Dystopian fiction is interested in imagining what would happen if everything went horribly wrong some time in the future (distant, or not-too distant). The word ‘dystopia’ was conceived to be the opposite of ‘utopia,’ which in turn comes from the Greek roots οὐ-τόπος (the not-place) and εὖ-τόπος (the good place). So, while a utopia is a perfect society that cannot truly exist, a dystopia is a broken society that is normally based in some way on the real world.
Sometimes it has a bit of a sci-fi feel (like the spaceship setting in Across the Universe), but it’s nearly always a bit bleak (like the list below!). The horrible wrong-ness can be due to social, political (or socio-political) problems (see The Hunger Games, Divergent, 1984 for example). It can also be due to environmental problems (Ship Breaker, The Water Wars, Blood Red Road etc).
Here’s a selection of dystopian/futuristic titles for you to work your way through. Note that this isn’t an exhaustive list, but if you think there’s something worthy that we haven’t mentioned then email us about it!
Updated September 2021
- Ship Breaker / Bacigalupi, Paolo
- Noughts and Crosses (series) / Blackman, Malorie
- Seed to Harvest / Butler, Octavia E.
- Once & Future (series) / Capetta, Amy Rose
- The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (series) / Chambers, Becky
- Spark (series) / Craw, Rachael
- Stronger, Faster and More Beautiful / Dayton, Arwen
- Little Brother / Doctorow, Cory
- Homeland / Doctorow, Cory
- The Sound of Stars / Dow, Alechia
- The Disasters / England, M. K.
- Salt (series) / Gee, Maurice
- The Crossing (series) / Hager, Mandy
- Brave New World / Huxley, Aldous
- Not Your Sidekick / Lee, C. B.
- Warcross / Lu, Marie
- Shatter Me (series) / Mafi, Tahereh
- We Set the Dark on Fire / Mejia, Tehlor May
- Cinder (series) / Meyer, Marissa
- War Girls / Onyebuchi, Tochi
- Nineteen Eighty-four / Orwell, George
- Want (series) / Pon, Cindy
- Dealing in Dreams / Rivera, Lilliam
- Stolen Time (series) / Rollins, Danielle
- Scythe (series) / Shusterman, Neal
- Hullmetal Girls / Skrutskie, Emily
- Grasshopper Jungle (series) / Smith, Andrew
- A Thousand Beginnings and Endings / Various
- Uglies (series) / Westerfeld, Scott