background, 1984, “Minority Report” (P.K. Dick), and “Harrison Bergeron” (Kurt Vonnegut). Next year, I’m adding the novella Anthem (Ayn Rand). They’re finishing up now with a research paper connected to dystopias and/or something they want to know more about that is related to one of those works of literature (or from Catcher in the Rye, their last summer reading book).

  • dtidew

    Number one is definately true!
    I read Brave New World in 10th grade and it is amazing. It really makes you think about our individuality.
    And is Frankenstein a dystopian novel? Because that would definately on the list.

  • SarahJ

    I read The children of men just a few months ago (must have head buried, as I didn’t realize there was a movie) I started to read it and then couldn’t put it down. Great list. Thanks

  • stevenh

    Thank you Jamie for comment #41.
    As I read this list I was sure that “The Wanting Seed” woul dbe in the top three or four. It is way more powerful than his Clockwork Orange (either the US or Euro version).

    Of course, I would include Burgess just because he was a rather Dystopian Individual.

    For a Very Interesting Read , I would recommend ta visit to:
    (look under habits – smoking, sex, and drink)

    ’nuff said

  • Jen


    True socialism is usually considered far left, but the “Ingsoc” in 1984 isn’t really socialism; it’s just another example of the “doublethink” that the government uses to control people in the book. Remember the slogan, “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery,Ignorance is Strength?” And Winston worked destroying documents in the so-called “Ministry of Truth” and was tortured in the “Ministry of Love?”

    • James A. Merritt

      Yes, IngSoc has all the elements of fascism, which is generally considered right-wing. But the left-wing/right-wing categorization is misleading. The extremes of both resemble each other and (in the real world) often lock arms in common cause. In a multi-dimensional representation of political affinity (such as the 2D 0ne popularized by the late David Nolan), the axis of economic-vs.-personal freedom is perpendicular to the axis of authoritarianism-vs.-anarchy. Mapping political affinities/systems this way, fascism and socialism are more properly co-located, in the so-called "authoritarian quadrant."

      Here is another vote for "Harrison Bergeron," and "Animal Farm." One of the greatest thing about 1984, in my opinion, is the dead-on analysis by Orwell (through writings attributed to "Goldstein") of the reason why war continues.

  • lando

    good list. Brave New World is definitly my favorite dystopian novel. Although I am saddened not to see Player Piano on the list.


    Great list , well done , I have read them all and many others ,it is a great genre’ .

  • phylo

    Zero Vonnegut = Zero credibility

  • gcat

    Kurt Vonneguts Cats Cradle might be a good one to add

  • bobbym51

    If you have not read Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” then I can excuse its absence from this list. Of all the post apocalyptic novels I have read over the past 40 years this one best portrays the hopelessness of a bleak and doomed world after mankind’s greatest folly is realized.

    A world absent plant and animal life, where the sun only glowers behind a permanent cloud cover and the moon is never seen, a remnant of humanity who subsist on scavenging the remains of civilization and eventually devolve into deranged cannibalism, THIS is the setting for a story about a man and his small son and their fragile relationship.

    Both heart wrenchingly tender and bleak at the same time, McCarthy’s novel SHOULD be considered a modern masterpiece.

  • Perry

    No mention of Philip Wylie?

    -Generation of Vipers

    How about John Hersey?

    -My Petition For More Space

  • cKHAVIKk

    I’m glad The Long Walk was mentioned. Everyone should read that book, it was really unnverving, creepy and just plain scary.

    Frank Darabont has a film in the works. He is the director that brings us Stephen King’s finest to film, such as The Mist and The Green Mile.

  • SanelTop

    Hey bobbym51 The Road absolutely devastated me. I agree

  • matty s.

    I think E.E. Knight’s Vampire Earth series deserves some attention here. I’m a big fan of dystopian, post apocalyptic novels, and his work is some of the best i’ve read in years.

  • anandaji67

    I’m suprised so many on here don’t disagree with the placement of 1984 and Brave New World. Most people I know would have them switched, but personally, I didn’t see anything special in 1984. I loved BNW, though. Cat’s Cradle, the first book I ever bought, is a huge miss here.

  • shannnon

    I definitely agree with Brave New World being number one, it’s a great great great piece of literature. Definitely one of my favorites.

  • mrbizmark

    A good, probably not worthy of the list, but still and enjoyable read is Atwood’s “Oryx and Crake”

  • Brian Moo

    I do not believe Lord of the Flies to be a dystopian novel.

    “Lord of the Flies has many dystopian qualities, but this island community cannot really be considered as a representative society.”

  • cooper

    another good book is animal farm
    another classic by george orwell

  • Alucard

    I don’t want to look like an idiot here, but i have not read any of the books mentioned here, damn school curriculum! so can anyone suggest which one i should read first? or should i buy them all? (the books in the list i mean)

    does this town need a hug? what happened? – john stewart

  • Mullaccio

    I would have 1984 placed above Brave New World for the simple reason that 1984 seems to be a more accurate depiction of the future. It can be argued that BNW is set further into the future so could possibly be a more accurate but, presently, the society in 1984 is scarily like the world we live in today. They both are amazing books however. Beyond thought provoking. Fucking life changing! It is an excellent genre.

    Alucard- Of the books I have read I would recommend 1984.

  • ChrisG

    Interesting list. I have not heard of the Jack London novel, but I’ll check it out.
    Brave New World, however, is VASTLY overrated. For dystopian fiction to work, it has to be realistic and it must fill the reader with revulsion. Huxley’s hackery fails on both counts. Name one thing wrong with a society in which everybody is completely happy. The only good ideas in this piece of garbage are the compartmentalization of society and the worship of Henry Ford (get it, society is an assembly line!), both of which had already been mentioned in Zamyatin’s WE. I hate, hate, hate Brave New World.
    And Lord of the Flies is NOT dystopian fiction, in any sense of the term. It is allegory.
    This list sucks!
    This list sucks!

  • phubbie

    i have read 1984 at least once a year since i was thirteen and i still pick up on relevant orwellian ideas each time i read it

    it has to be my favourite book of all time

    i don’t know why it appeals to me so much but once i start reading it i cannot put it down

    i believe it is very well written however i become increasingly paranoid and observant of going-ons around me after i read it

  • astraya

    Does anyone else remember the book “Andra” by Louise Lawrence or the tv series (any other Australians on listverse)?
    “Andra is a 1971 science fiction novel, the first novel by English writer Louise Lawrence. The book is about a girl in the year 4000 living in an underground society who receives a brain transplant from a rebellious seventeen-year old from the 1980s. The book was adapted into an Australian children’s program. Despite the television series, the book was not intended for child audiences.” – wikipedia
    It’s fairly light for a dystopia, but it was the first such novel that I read, before Lord of the Flies and Animal Farm. The boys generally hated it because the protagonist was a girl. I don’t remember the tv series as being for children.
    I’m not suggesting that this book deserves to go on the list, but reading the list and the comments brought back memories.

