9 Best Dystopian Fiction Novels

Since I did a roundup of the 9 Best Apocalyptic Fiction Novels a few weeks ago, I had to follow that up with my picks for best dystopian fiction novels.

As I mentioned in the first post, I draw a distinction between dystopian and apocalyptic fiction. To reiterate, in my opinion, a dystopian novel is one that puts forth the notion of a flawed utopia, which usually occurs after a great disaster. You can normally identify a dystopian by the presence of a strong government or ruler.

Merriam-Webster defines “Dystopia” as:

An imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives. An anti-utopia.

One of the first dystopian novels I ever read, and probably the most famous of the few that existed before The Hunger Games started a dystopian YA fad, is George Orwell’s 1984. 1984 definitely sparked my obsession with dystopian fiction. I’d read The Giver and Among the Hidden by that time, but it wasn’t until 1984 that I knew what these types of books were called and thus how to track down more of them to read. And 1984 also kicks off my list of the 9 Best Dystopian Fiction Novels!

9 Best Dystopian Fiction Novels

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1984 by George Orwell

Winston Smith works for the Ministry of truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One. Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When Winston finds love with Julia, he discovers that life does not have to be dull and deadening, and awakens to new possibilities. Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party; they are drawn towards conspiracy. Yet Big Brother will not tolerate dissent – even in the mind. For those with original thoughts they invented Room 101 . . .

My Take: This is the one that started it all for me. Relatively simple in its composition and ideas, 1984 nonetheless possesses that special something that endures and permeates our culture.

You can read my full review of 1984 here.

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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The nation of Panem, formed from a post-apocalyptic North America, is a country that consists of a wealthy Capitol region surrounded by 12 poorer districts. Early in its history, a rebellion led by a 13th district against the Capitol resulted in its destruction and the creation of an annual televised event known as the Hunger Games. In punishment, and as a reminder of the power and grace of the Capitol, each district must yield one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 through a lottery system to participate in the games. The ‘tributes’ are chosen during the annual Reaping and are forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory.

When 16-year-old Katniss’s young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12’s female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives. , she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

My Take: I really enjoyed this series overall. I liked the story, but I also liked that Collins wasn’t afraid to shy away from violence. Once they hit high school, I believe teenagers are old enough to contemplate the big ideas of our world, the pretty and the not-so pretty.

You can read my full review of The Hunger Games series here.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

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In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

My Take: It’s rare these days that a book makes me stop to look up a word, but Divergent made me stop and look up two!! Abnegation and Erudite. This was overall a great series, but I can’t say I saw the direction the third book would take us in and that absolutely shocking death! Also, I’m still a little jealous of how young Roth was when she wrote this and gained international acclaim. Her and Victoria Aveyard.

You can read my full review of Divergent here.

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Matched by Allie Condie

In the Society, officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s hardly any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one…until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.

My Take: This was a beautifully written series. Most of the books on this list sacrifice more lyrical prose in favorite of plot and action. The Matched series has plenty of plot, a little less action, and plenty of beautiful writing.

You can read my full review of Matched here.

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Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Ninety-five days, and then I’ll be safe.
I wonder whether the procedure will hurt.
I want to get it over with.
It’s hard to be patient.
It’s hard not to be afraid while I’m still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn’t touched me yet.
Still, I worry.
They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness.
The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don’t.

My Take: I still haven’t finished this series, I just recently picked up Pandemonium. But this was another book I really enjoyed and I’m excited to see where the series goes. It also inspired by my love for this E.E. Cummings poem: [I carry your heart (I carry it in].

You can read my full review of Delirium here.

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Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

My Take: This is one of the more recent books I’ve read on my list and one I’ve raved about. I haven’t finished this series yet either, but I will soon.

You can read my full review of Red Rising here.

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The Giver by Lois Lowry

In a world with no poverty, no crime, no sickness and no unemployment, and where every family is happy, 12-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the community’s Receiver of Memories. Under the tutelage of the Elders and an old man known as the Giver, he discovers the disturbing truth about his utopian world and struggles against the weight of its hypocrisy. With echoes of Brave New World, in this 1994 Newbery Medal winner, Lowry examines the idea that people might freely choose to give up their humanity in order to create a more stable society. Gradually Jonas learns just how costly this ordered and pain-free society can be, and boldly decides he cannot pay the price.

My Take:

This is probably truly one of the first dystopian novels I ever read, though I didn’t know it at the time. I often forget about this one when I’m thinking of Dystopian novels. I probably need to do a re-read of this one. I also read Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son, but I remember The Giver as being my favorite of the four.

