Dystopian Novels Everyone Should Read

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Dystopian Novels 

Dystopian novels explore futuristic societies with oppressive governments and harsh conditions. The stories often point out the dangers of authoritarianism and the dystopian theme provides a vivid landscape for the exploration of social, economic and political issues. Dystopian novels present readers with challenging worlds that originate in current concerns and often draw on current events. It is true that dystopia can make for entertaining “what if” scenarios, but the literature serves to make readers think more deeply about the issues of today. 

Here is a list of some of the best dystopian novels that everyone should read.

  1. 1984 by George Orwell

This classic dystopian novel is set in a society completely governed by an oppressive government that controls thought and action with total surveillance. This novel is credited with bringing the term “Big Brother” into common usage and its concept of a totalitarian state controlled by an all-seeing eye continues to be applicable in today’s world. The story follows Winston Smith as he rebels against Big Brother and is ultimately consumed by the oppressive system.

  1. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Written in 1931, this book introduced a future concept of “happiness.” In this future world, people are conditioned to believe that artificial happiness found through the use of drugs and technology is the only way of life. This novel serves as a warning against a possible future in which technology and material possessions control our lives and replace the need for actual human emotion.

  1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

This dystopian novel takes place in a totalitarian theocracy that forces women into servitude as care-takers, sexual servants, and wives. The story follows Offred and the other Handmaids as they struggle to survive in the extreme society. Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” received critical acclaim and is considered a milestone of dystopian literature.

  1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

This novel is set in a future world in which books have been outlawed and censorship is enforced through fire. Firemen are employed to incinerate books and stifle freedom of thought. The story follows Montag, a fireman, as he discovers the power of books and overthrows the oppressive government in order to bring knowledge and literacy back to the people.

  1. The Giver by Lois Lowry

Set in an anti-utopian society, The Giver follows the story of Jonas who, as part of a strictly structured world, is assigned an important position that comes with a great burden. He quickly discovers the truth about his community and must find the strength to question the oppressive, controlling government.

  1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Set in a post-apocalyptic world, this novel follows Katniss Everdeen as she participates in the Hunger Games, a reality television show in which contestants fight to the death. This novel is an excellent exploration of oppressive government control as it portrays the harsh conditions and restrictions placed on the people by the Capitol.

These six classics of dystopian literature have all been brought to life on the big screen, but the books are where the true power of the stories resides. They offer a unique perspective on the effects of an oppressive government and can serve as a warning against the dangers of censorship, the power of technology, and blind acceptance of the status quo. In an age of increasing surveillance, censorship and government control, reading a classic dystopian novel can help us to think critically about the current world and our future.

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