hanne rec me all the good dystopian books out there pls
I love dystopian books mainly because they are f*cked up books, and I love f*cked up stories. So don’t except a (relatively) happy ending à la The Hunger Games. If you’d like a more complete list of screwed up books, including but not limited to dystopian fiction, I can rec you those as well if you like that kind of disturbing literature.
- If you haven’t read Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell you should get on that right away. Seriously, stop reading this right now and order it / download it / go to your local library and read it. There’s a reason it’s so famous and it’s called great writing + interesting protagonist and impeccable world building. Also, be ready to be freaked out when you realize how much our world looks like the one described in this novel.
- The Lottery (pdf file. 7 pages) by Shirley Jackson. It’s a short story and it’s basically about comformity gone mad. And that’s all I’m going to say about it because the build-up is brilliant and I don’t want to ruin if for you. Read it right now, it’s only 7 pages long. It’s not the best written story on this list but it’s very eerie and brutal.
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, which is set in a future where people burn all books and everybody is completely fine with it because they have their television and their gossip and basically everything is alright except that nothing is. fun fact : book itself was banned for ‘questionable themes’. Idk who decided to do that but wtf man did you even read it
- We by Yevgeny Zamyatin. If you’re interested in Foucault’s philosophy (Surveiller et Punir) and Bentham’s Panoptica, this is the perfect novel for you. People are numbered, not named and individuality is lost, and they are all under constant police surveillance. I also like his style a lot.
- The Long Walk by Stephen King. I’m not the biggest Stephen King fan, although he did write some great stories imo, but this short-novel (it’s like 100 pages long) is superb. It’s basically the Hunger Games avant-la-lettre but with a better narrator tbh - and a much more believable depiction of severe ptsd. It’s absolutely haunting.
- Kinderen van moeder Aarde by Thea Beckman. If you speak Dutch you should read this - hasn’t been translated to english for some reason. I feel really sorry for all you who cannot read it because it’s brilliant. It’s particularly effective because it depicts two countries created six centuries after the world was pratically destroyed by a nuclear holocaust - one of which is basically a utopia, the other one being definitely distopian. Its first 50 pages are some of the best pieces of fiction I have ever read.
- Animal Farm by Orwell (did i mention i’m a big fan of orwell’s) which is not only dystopian but also allegorical and i’m pretty sure you’ve read this already or heard about it but it’s ruthless and should be requiered reading everywhere. And it’s funny. But mainly in a sort of horrified laughing kind of way rather than actual light-hearted laughing. It’s the slow but certain rise of an implacable bourgeousie (well… Nomenklatur if we’re being picky), the horror of systemic injustice, slavery and death all around.
- A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess ; an ultra-violent dystopian future. It’s very worrying how you’re actually compelled to side with him. Alex is bright, witty, defiant; openly confiding his thoughts and feelings to his audience - and yet he”s a monster. But you catch yourself gradually sympathizing with him it’s pretty disturbing tbh
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood who really should be dubbed queen of everything tbh - it’s short and it tackles the big guns of potential Horrific Future Regimes: religion and the subjugation of women. I read this when I was 7 and it changed my life.
- Logan’s Run by William F. Nolan & George Clayton Johnson. It’s a simple concept but really effective : it depicts a world where resources are maintained and the population controlled by the mandatory death of all humans once they reach the age of 21.
- It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis. It’s a satirical novel written when everybody was screaming about how Europe is falling under the control of fascism and how that could //never// happen in America. So Lewis decided to write a novel about how this populist politician tries to become a dictator in the US bc he promised social reform and a return to patriotism, etc… and how it totally works.
- Kafka’s The Trial, which i’m sure you’ve heard of. it tells the story of a man arrested and prosecuted by a remote, inaccessible authority, with the nature of his crime revealed neither to him nor the reader. It’s excellent - very worrying - but excellent.
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley,basically a contra-Orwell. Very effective in its own way. Whereas Orwell says that they’ll controll you by taking away what you love and by monitoring you, Huxley paints this image of a cold world with numbing drugs, organised reproduction, no concept of family, and brainwashing from birth. It’s superficially a hedonistic environment, but it begs the question : if you cannot feel pain, can you ever truly feel joy?
- Ravage by René Barjavel, an excellent French novel. It’s set in the future, on a day where electricity suddenly stops working and we can witness the whole world descending into chaos. It’s brilliant. and that ending omfg
- The Chrysalids by John Wyndham. Post-apocalyptic setting where the inhabitant of Labrador (no joke) are convinced that the only way to survive and to rebuild society is by being normal. Anything remotely “different” becomes the enemy. idk it feels pretty familiar to me.
There are many many more but I think this is a good start :) These are my favourites, I’ve read all of them countless of times and I strongly encourage you to read any of them you might not have read before. I hope you’re happy with this list, Liv. And you should definitely come talk to me about any of these when you’ve finished reading them.