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Uglies by Scott Westerfield

Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. In just a few weeks she’ll have the operation that will turn her from a repellent ugly into a stunning pretty. And as a pretty, she’ll be catapulted into a high-tech paradise where her only job is to have fun.

But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to become a pretty. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world– and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally a choice: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. Tally’s choice will change her world forever…

My Take:

This is a great dystopian series from the pre-Hunger Games craze. Many books on this list came out in the wake of The Hunger Games mania, but this series pre-dates that. This is by far my favorite series by Westerfield.

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Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Luke has never been to school. He’s never had a birthday party, or gone to a friend’s house for an overnight. In fact, Luke has never had a friend.

Luke is one of the shadow children, a third child forbidden by the Population Police. He’s lived his entire life in hiding, and now, with a new housing development replacing the woods next to his family’s farm, he is no longer even allowed to go outside.

Then, one day Luke sees a girl’s face in the window of a house where he knows two other children already live. Finally, he’s met a shadow child like himself. Jen is willing to risk everything to come out of the shadows — does Luke dare to become involved in her dangerous plan? Can he afford “not” to?

My Take:

I honestly don’t know if I read this or The Giver first, but this is another series I often forget about. Both because I read it so long ago and because it’s aimed at a bit younger audience. I read all the rest of the books in this series and enjoyed them. I should probably reread this as well.

Anything you would add to my list? Leave me a comment below!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I’d Love to See As a Movie/TV Show

As always, TTT is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic: top ten books you’d love to see as movies/tv shows. I could only think of eight. Some of these might already be films, so if you know of one, please let me know in the comments!

1. Private series by Kate Brian
– I know this was an internet series, but I think it deserve to be on tv, a la Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars.

2. The Passage by Justin Cronin
-This would be great as a Game of Thrones esque tv series.

3. Hyperion series by Dan Simmons
-Also, would be great as a tv show.

4. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
– I don’t think a movie would do it justice, but who wouldn’t want to see The Cemetery of Forgotten Books on-screen?

5. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
-Would be great as an animated film. An adult cartoon.

6. Empire Falls by Richard Russo
-I imagine this as a great mini-series.

7. Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowtiz
-I’m honestly surprised this has never been adapted for tv. I guess there was one movie, that didn’t really get much attention in the states.

8. Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer
-I guess this is actually happening finally?

9. Privilege series by Kate Brian

-A spin-off of Private actually, but equally good.

10. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

-I loved this book and think it would be a great movie.

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Reached Ally Condie (Matched #3)

After leaving Society to desperately seek The Rising, and each other, Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again. Cassia is assigned undercover in Central city, Ky outside the borders, an airship pilot with Indie. Xander is a medic, with a secret. All too soon, everything shifts again.

This is the third book in the Matched series. It was every bit as beautiful, engrossing, and unputdownable as the other two in the series. I still think Book 1 was probably my favorite, but this one tied all of the plot points up neatly, or as neatly as possible. All of the characters got an ending that left me feeling satisfied.

I love reading YA and YA dystopias in particular and I must say, this is by far the most beautiful and poetic of all the series. Most YA novels make do with work-horse language, with the occasional profound, quotable moment. This one is littered with it. I suppose some people might find that annoying, but I love it: you CAN blend stellar, action-packed plot with elevated and beautiful language.

Overall, this is definitely not a series to miss!

Have you read this series? Or this book in particular? Leave me a comment below!

A Storm of Swords

A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, victim of the sorceress who holds him in her thrall. Young Robb still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons still left in the world. And as opposing forces maneuver for the final showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost limits of civilization, accompanied by a horde of mythical Others—a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords…

Many people say this is their favorite of the entire series….I would say this is the most shocking of the series. If you’ve seen the television series you know…it sucks to be a Stark.

This book manages to be more violent and more shocking than even the others. The world expands still further as Daenerys continues her travels, John presses northward towards Mance Rayder, and the people of Dorne to the south put in an appearance.

I loved having Jamie Lannister as a viewpoint character…such a good choice. Again, we have the awesome Tyrion, Dany, and John as viewpoint characters. I also liked Ser Davos and Sam.

As always, Martin astounds me with his skill at weaving a story, the complexity of the narrative, the deviousness of the characters, and the perfect delivery of dialogue and events.

