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Best Dystopian Novels

Updated on July 12, 2014

Best Dystopian Books

This lens is about dystopian books, which are among my favorite types of books. Most people automatically think of dystopia as a science fiction sub-genre, and while dystopian science fiction is common, not all stories about dystopian societies (or screwed up uptoias) are from the sci-fi genre, and many post apocalyptic movies are based on dystopian novels. I will attempt to continue to update this lens as more and more fantastic dystopian works continue to be published whether from traditional publishing houses, or the emergence of e-book publishing like the ever popular dystopian Hunger Games trilogy which comes in a box set or you can get the Kindle versions. The movie did well, and more are to come. The point is that dystopian stories are doing well - regardless of what the revolutionary masses might want you to think.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding (1954)

#12 Lord of the Flies by 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, a book that is still taught as a mainstay of both psychology and sociology in high schools and college even today. In the book they tried to build a society without the enforcement of laws, and without a threat that was higher than an individual person, it fell apart.

I'd say anytime a guy gets hit by a big boulder because he's annoying, your society definitely qualifies as dysfunctional enough to count as a dystopia.

Want a Great Read? Buy Lord of the Flies Right Here! - Lord of the Flies is one of the all time classic novels.

Lord of the Flies
Lord of the Flies

"Lord of the Flies" by William Golding is a classic that explores the deep animal psychology within each and every human from a psychological and sociological stance. When I was in high school, this was the only book every person in class actually read.


The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)

#11 The Handmaid's Tale by 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. In this world the country has been taken over by "Christian" fundamentalists who have done away with the Constitution and founded a theocratic state.

This Republic of Gilead (as it is called) is ruled through fundamentalism and rigid enforcement of social roles vaguely resembling Dominionism.

Most citizens, and all women, have been stripped of their freedoms. While this makes it popular among feminists and colleges, it also causes it to be protested by religious or conservative affiliations, especially at the high school level.

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.

Sound Interesting? Buy a Copy Right Here! - This novel is a favorite among many readers.

The Handmaid's Tale
The Handmaid's Tale

A favorite among academics, science fiction fans, and feminists alike, this dystopian novel is frightening because of how logical and realistic the society of this post-nuclear world is.


Neuromancer by William Gibson (1984)

One of the most influential science fiction books in modern history

#10 Neuromancer by 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. In fact, here is a list of themes that Gibson beat everyone to:

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Virtual Reality

Genetic Engineering

Multi-national corporations overpowering the traditional nation-state

Gibson tackled these topics long before they became mainstream in popular culture. The concept of "cyberspace" makes its first appearance, with Gibson describing the word to describe "a consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions."

Neuromancer: One of the Most Influential Books in Modern Science Fiction - A brilliant modern dystopia, and maybe William Gibson's best novel


The first in a trilogy, this William Gibson novel was brilliant and helped re-define the science fiction genre, while accurately predicting future technologies, such as our current Internet.


Iron Heel by Jack London (1908)

Turn of the century dystopian literature

#9 Iron Heel by 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 plot shows Jack London's socialist views at their apex, and this story was a far travel from his normal wilderness themed stories.

This was a fantastic dystopian novel that was far ahead of its time. While the phrase "Jack London dystopia" might seem really unusual, when you consider his willingness to write about dark topics, you can see the fit. Combine the Heart of Darkness like insanity from the Sea Wolf along with an impressive look at how society and wealth bankrupt the middle class into legal slavery, and you have the Iron Heel, a great dystopia that looks frighteningly more real day by day.

The Iron Heel: Jack London's Greatest Dystopian Work - The Iron Heel tends to fly under the radar, but it was a dystopian prediction by Jack London

The Iron Heel (Penguin Classics)
The Iron Heel (Penguin Classics)

Overlooked, but still in print 100 years later. A fantastic novel, and one worthy of reading.


The Running Man by Richard Bachman (1982)

#8 The Running Man by Richard Bachman (1982)

Written by Stephen King under the pen name of Richard Bachman, "The Running Man" is a fantastic dystopian novel about a frightening future where ratings and entertainment takes form in a manhunt, 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 and both embrace the idea of a strongly dystopian society using gimmicks and the illusion of hope to keep control and entertain the masses away from thoughts of further revolution.

What makes these two novels even more impressive is that they seem to embrace the reality show dystopia concept well before reality shows become commonplace. Richard Bachman's dystopian science fiction is, in my opinion, some of Stephen King's most entertaining work. They are fast reads and should speak to a much broader audience than much of Stephen King's literary or horror based works. Definitely worth the read!

The Running Man by Richard Bachman (Stephen King) - An amazing science fiction work that deserves bigger recognition

The book was far far superior to the fairly lousy (though strangely entertaining at 3 a.m.) movie.

The Running Man
The Running Man

The Running Man was written under the pen name Richard Bachman, but Stephen King was the actual author of this modern science fiction dystopian classic.


Armageddon's Children by Terry Brooks (2006)

#7 Armageddon's Children by 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.

While this might be even more post-apocalyptic than dystopian, there are several examples of societies (one demon, one "guided," two human) that while trying to make the most of form and function of government or order in the wastelands, also can qualify as almost being post apocalyptic dystopia in nature. Agree or disagree with me: this is an outstanding read!

