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The Greatest Dystopian Novels

Updated January 28, 2021 17.4k votes 2.5k voters 31.0k views72 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 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.

  • 1
    Nineteen Eighty-Four, sometimes published as 1984, is a dystopian novel by English author...  more

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  • 2

    Fahrenheit 451

    Ray Bradbury
    Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel by Ray Bradbury published in 1953. It is regarded as one...  more

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    #1 of 48 The Best Books About Books#29 of 40 Classic Books You Never Need To Read Again

  • 3

    Animal Farm

    George Orwell
    Animal Farm is an allegorical and dystopian novella by George Orwell, first published in...  more

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    #38 of 169 Books You'll Never Finish Reading#34 of 102 The Best Books for Teens

  • 4

    Brave New World

    Aldous Huxley
    Brave New World is a novel written in 1931 by Aldous Huxley and published in 1932. Set in...  more

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    #13 of 704 Books That Changed Your Life#29 of 117 The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written

  • 5

    Lord of the Flies

    William Golding
    Lord of the Flies is a 1954 dystopian novel by Nobel Prize-winning English author William...  more

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    #45 of 186 The Scariest Horror Books of All Time#2 of 102 102 Books Recommended By Stephen King

  • 6

    The Handmaid's Tale

    Margaret Atwood
    The Handmaid's Tale is a dystopian novel, a work of speculative fiction, by Canadian author...  more
  • 7

    A Clockwork Orange

    Anthony Burgess
    A Clockwork Orange is a dystopian novella by Anthony Burgess published in 1962. Set in a near...  more

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    #1 of 48 The Best Novels About Sociopaths#5 of 40 The Best Books Written Under Pen Names

  • 8

    The Giver

    Lois Lowry
    The Giver is a 1993 American social science fiction children's novel by Lois Lowry. It is set...  more

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    #34 of 40 The Best Sci Fi Book Series#4 of 18 If You've Read Any Of These Young Adult Novels/Series, You're Probably Ready For The Apocalypse

  • 9

    The Hunger Games

    Suzanne Collins
    The Hunger Games is a 2008 science fiction novel by the American writer Suzanne Collins. It is...  more

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    #94 of 300 The Greatest Children's Books That Were Made Into Movies#21 of 120 The Best Fantasy Book Series

  • 10
    Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a science fiction novel by American writer Philip K....  more

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    #212 of 331 The Top Must-Read Books of All Time#23 of 179 The Greatest Science Fiction Novels of All Time

  • 11

    The Road

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

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    #6 of 62 The Best Pulitzer Prize Winning Novels#152 of 1,235 The Best Novels Ever Written

  • 12
    Watchmen is a comic-book limited series written by Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons, and...  more


    #1 of 142 The Greatest Graphic Novels and Collected Editions#2 of 16 16 Great Comic Books For Seasoned Comic Book Readers

  • 13

    V for Vendetta

    Alan Moore
    V for Vendetta is a graphic novel written by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd,...  more

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  • 14

    Catching Fire

    Suzanne Collins
    Catching Fire is a 2009 science fiction young adult novel by American novelist Suzanne...  more
  • 15


    Suzanne Collins
    Mockingjay is a 2010 science fiction novel by American author Suzanne Collins. It is the last...  more
  • 16

    Ready Player One

    Ernest Cline
    Ready Player One is a science fiction and dystopian novel by Ernest Cline. The book was...  more
  • 17
    The Children of Men is a dystopian novel by P. D. James that was published in 1992. Set in...  more
  • 18


    Veronica Roth
    Divergent is the debut novel of American novelist Veronica Roth, published by HarperCollins...  more
  • 19

    Logan's Run

    George Clayton Johnson, William F. Nolan
    Logan's Run is a novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. Published in 1967, it...  more
  • 20

    The Maze Runner

    James Dashner
    The Maze Runner is the first book in a young-adult post-apocalyptic dystopian science fiction...  more

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    #17 of 29 The Best Young Adult Fiction Series#13 of 21 The Best Young Adult Fantasy Series

  • 21

    The Running Man

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

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    #44 of 67 The All-Time Greatest Works Of Stephen King#74 of 101 The Best Books With Man in the Title

  • 22

    The City of Ember

    Jeanne DuPrau
    The City of Ember is a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel by Jeanne DuPrau that was...  more
  • 23

    A Scanner Darkly

    Philip K. Dick
    A Scanner Darkly is a BSFA Award-winning 1977 science fiction novel by American writer Philip...  more
  • 24


    Veronica Roth
    Insurgent is a book written by Veronica Roth....  more
  • 25

    Starship Troopers

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