Margaret Atwood said that dystopian stories are like a signpost saying “bad future ahead if you go this way” – I love this metaphor! And dystopia seems to be one of my favourite genres, based on my recent reads.

Here are 10 dystopian books that I enjoyed reading, in a random-aesthetically-pleasing order 🙂

§ The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

Let’s start with Atwood, the queen of dystopian stories. The Heart Goes Last (my review) tells the story of a couple, Charmaine and Stan, who join a social experiment. The program offered stable jobs and a home in return for their freedom every second month. One month of normal life, one month in prison. Would you exchange freedom for stability?


§ The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

The Memory Police (my review) tells a daunting story about an island controlled by … guess who?! The Memory Police. They are in charge of what people remember, what objects to be burnt and forgotten, and of making the “special ones” (those who do not forget) disappearing as well. This story definitely sent chills down my spine.


§ The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Next story puts the spotlight on freedom of women. The Handmaid’s Tale (my review) is a dystopian novel about Gilead, a society where fertility is a major issue. Here fertile women, called handmaids, are obliged to give birth for rich families. There is also a good TV series inspired by the book – check it out!


§ The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

The Testaments (my review), written 35 years after The Handmaid’s Tale, brings us back to Gilead. This time, we get to know one of the secondary characters from the first book, and there are signs the system starts to break from within. It’s astonishing how Atwood builds a frightening world using puzzle pieces collected from the reality around us …


§ Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

This book broke my heart when I read it. Never Let Me Go (my review) tells the story of Kathy, a young girl who grew up at Hailsham School – a place similar to a boarding school, with mysterious rules and teachers reminding children how special they are. It is a must read for anyone who’s into dystopian stories!

Plan to read soon: Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro.

During a holiday in Italy ❤

§ 1984 by George Orwell

Worldwide-famous, 1984 illustrates a totalitarian society where mass surveillance, lack of freedom, adaptation of the past events were as normal as having tea. There’s perpetual war (or so people believe) and the Thought Police persecutes any person who has thoughts not in accordance with the government principles. I read twice this story, and the second time it felt even more frightening!


§ Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Guess what?! One more dystopia by Atwood! This time we have genetically engineered humans and animals, a post-apocalyptic world, and even a pandemic. Oryx and Crake (my review) is a scary but also funny speculative story that will make you wonder what’s the limit of human enhancement and extreme “optimization” of animals.

Plan to read soon: the other books of the MaddAddam trilogy – The Year of the Flood and MaddAddam.


§ Galápagos by Kurt Vonnegut

Galápagos (my review) tells the story of a group of people isolated on a fictional island called Santa Rosalia. Shortly after their shipwreck, all human beings become infertile due to a disease, except for the isolated people from Santa Rosalia. So they become the only surviving humans and the ancestors of the generations to come on Earth. A weird and dark Robinson Crusoe type-of-story.

photograph of Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut in the park
Borrowed from the “corporate library” Bookster

§ The History of Bees by Maja Lunde

Climate change is at the heart of The History of Bees (my review). It is a beautiful read that brings an important topic to the fiction world – we, as human beings, are utterly dependent on the well-being of bees and other insects. As long as they’re in danger, we are in danger, too.

Plan to read soon: the other published books of the Climate Quartet series – The End of the Ocean and Przewalski’s Horse.


§ The Circle by Dave Eggers

The Circle presents a dystopian future of our society where the online aspects of our lives are much more important than the offline ones …. sounds more like the present society, doesn’t it?! It is about a “Google-gone-wrong” situation where a single company controls all flows of information (my review – it was actually my first ever review on the blog).

This book was a graduation gift

Have you read any of the books mentioned in this post? Are you interested in reading dystopian stories or they’re not really your cup of tea? Let me know!

‘Till next time … happy reading!

Georgiana


Cover photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

17 thoughts on “Dystopia – my favourite genre?! 10 dystopian books I read

  1. I’ve read 1984 and Oryx and Crake. I used to teach Orxy and Crake, in fact, to college students. I ended up reading the entire trilogy, though I don’t feel like the other two books captured the magic of the first.

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      1. It was an interesting group of students who really enjoyed the book. Their final paper was to create their own hybrid animal and explain their choices. One young man gave me a 40-page paper about a horse hybrid that gave me a headache and impressed me just the same.

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  2. I finished Oryx and Crake (amazing) and now I am on Year of the Flood. Margaret Atwood is a master of dystopian fiction! I’ve also read The Circle (book was great, movie was terrible). Thanks for the other recommendations! I also read a lot of post apocalyptic fiction. Always interested in theories of how humans will behave when society as we know it crumbles!

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  3. Hi Georgiana,
    I also really enjoy Dystopian books, so I really enjoyed your list.
    “1984” is one of my favourite novels in this genre. I agree, it’s frightening, but it also gives you many themes to reflect upon. Have you read “Animal Farm”? That’s also really disturbing.
    I really want to read “The Memory Police”. It’s on my Tbr. My only problem is that I always wait hoping for a translation in my mother language, but in this case i don’t think it’s going to happen. So I need to grab a copy in English real quick, because every time that someone talks about it I get interested again. I’ve heard that it’s really sad, is it?
    “The History of Bees” seems interesting, I’ll add it to my Tbr.
    As for Margaret Atwood I got less than half way through “The Handmaid’s Tale”, but the writing style wasn’t really for me. However I want to try again with this author. Where should I start in your opinion?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello! I’m glad you enjoyed this list, and thank you so much for the questions! 😀

      I remember reading Animal Farm during high school, but unfortunately I don’t remember much … it’s definitely a book I want to re-read!

      The Memory Police is quite sad, indeed, and there’s an overall atmosphere of hopelessness. But I do think it brings an interesting perspective!

      Regarding Atwood – the writing style of The Handmaid’s Tale was difficult for me! Based on the books I read, maybe The Heart Goes Last (also dystopia) would be a better start? Or, if you want to check out a non-dystopian story by Atwood, I recommend Hag-Seed.

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    1. Happy to hear about your favourites – amazing books!!
      The Heart Goes Last is super interesting considering the concept of a “double” life – half free, half imprisoned.

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    1. You can always try out the genre with some “lighter” reads. I started reading more dystopian stories because I love Atwood, and once I got into the topic I discovered so many interesting books! 😁

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