There’s something so fascinating about a dystopian world in fiction. It’s like hopping into a time machine and getting a glimpse of the future that could happen if we make bad choices today. If you loved Hunger Games and are looking for more dystopian novels to read, check out these 10 great titles, listed in no particular order.
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1. 1984, by Orson Orwell
No list of dystopian novels is complete without a mention of this classic. Even though it was written a long time ago, the world that is depicted in the book has many eerie resemblances to our own. Constant wars, telecommunication spying, and more will have you thinking about our society today and whether we’re on our way to the Big Brother situation in the book.
2. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
Today, there’s a lot of discussion about the war on women. In The Handmaid’s Tale, the war has been lost and women are reduced to wives, handmaids, or cooks. The story is told from the perspective of a handmaid, whose only job in life is to breed. She is assigned to a powerful colonel and his wife and remembers her old life as a independent woman. The premise might sound like an impossibility, but the author has stated that everything that happens in the book has already happened somewhere, sometime in the real world.
3. Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro
The story is set in a boarding school and the kids spend their time playing and learning, like normal kids. But these kids aren’t normal and the school they’re staying in isn’t normal, either. It’s better to read it yourself to find out the truth, but it’s worth your time and will have you thinking about what makes us human and the inevitability of death.
4. The Running Man, by Richard Bachman (Stephen King)
A man decides to join a reality show when he needs money to get medical care for his sick baby. However, the reality shows in this world are dangerous and deadly. His audition lands him on a popular reality show where he has to run for his life from the police… and the audience. A quick, thrilling read. (The terrible movie is a completely different story, so don’t let that deter you from the book if you’ve seen it.)
5. Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld
Will our society’s obsession with beauty and youth turn into a government mandate for plastic surgery for every citizen? In this book, everyone is a Ugly until they turn 16 and undergo a transformation, with the help of plastic surgery, into a Pretty. Tally, a Ugly who’s nearing her 16th birthday, can’t wait… until her friend runs away to avoid the surgery. The government asks Tally to find her, and she does. But what else does she find? And will she still want to become a Pretty afterwards? You won’t want to stop reading, which makes it a good thing that Uglies is the first of a trilogy.
6. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
The main character invents a time machine and travels to the future. What he finds is seemingly a utopia, with beautiful people lounging around with plenty of food and entertainment. But who provides the food? And why? This classic short novel is a must read, especially for fans of the dystopian genre.
7. Unwind, by Neal Shusterman
This book takes place after a civil war over the issue of abortion, which ended with the banning of abortion and the legalization of “unwinding.” Once children reach the age of 13, their parents can decide to have them retroactively aborted by sending them off to a harvest camp, where their organs, body parts, and brain are divided up and donated. This process is called unwinding. It will make you think about what a soul really is and where it is in the body, whether laws should be based on reality or idealism, when consciousness begins and ends, and many more interesting life questions that have no clear-cut answer. The book is the first of a series, but Unwind can stand on its own.
8. Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood
A new humanoid species is created, but then the humans fall. Only one man, Snowman, is left alive and tasked with the responsibility of looking after the new species, called Crakers. This book is a cautionary tale of corporate power gone unchecked and its devastating effects on the environment. A good read, especially in the light of the ongoing climate change debate.
9. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
This book, written in 1953, accurately predicts the shorter attention span that plagues our generation today, with flashy, short TV shows, news bites, and shallow radio shows. But what if books were banned as well? Fahrenheit 451 tells the story of a fireman whose job is not to save burning buildings, but to burn down houses that have books, and his journey from the burner of books to one who tries to save them.
10. Feed, by M.T. Anderson
What if the internet was plugged into your brain? You could send emails, watch cat videos, google a new word, and instant message your friends just by thinking about it. You’ll also be barraged with advertisements that are targeted towards you, convincing you to buy, buy, and buy some more, leading to the destruction to the planet. But you’re too entertained to think about such things! This book follows the main character as he gets to know a girl who refuses to get the “feed” installed in her brain. It’s a very interesting story that both adults and teenagers will enjoy.