Five Quintessential Dystopian Novels To Start With & Fall In Love With The Genre

Five Quintessential Dystopian Novels To Start With & Fall In Love With The Genre

(Continued from Part One

The previous part of this two-part article dedicated to Dystopian novels has hopefully introduced our readers to the crafts of these novels and how they make a reader hooked on the genre. In this final segment, I have shortlisted a total of five genre-defining novels that I feel will fascinate a reader who was otherwise reluctant to start this wing of English literature.

1. 1984 – George Orwell

Probably the most popular novels of all time, 1984, by the era-defining novelist George Orwell paints the perfect dystopia through the fictional state of Oceania. Orwell’s portrayal of the totalitarian rule under the constant watchful ‘eye’ of the Big Brother, the leader of the ruling party is what makes the novel instantly relatable. The novel follows protagonist Winston Smith rising against this atrocious government that took away the fundamental right to a person’s wish to live the way they want.

Buy the book here – Amazon

2. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

Based in a dystopian American society, the novel introduces us to Guy Montag, a ‘fireman’ working for a government that believes in burning books that the government feels to be provoking people to question it. Guy’s life takes a turn when he starts to read instead of burning books and finds out how the government is suppressing the intellectual side of people. Bradbury paints a predictive and realistically scary picture of machines that dispenses cash which makes it so relatable in the age of ATMs.  

Buy the book here – Amazon

3. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Another popular book, The Handmaid’s Tale is not just a dystopian novel but also has become a classic feminist read. This book introduced me to Atwood and the dystopian genre which ended up giving me nightmares. The book talks about a class of women in the totalitarian state of Gilead, the Handmaid’s, who are valued on their reproductive ability and has no other fundamental rights. Atwood’s portrayal of women’s position in society and the growth in the rate of infertility among the crowd is alarmingly similar to our recent days.

Buy the book here – Amazon

4. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

 A Utopia turning into Dystopia, Huxley takes us through a society where the illusion soon disintegrates. The novel feels like a written version of the series ‘Black Mirror’ where the progress of science reaches a point that creates an authoritarian ‘evolved’ species who try to take over the role of power-player. He criticised the forced need for scientific use and thus portrayed the beauty of the natural old lifestyle in his book, which was shown as the life of savages as seen by those elite and evolved society. Huxley envisaged genetic modification and advances in reproduction and psychology which feels relatable as we turn pages through the modern biological discoveries. 

Buy the book here – Amazon

5. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess

A nightmarish tale of a nihilistically violent society. The story follows a teenager, Alex, and his fascination with ultra-violence. Burgess’s characters were portrayed as an inspiration from the societal anxieties observed among the youth culture of the 1960s. The instances where Alex and his gang of friends rob, kill and rape their way through life, was what felt very real to me. Those felt like the horrendous news we read every day in the newspaper. 

Buy the book here – Amazon

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Do you wish to read some more? Here are few honourable mentions to plunge deeper into the world of dystopia –

  • V for Vendetta by Alan Moore (One of my favourite Graphic Novels! Also for those who would prefer to read something shorter than a novel)
  • The Trial by Franz Kafka (Gripping, unputdownable, and nightmarish)
  • The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (Paved the way for a lot of dystopian novels. An absolute classic!) 
  • We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (Inspiration behind the birth of 1984 and Brave New World)
  • Slaughterhouse 5 (Inspired by the writer’s days as a prisoner-of-war. A personal and anti-war masterpiece!)

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