Love Terry Brooks? Buy This Fantastic Book Right Here! - The first book in a great new series.

Armageddon's Children (The Genesis of Shannara, Book 1)
Armageddon's Children (The Genesis of Shannara, Book 1)

This is Terry Brooks at his absolute best describing an incredible post apocalyptic world in this stunning and page turning dystopian novel.


The Chrysalids by John Wyndham (1955)

This dystopian novel was released under the title "The Re-birth" in the United States

#6 The Chrysalids by 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. While you might think that this type of racial purity dystopia is a bit cliched or old school, take a look around newly released files on eugenics and remember that many racial superiority groups still exist. As politics in the US get more and more venomous, it's not hard to see this type of thinking taking over.

You Can Buy This All Time Great Novel Right Here - Also known as "The Re-Birth" in the United States

The Chrysalids
The Chrysalids

The world has ended, but ashes still remain. If you're even the slightest bit imperfect, you had better beware...


The Children of Men by PD James (1992)

#5 The Children of Men by 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. This is an extremely fascinating look at a possible reason for dystopia that people don't even think of, delving into the implications of a world with truly no hope at all.

Want to compare the book to the movie? Buy a copy of both here! - Both were excellent, I think I like the novel slightly more.

The Children of Men
The Children of Men

Children of Men-the fantastic book that has fans world wide about a frightening future where extinction may not be preventable.

Children of Men
Children of Men

The exceptional movie based on the novel by PD James.


The Making of "The Children of Men"

Eight minutes on the making of the film "The Children of Men."

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (1895)

Dystopian Science Fiction at it's best: Dystopian Literature

#4 The Time Machine by 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. It's not the conventional definition of a cannibalistic dystopia, but it's a good precursor for this particular sub-genre of the dystopian literature.

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells - Your Library Is Incomplete Without a Copy!

The Time Machine (Signet Classics)
The Time Machine (Signet Classics)

Still a fast paced read, and perhaps the best science fiction novel/novella ever written.

The Time Machine
The Time Machine

The modern movie version of "The Time Machine," which is far different from the H.G. Wells novel, but very entertaining nonetheless.


Teaser Trailer for "The Time Machine"

This is for the more recent version of the movie.

1984 by George Orwell (1949)

Big Brother Dystopia

#3 1984 by George Orwell (1949)

This isn't the best written novel in that the ideas are extraordinary although the writing itself can come across as a bit stilted and dry, 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 and ironically the conversion and final re-education of the main character at the end is perhaps the most frightening and overlooked aspect of this work. This makes 1984 one of the all time classic dystopian works.

1984 - The Very Title Is Synonymous with Dystopia

1984 (Signet Classics)
1984 (Signet Classics)

Big Brother is watching you...


Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)

The best cultural dystopia ever written - and eeriely prophetic

#2 Fahrenheit 451 by 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.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)

Maybe the greatest piece of dystopian literature ever

#1 Brave New World by 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.

Is It A Brave New World? Judge for Yourself...

Brave New World and Brave New World Revisited
Brave New World and Brave New World Revisited

If you claim to be a big science fiction fan, you had better have this book on your shelf...


A Great Clip of Aldous Huxley on Dystopia

The great mind talking about how propoganda will be able to erase all resistance.

Vote Your Favorite Dystopias Up or Down - Or Add Your Own!

Vote for the ones you like, or if I'm missing one then feel free to add it on!

1984 (Signet Classics)
1984 (Signet Classics)

"Outside, even through the shut window pane, the world looked cold. Down in the street little eddies of wind were whirling dust and torn paper into spirals, and though the sun was shining and the sky a harsh blue, there seemed to be no color in anything except the posters that were plastered everywhere." The year is 1984; the scene is London, largest population center of Airstrip One. Airstrip One is part of the vast political entity Oceania, which is eternally at war with one of two other vast...

Brave New World
Brave New World

A beautifully written novel about a terrifying vision of utopia.

The Handmaid's Tale
The Handmaid's Tale

In the world of the near future, who will control women's bodies?Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable.Offred c...

Lord of the Flies
Lord of the Flies

William Golding's classic tale about a group of English schoolboys who are plane-wrecked on a deserted island is just as chilling and relevant today as when it was first published in 1954. At first, the stranded boys cooperate, attempting to gather food, make shelters, and maintain signal fires. Overseeing their efforts are Ralph, "the boy with fair hair," and Piggy, Ralph's chubby, wisdom-dispensing sidekick whose thick spectacles come in handy for lighting fires. Although Ralph tries to impose...

The Running Man
The Running Man

Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman) crafted The Running Man early in his career, though after such mega-hits as Carrie and The Shining. A bit of a departure from the supernatural horror that is most frequently associated with his work, the novel describes a science fiction dystopia where market capitalism and television game shows have spiraled out of control, and the separation between the haves and the have-nots has been formalized with separate currencies. King establishes characters qu...

The Time Machine (Signet Classics)
The Time Machine (Signet Classics)

The story that launched Wells's successful career-the classic tale of the Time Traveler and the extraordinary world he discovers in the far distant future. A haunting portrayal of Darwin's evolutionary theory carried to a terrible conclusion.

