Over the past few decades, there has been an increase in dystopian novels. More and more authors have written about the demise of mankind and it is never pretty. There are many possibilities and a lot of murder. Keep reading for the best dystopian books of all time!
When I think of dystopian novels, the first one I think of is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Not because it is the best dystopian novel but because it led the way for many dystopian novels as the genre saw a reemergence and mainstream success in the past 15 years.
The Best Dystopian Books of All Time
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
- Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
- The Road by Cormac McCarthy
- Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
- A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
- Divergent by Veronica Roth
- We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
- The Children of Men by Phyllis White
- Animal Farm by George Orwell
- The Maze Runner by James Dashner
- The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
- Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
- Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? By Philip K. Dick
- Lord of the Flies by William Golding
- The Passage by Justin Cronin
- The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard
- Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
- The Giver by Lois Lowry
History of Dystopian Books
Some of the earlier dystopian novels were books such as We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, and Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. They focused on politics and an over-reaching government if left unchecked. But after the second World War ended, the genre saw a shift towards science fiction dystopian novels as they imagined the worst possible future.
Books like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? By Philip K. Dick, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury became common. The books reflected the current times and that trend continued as Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tail became a best-seller. The novel was a hot topic because of its plot about how women were nothing more than reproductive machines. Following that, Lois Lowry’s The Giver shaped the landscape for what was to come with the novel targeting young adult readers.
The Hunger Games took it up a notch with its dark storytelling and the need to tear the system in charge down. Escape wasn’t an option but revenge for all of the pain and suffering caused by the rulers and the ruling class.
Genres undergo change constantly as they reflect the times they were written in. In dystopian novels, that is easy to see as novels get darker and violence and chaos sees an increase. There has also been in an increase in climate change being a reason as ocean levels rise, the planet gets too hot, and food becomes scarce.
These are the best dystopian novels over the decades and they have shaped what we consider dystopian books. Even books like Ready Player One by Ernest Cline deserve to be on the list as they reshaped our ideas on what a dystopian novel looks like.
That sums up our list. What books should have made the list? Let us know in the comments below!
21 thoughts on “The Best Dystopian Books of All Time”
Two additions: Jack London’s “The Iron Heel” and Wells’ “The Sleeper Awakes”.
You guys never mentioned 1947’s The Earth Abides such an outstanding write
Earth Abides never seems to make a list, but it is one of the best books in the genre.
When Worlds Collide and After Worlds Collide by Balmer and Wylie
Do not forget Logan’s Run by William F. Nolan and George C. Johnson. This book- and its two sequels- set the template for the youth-in-dystopian-environments genre for decades to come.
Stephen King’s The Stand? No?
How about Vonnegut’s Player Piano?
A Clockwork Orange is violent and stupid. The behavior of these men and rape. Saw the movie. Just sick.
Stranger in a Strange Land. Robert Heinlein
I loved that novel ( the second half got weird fast) but it doesn’t fall under the dystopian genre. You can read the review for it on my blog iif you are interested.
Get a copy of the re-issued book. Heinleins’ wife had the 400 edited pages included.
I read that online. I don’t know if I’ll like it or hate it.
Also read: Carl Capek, P.U.R. And try: Kay Dick, They.
William Gibson’s Neuromancer
A Canticle for LeIbowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr. should not only be on the list, it should be number one on the list. It is the only book I have read 5 times.
I shall check it out!
Did no one mention red rising?
Kings The Stand? Ayn rand’s Atlas shrugged?