  • Iain

    Agreeing with previous comments – Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’ is a must read. It’s an absolute killer.

  • Ben

    I read this list and i am VERY sad that the book “We” is not on the list!

    “We is a futuristic dystopian satire, generally considered to be the grandfather of the genre.”

  • Kit

    I just have one comment regarding 1984. It was not a “far-right government.” The Big Brother government was a prediction of what life behind the Iron Curtain would be like. Remember “INGSOC,” English Socialism?

  • TLP

    I liked the utopia in Brave New World.

    It was far more appealing than the savage colonies.

  • Randall


    Excellent point, but what also has to be remembered is that Orwell was also pointing out to us how far Right and far Left eventually meet in their totalitarian horror.

  • cstrife16

    out with Handmaid’s Tale and in with A Clockwork Orange. Not just a great dystopian novel, but one of the best of all time.

  • cstrife16

    Oh also why is nothing from Philip K Dick on here. One of the great novelists. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Man in the High Castle are both great reads. Too bad this guy couldnt write a good ending to save his life.

  • chichikov

    Just wanted to mention Zamyatin’s “We” again. If anyone likes the top 3 books on this list, they need to read “We”. It’s better and was out years before. And whether Huxley admits it or not, he ripped off “We” with “A Brave New World”.

  • Phillies

    The Road absolutely needs to be on this list. One of the best books I’ve read. Seriously, you might just start appreciating the world once you’ve read it.

  • Brett Callahan

    Nice list. I think you misspoke regarding 1984, however. While Orwell was an active democratic socialist for his whole life, the book is not just a depiction of a totalitarian right wing government gone awry. 1984 is a warning against all totalitarian governments, right wing, left wing or otherwise. Many of the traits of big brother are taken from far left demagogues such as Lenin or Stalin.

    As others have mentioned, similar books that would deserve consideration for this list include “Alas, Babylon,” “We,” and “We the Living.” Honorable mention might go to the awesome and influential “V for Vendetta” Which is one of my favorite reads, but is not a novel.

    • Bernard Marx

      It's also a hell of a great movie, I've seen it at least a dozen times.

  • Pingback: The Great Geek Manual » Geek Media Round-Up: March 13, 2008()

  • grubthrower

    I’m glad This Perfect Day was mentioned. But it was glossed over, so most of you probably don’t know it was written by Ira Levin (Rosemary’s Baby, The Boys From Brazil, a bunch of others that make him a genuine icon). TPD may be his least-known novel, and that’s a shame. Especially since it might be even better when read in our time, given the rise of RFID technology.

    As for the Bachman discussion, I would argue that The Long Walk is phenomenally great dystopia… essentially for the reasons others have given that it is not!

    With carefully calculated “asides” (e.g.’s a state-sponsored sociopath, flags in windows for those who “gave their lives” in the Squads, and outlawed music broken out at parties), we come to realize that for the majority of the People, as long as they have their bread-and-circus, they are *outwardly* willing to put up with the dystopia in which they find themselves. The subtlety of the inward dissatisfaction, played against the common-to-all-societies teen stories of trying to get laid, painted on the canvas of the brutality of the Walk itslef, is the novel’s brilliance in describing a particular dystopia — not a shortcoming in so doing. A masterwork in control of tone and creating a society with a minimum of information.

    Another off-the-wall mention just so that someone might read the book: Star Rebel by F.M Busby. It spawned a bewildering number of sequels, weaving in and out of characters and time — time distorted by the vagaries of interstellar travel — but the original, despite its pedestrian title, is superb. Although, a case could be made that this is not dystopia… the totalitarianism is complete, but the human spirit is not resigned, just brutally suppressed and channelled into either sadistic sheepdogs or sullen, simmering sheep.

  • Milky

    I read the Time Machine and it gave me nightmares for some reason.

  • I read Children on Men close to when it was published and I have loved dystopian novels ever since. Great list. I’ve read about half of them but now have more to check out when I go to the library!

  • Oh! I also agree with mrbizmark, “Oryx and Crake” was a pretty good one too.

  • Emily

    Nevil Shute’s “On the Beach”—nuff said.

  • suzi

    I’ve been reading P D James’ other novels for years, and did not know what Children of Men would be. Definitely belongs on this list. Handmaid’s Tale kind of came apart towards the end for me, the first 2/3rd was brilliant.
    Not sure about Lord of the Flies, either. I’d probably replace with “We the Living”.
    Thought provoking list. Haven’t thought about some of these books for years.

  • Left off list: Arthur Koestler, Darkness at Noon.

    Orwell was a socialist and supporter of the Labour Party, but also an anti-Stalinist, and Oceania is based on the Soviet Union, not Nazi Germany. Bernard Crick quotes him describing the Soviet Union as “a system of oligarchical collectivism,” a phrase used by Goldstein (Trotsky) to describe Oceania and Ingsoc.

  • Trint

    I like the look of this list, but to have a list of dystopian novels and not include “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy is woefully negligent. “The Road” left me reeling, as it can be set in anytime, any country. I could read this book on a sunny day in a well lit room and I would shiver.

  • Dabi71

    I would add Blindness by Jose Saramago, and The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

  • JMS Bones

    No ‘We’ makes this list a colossal joke.

  • Denzell

    I thought The Giver should qualify in this list.

  • KatherineJoann

    Reading this list reminded me of my favorite books when I was 12: the Giver, the Crystal Drop, Invitation to the Game, and Z for Zachariah. This is probably still my favorite genre!

  • ghad10

    No Philip K. Dick? Shame.

  • Teddy

    We and we the living are mentioned. Missing, though, is one of the earliest, Butler’s Erewhon.

    Mucho discussion, though, as to whether it’s a dystopia or not.

  • longball

    Armageddons Children and the Elves of Cintra (next in series) are amazing! and the way they tie everything together from running with the demon to straken! Amazing

  • corticalaxon

    Yeah, would vouch for V for Vendetta and Animal Farm, and I hear A Clockwork Orange is amazing (will read it next year).

    I read the top three, and I’m not going to lie, I found 1984 the most captivating, just because the Ingsoc government close every conceivable loophole and weakness that could lessen their grip on power. It makes the reader feel quite hopeless, which increases its power and meaning tremendously.