The Long Walk
The Long Walk

Phenomenal bestselling horror. On the first day of May, one hundred teenage boys meet for an event known throughout the country as "The Long Walk," a deadly contest of endurance and determination, where each step could literally be their last. On the first day of May, one hundred teenage boys meet for an event known throughout the country as "The Long Walk." If you break the rules, you get three warnings. If you exceed your limit, what happens is absolutely terrifying.

The Chrysalids
The Chrysalids

A hard to find, but influential, classic.


Here is the novel that started it all, launching the cyberpunk generation, and the first novel to win the holy trinity of science fiction: the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award and the Philip K. Dick Award. With Neuromancer, William Gibson introduced the world to cyberspace--and science fiction has never been the same. Case was the hottest computer cowboy cruising the information superhighway--jacking his consciousness into cyberspace, soaring through tactile lattices of data and logic, rustling enc...

The Iron Heel (Penguin Classics)
The Iron Heel (Penguin Classics)

Part science fiction, part dystopian fantasy, part radical socialist tract, Jack LondonÂs The Iron Heel offers a grim depiction of warfare between the classes in America and around the globe. Originally published nearly a hundred years ago, it anticipated many features of the past century, including the rise of fascism, the emergence of domestic terrorism, and the growth of centralized government surveillance and authority. What begins as a war of words ends in scenes of harrowing violence as th...

The Children of Men
The Children of Men

Told with P. D. James's trademark suspense, insightful characterization, and riveting storytelling, The Children of Men is a story of a world with no children and no future. The human race has become infertile, and the last generation to be born is now adult. Civilization itself is crumbling as suicide and despair become commonplace. Oxford historian Theodore Faron, apathetic toward a future without a future, spends most of his time reminiscing. Then he is approached by Julian, a bright, attract...

Armageddon's Children (The Genesis of Shannara, Book 1)
Armageddon's Children (The Genesis of Shannara, Book 1)

If you have never read anything by beloved fantasy writer Terry Brooks, take your chance with Armageddon's Children, a rich and absorbing epic in which the world lies in ruins as the powers of darkness and light battle for control. Want to learn more? Watch our video featuring Terry Brooks: Watch the video (high bandwith)Watch the video (low bandwith) ="/" noshade="noshade" class="bucketDivider" size="1">

Island (Perennial Classics)
Island (Perennial Classics)

In "Island," his last novel, Huxley transports us to a Pacific island where, for 120 years, an ideal society has flourished. Inevitably, this island of bliss attracts the envy and enmity of the surrounding world. A conspiracy is underway to take over Pala and events begin to move when an agent of the conspirators, a newspaperman named Faranby, is shipwrecked there. What Faranby doesn't expect is how his time with the people of Pala will revolutionize all his values and -- to his amazement -- give...


Which of the Giant 3 Is Best? - Dystopian Trinity | 3 Big Dystopia Sci-Fi Novels | Dystopian Classics

There are three dystopian novels that are generally considered the "Trinity," so to speak, of dystopian science fiction. So let's see which one everyone likes!

Which of the big 3 of dystopian sci fi novels is tops?

See results

Types of Dystopia

What's your favorite style of dystopia?

So What Exactly Is a Dystopia?

There are many similar but slightly different definitions for what exactly makes up a dystopia. Common mistakes include labeling movies or books that are bleak science fiction or post-apocalyptic as dystopian. Now sometimes they might be - and there are works that can definitely qualify as all three, but being one doesn't guarantee the two others. Generally speaking, a dystopia is a futuristic (although that doesn't mean it has to be advanced - this can be a resurrected society after a disaster or such) universe where some type of oppressive societal control is maintained through a variety of methods that include but are not limited to bureaucratic, technological, moral/immoral, technological, corporate, or other totalitarian control. Many appear as a false utopia with the darkness right under the surface of what appears to be a good thing. These works often take a part of society the author views as a threat and exaggerates it to an extreme to get the point across of the dangers that could be lurking there in the future.

What Characteristics Do Dystopias Share?

Many dystopias share common characteristics, such as:

** Propaganda is used in many forms to help control citizens, whether it's brainwashing, advertising, controlling news, or using entertainment based means

** Often times freedom, information, and independent thought are severely restricted

** Many times a leader, oligarchy, religious idea, or concept is worshipped by the citizens

** Citizens are under constant surveillance or at least seem to be

** Citizens have no knowledge of the outside world, or fear it

** Many of the citizens live in a de-humanized state

** Uniformity is extremely important: conformity is in and dissent is strictly dealt with

** Many of these societies are an illusion of a perfect utopian world

Some of the Most Popular Types of Dystopia

Dystopia comes in many forms and sub-genres, to the point where there are even fan-based and academically based arguments over how many sub-genres there are, which books count in which category (or movie). This section will go over some of the many popular types of fictional dystopian societies as well as some of the most popular control methods for those in charge of these often terrifying worlds.

Coroporate Dystopia

In this type of dystopia one, or multiple, large corporations end up controlling society. This can be done through a variety of methods including products, advertising, media control, or overwhelming influence of wealth. Movie and book examples: Running Man, Minority Report, Out of Time, or Jennifer Government (and somewhat arguably Fahrenheit 451). An extreme example of this type of corporation (although these aren't dystopian - they're apocalyptic) would be the Umbrella Corporation from the Resident Evil Series of movies.

