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The Greatest Dystopian Novels

Updated October 4, 2020 18.7k votes 2.5k voters 30.2k views65 items

List RulesNovels set in a fictional society that is (in some important way) frightening

Dystopias have become a fascinating genre over the last century as disillusioned writers witnessed and reacted against imperialism, two world wars, including the Nazi and Stalin regime and the treacherous Holocaust. These writers played with the darkest sides of humanity, unearthed by war and technology and used satiric irony to present a destructive vision of the future. Dystopian novels are characterized by a lack of individual freedom, heroes that know something is wrong and contain many WTF moments that make you rethink the current status quo and become aware of the constructed nature of our values and standards.This dystopian novel list is nowhere near a complete list of all dystopian books, but on it are some of the greatest dystopian works of literature of all time (though most is from the 20th and 21st centuries). If you're a fan of H.G. Wells or George Orwell but are looking for more recent content, the best dystopian books list is the place to be. If your favorite dystopian novel isn'€™t on the list, make sure to add it so others can find their favorite new read.

If you want dystopia without the reading, check out the greatest dystopian and near-future movies or get some synopses on the 13 best dystopian novels.

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  • 1
    Fahrenheit 451 is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Dystopian Novels
    744
    137

    Fahrenheit 451

    Ray Bradbury

    First Published1953

    SubjectsBibliophilia, American science fiction, Literature, Book burning, Classics

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Utopian and dystopian fiction, Children's literature, Dystopia, Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel by Ray Bradbury published in 1953. It is regarded as one... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 2
    Animal Farm is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Dystopian Novels
    731
    152

    Animal Farm

    George Orwell

    First Published1945-08-17

    SubjectsMonarch, Literary, Literature, Classics, Drama

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Roman à clef, Satire, Children's literature, Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Animal Farm is an allegorical and dystopian novella by George Orwell, first published in... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 3
    Brave New World is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Dystopian Novels
    619
    140

    Brave New World

    Aldous Huxley

    SubjectsLiterary, Technology, Brainwashing, Literature, Classics

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Utopian and dystopian fiction, Children's literature, Dystopia, Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Brave New World is a novel written in 1931 by Aldous Huxley and published in 1932. Set in... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 4
    Nineteen Eighty-Four is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Dystopian Novels
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    329

    First Published1949-06-08

    SubjectsBrainwashing, Literature, Classics, English Language, English Literature

    Genres (Book)Utopian and dystopian fiction, Social science fiction, Political fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Nineteen Eighty-Four, sometimes published as 1984, is a dystopian novel by English author... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 5
    Lord of the Flies is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Dystopian Novels
    633
    200

    Lord of the Flies

    William Golding

    First Published1954

    SubjectsMonarch, Ethics, Literature, Young adult, Classics

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Allegory, Fiction, Young adult literature, Novel

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Lord of the Flies is a 1954 dystopian novel by Nobel Prize-winning English author William... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 6
    The Handmaid's Tale is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Dystopian Novels
    521
    183

    The Handmaid's Tale

    Margaret Atwood

    First Published1985

    SubjectsFeminism

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Utopian and dystopian fiction, Dystopia, Feminist science fiction, Novel

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Handmaid's Tale is a dystopian novel, a work of speculative fiction, by Canadian author... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 7
    A Clockwork Orange is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Dystopian Novels
    461
    159

    A Clockwork Orange

    Anthony Burgess

    First Published1962

    SubjectsBrainwashing, Classics

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Utopian and dystopian fiction, Satire, Dystopia, Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    A Clockwork Orange is a dystopian novella by Anthony Burgess published in 1962. Set in a near... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 8
    The Giver is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Dystopian Novels
    505
    190

    The Giver

    Lois Lowry

    First Published1993

    SubjectsEthics, Literature, Young adult, Classics, Children's literature

    Genres (Book)Social science, Speculative fiction, Soft science fiction, Utopian and dystopian fiction, Children's literature

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Giver is a 1993 American social science fiction children's novel by Lois Lowry. It is set... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 9
    The Hunger Games is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Dystopian Novels
    714
    299

    The Hunger Games

    Suzanne Collins

    First Published2008-09-14

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Utopian and dystopian fiction, Alternate history, Young adult literature, Adventure fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Hunger Games is a 2008 science fiction novel by the American writer Suzanne Collins. It is... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 10
    The Road is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Dystopian Novels
    335
    133

