Crowdsourcing The Essentials: Dystopian Fiction

Last week, we crowdsourced your favorite space opera.

And this week, because I’m totally shameless (seriously, the Martians destroyed my Shame Gland in the Second Mars-America Temporal Freedom War of 2018), I feel like we should talk about your favorite dystopian reads.

From adult (Handmaid’s Tale!) to young adult (Hunger Games!).

So: your top three dystopian reads.

Drop ’em in the comments. Let’s make some recommendations.

(And I might just have my own dystopian tale coming out tomorrow, hey, huh, weird.)


  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
    Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
    Blood Skies series by Steven Montano

    Honorable mention to Divergent. Just the first book.

      • August 5, 2013 at 9:14 AM // Reply

        The last one isn’t out yet. I’m not the original commenter, but I didn’t think the second one was bad – it’s just middle book syndrome – building up the conclusion.

      • I just couldn’t get into book 2. It might have been the backstory. Sometimes I get Reader’s Block. I will read the rest of the series someday.

  • The Breeders by Katie French
    Armageddon’s Children by Terry Brooks (it had a lot of promise)
    Handmaid’s Tale By Margaret Atwood

  • For my #1, I can’t choose between Brave New World (Huxley) and Slaughterhouse Five (Vonnegut), because they were my introductions into futuristic societies and a huge influence on my rebellous teen-age years. Of the newer generation, I’m going with Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Deviants by Maureen McGowan (YA).

  • The Hunger Games

    Wool (though I have to say I didn’t care for Shift at all, and think it’s a good example of why prequels are often not a great idea).

    Also love This Perfect Day, though there are some retro aspects to it that are very problematic for me (i.e. a rape where the victim subsequently falls in love with her rapist). Really odd, considering one could interpret some of Levin’s other books, Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives in particular, as a patriarchal nightmares.

  • Oh man, there’s some good ones on this list.
    For me:
    1.) The Stand
    2.) The Dark Tower series (specifically for this, “The Wastelands”)
    2.) I Am Legend

  • I have this thing for Sherri S. Tepper. So: The Gate to Women’s Country
    Ursula K. Le Guin: The Dispossessed (though it’s listed as a utopian novel, I disagree)
    Robert C. O’Brien: Z for Zachariah
    I like Hunger Games, too, but thought I’d offer some of the classics (IMHO).

  • Since no one has mentioned it, I loved Meg Rossoff’s HOW I LIVE NOW. Lois Lowery’s THE GIVER was awesome, and yes, I did enjoy the HUNGER GAMES TRILOGY. James patterson’s MAXIMUM RIDE series was also notable. Thank you Rhonda Hopkins for the shout out for WANING MOON:-)

  • – The Handmaid’s Tale (always my #1 for this list; no other book has scared me quite as much as this one, although Oryx and Crake is also up there)
    – Animal Farm (just because everyone else has already said 1984,which is definitely one of my top favorites)
    – The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas (I know, it’s a short story, but Ursula Le Guin is one of my favorite authors, ever, and she always seems to be missing from the top lists. I have a bad feeling that it might be because of her gender… but I’m open to debate on that)

  • Justin Cronin’s THE PASSAGE and THE TWELVE (and Justin, hurry up with that third book, pretty please!). My son-in-law insisted I read it when I insisted he read WOOL by Hugh Howey which is also a favorite.

    And of course the classic THE POSTMAN by David Brin. I lived inside that book for months, re-reading it twice immediately after finishing it the first time.

  • I will certainly be saving this list for later!

    I especially love Dystopian teen novels favourites include:-
    The ‘Noughts and Crosses’ series by Malorie Blackman
    Unwind by Neal Shusterman
    Never Let Me Go Kazuo Ishiguro

    • Oh I just remembered another one – How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff (the film is coming out this year staring Saoirse Ronan)

  • Mira Grant’s Newsflesh series starting with FEED.

    Ann Aguirre’s Razorland trilogy starting with ENCLAVE (the third book doesn’t come out until this fall though)

    Bethany Girffin’s Red Death Saga which starts with MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH

  • “Meat” by Joseph D’Lacey
    “The Land of the Headless” by Adam Roberts.
    “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood.

  • The Stand by Stephen King / The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. The Chrysalids by John Wyndham. Runners up are Animal Farm, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, The Running Man, A Scanner Darkly, Logan’s Run and The Long Walk. Can’t go wrong with any of them.

  • If you’re going with novellas and shorts, then my top would be The Machine Stops by EM Forster, still a convincing future more than a hundred years after he wrote it. Then the oft filmed ‘Second Variety’ by Phillip K Dick. Inspired everything from Terminator to Scanners. Finally, The Golden Man, by Phillip K Dick.

    Can you tell I really like Phillip K Dick? 🙂

  • August 1, 2013 at 1:06 AM // Reply

    An excellent dystopia-via-utopia is “The Country of the Kind” by Damon Knight. It’s also a short story.

  • While my first impulse was to list Justin Cronin’s The Passage, and The Twelve, they’ve already been listed.. But I am astonished that no one has listed S. M. Stirling’s Dies the Fire, and The Protector’s War.

  • I chose to list these books as multi-volume stories (not series) because it makes more sense that way. So sue me.

    1. Holdfast Chronicles (Walk to the End of the World, Motherlines, The Furies, The Conqueror’s Child) by Suzy McKee Charnas.

    2.Parable of the Sewer and Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler.

    3. The Rifters “saga” (Starfish, Maelstrom, Behemoth: B-Max, Behemoth: Seppuku) by Peter Watts.

    They’re all SF, but there’s a very prominent dystopian ribbon running through all of them as well. I have copies of all of them because re-read. I’d like to thank our generous host for the impetus to view these stories from another perspective. Yes, I really do talk like this IRL. 🙂

  • I have to say, I am terribly saddened to see almost NO dystopian novels for adults on this list… virtually ALL YA. (shaking head) Surely there is some great dystopian out there NOT for teens? Please?

  • Yeah I know I’m very late to this party, and it is unlikely anyone will read my comment – but what the hell. I thought I’d throw one up there that no one mentioned: Earth Abides – by George R. Stewart. Anybody read? And well .. Handmaids Tale is mentioned quite a bit. It was always one of my favorites, but I recently got it out for a re-read after many years (as I do w/ my faves) and for some reason I didn’t like it as much as I had before. I found it lacking at certain points that as I had not before. Perhaps it was one re-read to many. 🙂

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