Bureaucratic Dystopia

Sometimes this is mixed in with government or political dystopia. In this situation society is often controlled by a mindless bureaucracy in which red tape, regulations, and government regulation make life a living hell for many people. The movie Brazil is a fantastic example, and there are many great made for TV movie dystopias revolving around the same scenario. Think if the Bureaucratic office from Futurama ruled the entire planet.

Political Dystopia

This is one of the most famous and well known because of how many classic works go this route. This dystopia is a result of extreme political ideology that can be from religious zealotry in politics, right wing extremism or left wing extremism. 1984, Brave New World, It Can't Happen Here, and The Iron Heel are all literary examples of political dystopia. A recent popular movie example would be "V for Vendetta." "The Hunger Games" falls in between Political and Corporate dystopias because of the oligarchy nature of the wealthy in Hunger Games. "Firefly" is another good example.

Technological Dystopia

These are almost always science fiction based. Most of William Gibson's works fall under this category, as do many other types of cyber-punk science fiction. Movie versions arguably could include "I, Robot" (movie, not the Asimov book) and The Matrix.

Philosophical or Religious Control

This is another area some people put "V for Vendetta" under because of the theocratic dictatorship. The opposite extreme can also be argued for the movie "Equilibrium" where emotions are outlawed as they are pegged as the cause of all discord.

Post-Apocalyptic Dystopia

This one is a little bit more controversial as some people argue that most under this category really are post-apocalyptic stories where almost any government or settlement will have false utopia or dystopian tendencies. Take a look at the underground society in "A Boy and His Dog" or the Governor's town in the TV show "The Walking Dead" for some examples of this.

Social Dystopias

These often mix with political or other dystopias, but an example of this would be Soylent Green, with the shocker at the end revealing food being made from people. That also acts as a classic example of a false Utopia, which "The Time Machine" by H.G. Wells also qualifies as. Another example of a false Utopia making a social statement would be the classic horror short story "The Lottery" which also has several movies based on the plot.

A Large List of Dystopian Novels

Feminist dystopias | modern dystopias | false utopias

This isn't a complete list of dystopian fiction, but it is a very solid list that includes most of the major classics and will certainly add quite a bit of length to your reading list.

This list of dystopian novels includes everything from feminist dystopia, to modern dystopia, corporate dystopia, false uptopias, post apocalyptic worlds, and everything in between.

Enjoy the read!


1984 by George Orwell

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

When the Sleeper Wakes by H.G. Wells

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

Island by Aldous Huxley

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder by James DeMille

The Giver by Lois Lowry

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster

Anthem by Ayn Rand

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis

The Shape of Things to Come H.G. Wells

This Perfect Day by Ira Levin

After by Francine Prose

That Hideous Strength C.S. Lewis

Fast Eddie, King of the Bees by Robert Arellano

Neuromancer by William Gibson

The Running Man by Stephen King as Richard Bachman

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick

"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson

324: A Novel by Thomas Disch

Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank

Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Armageddon's Children by Terry Brooks

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

Utopia X by Scott Wilson

The Goodness Gene by Sonia Levitin

The Postman by David Brin

Naked Lunch William S. Burroughs

The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner

The World Inside by Robert Silverberg

Time Out of Joint Philip K. Dick

Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner

Kallocain by Karin Boye

A Wrinkle in Time Madeleine L'Engle

Dystopia: Collected Stories by Richard Christian Matheson

In the Country of Last Things by Paul Astuer

Iron Heel by Jack London

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Bend Sinister by Vladimir Nabokov.

The Children of Men by P.D James

A World Out of Time Larry Niven

The Long Walk by Stephen King as Richard Bachman

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

Count Zero by William Gibson

The Chrysalids by John Wyndham

The Domination by S.M. Stirling

Fatherland by Robert Harris

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

Jennifer Government by Max Barry

Utopia X by Scott Wilson

Well Readers, You Make the Call...

Everyone keeps arguing over whether "Lord of the Flies" is dystopian or not,

Is "Lord of the Flies" a dystopian novel?

Hunger games pics
Hunger games pics

The Hunger Games: Young Adult Dystopian Novels

There's no age limit or restriction on dystopian literature. Part of what makes this so popular is how the feelings of being ostracized, put upon, or persecuted is universal. At some point almost all of us have been there, and many of us have had that fear during our worst moments of wondering if the whole world revolves around that. This is why ya dystopia books for teenagers and young adults are so popular. "The Hunger Games" is an extremely popular series that definitely displays a futuristic dystopia. These popular books are now being made into movies, as well.

The world here is definitely a dystopia where a very few ultra rich and powerful rule the common people ruthlessly, forcing each region to put up two children a year as tribute to compete in the "Hunger Games," a fight to the death scenario where only one can survive, and most often fall to children from a few of the top wealthy regions, who have children who train to compete.

With a female protagonist who puts her own life at risk to save her sister, the obvious class warfare in a serious future dystopian society, and a bevy of interesting anti-hero type characters you have a great young adult dystopia that will pull readers of all ages in and introduce them to a genre full of possibilities for readers of all ages.

