15 Dystopian Novels for People Who Don’t Read Dystopian Novels

With dystopian classics like George Orwell’s 1984 and Margaret Atwood’s THE HANDMAID’S TALE resurfacing at the top of bestseller lists, it may feel like the world is ending–or at least radically changing. As we imagine what the future holds, we’re reminded of these 15 talented writers who envisioned, and perhaps warned, of a future more sinister than we’d like to imagine.

The Sunlight Pilgrims
by Jenni Fagan

In 2020 as the world is freezing over, Dylan sojourns north to return his mother’s and grandmother’s ashes to their native Scotland. There he meets Estella and her survivalist mother, who are preparing for an ultimate disaster.

Fahrenheit 451
by Ray Bradbury

In this iconic dystopian novel, Guy Montag is a fireman tasked with destroying all printed books, the most illegal commodity, and the houses in which they are hidden. But when Guy meets an eccentric young woman who reminds him of a time when people didn’t have to live in fear, he starts questioning the pillars of society.

Brave New World
by Aldous Huxley

BRAVE NEW WORLD is a searching vision of an unequal, technologically advanced future in which humans are genetically bred and pharmaceutically controlled to passively uphold an authoritarian order.

The Handmaid’s Tale
by Margaret Atwood

Offred is one of many Handmaids in the Republic of Gilead valued only if their ovaries are viable during an age of declining births. But while Offred prays to get pregnant, she also remembers and craves the independence of her former life with her husband and daughter.

Gold Fame Citrus
by Claire Vaye Watkins

An unrelenting drought transformed Southern California into a barren and depleted landscape and forced most residents to evacuate into internment camps. But Luz and Ray stay behind, squatting in an abandoned mansion, until they encounter a mysterious child and start a perilous journey east in hopes of a better future.

The Road
by Cormac McCarthy

In Cormac McCarthy’s searing masterpiece THE ROAD, a father and his son walk alone through a burned America in which no hope remains, but in which love definitely persists.

1984
by George Orwell

A dystopian vision of a government desperate to control the narrative, 1984 is about a man who starts to think for himself—a serious crime for which people are persecuted.

The Age of Miracles
by Karen Thompson Walker

A beautiful novel of catastrophe and survival, THE AGE OF MIRACLES is the story of Julia and her family as they struggle to live in a world that is literally slowing down. Something altered the rotation of the earth and the effects are reverberating through not only the physical world but human behavior as well.

Parable of the Sower
by Octavia E. Butler

In PARABLE OF THE SOWER, unattended environmental and economic crises result in social chaos, and nothing is safe. A minister’s young daughter, fighting for survival after losing her family, stumbles upon a startling vision of the future and the birth of a new faith.

The Heart Goes Last
by Margaret Atwood

Amid a brutal nationwide economic collapse, Stan and Charmaine decide to sign a life contract at Consilience, a gated community in which residents alternate living in a lovely house and a Positron prison every six months. But troubling events lead them to believe Consilience may be less a refuge and more a sinister operation.

On Such a Full Sea
by Chang-rae Lee

Set against a declining America in which society is strictly stratified by class, ON SUCH A FULL SEA is the tale of a female fish-tank diver who leaves the safety of her home to find out why the man she loves suddenly disappeared.

The Plot Against America
by Philip Roth

THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA is an alternate version of American history in which Charles A. Lindbergh was elected President in 1940 and established a genial relationship with Adolf Hitler, the first of many ruptures that threaten to destroy life for one boy in a small, safe corner of America.

1Q84
by Haruki Murakami

In 1984 Tokyo, a young woman begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in her world and realizes she is actually living in a parallel existence. Meanwhile, a writer becomes so invested in his ghostwriting project that he doesn’t see his life unraveling around him.

The Children of Men
by P.D. James

It’s 2021 and mankind has lost the ability to reproduce. Civilization is crumbling without the advent of new generations until an Oxford historian is approached by a revolution-leading woman who may hold the key to survival.

The Man in the High Castle
by Philip K. Dick

An alternate reality prevails in THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE—a haunting novel told as if the United States lost World War II and is now occupied by Nazi Germany and Japan.