    The Road

    Cormac McCarthy

    First Published2006-09-26

    SubjectsSurvival skills, Literary, Adventure, United States of America

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, Fiction, Literary fiction, Science Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Road is a 2006 novel by American writer Cormac McCarthy. It is a post-apocalyptic tale of... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 11
    Do Androids Dream of Electric  is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Dystopian Novels

    First Published1968

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Dystopia, Fiction, Science Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a science fiction novel by American writer Philip K.... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 12
    Watchmen is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Dystopian Novels
    289
    126
    Watchmen is a comic-book limited series written by Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons, and... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 13
    Catching Fire is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Dystopian Novels
    479
    236

    Catching Fire

    Suzanne Collins

    First Published2009-09-01

    Genres (Book)Utopian and dystopian fiction, Dystopia, Young adult literature, Adventure fiction, Science Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Catching Fire is a 2009 science fiction young adult novel by American novelist Suzanne... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 14
    V for Vendetta is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Dystopian Novels
    351
    128

    V for Vendetta

    Alan Moore

    SubjectsEngland, Anarchism

    Genres (Book)Science Fiction, Speculative fiction, Humour

    V for Vendetta is a graphic novel written by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd,... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 15
    Mockingjay is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Dystopian Novels
    483
    251

    Mockingjay

    Suzanne Collins

    First Published2010-08-24

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Utopian and dystopian fiction, Thriller, Young adult literature, Adventure fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Mockingjay is a 2010 science fiction novel by American author Suzanne Collins. It is the last... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 16
    The Children of Men is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Dystopian Novels
    186
    90

    First Published1992

    SubjectsHuman extinction, Infertility

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Utopian and dystopian fiction, Dystopia

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Children of Men is a dystopian novel by P. D. James that was published in 1992. Set in... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 17
    Ready Player One is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Dystopian Novels
    218
    113

    Ready Player One

    Ernest Cline

    First Published2011-08-16

    Genres (Book)Science Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Ready Player One is a science fiction and dystopian novel by Ernest Cline. The book was... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 18
    Logan's Run is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Dystopian Novels
    204
    100

    Logan's Run

    George Clayton Johnson, William F. Nolan

    First Published1967

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Dystopia, Science Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Logan's Run is a novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. Published in 1967, it... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 19
    The Maze Runner is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Dystopian Novels
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    160

    The Maze Runner

    James Dashner

    First Published2009-10-06

    Genres (Book)Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, Dystopia, Young adult literature, Science Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Maze Runner is the first book in a young-adult post-apocalyptic dystopian science fiction... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 20
    Divergent is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Dystopian Novels
    365
    231

    Divergent

    Veronica Roth

    First Published2011-04-25

    Genres (Book)Utopian and dystopian fiction, Dystopia, Young adult literature, Science Fiction

    Divergent is the debut novel of American novelist Veronica Roth, published by HarperCollins... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 21
    The City of Ember is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Dystopian Novels
    161
    95

    The City of Ember

    Jeanne DuPrau

    SubjectsAdventure

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, Children's literature, Fiction, Young adult literature

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The City of Ember is a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel by Jeanne DuPrau that was... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 22
    The Running Man is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Dystopian Novels
    142
    56

    The Running Man

    Stephen King

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Dystopia, Science Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Running Man is a science fiction novel by Stephen King, first published under the... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 23
    A Scanner Darkly is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Dystopian Novels
    144
    78

    A Scanner Darkly

    Philip K. Dick

    First Published1977

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Roman à clef, Dystopia, Psychological novel, Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    A Scanner Darkly is a BSFA Award-winning 1977 science fiction novel by American writer Philip... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 24
    Insurgent is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Dystopian Novels
    257
    194

    Insurgent

    Veronica Roth

    First Published2012-05-01

    Genres (Book)Romance novel, Young adult literature, Science Fiction

    Insurgent is a book written by Veronica Roth.amazon buy button
  • 25
    Starship Troopers is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Dystopian Novels
    202
    135

    Starship Troopers

    Robert A. Heinlein

    First Published1959-12

    SubjectsMilitary

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Fiction, Science Fiction, Philosophical fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Starship Troopers is a military science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein, first published... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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