Read Hunger Games Trilogy from Amazon

You can find all three books in the Hunger Trilogy right here from

The Hunger Games (Book 1)
The Hunger Games (Book 1)

The first book to the series that started it all! If you haven't read "The Hunger Games" yet, you'll definitely want to get in on this award winning young adult dystopia.

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games)
Catching Fire (The Hunger Games)

Catching Fire is the second book in The Hunger Games series and dives further into this incredible dystopian trilogy.

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games)
Mockingjay (The Hunger Games)

If you can't wait for the movies and want to see the series in its original glory, take a look at this book and enjoy!

The Hunger Games (Blu-ray + Digital Copy) [Blu-ray] [2012]
The Hunger Games (Blu-ray + Digital Copy) [Blu-ray] [2012]

If you're going to watch The Hunger Games, mine as well do it on blu ray for the best possible picture! See the lauded movie version of the modern classic dystopian book.


If you don't like waiting, you can buy the entire hunger games trilogy at once.


V for Vendetta Dystopia

Dystopian Movie | Dystopian Story | Dystopian Graphic Novel

V for Vendetta is a great example of a dystopian story. This was a graphic novel that ended up with a movie based on the story. One of the key elements in this type of revolutionary dystopia is the irony of the lawbreaker, or the "revolutionary" (almost always labeled by the government in power as a terrorist) being a hero fighting tyranny.

The dystopia in "V for Vendetta" is one of the most common, in this case a theocracy that isn't about God but is about power. This religion based government is extremely controlling, extremely brutal, and is very similar to the "Big Brother" dystopia that Orwell feared in 1984.

V for Vendetta: See the Movie & Read the Graphic Novel! - Both follow a classic dystopia formula perfectly

V for Vendetta: Dystopia at its best!

V for Vendetta
V for Vendetta

The classic dystopian graphic novel that became one of the best movies to come out of Hollywood in years.

V for Vendetta (Two-Disc Special Edition)
V for Vendetta (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Special DVD of the movie that took the country by storm and kept people talking.


Many Different Types of Dystopias

Feminist Dystopia | Right Wing Dystopia | Left Wing Dystopia | Post Apocalyptic Dystopia

One of the things I love about dystopian literature is that there are so many different styles and types of dystopia. It's almost like having dozens of genres within one. This is even demonstrated by the "Big 3 Dystopias:" 1984, Brave New World, & Fahrenheit 451, which all are different styles of dystopian fiction. "1984" is the Totalitarian Government State dystopia, "Brave New World" is the false utopia that turns out to be dystopian, and "Fahrenheit 451" is the cultural dystopia, the MTV mindless mush.

And these don't begin to scratch the surface. Margaret Atwood is famous for excellent dystopian novels that are all feminist dystopians, or worlds where women are enslaved or treated as slaves.

There are technology dystopias, where technology has gone on to destroy society (sometimes directly, sometimes not), there are others where fundamentalist religion has taken complete control.

And that's not even diving into post apocalyptic worlds, which are all pretty much dystopian.

This genre has a LOT to offer, as you can see by the long, and still incomplete, list up above. If you haven't already, do yourself a favor and really dig in to find some great dystopian novels. Your reading experience will always be richer because of it!

On a side note, these are also some of my favorite types of stories to write. If you've ever thought about dipping into this genre yourself, check out this article about writing a good dystopian novel.

Dystopian Movie Clips from YouTube

Because let's face it: dystopia has many faces and they're all so damned entertaining!

Can Non-Fiction Be Dystopian?

Dystopian non-fiction: is there such a thing?

This is an interesting question since in general dystopias are considered a genre of fiction. Most dystopian novels are science fiction in nature although this isn't always the case. So can there be non-fiction that falls under dystopia? This is a question that seems more like semantics, although the closest thing you could probably get to non-fiction dystopia would be certain whistle blower novels like early Upton Sinclair works such as "The Jungle" which was fiction but delved into reality to show an incredibly depressing and horrifying working conditions. The society accepted this at the time but it was horrifying for those immigrants coming to America hoping for a better life...but would this really be considered dystopia or true non-fiction? These questions are difficult - but it gives an interesting question to discuss on the nature of dystopian writing.

Jump Into Dystopia!

Take a look at all the amazing top dystopian novels offered on

Copyright Notice

For Listverse readers and other comment trolls

For comment trolls who read my article on Listverse before coming here and accusing me of plagiarism: I am the ORIGINAL AUTHOR (Shane Dayton) of this...just like they list me as the author of that article on their site at the bottom. In other words, they paid me for the right to use my article - so don't you dare accuse of plagiarizing...well myself, I guess.

Writing Dystopian Movie Reviews

If you're interested in learning how to write for a living online, or how to break into writing movie reviews, please feel free to visit my freelance writing blog.

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    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      4 years ago from London England

      Jack London during his seafaring days landed in the port of London(now long gone) and before shipping out decided to spend a prolonged period as a 'down and out' amongst the poorest in the East End. This at a time when the sun never set on the British Empire. The reigning monarch of the time Queen Victoria would have had no knowledge of her such destitute subjects. They had nothing and survives on 'scilly' a corse gruel dolled out by the Salvation Army. The only escape was the Workhouse where they could earn tuppence to lodge overnight in a doss house. At least now we are cushioned by social services.