    And a correction: I believe 1984 would be an example of a far-left government – it was a socialistic society and government, not fascist. The only way it’s “right” is in the sense that both fascism and communism breed totalitarianism.

    I personally think 1984, BNW, then 451 — 451 was nice but wasn’t as captivating or interesting as the other two, IMO.

  • James Hudnall

    1984 was a critique of Stalinism, not far right governments. In otherwords, far left governments.

  • Bella

    Didn’t read the whole list of comments but I’m hoping Stephen King’s THE STAND is in there somewhere! I’ve been reading it every other year or so now for almost 20 years!
    Don’t bother with the TV movie version as the book is SO much better!

  • bipolar2

    George W. has brought y’all a small-scale introduction to ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. Faith-based government run by moral monsters wrapped in the flag. Wait for the next right-wing takeover — Just like the little kingdom opened to public view in Texas.
    Fiction no longer — you’re livin’ it.


  • taylormade

    1984 isn’t a particularly well written novel? I think most writers and college professors would disagree. It is frequently listed as one of the greatest novels of the 20th century. Orwell’s style is undeniable, he is one of the greatest writers of the last hundred years.

  • Bobbi

    great list! i’d add The Slynx, The Road and We.

  • Smoogy

    How about Walter Miller’s A Canticle for Lebowitz ? That is a great post-apocalypse/distopian novel

  • walterstc

    Great list man, i like how you included long walk in the running man summary. One of my favorite stephen king books. This is a great list, you should do more book lists. Maybe a great history books list, or i would like a great drug books list, or great musical biogrpahy list.

  • Nerdlette

    Also by Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake. Such an excellent read.

  • John Dunkelburg

    1984 is about any group gaining absolute power through the manipulation of information and control of language, not just the far Right. The Extreme Left (people like Lenin, Stalin, and Mao) perfected this at the same time that Hitler was making his Great Lie comment.

    As to the list itself, overall I agree with the rankings, though I would replace “Lord of the Flies” with “We” by Yevgeny Zamyatin.

  • Book Butcher

    I don’t know if it’s the original corporations-will-rule-the-world dystopia, but “The Space Merchants” by Kornbluth and Pohl certainly predates “Jennifer Government” and “The Running Man”. Written more than 50 years ago, it’s vision of environmental destruction, rampant consumerism, and a society stratified by money & job status is prescient. Not to mention it’s a quick, funny read.

    I liked “Brave New World”, but I didn’t love it like “F451” or “1984”.

    “F451” is Hemingway-esque in it’s brevity and better in it’s estimates of future technology. It’s protagonist is anchorless; he could be anyone, anywhere.

    “1984” is one of Orwell’s brilliant and concise political essays writ for a larger stage. Again, the technological vision is excellent, and the grittiness and venality well conveyed.

    “BNW”, though, reads like the work of a literati who is uncomfortably slumming in Sci-Fi to “Make An Important Point”. If Huxley had thrown in a few more purple adverbs and adjectives, he’d have written the “Gone With The Wind” of dystopian fiction.

    Also interesting to me: dystopia writers of the 60 & 70s (eg. Hersey) feared over-population. Now with the western world’s precipitous decline in birth rates, PD James writes the obverse in “Children of Men”.

    I also note that proponents of Margaret Atwood appear to be feminine posting names. Reasonable, given Atwood’s feminist concerns. I find her to be insufferably arrogant, though.

  • Calig

    How about Paul Auster’s “In the Country of Last Things”?
    Amazing book.

  • Amber Baynor

    One book that I think could have made the list is City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau. It’s a great book about two kids trying to escape from a community that was built to last for a certain amount of time.

    It’s a great read, and I’m an official ambassador for the upcoming movie City of Ember (10/10/08). I’m coming to you first because I have some exclusive first-look pictures that you might enjoy and share with your blog readers.
    Email me if you want them, I’d love to share them with you.

    Bill Murray looks great as the villainous Mayor Cole.

    I really think you’d like City of Ember because there are so many Dystopian themes present.

    Would love to be in touch!
    Amber Baynor
    Official Ambassador
    [email protected]

  • Phoenix

    Very few people seem to have read the novel “The Sheep Look Up” by John Brunner, but it deserves to be on this list. Just go read it. Now. Stop asking questions.

  • Daniel Wallin

    1984 is as much abnout far-left governments as far-right ones. Even more so. It’s mostly about Stalinism.

  • Sarah

    I’ve read almost all of these books and definitely agree with the list. For those of you who don’t, why not try writing your own list? These are opinion based lists, and not everyone has the same opinion.

  • chud

    Sarah, if you don’t agree with our disagreement with the list, why don’t you go fuck yourself?

  • Cyn

    chud –
    cool it! :(
    seriously, how is that in any way helpful?

  • MPW

    that was harsh

  • mister t

    fahrenheit 451 may be the most overated book ever written. it should not be on any best of list

  • Vera Lynn

    Was it? I missed the comment. Whatever :)

  • Sarah

    Thanks, chud, you’re a lovely person.

  • Sarah

    Oh, by the way, my comment about creating your own lists was not meant to be rude, if that’s what it sounded like. It was a suggestion, maybe to start some more interesting lists.

  • the wretched

    I want to work on dystopian novel in my thesis and I don’tknow really what I want to search

  • J

    No “Roadside Picnic”? I’m shocked :p

  • chud

    Wretched – Why don’t you ask Sarah? She knows everything.

  • Sarah

    OK, chud, that comment was uncalled for. I’ve been nothing but polite and I did apologize if I sounded rude at all.

  • G

    Some of the items on the list are excellent picks. Some others I would argue with.

    Lord of the Flies I would put down as an allegory, and probably not add to the list. There are also several items mentioned by previous comments, such as Zamyatin’s WE, and A Canticle for Leibowitz, Anthen and We the Living that I would very much rout for.

    While Roadside Picnic is not a dystopia – the world is not ruined, only the Zones are a befuddling interference – the Strugatskys did write dystopic fiction; Grad Obrecheniy (The Doomed City) and Khromaya udba (The Lame Fate) are certainly dystopias and A Million Years Before the End of the World might qualify also.

    I must concur with the outrage of not including Philip K. Dick. Man in the High Castle is frightening, as is A Scanner Darkly. Also, where’s Well’s When The Sleeper Wakes? Far more dystopic and harsh than The Time Machine. Also, what about earlier works, such as Abbot’s Flatland? If Lord of the Flies made the list, this allegory should also.

