George Orwell's dystopian classic "1984" was published in June of 1949 — roughly 65 years ago — and has served as a cautionary tale to people and their governments ever since.
The landmark novel even introded new words — including "Big Brother," "Orwellian" and "doublespeak" — into the English lexicon.
It has also inspired, directly or indirectly, numerous other novels which describe dystopian futures. Here we've compiled a list made up of 30 books ranked by Goodreads users, ordered according to popularity among voters.
Because the list is based on popularity, it is subjective. Some books may not seem to meet the dystopian prerequisites — "Lord of the Flies," for example, is not typically viewed as dystopian — but they have still been included here to reflect the views of the Goodreads voters.
In "The Children of Men" (1992), humans have become infertile and lost all hope for the future. As the last generation of humans reach adulthood, one pregnant woman is discovered and must be transported to safety, as she might be the key to saving humanity.
The novella "Anthem" was first published in 1938 and warns of a dystopian future where individualism has been eliminated. Collectivism and socialism have reshaped the world and crushed innovation.
In an alternative Japan, the government, which fears its young people, transports a certain number of its youth to a deserted island and forces them to fight until there's only one left standing.
If you think "Battle Royale" and "The Hunger Games" have similar plot lines, you're not alone. "The Hunger Games" has been accused by some of imitating Takami's book, which was published eight years before "The Hunger Games," according to ABC News. “I think every novel has something to offer,” Takami told ABC News of the controversy. “If readers find value in either book, that’s all an author can ask for.”
The time traveller lands on earth in the year 802,701 and finds it is inhabited by two species; the lazy, glamorous Eloi who need the Morlocks to survive, and the Morlocks who prey openly on the Eloi. The book was published in 1895.
In "Matched" (2010), young people are assigned to their love interests. When the protagonist is assigned to be with a man she doesn't love, she must figure out how to find happiness in her dystopian society.
America has succumbed to the alien invasion in "The Host" (2008). The aliens invade people's minds and take over their bodies, leading to one alien falling in love with the boy that her host loved, who is uninfected by the aliens and is now in hiding. The host and the alien set out to find their mutual love interest.
"The Maze Runner" (2009) is about several boys, with no memory of their pasts, who live in a massive, abandoned maze. Things change when a girl appears in the maze bearing a mysterious message.
"Unwind" was published in 2007 but takes place in America after the Second Civil War. The war, which was fought over abortion rights, resulted in a law that bans abortions but gives parents the right to 'unwind' their child when it is between the ages of 13 and 18, wherein all the child's organs are donated. The book's protagonists are three teenagers who have been scheduled for unwinding.
Ender Wiggin is a child genius drafted into the military in order to destroy an alien threat to planet Earth. The book was published in 1985 and was recently adapted into a feature length movie.
"We" was published in 1924, and has been considered an inspiration for the book 1984. The book is set in the twenty-sixth century and describes how the citizens of OneState live without freedom under a totalitarian government.
This graphic novel was published in 1986 and is the winner of the 1988 Hugo Award. It tells the story of a group of superheroes post-career who must adapt to society and deal with new, unexpected threats.
Dick's book, published in 1968, looked forward to the year 2021, when much of the world's population had been killed off by war. As science advanced, humans were able to create extremely lifelike androids, with individual thoughts and personalities. When the government thought the androids might become a threat, they banished them from earth and sent bounty hunters after any who returned.
The 1982 film Bladerunner is based on "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"
In "Never Let Me Go" (2005), Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at a very exclusive, very mysterious boarding school called Hailsham. As they graduate and attempt to enter the real world, they learn the truth about themselves, their relationships with each other, and Hailsham.
Oryx and Crake, published in 2003, is about what may be the last man on earth due to genetic experiments and tampering. Snowman goes on a quest through what used to be a great city as he remembers his best friend, Crake, and Oryx, who he loved.
A vicious teenage thug is the protagonist of this 1963 classic, set in a futuristic England with heavy Russian influences. As Alex pursues a life of crime, the government goes to extreme measures to reinstate him into society.
Every young adult in the futuristic world of "Uglies" receives a mandatory surgery to erase flaws and become beautiful. When the protagonist's friend runs away from the society to join a rebel group, she must decide whether to follow him or betray him to the government. Uglies was published in 2005.
Golding's 1954 classic "Lord of the Flies" features several school-aged boys stranded on an island. The boys struggle to create order amongst themselves, especially as some members of the group begin to rebel.
In "The Road," a father and his son cross a destroyed America on foot, facing cold, hunger, and wandering gangs. The Road was published in 2006 and won the Pulitzer prize for fiction in 2007.
The 1989 graphic novel "V for Vendetta" takes place in a totalitarian post-war England. Freedom has been severely restricted, leaving the mysterious figure V and his followers to rise up and strike back against the government.
In Roth's dystopian Chicago, teenagers are divided into five different factions which determine their futures. Deviation is not allowed. When the protagonist, Tris, doesn't fit neatly into any of the groups, she and those like her must figure out how to live with the system.
"Mockingjay" continues the story of "The Hunger Games" as rebels begin to rise up against the oppressive and murderous government to rally around the protagonist, Katniss Everdeen. "Mockingjay," the third book in the Hunger Games trilogy, was published in 2010.
Stephen King's story about rebuilding a society was published in 1978. In "The Stand," a mutated sickness wipes out most of the world's population, leaving those who weren't killed to start from scratch and decide how to survive.
This sequel to "The Hunger Games" was published in 2009, and tells the story of those who have survived the previous hunger games. The dystopian government behind the hunger games seeks new measures to control its populace, and its citizens must find a way to survive.
"Animal Farm" was published in 1945, a few years before Orwell's other political cautionary tale "1984." "Animal Farm" features a barn full of farm animals who break free of humans and design their own form of government, only to reap the consequences that follow.
The character Jonah lives in a society where no one has ever experienced pain or extreme emotions of any kind. The only exception is the mysterious Giver. "The Giver," published in 1993, has been widely recognized for excellence in the field of young adult literature.
"The Handmaid's Tale," published in 1985, tells the story of a futuristic society that controls women absolutely. The Republic of Gilead has total control over everything from women's bodies to their education, making change or escape nearly impossible.
Guy Montag is a fireman whose job is to burn books instead of putting out fires. Published in 1953, Fahrenheit 451 tells of a future where books are banned and the walls of every home are giant television screens. The book warns against the dangers of censorship and the loss of ideas.
The society of "Brave New World" is nearly the opposite of "1984's" Big Brother. In this novel, published in 1932, citizens are encouraged to indulge — in everything from drugs to sex and movies — but are locked into predestined career paths with no chance to progress and no goals worth striving for.
The first book in the highly popular young adult Hunger Games trilogy was published in 2008. This novel describes a government that forces its "districts" to provide two teenagers — a boy and a girl — to battle to the death every year in an annual event meant to control the population through fear.
"1984" describes a future where a totalitarian government watches over its people through the near-omnipotent Big Brother and the thought police.
The book has been used as a warning against governmental control since its publication in 1949, perhaps more so now than ever as government surveillance continues to grow as a prominent concern on a global scale.