    • Scott A Butler profile image

      Scott A. Butler 

      5 years ago from England

      Hunger Games is the best dystopia series I have read in my opinion.

      Just to note, Brave New World was inspired by a similar, earlier dystopia novel called Erewhon (a book written by my ancestor). Aldous Huxley openly admitted that he got the ideas from the book Erewhon and was inspired by its author, Samuel Butler. :)

    • Arachnea profile image

      Tanya Jones 

      5 years ago from Texas USA

      Very well written lens. I did a brief look-see last week into dystopia. Very brief. I would have liked to have found your article then. Well, better late than never.

    • KateFeredayEshete profile image

      Kate Fereday Eshete 

      6 years ago from Ethiopia

      Thank you for a very interesting lens. Reading through your list, I realise that I have quite a few of the books mentioned but haven't got round to reading them yet, so you've inspired me to make a start with Fahrenheit 451, which I bought cheaply from a street vendor in Addis Ababa several years ago (I live in Ethiopia).

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Maybe I missed it, it was a rather long list. But wouldn't "The Giver" or other Louis Lowry novels such as "Gathering Blue" be considered dystopian? I'm just surprised they're not on there, they are very popular books.

    • mcsburlea profile image


      6 years ago

      nice lens, thanks for sharing the list of books with the world :)

    • someone111 profile image


      6 years ago

      Fantastic lens! I've read a lot of the novels you have listed for your main list, but there are a few that I haven't! I also love that you included that bonus list with even more books! I'll definitely have to stop back for ideas next time I need a book to read!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Where is the dystopian Novel call WE from Zamiatine? It´s mother of all dystopian´s novels

    • Teddi14 LM profile image

      Teddi14 LM 

      6 years ago

      I read A Brave New World when I was a senior in high school. I remember loving it.

    • Zhana21 profile image


      6 years ago

      Great to see The Handmaid's Tale mentioned. But you did not mention that many of the measures she wrote about were enacted in Afghanistan under the Taliban. Truly scary stuff.

    • someone111 profile image


      6 years ago

      Definitely some good stuff on here! Nice job!

    • Brians Secretary profile image

      Brians Secretary 

      6 years ago

      The V for Vendetta graphic novel was pretty scary, maybe more so because I am from the UK, they did a great job with the film

    • kcsantos profile image


      6 years ago

      Great lens! Neuromancer & Lord of the flies are my fave

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I am listening to YOU on VSYGOTH'S beyonf the Knoll rebroadcast As I Read.

      I am the Dystpoian Schizophrenic Mind Mogual, Master of Cats and Ducks. Ta, ta.

    • EshanMonteath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @Budeni: Aww - that's so sweet. Thanks! Unless this is one of those emotionless dystopias and a trap....

    • EshanMonteath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @anonymous: Agreed - one of the wonderful things about dystopian literature is that there is so much of it out there and many modern works just keep adding themselves onto the list of classics. Thanks for sharing!

    • EshanMonteath profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @JohnTannahill: Funny how inspiration for some of the darkest and most classic dystopias can come from seemingly innocuous areas, isn't it?

    • writergrey profile image


      7 years ago

      Some wonderful selections here (and several of my favorites). Fahrenheit 451 in particular is a classic! Thanks.

    • HomeDecorKnight profile image


      7 years ago

      wow! nice lens, I like to read Dystopian Novels, Thanks

    • JohnTannahill profile image

      John Tannahill 

      7 years ago from Somewhere in England

      Great list. I spent my early childhood in Billingham, County Durham, UK. Apparently, Huxley got the idea for Brave New World on a visit to the town. I can almost see why, but it wasn't a bad place.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      The Road is a fantastic novel. Possibly the heaviest book I have ever read.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I can really appreciate that there were some novels that were written more recently on this list.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great Lens, thanks!

    • ryokomayuka profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      I have heard of some of these books and the others I haven't. I look novel list.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I thank you for this most informative site on what is my favorite genre of writing. Keep up the good work!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I can't believe this list doesn't mention WE.

    • JoyfulReviewer profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice list and reviews ... very well presented. ~~Blessed~~

    • Ashly Rain profile image

      Ashly Rain 

      7 years ago

      Great list! Glad you put Lord of The Flies in there (wouldn't have thought of that one myself). I guess a lot of people would want Hunger Games added now, you could add that to the voting list.

    • jwcooney profile image


      7 years ago

      Great lens, I have read several of these books and really like the dystopian genre. The Time Machine was one of my favorites and the 1960s movie they made about it wasn't bad either!

    • Budeni profile image


      7 years ago

      I could kiss you in the face for this well done lens! Thank you so very much for the list of dystopian literature. I love distopias and have already read a few among the list, but I finally know now that there is so much more out there to read for me now! <3

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I have only read half of these 12 books. thank you for the new reading list

    • Everyday-Miracles profile image


      7 years ago

      Haha! I love the above statements about big brother. Priceless!