    I would also give honourable mention to Connie Willis’s The Last Winnebago, as well as Snow Crash and The Diamond Age by Neil Stephenson (who can’t write anything but dystopias as far as the eye can see).

    Also, on the front of dystopias that are not sci-fi-ish, I would mention Kafka’s Trial, Milen Kundera’s Joke and Solzhenitsin’s… well, everything, Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, Bulgakov’s Heart of a Dog, and others I probably don’t remember.

  • Michael

    “We” by Yevgeny Zamyatin is the best dystopian novel out there. It was published way before brave new world or 1984, but was suppressed by the Russian gov’t for a really long time. check it out…

  • MiSaNtHrOpE

    Returning to this list, I’m very pleasantly surprised that many of you know about some more obscure books, such as WE by Zamyatin, and Huxley’s Island (which, JFrater, I highly suggest you pick up Island again).

    And whoever called The Handmaid’s Tale a pretentious piece of crap needs some insight about the Christian Right.

  • RevDrDark

    An excellent list, Mr. Dayton. I should only hope to enlarge it with the following entries; Walter Michael Miller’s “Canticle for Leibowitz,” Lois Lowry’s haunting “The Giver,” and the oft imitated but never replicated Walker Percy’s groundbreaking “Love in the Ruins.” Another latter day (and quite readable, and very memorable, at that) post-apocalyptic Dystopia is laid out by the great John Updike in his 1998 novel, “Towards the End of Time.”
    Keep up the good work.
    Cheers to everyone who posted here.
    I remain,
    The Right Rev. Dr. Prometheus Samson Dark, esq.

  • RevDrDark

    Personal Addendum: My Apologies to Pheonix, for failing to include Brunner’s “The Sheep Look Up,” which, I agree, is a jaw-droppingly prophetic novel of the troubles into which we are currently drifting. GJ Pheonix.

  • Gunner

    As others have said ‘We’ by Zamyatin very important but also Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick important novel. JG Ballard’s first novel The Drowned World is worth a look and in fact Ballard’s subversive take on the world in most of his novels could be deemed dystopian….

  • TheRaven

    Not bad, but what about A Clockwork Orange- that book was great (and so was the movie). Also, you may want to consider these: Logan’s Run, Anthem, Planet of the Apes, Atlas Shrugged, We, and Swastika Night. I have heard good things about all of them. But seriously, A Clockwork Orange has got to be on there!

  • kittenkrazey

    This perfect day or The giver are my favorites

  • Jasmine

    Another great one is Feed! I’m not sure of the author’s name but it is a newer book that is well written.

  • Will

    You are missing Yevgeny Zamyatin’s “We” – a book that predates Orwell and Huxley and that they both probably ripped off.

  • Will

    Also, “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy is excellent.

  • Hank

    Well, it’s a good list, but it barely breaks the surface. Check out my Big List and see what you think.

  • L$abbyx3

    Fahrenheit 451 and 1984 are two of the best books I’ve ever stumbled upon.

  • Mark Retmo

    “Do androids dream of electric sheep ?” ( Blade Runner ) should not be missing from a dystopian novels list.
    It also anticipates many of the conflicts in society that are we are now living.


  • J4steer

    i have read Lord of the Flies ,1984, Fahrenheit 451, and Brave New World and I personally think 1984 was the best of the dystopian novels. Brave New World was also really good and I would put it second.

  • mvenges

    This is a well researched list and I agree with its placement of Brave New World at the top. 1984 is important in seemingly being more culturally influencial, but Brave New World is a superior piece of literature to it. So is Fahrenheit 451.

  • TheOnlySaneOne

    This is a good list. You should do a Top Dystopian Films list! Also, on a side note, one of the posters needs to know that the word is “definitely,” not “definately.” That should have made one of the common english errors list.

  • TheOnlySaneOne

    Correction: one of the common english errors LISTS. What irony.

  • Jonathan

    What about “If This Goes On-” by Robert A. Heinlein?
    That was dystopian enough.
    It also deals with a Far Right Wing Government in a Future US, That is also Fundementalist Religion based…

    In Closing: chud, how’s about heading on back to your stall until you can act like a more sapient lifeform, and not so much like a troglodyte? There’s a good lad…

  • connor

    the handmaids tale is possibly THE most overrated book.. EVER!!

  • KryptoTSD

    I haven’t read The Handmaid’s Tale yet…
    How can you say that?

  • KryptoTSD

    What makes you say that, I meant?

  • Hank

    connor: You’re close, but not quite. The most overrated novel ever is actually Catcher in the Rye.

  • carey

    What is the name/author of the popular fiction dystopian novel about a young girl,.. who lives with her family in a gated up community but they have to leave it for somereasons and the faterh is shot, then the girl somehow is alone now and she walks on this long road trying not to be killed or noticed and pretends to be a boy, and she gets a gun and money and kills others I think? Then I think she fallsin love with someone she met on the road. I dont know..I read it a few years ago I never remembered the name..

  • Hank

    Carey, I think you’re talking about Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler.

  • Damon Davenport

    … ummm no. The MOST overrated book of ALL TIME is Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. *shiver*

  • Damon Davenport

    Oh! And for those who are looking for a hauntingly realistic dystopian novel, try Philip K. Dick’s – Penultimate Truth

  • melnve

    Fairly new one is Blind Faith by Ben Elton… very Brave New World (my favourite on the list, much better read than 1984) but brought up to date.

  • Ole

    great list,. and great picks!

    Would Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’ qualify as dystopian literature? If so, it should definately have made the list, in any case a damn fine work of literature.


  • Dave

    You seem to have misplaced 1984 as it should definitely be number one.

  • What?

    seriously, why is ‘the Giver’ not on this list? That is ridiculous.

    Also, “Some academic circles distinguish between anti-utopia and dystopia. As in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, a dystopia does not pretend to be utopian, while an anti-utopia appears to be utopian or was intended to be so, but a fatal flaw or other factor has destroyed or twisted the intended utopian world or concept”

  • Zachary

    The Giver is not listed because it’s trash. I have read it and despise it.

    In my opinion, 1984 is far superior to Brave New World, both in concept and in language. This may be because I found 1984 to be much easier to follow, yet eloquent and rather deep.

    The metaphors and analogies Orwell creates are second to none. 2 + 2 = 5 is, without a doubt, the greatest of these.

    Additionally, I favor 1984 because of it is much more thought-provoking. Brave New World is great, but I think about 1984 all the time. It changed me. I use Newspeak sometimes, without even thinking.

    The principles of doublethink tear up hypnopaedia as a method of control as far as I’m concerned.

