Dystopian Novels Everyone Should Read


Over the course of the next few weeks I will be participating occassionally in the Scifi Month challenge that was created by the bloggers at One More.

Click on the link in that last sentence for more information or to sign up yourself. There is still time to pick a few of their prompts and join in if you’re interested.

Today’s prompt was Future Imperfect. That is we’re supposed to pick something related to dystopian or utopian stories. Therefore, I’ll be talking about some dystopias that everyone who enjoys science fiction should read.

The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin book cover. Photo shows a mountain and some scrub brush.

The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin

Why everyone should read it: What could be more frightening than living in a world that was forever altered every time a specific person had a vivid dream? I don’t know about all of you, but my nightmares would be pretty scary if they came true.

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell book cover. Image is of an eye peering down a hole.

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

Why everyone should read it: I try to avoid politics on this site, but this book’s message about totalitarianism is just as relevant now as it was when it was first published.

The Chrysalids by John Wyndham book cover.

The Chrysalids by John Wyndham

Why everyone should read it: If you don’t fear nuclear war yet, this book might make you change your mind about it. The plot is set generations after a nuclear war. Radiation continues to kill people, though, and society’s response to it has changed all sorts of things about the ways in which people live.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood book cover. Image is of a woman's face and a flower.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Why everyone should read it: Bioengineering is fascinating. The other interesting thing about this book is how few characters it had. Nearly every human on earth had died from a plague when the events of it happened. Many of the animals and plants that humans had tweaked in some way were still alive, so it was like getting to know humanity without meeting many people at all.

The Book of Dave by Will Self book cover. Image on cover is of an etching of a car.

The Book of Dave by Will Self

Why everyone should read it: It’s set five hundred years from now and has amazing plot twists. I first read it at a time in my life when I wasn’t very happy for reasons that seemed almost impossible to fix. Reading about what the future might be like – as dark as that future was –  somehow made me feel better. This book also had some thought-provoking things to say about how we interpret old texts and why it’s so important to take the cultures they came from into context before deciding to base our lives around them.

The Gate to Women's Country by Sheri S. Tepper book cover. Image is of top of a building, a woman standing in profile, and a full moon.

The Gate to Women’s Country by Sheri S. Tepper

Why everyone should read it: One of the reasons why I take long breaks from the dystopian genre has to do with how poorly women are treated in most of them and how strong the assumption is that all women will have awful lives in that setting. This Feminist spin to the genre was a breathe of fresh air.


Filed under Science Fiction and Fantasy

22 Responses to Dystopian Novels Everyone Should Read

  1. Ash

    I love dystopian books so much and I haven’t heard of any of these, but The Book of Dave really caught my eye along with Oryx and Crake

    Ash @ JennReneeRead

  2. You know, that’s a good point. I don’t usually think about why women have such a bad time in dystopians, but they usually do. Even though it’s not always presented in a realistic way. Food for thought.

  3. You talked me into doing this. I prefer Sci-fi to horror so it’s more up my alley. Here’s my post on it. https://pmprescott.blogspot.com/

  4. Jay @The Scented Library

    And here I thought I was a dystopian fan, and I haven’t read any of these. I purposely avoid Nineteen Eighty-Four because I’ve read/seen enough to know I don’t think I’ll like it. Oryx and Crake is on my tbr though, attempting to work my way through more Atwood.

  5. More to add to the teetering TBR! 🙂
    I’ve tried 1984 before, just couldn’t get into it. It’s been ages since I last read Sheri S Tepper. Thanks for including her in your list.

  6. Looks like solid choices. I’ve never read 1984 which seems odd…

  7. The only one of these I have read is 1984 and I hated it haha. I know why its an important book, I just didn’t love it. My favorite Dystopian novels are Ready Player One and Ender’s Game

  8. 1984 and The Chrysalids are two of my absolute favourites (I love dystopians in general), but I haven’t read the other ones yet. I would personally have Brave New World by Aldous Huxley on that list too!

  9. I LOOOOVE Dystopian books! I definitely hope dystopian makes a comeback!
    I have to say the idea of nightmares coming to life sounds terrifying but I’m too intrigued not to give it a go… Does The Lathe of Heaven have horror vibes?? Something tells me it might? And I kinda still want to rad it? But will I still be able to sleep afterwards? XD

    I haven’t read any of Margaret Atwood’s work, but I’ve heard a lot about it. Oryx and Crake sounds so interesting though!

    Thank you for the Recs! I’m always eager to get my hands on some more dystopian!

    Happy Reading! <3

    • I love dystopian books, too! It seems to be a genre that cycles in and out of fashion regularly, so I’m sure it will come back into vogue soon.

      Yes, The Lathe of Heaven has horror vibes. The plot has more of a science fiction feel, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who hates the horror genre because there is some of that mixed in as well.

      Orxy and Crake is a great place to start if you want to give Atwood’s work a try. Hope you enjoy it.

      Happy reading to you as well!

  10. I have only read Lathe of Heaven and 1984 from your list and they both were great. I am yet to read anything by Sheri Tepper.

  11. 1984 is an excellent book. It’s a bit difficult to get into, but oh my gosh, once you’re in the world it’s terrifying. And it’s scary to see the parallels between the Ministry of Truth and the phenomenon of Fake News at the moment. I must put the Ursula K. Le Guin book on my list!

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