      I don't have a copy of 1984 but I'm definitely going to need to get one!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Feed by M.T. Anderson is one of my favorite dystopian books, but I almost never see it on any lists. I always wonder why.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you for this list. I was trying to find a list of good dystopian/post-apocalypse novels, but due to the popularity of the "Hunger Games" books, all the lists were novels for Young Adults (teens). I have read many of the books on your list, and the others are excellent suggestions. Off to read "Brave New World"!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Here are a few more ideas to add to the list of dystopian novels:

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      The "Trinity" is suspiciously absent the greatest and likely first Dystopia, Yvgeny Zamyatin's We. We is the template for 1984 and Brave New World and is still staggering in its scope.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Brave New World is my favorite but your list is missing my second favorite in Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. But all in all this is a great list I love dystopian novels.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      don't forget Margaret Atwood's pseudo-sequal to oryx and crake, "the year of the flood". it's amazing!

    • AaronSquid profile image


      7 years ago

      I think 1984 is one of the best books that I have read. It's messages and warnings are as relevant today as when it was first written.

    • navalava lm profile image

      navalava lm 

      7 years ago

      I have read "1984" and "Brave New World", and I am saying "Brave New World" was one of the best books I have ever read. If not the best.

      Thank you for the list. I am now going to buy few of other books to read. Will write the impressions here.


    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 

      7 years ago from So Cal

      The new TV is on the market. It has the internet and access to all social media sites. How very Fahrenheit 451. I am rereading all of these books because I think that as a homeschooling parent, my child needs to have the basic knowledge that they provide about society.

    • Inkhand profile image


      7 years ago

      I agree with this lens that Huxley's Brave New World is greatest piece of dystopian novel ever. Perhaps here is something to be said between the power science have over our digital age and Huxleyâs world. Just as the book says: âAll our science is just a cookery book, with an orthodox theory of cooking that nobody's allowed to question, and a list of recipes that mustn't be added to except by special permission from the head cook."- Brave New World, Ch. 16

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Everyone here should check out punk rock band "Dystopia" ! really good music! sadly they arent a band anymore but their music still remains, just type their name into Youtube.

    • franstan lm profile image

      franstan lm 

      8 years ago

      I had never heard of a sub-genre called Dystopia until now. Thanks for enlightening me.

    • singlemaltdram profile image


      8 years ago

      great, thought provoking lens! Lovely stuff!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      How about Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut? That one's also awesome and freaking hilarious satire. But, great list, although, I would say cut the Stephen King/Richard Bachman crap.

    • SeanVernall LM profile image

      SeanVernall LM 

      8 years ago

      great list.. Handmaid's Tale is an absolute must for anyone...

    • athomemomblog profile image

      Genesis Davies 

      8 years ago from Guatemala

      Good list, but there are some excellent newer books, as well. My favorite is the Hunger Games series, which is being made into a movie right now. Also, there is a new trilogy coming out (Wither is the first book) called Chemical Garden, which is about a world where a virus kills men by age 25 and women at 20.

    • cuteordeath profile image


      8 years ago

      I keep meaning to read the Handmaid's Tale. Great list!

    • EshanMonteath profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Thanks for the recommendation, Tom. This page was created before 2009, so that helps explain why "Chaos Walking" isn't mentioned yet. I'll have to give that a look. Appreciate the kind words and reading suggestion...however by suggesting we missed something, you are questioning our authority and it certainly must be in the best interest of the state to bring you in for brainwash---I mean counseling. Yes, counseling. That's the ticket.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      great list, but you could have included the 2009 book series "Chaos Walking". They are books for "young adults" but are amazing and i have many adult friends who also love them and i recommended them to my 65 year old father and he liked them so much he read the whole series in 5 days!

      P.S. do we really get sent to "re-education camp" if we say something bad about Big Brother. My work colleague (can't remember his name) just dreamt about a new leader taking over and was, vaporised. Don't tell anyone i said that.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Truly a one of the best in "Digital Vagabond Writing!" Thank you so much for taking the time to lay it out so eloquently! I saved the site on my RSS feeds to keep up-to-date with any new ensights that come down the pike. Amazingly arousing the interest of my reading selections.


      Pamela Eliowitz

      a.k.a. the "Viralnurse"

    • LabKittyDesign profile image


      8 years ago

      The dystopian western: Blood Meridian.

    • axiomsedge profile image


      8 years ago

      Just wanted to let you know that your page has been included in our list of Squidoo Sci Fi/Fantasy Lenses over at A Lens on Sci Fi ( Go there to vote for your lens and to submit others that genre fans will like.

    • chezchazz profile image


      8 years ago from New York

      Great lens! Each and every book worth spending time with - as are some of the films based on them.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thank you for sharing this post. i especially love 1984 and anything written by Aldous Huxley

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 

      8 years ago

      Interesting lens topic! I have learned much today.

    • mikerbowman profile image


      8 years ago

      Cool lens! It was fun to participate in the "LOTF" debate/duel.

    • norma-holt profile image


      8 years ago

      Not my favorite genre but congrats on LOTD.; Now featured on Squidoo LOTD lenses.

    • petermurray profile image

      Peter Murray 

      8 years ago from Izmir, Turkey

      I saw V for Vendetta the other night - an interesting movie.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I'm glad to see John Brunner's "The Sheep Look Up" listed here. I read it shortly after I moved to Boulder Colorado (it is mostly set in the greater Denver area). It depicts a dystopia where the environment is so severely degraded that people need gas masks and other special protective clothing (protection from acid rain) to go outside. This novel may have been the inspiration for early "direct action" environmental groups.

