Many readers, especially youngsters may have enjoyed the recent trilogies of dystopian novels like “The Hunger Games”, “Divergent” and “The Maze Runner”, which portrays society that is often characterized by dehumanization, totalitarian governments, environmental or any other form of cataclysmic decline in society, where the story is set.
The characters in the dystopian novels often find themselves in negative societies which is reeling under unfavorable conditions such as mass poverty, public mistrust, police state, squalor, suffering, or oppression which the society has most often brought upon itself. The dystopian literature has more than just entertainment as its purpose. It tries to analyze the reason why things got as bad, often as an analogy for similar issues in the real world. It also comes as political warnings to certain unresolved issues in our society.
Here is the list of 7 classic dystopian novels of all time that revolutionized the genre, and at the same time picked the brains of its readers.
7. Fahrenheit 451
Author: Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 451, considered one of the best works of Ray Bradbury, touches the burning issue where books are banned in future American society. Divided in three parts: “The Hearth and the Salamander”, “The Sieve and the Sand”, and “Burning Bright” the novel presents a society somewhere in mid-west America where books are outlawed and firemen are hired to burn any book that is found. The title refers to auto-ignition point for paper.
6. Handmaid’s Tale
Author: Margaret Atwood
Canadian author Margaret Atwood has set her speculative dystopian fiction novel in a very near future where the US Government is overthrown by totalitarian Christian theocracy and has subjugated the rights of women completely. The book is written from the point of view of a woman named Offred who has lost her family and become a Handmaid for reproductive purpose by the ruling class in the Gilead Period. This is an amazing book that shows the horror of gender discrimination when it goes too far.
5. Iron Heel
Author: Jack London
Iron Heel by Jack London is one of the earliest modern dystopian literature works which gives its readers a glimpse into the rise of an oligarchic (controlled by a small group) tyranny in the United States. Jack London used a spoiler by revealing the end at the beginning of the novel, a tactic which caught the reader’s attention and so did his deviation of making a woman protagonist his first person narrative for the book (which was the first considering the book was written by a man). It is amazing to note what a great insight Jack London had in political history, though unfortunately the war was not prevented as mentioned in the book.
4. Children of Men
Author: P.D. James
When we are all worried about population explosion, James introduces us to the world without children in his dystopian book “Children of Men”. Set in England in 2021, infertility has affected human race and the last generation born is already into adulthood. People are giving into the stress and resorting to suicide and despair. Is there some hope left for mankind? James brings out a great mystery thriller, building suspense when at the same time he criticizes our society and moves on to theological reflection as the book progresses.
3. V for Vendetta
Author: Alan Moore
In V for Vendetta, Alan Moore takes us into a dystopian society post -apocalyptic era which was preceded by nuclear war though an amazing graphic novel. World lies in ruins and a fascist party, Norsefire rules the country as a police state. Moore through his main protagonist, V, in Guy Fawkes mask brings out a powerful tale of the loss of freedom and identity in a chillingly believable totalitarian world, with an inspiring young Evey Hammond as protégé for V.
2. The Time Machine
Author: H.G. Wells
Even though now even a child can tell you what a ‘Time Machine’ is, back when the book was released it was innovative word which had been coined by science fiction writer Wells and caught the fancy of readers. In the dystopian world the genius H.G. Wells talks about a dying earth, a time traveller discovers the future humans who are divided into two sects of Eloi and Morlocks. The story is quite popular among all genres of readers and has been adopted into plays, TV shows and movies.
1. Nineteen Eighty Four
Author: George Orwell
Nineteen Eighty Four or just 1984 is a very popular dystopian novel set in world lost in perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public manipulation in fictional place called Airstrip One. The Inner Party that calls individualism or even mere independent thinking as “Thought Crimes” and persecutes the criminals rules with an iron hand. The Big Brother is the leader of this oppressive rule, who suppresses everyone for their own greater good. Winston Smith, the protagonist hates Big Brother and hopes for a revolution.