    Don’t get me wrong, though. I love Brave New World. But I think 1984 is better. (I haven’t read Farenheit 451, so no comment there.)

    I’m working on The Handmaid’s Tale, despite being continuously warned not to read it by teachers, etc. I don’t care. It’s fantastic, too.

    Also, if it weren’t for the technicality, Lord of the Flies should be much higher up. Either 2, 3 or 4 (because of 451, and Brave New World being great).

    By the way, Lord of the Flies and 1984 are, in my opinion, two of the best books ever written.

  • maddy

    where was ‘we’ by euvgeny zamyatin?? i thought that book was incredible

  • Katie

    I definitely agree with the top two…amazing reads!!!

  • timo

    Brave New world no.1; so deserves it, best dystopian novel I’ve ever read, then again I have only read three of those on there :)

  • Bonnie

    I love 1984, and I would have personally put it at number one. Despite this personal opinion, I can see how BNW is number one.

    But I am sad to see the omission of A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick, and The Giver by Lois Lowry on the list. Those are all great books.

  • hilly

    Parable of the Sower?

  • AndyKapp

    I read through your whole list and did not find mention of “The Road”–Cormac McCarthy Pulitzer prize winning novel(2007) until I got to comment 171..Glad to see someone else feels like I do about this wonderfully written book about the end of society

  • Kirsty

    Nothing by Kazuo Ishiguro? For shame…

  • Ryan

    Pretty good list. As another commentor noted, I’d have bumped off a few for The Road by McCarthy and definitely We by Yevgeny Zamyatin…it was the novel upon which both 1984 and Brave New World were based. Great stuff.

  • jum1801

    So, “1984” is about the dangers of fascism? It is “the source for arguing against a far right government(.)”? Really. As I recall Orwell himself recounting, it was his service with the Marxist militia POUM in the Spanish Civil War which opened his eyes to the ugly truth about Marxism and turned him forever against it and the Soviet Union. Orwell was fairly open about having modeled Big Brother and Oceania on Stalin and the Soviet Union. So where did this “fascist” stuff come from?

    Of course there is no practical difference in the governance by the fascist state or that of the Communist state – totalitarianism by any other name would smell as foul. But why the usual fascist approach when Orwell’s target was the Soviet Union? It puzzles me why some commentators apparently still have the idea that the ultimate in totalitarian oppression is fascism, because the evidence has conclusively shown that the Communist state sank below even Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in sheer, utter hellishness for its own citizens.

    A pox on both their houses, but let’s keep the historical and literary record straight and give the proper devils their full credit.

  • sir reads alot

    Very good list. Have read several. Another good addition to this genre is a bit lesser known, however worth finding and enjoying. Fritz Leibers “Gather,Darkness!”.A world controlled by false gods created to keep the masses in check.A post-apocalyptic elitist society of scientists turned priests.Awesome stuff.Pretty gutsy material and subject for 1943.

  • weiserreader

    Well, what can you say about a list of dystopian novels that does not include Blind by Jose Saramago or any novels by Fydor Dostoyevski. The only explanation can be that the compiler does not consider these novels dystopian. This might, just might, be understandable in the case of Dostoyevski, whose novels are not science fiction or fantasy. But, Blind!?!? I guess you would disagree with the people gave Saramago the Nobel Prize for Literature. Or maybe you haven’t read the book or worse, never heard of it.

  • Hank

    Blindness (not Blind) isn’t dystopian so much as apocalyptic. There’s a huge difference. Also, it was made into a movie last year, but it didn’t do very well. In a way, it reminded me a Day of the Triffids.

  • Larry

    1984 should have been first.

  • fuddy

    the giver is pretty good

  • I have to read all of these now, though i cant afford every single one, son ill read online.

  • Jamie3039

    I’ve read Iron Heel, 1984 and Brave New World. One notable ommision is a book called WE. I would have ranked Orwell first because i also read Homage to Catalonia and to compare it with 1984 is just an incredible experience

  • SophE

    While most of the books on here I have read and found interesting, I would have to disagree with Fahrenheit 451. For although the premise was fabulous, I’m afraid that I found all the characters flat and unlikable and thus making it very difficult to enjoy the book.

  • deviljin

    Guessing nobody ever heard of WE by Zamyatin? Pretty much the precursor to 1984 and Brave New World and possibly more depressing than the two later one.

  • Rufus McDufus

    “wow I love Stuff to do with Dystopian”

    Dystopian is an adjective. Not a noun.

  • doodlefish

    Why no mention of “Riddley Walker” by Russell Hoban?
    Set over 3000 years in the future following a nuclear holocaust, humankind is only just beginning to organise itself into communities after centuries of scratching a living hunter-gathering. However, they all have race memories of the Old Ones, who could talk to each other over vast distances, see “pictures on the wind”, perhaps even fly like birds. They also had a machine so powerful that it contained the sum of all human knowledge, and these future people think that they only need to find this machine and all the lost technology will be restored to them.
    They have no concept of love, or a deity, but every cycle they sacrifice one of a race of deformed, mutated people.
    The ending of this novel is truly heatrending. Do read it!

  • Hank

    Probably because “Riddley Walker” is apocalyptic, not dystopian.

  • twalz

    You left the Giver out. That book as classic and a perfect example for this list. I mean Lord of the flies is an amazing book but i dont see how it could be more suitable for this list than The Giver.

  • twalz

    I also disagree with 1984 not being first. That is possibly the one of the most important novels and is a classic. George Orwell enough said.

  • Joe

    #11 The Handmaids’ Tale

    Pro-Feminist+Anti-Religious=Not my kind of book.

  • teb

    i LOVE Brave New World… glad it was #1! I think it’s superior to 1984, though that’s good as well

  • hinkdink1991

    should be 1984 at no. 1 because its deeper than brave new world on a philosophical level as well as being an excellent dystopian novel. also it was equally as prescient as brave new world and, so far, more of it has come true in various parts of the world than brave new world. i’ve never read fahrenheit so i can’t comment

  • FranticFate

    I do believe that someone mentioned FEED a while back. It’s a novel by M.T. Anderson in which commercialism rules over all, and people have been dumbed down by the “feeds” implanted into their brains, which give them anything they want to know. They can look up any bit of information they want. The dumbing down is partly due to the advertising and buying world inside of the feeds. People have it all there, anything they could ever want- why quest for knowledge? Why try to better yourself at all when the need has been taken away?

    I do agree that The Giver (Lois Lowry) deserves some sort of mention, but alas. I myself loved it. It’s one of my favorite books, and one of my first peeks into the dystopian genre.