      Also a note on the word 'utopia': it's literal meaning is "nowhere". So there's something a little redundant about the phrase "false utopia". All utopias are, by their etymological nature, false.

    • JeffreyTymczak LM profile image

      JeffreyTymczak LM 

      9 years ago

      Thank You for the very informative lens! I loved it! I rated it up and joined your fan club, hope to see you in my fan club too! Great Job!!!


    • Amy Fricano profile image

      Amy Fricano 

      9 years ago from WNY

      Rats.. Thought I was wearing my invisibility cloak. Great lens.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Absolutely brilliant. I do enjoy the dystopia's, and I'd thoroughly recommend reading Sir Thomas More's Utopia to see where the ideas of the fallen utopia comes from. Also - don't forget Gulliver's travels, where he see's many variations of a dystopia.

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      9 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      LOL. Big Brother is watching us via gogle now:) A great list of dystopian novels.I've read a lot of them, but you gave me a couple of new ones. Congrats on LOTD!

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 

      9 years ago from USA

      Congrats on LotD!

    • justholidays profile image


      9 years ago

      Congratulations on your LOTD!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great lens for LoTD! Congrats!

    • nightbear lm profile image

      nightbear lm 

      9 years ago

      Wow! What an education I received here. Great lens, I am proud to say I have actually read a couple of these books. Very impressive body of work.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Thanks for the recommendations. Congratulations on LOTD.

    • Hairdresser007 profile image

      James Jordan 

      9 years ago from Burbank, CA

      Down with Big Brother!! HAHA. I love all of these books. Is there something wrong with me? I always sort of like the 'bad' societies. But I love when they get broken down too. It is sort of like the monster (Frankenstein) thing I guess. Great lens and congrats on the lens of the day!

    • dryder profile image


      9 years ago

      Excellent Lens and Congrats on LOTD!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      What an interesting lens. And thanks for the new reading list.

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 

      9 years ago from New York City

      Great choice of writers. This isn't my favorite genre, but this material made me think of giving at least some of it a try. Thanks.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Congratulations on your LoTD :)

    • profile image

      Dianne Loomos 

      9 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD!

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 

      9 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Love your selection of dystopian books! Great job and congrats on your well deserved LotD!

    • journey103 profile image


      9 years ago from USA

      Great novels to go back and revisit in these modern time we live in. Congrats on such a unique LoTD idea!!!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I'm surprised the Bible isn't even listed.

    • Kyecerulian profile image


      9 years ago

      Congrats on Lens of the day! I love reading dystopian novels and this gave me a few ideas that hadn't yet made my reading list. Thanks!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Excellent work. I love the works of John Wyndham I bought a copy of the Day of the Triffids when I was 11 how sad is that? Well done.

    • Judy Goldsberry profile image

      Judy Goldsberry 

      9 years ago

      Fine piece of work, there is definitely a lot going on behind the scenes. I am still digesting the whole landing on the moon event.

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 

      9 years ago from Vermont

      I've read about half, and now with your helpful list I can find more great reads for the winter months. Cool LOTD.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I love your lens, great job!!!

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 

      9 years ago from UK

      Some great recommendations here, some I've read and some to discover. Congratulations on your LoTD!

    • jenms lm profile image

      Jen Schaefer 

      9 years ago from St Petersburg

      This is a great literary lens for LOTD! I would suggest The Giver and A Clockwork Orange as part of the top list, and you might add The Hunger Games Trilogy to the list of Dystopian novels. I enjoyed quite a few of these, but there are also quite a few intriguing titles that I have not read and will need to add to the insurmountable to-be-read list. Favorited!

    • Deborah Swain profile image

      Deborah Swain 

      9 years ago from Rome, Italy

      congratulations on making LOTD - well deserved for such a well researched and presented lens!

    • AHERMITT LM profile image


      9 years ago

      You have some great picks there... I have seen several of the movies and read a couple of the books. They all freaked me out sufficiently.

    • Parleo profile image


      9 years ago

      Nice solid list. I am going to give The Iron Heel a try. I remember Lord of The Flies from school. Weird book to let children read I think.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      well done, great article

    • joanhall profile image

      Joan Hall 

      9 years ago from Los Angeles

      So many books, so little time! Congratulations on a well-deserved LOTD.

    • LouisaDembul profile image


      9 years ago

      Really nice lens, about great books!

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image


      9 years ago

      Congrats on you LOTD!!

    • EshanMonteath profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Wow, thanks everyone! I go on vacation and the moment my back is turned one of my three favorite lenses I've made gets LOTD (that's 2/3!). Maybe I should go on vacation more often, lol!

    • onlinebusiness11 profile image


      9 years ago

      This stuff is cool. Congrats on LOTD!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      congrats for the glorious Lotd!!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Thank you. This should be LOTM (Lens of the Month)

    • pboimare profile image


      9 years ago

      Really cool idea for a lens. Fahrenheit and 1984 were some of my favorite stories growing up and great examples of dystopian novels, Good job! More pics would be nice though...

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Congratulations on your Lens of the Day! - Kathy

    • ZablonMukuba profile image


      9 years ago

      i loved the book 1984, it resonated well with me


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