Your guide to Dystopian Novels: Why They Are Appealing & Which Ones You Should Start With

Your guide to Dystopian Novels: Why They Are Appealing & Which Ones You Should Start With

“Is it better for a man to have chosen evil than to have good imposed upon him?”

                                                             – Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange

We all love horror. Yes! You heard me right. All of us, even if you feel you are in denial of it. You too, have that child inside you that wants to peep through the fingers to watch the next scene of that horror movie even though a part of you wants you to keep your eyes shut. But that’s mostly because we believe ghosts don’t exist (or do they? Ha Ha!) But, what if I tell you about the future and the horrors it might hold. What if I tell the consequences of what you are doing now can change the whole course of the future in a way more terrifying than your supernatural horror. Fear of the unknown, that’s basically what dystopian novels are made of.


Where is our society heading towards and what can be the outcome? Dystopian novels are put together with catastrophic societies involving the darker side of technology, governmental oppressions, environmental degradations, with characters that constantly battle against it. Some key elements of dystopian novels are – 

  • A certain extremity of a concept or figurehead and a population blindly believing in it. In simpler words, a certain blind belief towards a corporate, bureaucratic, religious, or technological control.
  • A society that seems to be believing in a utopic way of living while being unaware or worse, ignorant of the dire situations of the authoritarian rules.
  • They are quite imaginative at times though their roots grow on realistic grounds.
  • Environmental destruction, a result of ignorance. Most novels are set in places that are inhabitable and on the verge of degradation. 
  • Survival becoming a matter of question for the commoners while seeing them struggling to survive is a treat for those in power.
  • The protagonist mostly starts out as an individual among the crowd who seems to have succumbed to the authoritarian dystopia but rises against it as the novel continues.
  • Last but not least, the diminution of information, opinion, and freedom.

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We all seek positivity in our lives. So you might be asking yourself now, “Why should I read a dystopian novel then?”. Well, don’t you think it holds a great significance in the world of literature? Dystopian novels are speculative in nature and give the reader a place to judge the prevailing evils of the society. These novels though painting a bleak environment make a reader conscious of what can happen if people lose their ability to question the authority. Here’s an example, George Orwell’s dystopian world of his 1984 questions totalitarianism, surveillance, and censorship. His writing offers a possible indication of a future where totalitarian states continue to exist and the fact that it becomes horrifying is due to its relevance to present days. Orwell’s writing was greatly inspired by his first-hand experience of the Spanish Civil War and the second world war, thus, he propels his reader to develop a political view of their own. 

The Need For Rebellion

Dystopian novels are more than the flagbearers of warnings in the world of literature. They also encourage people to find ways to a better world. The novels form a need-for-rebellion attitude for every individual as their characters grow and find ways of standup against the evils even in the worst scenarios. Though all dystopian novels don’t end up in becoming utopian, sometimes they do end up with little achieved but still stirs one towards the light at the end of the dark tunnel. So even though Huxley and Atwood write about bleak endings, Yevgeny Zamyatin, in his novel ‘We’, writes, “There is no final one; revolutions are infinite.”  

So now, if I have stirred up your brain even a bit, follow this section for the next article where I will be listing out the five quintessential dystopian novels one should read to understand this new and significant wing of literature. 

(To be continued)

Featured Image Credits: Kate’s PDP Blog

Read More: Virginia Woolf’s A Room Of One’s Own: An Essential Read for Everyone and Not Just Women

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