The 10 Best Dystopian Books

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This wiki has been updated 19 times since it was first published in March of 2018. Dystopian novels have proven to be tremendously popular in the modern era, whether they're fantastic works of post-apocalyptic fiction or frighteningly realistic cautionary tales. While most people have heard of classics like "Brave New World" and "1984," there are many releases from the last decade or two that provide plenty of insight, allegory, entertainment, and, often, quite a bit of action. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Severance: A Novel

2. World War Z

3. Blackfish City

Editor's Notes

April 10, 2020:

Dystopian fiction can often seem frighteningly close to reality, which is why you'll see Severance: A Novel at the top of our list; while its criticisms of capitalism and media obsession are often on point, its cynical outlook and amusing style tend to take the edge off. World War Z is another that's considerably easier to read than its subject material might have you believe, but in this case it's due much to a business-like rather than satirical take. Blackfish City takes one of today's most contentious points of social and political policy, climate change, and throws in a hearty dose of fun fantasy alongside an engaging storyline to make for a good read that isn't overly emotionally taxing.

Taking a bit more cues from personal and meaningful tragedy, The Fifth Season imagines a fantastic world of post-civilization struggle, complete with world-altering, almost superhero-like telekinetic powers and factions fighting for control of them. The Resistance Trilogy: Recruitment tells of teens plunged into a world of testing and training and violence and is as good a read for adults as it is for teens themselves.

A couple of our selections have markedly supernatural overtones. The Passage details the invasion of a government-created scourge of vampires while The Girl With all the Gifts introduces a touching and highly unconventional take on zombies. The Road has an especially somber tone and creates a very convincing atmosphere, although much of its conflict is internal rather than external. Similarly, Station Eleven explores the history and ultimately follows the path of artists forced to make their way through a broken-down post-pandemic society.

Finally, far, far from the comfort of satire or hope for the future is the dark tale called The Unwind Dystology. The first book should be enough to let you know whether you want to continue with the series or not. Based on parents voluntarily giving away their children aged 13-18 as organ donors, it's about as dystopian as they come, but if you can steel yourself to the emotions, it should be an enthralling read.

Special Honors

GoodReads It's easy to find a list of the most famous dystopian future novels in history, but when you really want to dig deep for something new and interesting, GoodReads is the place to go. Its comprehensive catalog consists of all genres, choices for all fans, and reviews from casual as well as highly critical writers.

4. The Fifth Season

5. The Road

6. Station Eleven

7. The Unwind Dystology

8. The Resistance Trilogy: Recruitment

9. The Passage

10. The Girl With all the Gifts

Christopher Thomas
Last updated by Christopher Thomas

Building PCs, remodeling, and cooking since he was young, quasi-renowned trumpeter Christopher Thomas traveled the USA performing at and organizing shows from an early age. His work experiences led him to open a catering company, eventually becoming a sous chef in several fine LA restaurants. He enjoys all sorts of barely necessary gadgets, specialty computing, cutting-edge video games, and modern social policy. He has given talks on debunking pseudoscience, the Dunning-Kruger effect, culinary technique, and traveling. After two decades of product and market research, Chris has a keen sense of what people want to know and how to explain it clearly. He delights in parsing complex subjects for anyone who will listen -- because teaching is the best way to ensure that you understand things yourself.

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