These books, whether they’re sci-fi stories about androids taking over the world or stories that aren’t so far from real life, are always in style, no matter what. From well-known series to critically acclaimed books, these stories have social commentary that appeals to both casual readers and literary critics. They often make the best book lists of all time for this reason. Dystopian novels have been popular for a long time, which shows that we always want to know where society is going.
Since the twentieth century, there has been a steady stream of books in this genre. The following are dystopian novels that you should not miss out on.
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
While it was written in 1949, this well-known book is set in 1984. In Orwell’s world, there are only three continent-sized countries. At least one of them is run by a government that is always watching. A censorship worker in this country starts to question the totalitarian system and its efforts to erase individual thought and emotions. Soon, he starts looking for other people who might be in the same situation as him.
On top of all the things this book has done, what is most amazing about it is how well Orwell did worldbuilding. “Doublethink” and “War Is Peace” are two words that sound like they go against each other, but Orwell wrote them with so much care and attention to real life that it’s easy to see how this fictional autocratic world could be real. Besides, the story itself is a chilling and surprising one that makes Nineteen Eighty-Four a book that will last for a long time to come.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury tells the story of Guy Montag, a “fireman” who is becoming disillusioned with his job. To put it simply, he has to set fire to books, not put fires out. People can’t read novels anymore because they have short attention spans, and the authoritarian state doesn’t want people to think too much (if at all). Besides, Montag began a quest to try and save these books, as well as the minds of the people around him. The government didn’t think this would happen.
Bradbury wrote this love story for books in the 1950s because of the Red Scare of the 1940s, which saw a lot of people in the U.S. become very anti-communist. This almost led to hysteria. But Bradbury’s warning against more censorship is timeless, and perhaps more important than ever in our age of Big Data. Montag’s arduous journey will keep it alive for us all.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
One day, a religious sect takes over America, and the country’s order is set back a few centuries. The book was written in 1985 about the near future. Horrifyingly, women are domesticated and subordinated to men, even though environmental degradation and its effect on fertility means that fertile women are more valuable and sought after than other women. Young woman Offred is in the middle of all of this. She has to have children for rich men, but she doesn’t want to.
The world of The Handmaid’s Tale is very different from many of the other worlds that we read about in well-known dystopian books. Its focus on women’s lives isn’t the only thing that makes this book unique. People can read at their own pace through Atwood’s unconventional style and different storylines to learn about this complicated world before the plot heats up to a fever pitch, making Atwood’s masterpiece one of the great pillars of dystopian fiction.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
In contrast to the well-thought-out orders we’ve seen so far, The Road takes us to a universe that has been shattered by an unknown disaster. People’s normal lives are replaced by frantic searches for food and supplies for the few who make it out of the storm alive. If you want to survive in this “eat or be eaten” situation, a father and his young son head south for the winter. They hope to find and join up with the “good guys.”
Make no mistake: this book is truly sad. People are gone, both physically and morally, in this post-extinction world. McCarthy’s somber prose makes it come to life for the reader. Instead of questioning the structure of our society, The Road encourages readers to look inside and look at their compassion in a world that is becoming more competitive and individualistic.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
By giving people happiness, the government of the year 2540 AD doesn’t control people by telling them what to think. Instead, they make them feel like they’re not alone and that everything will be fine. Thus, Huxley’s Brave New World takes readers to a world that seems to be perfect, with genetically-modified, carefree, and well-fed people.
Because of Fordism, Huxley’s consumers and citizens grow up with this kind of technology. They are happy to have it. So you can imagine how anyone who comes in from the outside “savage” world would look to them. This is what happens, to a very bad end. The most important thing about this book is that it shows that the state doesn’t need to ban books or torture people to silence them. Our culture can simply indulge itself to get rid of its intellectuality.
Blindness by José Saramago
Set in the 1990s, this Nobel Prize winner talks about how a city’s social order breaks down as a strange virus spreads through its people. As cases get out of hand, food runs out, and criminals take advantage of the chaos, the militant state steps up surveillance and sets up quarantines to try and keep things under control.
We don’t see the violence and heartlessness that already happen in our society because we don’t want to see them. With his unique style and powerful imagery, Saramago makes this harsh reality clear, and emphasizes the importance of solidarity and compassion when things get bad. This is one of his best works.
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Angst-laden heavy metal music isn’t the only way that young people feel isolated in this scary world. We know that Alex and his friends are close because they do things like vandalize and do terrible things to get close to each other. During this time, Alex’s parents try to stop and help him, but he starts to think about his friends and the isolated culture he has lived in in a new way.
There is a lot of violence, psychological manipulation, and a secret language made up of Shakespearian and Russian words in A Clockwork Orange. It’s not the easiest book to read at first. Burgess may have been a genius with his system of complicated slang, but his hauntingly powerful descriptions of violence aren’t exactly pleasant and made the book a lot of people think it was bad. But the book’s exploration of young people’s displeasure with what society expects of them, which was evident at the time the book was written, is still great and very relevant.
The Children of Men by P.D. James
Set in 2021, James’s 1992 book talks about a society that can’t have children. As the last people born on Earth are killed in a fight in a bar, historian Theo Faron finds himself in a political fight with his cousin, Xan. When Theo learns that there may be some hope for the future after all, things change again.
The Children of Men shows a different way that humans could die. It’s not caused by a holocaust or an ice age, but by something much more gradual and real. When you read Theo Faron’s story, you might be surprised by how close we are to having to deal with a shortage of people.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
PHILIP K. DICK’S best-selling book takes its readers to an Earth that has been made unlivable by natural disasters. As a result, we see the rise of artificial creatures that look like real animals, such as humanoids. A bounty hunter is told to kill six of these robots, but he now has to find them among the real people.
It’s a fast-paced story with a lot of interesting worldbuilding, including weird psychological tests to see if a person is an android and social status based on the number of naturally bred pets. No, they don’t think about electric sheep. When we think about what makes us human and what AI technology can do for us, this question comes up a lot.
The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard
In the year 2145, the world is hot because of global warming, which floods cities and changes animals into beasts. As civilization is wiped out by these prehistoric creatures, Dr. Robert Kerans and his team go to new, unexplored places to study the now-wild world.
The Drowned World was written in 1962. It was one of the first works of “cli-fi” (climate fiction) to be written. This action-packed book takes us on a journey into the unknown, where territories that we once built have been turned into sweltering tropical labyrinths that we can’t even get out of. Yet, it’s more than just an adventure: Ballard’s plot is a clever Trojan Horse to find out what this grisly possibility means and how it affects people.