  • Rob H.

    Re: 1984, “This book is the source for arguing against a far right government getting unfettered power.” Absurd. The book does not detail a theocratic, corporate-dominated future, it details a Big Government, Equality by Force future, which is definitely Leftist.

  • Mark Frangeri

    Oh, and “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy absolutely deserves to be on any reasonable list of novels about a dystopian future.


    The Road is great, but it’s post-apocalyptic and not dystopian. There’s no society. Only the road and cannibals.

  • Paradox Box

    This may be controversial, but I think Plato’s Republic Classifies as dystopian and is extraordinarily thought provoking in its implications.

  • jazzmoose

    Rob, I agree with you, but in the end, it’s the same thing…

  • Lucy

    I have read Farenheit 451, lord of the flies and 1984. I loved 451 but disliked the other two. Lord of the flies could have been excelent if the writing was better and I disliked how 1984 ended.
    If my future children ever give me any fits about reading I’ll tell them the only book that they must read is 451 and they have to prove they read it. Then I personally won’t bug them about it.

  • Utopia from Thomas More is actually a scary dystopia looking at it with our contemporary values.

  • deeeekay

    I’m currently reading 1984, and Brave New World is on deck. Glad I’m finally getting around to them!

  • Jamie

    1984 is a much more complete novel than Brave New World. Of course Zamyatins We influenced them both immensly but Huxley didn’t acknowledge him whilst orwell did.

  • henry

    a couple of others to suggest – Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler set in the near future and Oryx and Crake by – I think it was also by Margaret Atwood. How bout Sinclair Lewis It can’t happen here? Also, some of the nuclear war books like On the Beach, Alas Babylon. The Road by McCarthy is very good and more dystopian than any other book I’ve read.

  • kashmirj

    Another great list! I am so glad to see the Handmaid’s Tale here, it’s one of my favorites. Another great dystopian novel (although obvious) is George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Another one of my faves! I never was made to read Lord of the Flies in 9th grade like almost every one else, but I do intend to get around to it lol

  • Grizzz

    1984 – “This book is the source for arguing against a far right government getting unfettered power.” Same goes for far left. Remember communism? In fact it is more about any faction/group/ideology getting too much power.

  • FM

    Good list, but 1984 trumps Brave New World any day in my opinion, and is certainly miles better than Fahrenheit 451. How many words has 1984 spawned- Newspeak, Big Brother, etc..

  • obeseanorexic

    No “We” by Zamyatin? He basically influenced both Brave New World and 1984.

  • tyler

    I liked the list, but was dissapointed that it didn’t include ayn rand’s “anthem”

  • gobyoung

    tyler: i agree, “anthem” definitely belongs. also a book by georges perec, “w, or the memory of childhood.”

  • REP

    I Need to Add my vote for THIS PERFECT DAY by Ira Levin…My favorite book ever , dystopian or otherwise….I hated to have it end…Have read it at least 5-6 times over the years….

  • Mindseye

    The Handmaid’s tale is an excellent read but I actually like Oryx and Crake and the sequalish The Year of the Flood better. The future described in both books is completely plausible to the point that Atwood does not describe her work as Science Fiction but speculative fiction.

  • Plagiarism

    “WE” by Zamyatin.
    The best by far, the one,the unique.
    Orwell just ripped off!

  • Mags.

    Is It bad that I wish I lived in the world of “Brave New World”?
    I have 17 pages left maybe I’ll change my mind
    oh…and the Uglies series by Scott Westerfield should be some further reading…not good enough to make the list…and they are a bit fluffy. but everyone needs some good fluff reading now and then.

  • dfg

    what about A Clockwork Orange brah… though I guess it doesn’t qualify as a full ‘novel’.

  • Nagalot

    In my opinion, brave new world is a bit overrated. Allthough i’d put it in the top 5, 1984 surpasses it by far.

  • Mojo

    After reading “We” and then “Brave New World”, “1984” occupy a honorific place in my trash bin.


    what about the road by Cormack McCarthy

  • alexman

    brave new world has some interesting points to make but is a terrible novel. 1984 is one of the best books ever and definately top of this list

  • blah

    you know, my sci fi teacher told us that in the book Neuromancer, the chick mentions a boyfriend named Johnny.

    This Johnny is actually Johnny Mnemonic, as in the movie Johnny Mnemonic with Keanu Reeves.

    So unbeknownst to pretty much everybody, Johnny Mnemonic is a spinoff or prequel to Neuromancer.

  • I have read “Brave New World” and “1984,” and must say I agree with your choice of BNW as #1. That book is brilliant. I am somewhat of a luddite, which I guess is ironic given that I’m going to be entering the journalism industry while its in a state of great technological change, but Huxley’s chilling tale hit close to home for me, taking some of my already existing worries, and bringing them to their extreme conclusions. A must read.

  • Ivanov

    Beware, flagrant plagiarism at Number 3!!

  • JulieAnn

    The Windup Girl is a great new novel. Read this with Barbara Kingsolvers “Animal Vegetable Miricle” for reality meets futuristic dystopia.

  • TriffidUK

    Great list and I agree with many of the titles featured, except the top two! Brave New World, whilst being imaginative and thoughtful, contains such stagnant prose. The man just didn’t have a writting style to compare to Wyndham, Attwood, or Orwell. Also thought Farenheit 451 was vastly overrated, and the bit with the mechanical chasing dog was neither tense, nor believable.
    For more information on John Wyndham:

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  • Richard

    Where’s Anthem?

  • john

    Bend Sinister by Vladimir Nabokov is one of the greatest dystopian novels of all time!!! How can it be looked over so easily…should be top five.

  • lucin

    Roadside Picnic is a SUPER dystopia, and deserves to be on this list. Not only are the ideas brilliant, the writing and prose OWNS anything by the likes of Stephen King, and the authors are extremely subtle about the fact that the world is crumbling. They don’t go “OMG THE WORLD IS CRUMBLING”. They hint at it through ATMOSPHERE: dialogue, descriptions (block after block of boarded up houses), and the fact that even people who would normally be rich like Burbridge are driving around in crap cars, live in cottages and have no money. Seriously, if you haven’t read this, google it, you can find the PDF legally.

  • ColtonGris

    Hey great list again although my only point would be that I had to read both Brave New World and 1984 for my honors english class this year both fine reads however to me Orwell is a much better writer which makes 1984 in my opinion a better novel he creates relatable characters and setting whereas huxley was very cold and scientific

  • Kristin

    Brave New World is my absolute, all time favorite book. It is amazing.