The series does a great job adapting this book. It covers so much incredible and important material, the book was split into two seasons. The first half just finished airing. It was as well-done as the other, minus the Theon Greyjoy stuff. Random liberties that aren’t exactly advancing the series, but merely just making everything uncomfortable. Torture porn? Ew.

All in all, it’s a good season for a Red Wedding.

Since I’m not talking much about the events of this book, leave me a comment down below about how you liked it. If you don’t want spoilers, I would avoid the comments!

A Clash of Kings

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

Time is out of joint. The summer of peace and plenty, ten years long, is drawing to a close, and the harsh, chill winter approaches like an angry beast. Two great leaders—Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon—who held sway over and age of enforced peace are dead…victims of royal treachery. Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns, as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms prepare to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war.

As a prophecy of doom cuts across the sky—a comet the color of blood and flame—six factions struggle for control of a divided land. Eddard’s son Robb has declared himself King in the North. In the south, Joffrey, the heir apparent, rules in name only, victim of the scheming courtiers who teem over King’s Landing. Robert’s two brothers each seek their own dominion, while a disfavored house turns once more to conquest. And a continent away, an exiled queen, the Mother of Dragons, risks everything to lead her precious brood across a hard hot desert to win back the crown that is rightfully hers.

A Clash of Kings transports us into a magnificent, forgotten land of revelry and revenge, wizardry and wartime. It is a tale in which maidens cavort with madmen, brother plots against brother, and the dead rise to walk in the night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside.

Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, the price of glory may be measured in blood. And the spoils of victory may just go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel…and the coldest hearts. For when rulers clash, all of the land feels the tremors.

I eagerly started this sequel to A Game of Thrones….and wasn’t disappointed. This novel enriches the story, while complicating it still further.

Tyrion and Dany remained my favorite characters. Other viewpoint characters I enjoyed: Theon Greyjoy, John Snow, and Ser Davos. I enjoyed Arya’s storyline, but I find her rather annoying as a character. I know a lot of people love her, but I just don’t.

I loved seeing Tyrion in his new role as Hand of the King and following Dany and John, as they explore the East and the North, respectively. Jaqen H’ghar was another great character introduced in this book. As always, I enjoyed the scheming of the Lannisters.

The tv series also makes a good run of this…the Battle of the Blackwater was amazing.

I don’t want to give away too much, but if you’ve read the first book in the series, you should definitely continue on with this one!

Since I’m not talking much about the events of this book, leave me a comment down below about how you liked it. If you don’t want spoilers, I would avoid the comments!

A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (Book 1 in A Song of Ice and Fire)

Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.

As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must … and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty.

The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.

It’s been a couple years since I actually read this book, but as I’m attempting to read book 4 (big book, little time=very slow progress), I decided to go back and write a review. I had originally planned to review the series all at once, but plans change.

I first began this book on audiotape. My boyfriend at the time and I were going camping in Big Bear and we started playing it in the car to pass the hours.

I was immediately intrigued by the opening passages about the white walkers. My interest grew from there. Once we got back home, I drove to the bookstore and bought the book because I had to read the rest. We’d only gotten about a hundred or so pages in, so I still had a lot to read.

And yes, the audio book is also good.

This book introduces you to a huge cast of characters, a sprawling world, a complex history, a war of religions, and almost anything else you can think of. Tyrion was my favorite character in this book, a spot he still retains. I also love Daenerys.

Despite the immense size of the book and the steep learning curve of the world-building, this first entry in the spectacular series is engaging, accessible, and immensely entertaining. George R.R. Martin is quite a writer. Always, I found my jaw literally dropping at the perfection of the placement of some particular phrases or events. Yes, the series is raw, bloody, horrifying, and full of sex. But isn’t life?

After I finished the book, I moved on to the show. Also, so perfect. Peter Dinklage is the most perfect Tyrion. He somehow made the character even better, improving on perfection.

Seriously guys, if you haven’t managed to read the books or watch the show, get on it. Pronto.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Fictional Schools

As always, TTT is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s theme was a freebie, so I decided on Top Ten Favorite Fictional Schools (which is an extension of settings. Boarding schools also happen to be one of my favorite settings/topics in books.

1. Hogwarts (Harry Potter series)

2. Easton Academy (Private series)

3. Waverly Prep (It Girl series)

4. Spence Academy (A Great and Terrible Beauty series)

5. Atherton-Pryce Hall (Privilege series)

6. Gallagher Academy (Gallagher Girls series)

7. Wexford (The Name of the Star)

8. Wakefield Hall (Kisses and Lies series)

9. Ault School (Prep)

10. Alabaster Prep (The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks)