If you are like me, then you enjoy reading dystopian novels. Unfortunately, not all of them are written equally. Some of them are much better than others and help push the genre forward. That made us want to compile a list of the five best dystopian novels of all time.
The dystopian genre has seen a lot of changes over the decades. Before there was The Hunger Games, authors like Margaret Atwood and Aldous Huxley who paved the way. But it was the novel The Giver by Lois Lowry that targeted young adults with the dystopian novel. Little did Lowry know that she would be changing the target audience of future readers of dystopian novels with her book.
The wave of dystopian novels in the 2000’s saw a lot of great dystopian novels (and a bunch of not so great) that came to define an era. We saw many of them even get movie adaptions. While that wave has slowed down, there are still great dystopian novels still being released. You can see the list below.
The Five Best Dystopian Novels of All Time
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
- Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
- The Giver by Lois Lowry
All Time Classics
One of the greatest dystopian novels has to be Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. It is a powerful novel that is still being censored heavily in this day and age. George Orwell made the list with Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm just missed the cut, showcasing just how important his works are.
That is all for our five best dystopian novels of all-time list. What books should have made the list but didn’t? Let us know in the comments below. Until next time, happy reading!
18 thoughts on “The Five Best Dystopian Novels of All Time”
I think the handmaid’s tale is one of the more overrated books. Now Margaret Atwood is obviously an excellent writer but this book doesn’t feel complete, it feels like the first part of a three-part story and you are left hanging at the end. It should be removed from the list and Stephen King’s The stand should be put in its place.
Came here to type that. Silly premise.
First off, I am just happy when anyone can read and connect with a book. So, I’m glad there is even a list to begin with.
That being said, I disagree with you about Margaret Atwood. “The Handmaid’s Tale” changed the way I (as a younger female when I first read it) viewed the entire world. It made me more critical and aware. Yes, it seems incomplete in ways, but all good dystopian novels do. I think they are supposed to leave room for hope, doubt, and despair. The endings are rarely definite.
I agree, King’s “The Stand” should definitely be on the list, yet iit is never on any of these ‘Best Dystopian Novel’ lists. Why is that?! It’s absolutely one of the best novels ever written. Maybe cause it’s so long…? Or Hollywood hasn’t gotten a hold of it (that late 89’s/early90’s segmented version does NOT count. Yikes!)
Also, Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” should totally be in the Top 5. “The Giver” is decent, and “The Hunger Games” are intriguing, new, and fresh, and captured the interest of a ehole new era of readers, but they do not match the depth of “Fahrenheit”, in my opinion.
How about A Clockwork Orange by writer Anthony Burgess?
Absolutely my first thought.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Scattered survivors of a war or pestilence do not really qualify as a dystopia, at least not what we typically think of as dystopian. That’s probably why King’s novel didn’t make the list, or The Road for that matter.
I was definitely expecting to see Parable of the Sower on this list 🤷🏾♀️
It was the sixth book 😅
The Road should absolutely be at the top of this list. It is the one that tells it as it might actually be after a nuclear holocaust. Criminal omission.
WE by Yevgeny Zamyatin is the Godfather of all dystopian novels. Written in 1921, there would be no 1984 nor Brave New World if not for WE. Ursula Le Guin, no less, called it the greatest dystopian novel of all time. This book often gets omitted from lists such as these and I argue it is more than deserving to be up there, not least for the fact that it paved the way for all the others.
How about a newer novel? To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara stopped me in my tracks. A definite must read dystopic IMO.
Somehow This Perfect Day by Ira Levin seems to be forgotten, and that’s a shame. While his guesses about future technology weren’t exactly right the story still holds and is compelling.
Fahrenheit 451 is far better than any of these books listed and quite often gets overlooked. But it is a must read for what is going on in our society today.
You’ve didn’t ‘know’ incorrectly in the second paragraph; it’s written as ” Little did Lowry *now that she would be changing…”
Thought you’d like to know.
Thank you for pointing that out!
1999. by Borislav Pekic. It must be on the list.
We should be in the list