  • itsallabout

    Fahrenheit 451…excellent choice! It's one of my favorites and it does create a realistic dystopian future. I mean, half of the things mentioned in the book are already happening (obsession with television, insensitivity to violence in war, and the need to make things faster and smaller) so the step to the future portrayed in the novel seems possible, although radical. Plus, I love the anti-censorship angle, in any sort of literature.

  • Christine

    I just wanted to say that i wasn’t ever a big reader but thanks to this list i am reading The Lord of the Flies and i have to say that i just cant put it down, excellent book, thanks :-)

  • fad

    Hmm… list could be revised: personally I would replace Lord of the Flies with Clockwork Orange.

    But then, I have always thought that Lord of the Flies was overrated.

  • MissaukeeMan

    Cormac McCarthy's "The Road"

    • Bernard Marx

      "The Road" is pot apocalyptic, not dystopian.

  • Bernard Marx

    Kudos for making "Brave New World" #1. Most people would have put "1984", they're both great books but "BNW" is without a doubt my favorite novel, at least so far.

    • Pharmc278

      Very nice site!

  • Val

    I have got chills! and I am going to go on a reading binge starting tomorrow…great list! Thank you!

    Also, I wonder if you have read parable of a sower by Octavia E Butler, it's my all time favorite book and I am convinced the world and people in it are what society will be like soon. check it out.

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  • rkwe

    What about "The Giver?"

  • inkblister

    I feel China Miéville’s Bas-Lag trilogy deserves a mention here as well…

    Perdido Street Station
    The Scar
    The Iron Council

    If you are a fan of dystopic and steam-punk fantasy, it’ll be right up your alley…

  • Meg

    Where is "We"?

  • Brenda

    Why isn’t “We” on this list?

  • RagbraiRat

    How could you not put “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy on this list? An egregious error…

    • Gavin

      the road is a post apocalyptic novel, generally considered to be in a different category from novels about dystopian society.

  • Wasabi

    I would reccomend the hunger games, set in a world where the capital city forces children from the other cities to kill each other, and forces the other cities to watch, just to prove their power

  • Peter Abbott

    “The Last Time Machine” is a great time travel novel. Please give it a read.
    It should be listed among your top ten.

  • patrick

    How come, Zamyatin’s “We” was not enlisted?

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  • Michelle

    Uh, Clockwork Orange anyone? Brutal and terrifying, with an oppresive government to boot. Classic dystopian.

    And I agree with Q; I’m reading Brave New World right now and I can’t hate this world Huxley created. They found a way to irradicate religious wars, class wars, family dysfunction, overpopulation and disease.

    The main character is whinny and annoying, craving things he knows nothing about and has never benefited humanity in the first place.

    Also, the writing is too flowery and Huxley does not understand the meaning of a paragraph. Now 1984, there was some great, clear writing and a character you could care about going against a world you could utterly hate.

  • Clifford

    Was it Really Love by Clifford Allan Sullivan

    Synopsis: A futuristic, dystopian novel (with a 1920s style story). “”This is the story of Scott Breiman and Valorie,”” a love story and much more.””

    About The Author: Clifford Allan Sullivan lives in New Brunswick (Canada). He writes screenplays, stageplays and novels. He gains nothing but pleasure from writing fiction. He’s an avid reader, a compulsive writer and a movie buff. Buy the book; enjoy the book. You will find it a pleasure to read… Author’s Website:

    Available at: (paperback edition), (kindle edition) and many more…

  • JA

    How could you say George Orwell’s 1984 wasn’t the best written novel? It was not intended as an argument against right-wing governments but against totalitarian dictatorships on the LEFT. And where is We by Yevgeny Zamyatin? The one that inspired both 1984 and Brave New World? Seriously?

  • Al

    I’m confused by the argument that ‘Brave New World’ is a criticism of left leaning thinking?

    Especially the current argument that the book seems to be far better at explaining the current consumerism than Orwell’s 1984. Or is this current consumerism some product of that great socialist experiment capitalism, rather than a capitalism I’ve always assumed to be right wing.

    Perhaps you should read number 3 on the list again

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  • CC

    Surprised that Anthem isn’t on here.

  • Xavier

    “This isn’t the best written novel” [On Orwell’s 1984]

    If you’re serious with this you don’t know anything about literature.

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  • shetSpagtoops


  • Georgie

    I’d also include Shade’s Children and maybe Battle Royale?

  • Stephen Graff

    Agreed. Great list.

  • KayJay

    Another mentioned it and I agree; World War Z is a great look at dystopian, though I think it’s more post-apocalyptic than dystopian.

    A book that (honesty) probably isn’t good enough to get on the list but I enjoyed immensly was The Alliance by Gerald Lund. Extremely dystopian (might have religious tones, I haven’t read it in a while) but a good read; good, not great, but MUCH better than F451 IMO.

    Speaking of F451 I think that it’s a good theme with HORRIBLE delivery. It’s hardly understandable writing, and it honestly is one book I’m happy to burn. Animal Farm should have taken its place. A unique, true view of totalitarian / dystopian governments.

  • jamal

    1984 isn’t the best wrtten novel? What kind of insane critic are you? Your spouse must be riddled with guilt.

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  • christine

    I love that you put the real meaning of Fahrenheit 451, and not the commonly held belief that it is about censorship

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  • Steven W Lindsey

    I’m not sure I’d rate Bradbury ahead of Orwell….


  • lurkingshadows

    The Giver, Gathering Blue, and Messenger are great books when it comes to dystopian societies.

  • Chris Jones

    Very Good List. I would have had Stephen King’s “The Stand” in place of “Lord of the Flies” though. I guess they’re both kind of questionable but I’m a huge fan of “The Stand”. Again, great list!

  • ruby

    the book Uglies by Scott Westerfield I think would also be a good dystopian novel. Also the Hunger Games could be considered to have a bit of dystopia in it.

  • I’mSafe&Sound

    Umm hello? Where is The Hunger Games? Gosh…


  • Helen

    The Hunger Games was not yet published when this post was written! But now that it has been published, I totally agree with you that it should be on this list.

    • H

      I read The Running Man on the basis of this review. I don’t think I have ever read a more sexist book. The author’s (Stephen King’s) searing misogyny nearly stripped the flesh from my poor female bones. Not a single female character is anything but helpless, useless, a mother or a whore. Not to mention racist – the “n” word appears several times. If anything, the most interesting thing about reading this novel was realising how far we have come in the 3 decades since it was published. The writer’s attitudes are positively neaderthal by today’s attitudes. I guess affirmative action and all the equal rights campaigning have improved our world, because there’s no way this appalling piece of writing would make it into print these days – and that’s a good thing.

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  • Peter Dash

    Try ZUrabia, A post 2008 financial meltdown novel. A novel with a financial dystopian background where for example, the very wealthy send all of their gold and cash to tax havens. With Wall Street bankers working with terrorists to atom bomb western cities while they short the stock markets in them at the same time and make huge amounts of money through all of this destruction.

  • Orchid

    On of the best newer dystopean novels is
    “Super Sad True Love Story” by Gary Shteyngart
    My absolut favorite now….

  • V

    You should try reading books before commenting on them. Your description of The Communist Manifesto is ridiculous.

    No, really, read it, it won’t kill you (:

  • Tyler

    Here are a few more Dystopian novels if your still looking for a few more ideas:

  • Rafaela

    Not a single Russian author? They have great tradition, great novels. Not only Zamyatin (and you cannot talk about dystopian fiction and forget about him), but also Sorokin, Vojnovich, Tolstaja, Platonov…

  • Rafaela

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  • sobar

    Sarah, since I actually don’t rbeemmer the first romance novel I read, that’s going to be hard to answer. What I can say is this: romance novels are about healthy relationships, and so it’s easy to pick any number of lessons from them. I’ve read more than a few romance novels recently, and in some cases, I felt that the way the hero and heroine dealt with conflict was very good which was something that I could pick up for myself. I guess if a character is well-rounded and the story is well-written, then it’s easy for a reader to connect with it and pick up things as s/he goes along.

  • louise

    lord of the flies is not dystopian

  • anne o.

    how about Lord of The Flies ??Isnt that considered as one??

  • there should have been another Ray Bradbury book in this list, in my opinion he rights the best books of his calibur.

  • Evolution420

    Brave New World is pure genius. Huxley was way ahead of his time.

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  • goober

    Where’s the great WE; the father of brave new world and 1984.
    Where’s Anthem.

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  • KuntHuh4

    Too bad Idiocracy wasn’t a novel.

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  • Chrissyfur

    Having read at least four of these on here I would disagree with their order. I think Handmaids Tale should be a lot further up than it is (say number 2), Fahrenheit 451 should be number 4, Brave New World at Number 2 and 1984 at number 1 if only for giving us the horrors of Room 101.

    I would also now put Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman in this list as well as Suzanne Collins’ ‘The Hunger Games. Both brilliant realisations of dystopia in my opinion

    Also, just to go on from what someone said about BNW being a utopia. It isn’t utopia because nobody is free, everything is artificial and drug-enhanced. That is what makes it scary. There are books on here I would love to read such as Lord of the Flies and PD James Children of Men

  • Chrissyfur

    I disagree with you on that score. Brave New World is a dystopia basically because it is all enforced. Love is not true love and sex has been divorced from it completely. Their children are drugged right from even before they are born and separated into castes. The only people who are truly happy are those at the top and even that is ‘enforced’. The mere fact that the BNW version of Big Brother is happy makes things even worse because he knows that if he keeps up this cocktail of sex, entertainment and drugs then he will always be able to keep his government stable

  • jouford

    Really good list, this. And a very good call on The running Man. When i tell people that it’s in my top 5 stories ever read, they take the Mickey out of me. But i think it’s a perfect read, and very disturbing glimpse of what might be. Unfortunately, Arnie shat all over it in a dreadful film.

    Long Walk is also a very chilling, and gripping read.

  • matt

    Great list! If you like young adult dystopian novels you should check out Revealing Eden by Victoria Foyt.

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  • Faith

    Another Margaret Atwood book belongs on this list: Oryx and Crake….not just dystopian fiction,but a cautionary tale about the pharmaceutical industry and genetic engineering

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  • Mike

    What about “We” by Yevgeny Zamyatin? It was the inspiration for so many dystopian novels.

    • alasdairwolfe

      I would have thought H.G Wells’ When the Sleeper Wakes would have been fitting. WE as mentioned numerous time is a worthy read, in my opinion, and is the blueprint. For a slightly odd-ball text I would suggest Day of the Oprichnik by Vladimir Sorokin.

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  • Ted Manner

    I’m always on the look out for great books. Some of these are really good, others I have not yet. Gives me pause, and makes me think perhaps this list is phenomenal. I’ll have to read some more of these before I ok them for my children.
    A book I noticed that wasn’t on the list, but is still pretty good! My daughter loved it.
    Dystopian book about caste system

  • Sardondi

    ” This book is the source for arguing against a far right government getting unfettered power.”

    I was re-reading this very interesting and well-written list and came across this thought. I don’t think I had noticed it before today. I must disagree with the assertion. I think the thought is either fatally overstates the case or is fatally limited, depending on little more than stylistic preference.

    First, it is incorrect because there is nothing substantive about 1984 which warns us specifically against far right government, per se, getting unfettered power. It is more accurate to say it supports an argument against government, period, getting unfettered power. There is little or nothing unique to “far right government” in Orwell’s Oceania.

    Indeed, if anything Oceania is a leftist society. Its issues, policies and practices are clearly those of a classic leftist totalitarian state. Oceania’s apparent objection to Stalinism is not so much about about ideology, but personality. It’s much like squabbles between the USSR and Red China. The picture painted by Orwell in 1984 is without doubt a leftist nightmare of totalitarian excess, not some futurist parable that means we must ever fear the rise of McCarthyism, but can breathe easy about collectivism and compelled income redistribution. Virtually each of the ideas evinced in 1984 has already been put into practice to a much less degree in leftist states (and even the US), or are otherwise associated with leftist ideology or demands for change. But Oceania has indeed been aped many, many times in current or former Communist dictatorships and regimes, and to a lesser degree in extreme socialist regimes. which total perhaps 50 or more such states.

    The sooner “moderates” and leftists can admit that Orwell’s brilliant work is more accurately characterized as an expose’ of the totalitarian mind than a jab at the right, the sooner we’ll come to being able to defend against the pernicious threat which leftist ideology presents.

  • Suzie

    How can ‘we’ not be on the list!???

  • ben

    I always thought Brave New World was rather poorly written while 1984 was a masterpiece- maybe the romance caught my attention more, lol. The ending of Brave New World felt forced too. Huxley also flips on all of his ideas presented in Brave New World with the Island, which kind of irritates me. I guess later in his career and after lots of mescaline he figured drugs would liberate rather than enslave. I guess I just love Orwell’s simple style. Huxley always writes so pretentiously as if he’s trying to impress the reader with how many big words he knows.

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