30 most popular dystopian novels

Published: Thursday, June 19 2014 10:25 p.m. MDT

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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.
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I read 1984 in High School and did not really understand it. I re read it last year as a grown man and all I can say is that it is the scariest book I have ever read. It is not just a warning against the misuse of power but a fearful story of how dark the soul of man can become when given absolute power.

If you have not read this lately - do so - it will change the way you view a lot of things, especially free agency, political power and of course rats.

Room 101.

Auckland NZ, 00

Wish you could have published two lists, one geared towards adolescents, the other towards adults. This list is a mishmash.

The Real Maverick
Orem, UT

Whenever I read 1984 I think of the early 2000s and the patriot act. Boy did that administration destroy the constitution. And we did nothing but allow it. So sad

Logan, UT

And now this administration continues to destroy the constitution and bring about the gov type in 1984.

Layton, UT

Dystopian novels tend to come in two forms when they relate to politics:

1. The government is the oppressor.

2. There are a group of thugs or criminals who take freedom too far.

They stand on opposite extremes and are praised by idealogs who see type #1 as proof Socialism/Communism or some form of Fascism is the ultimate evil.

The second type use such novels to decry Capitalism as proof humans are untrustworthy of self governance and will ultimately destroy one another in an orgy of self-destructive behavior.

A lot of dystopian novels also share the theme that technology is dehumanizing and will ultimately prove to be our downfall. The glum nature of these books tends to make reading too many an exercise in being depressed.

FWIW, I find books about alien invasions like Ender's Game and the Host to be only tangentially dystopian, and would not have included them in the list.

Salt Lake City, UT

I agree, need to divide them up (and perhaps the adult list could avoid the Hunger Games Domination)


Brave New World = America today

Layton, UT

BTW, I love Brave New World, because it doesn't really focus on proving one political system is worse than another, but instead focuses on social commentary and human nature, and the exploits of technology. I find it to be very relevant today and, in fact, many folks no longer see the dystopian elements as bad.

It really was precient as it pertains to human's thrust to facilitate the abandonment of values based society to creating a more permissive and empty consumption-based society.

It's interesting because it presents an almost cooperative societal effort to be depraved, supported by technology. I love that the members of the ideal society are absolutely clueless and mostly incapable of empathy for the people they discard.

That'd be my top pick. I'm also a fan of The Giver... which I think is a much more thoughtful book that's considered Young-Adult than the heavy-handed Hunger Games, which I find to be pretty implausible.


No Atlas Shrugged?

Pleasanton, CA

I don't think the world of "Brave New World" is the "opposite" of that of "1984. I think it would be more accurate to say that the Characters in BNW are like the "proles" in 1984, who are only in the background of that story.

Columbus, OH

I've read 19 of these books, and by far, the best piece of literature, to my mind, is Zamiatin's "We". In addition, it's the inspiration behind 1984, which in turn set off many of the others on the list--It's nice to trace the lineage. Some have powerful messages, others are merely gloomy fantasies, but "We" is the most well-written I've read.

Salt Lake City, UT

Ironically I would add Utopia to this list, the plot is set in a police state where a grown man would have to get permission from his family in order to get past police checkpoints. Games like bowling and tennis are outlawed and women and children are encouraged to accompany their husbands to war.

Most people I know who have read the book are like me and have a hard time understanding how from that book the word Utopia came to mean an ideal society or paradise.

Brent T. Aurora CO
Aurora, CO

Series need to be taken/considered as a single whole (IE Hunger Games is a single entry, not three). Sometimes (as with the Star Wars prequels) continuing to add to the canon diminishes the whole.

Happy to see BNW make the list.

Pendleton, OR

The dystopian tales listed here are not all inclusive because there are many novels and authors who have played with dystopia as part of other plots. Jack London's "Wolf Larsen" has created a dystopian society upon his ship because he reads humanity as just a fermenting yeast where some parts of the yeast are more active only because they are lucky enough to have more to feast upon. The story is about the roles in society so the novel really isn't dystopian but his ship sure is; and his outlook of dictatorship. The book is "Sea-Wolf"

Wilsonville, OR

Before I actually read 1984, I thought it was about a totalitarian society. But I read it in the context of having just about lost my job because of trying to change things through the political process. Now I know that this dystopian novel is really about what can happen in a democracy. If you don't get it, read through the scene again about the prol, the lady who just lives her life without making waves. Big Brother leaves her alone. But Winston Smith gets the shaft because he is trying to change things.

Scott Hoskins
Palmdale, CA

Granted, Harlan Ellison's "A Boy and his Dog" was a novella, but it was by far more interesting than some of these entries. And spookier. Hunger Games? Please.Stop.

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