The term "dystopia" was used for first time in 1868 by the famous philosopher Stuart Mill. He mentioned the word in a public speech in which he dared to criticize the British government's political approach regarding lands in Ireland. Later on, the term developed a steady status in the literature landscape. By rule, dystopian fiction paints deliberately exaggerated picture of the society. The plot usually centers on some events that occur in a distant future. It appears that this kind of stories tend to be highly engaging and liked not only by the booklovers but also by cinema-goers, too.
Now, examine the following list of dystopian books considered most popular of all time.
The WindUp Girl - Paolo Bacigalupi
This highly-acclaimed science fiction novel was first published in January 2009. It has won the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novel. A new publication is expected to come out in May 2015. Writer Bacigalupi brings up a touching story of struggling for survival in a post-oil era of rising sea levels caused by the global warming. Large calorie corporations have applied new biotechnology rules. They have total control on the food production. The rich treat people as slaves and toys. The Windup Girl is Emiko, a product of Japanese genetic engineering, designed to obey and satisfy a businessperson’s caprices. Her life turns upside down after her master abandons her.
1984 - George Orwell
1984 is George Orwell's anti-utopian masterpiece, published in June 1949. The novel introduced to the public the term "Big Brother" for the very first time. It also tackles the controversial subject of people being under camera surveillance, which remains highly popular nowadays.
The Children of Men - P. D. James
This book describes a world in which women cannot get pregnant and have children. Infertility alarms that the human race is going to an end. Hope is almost gone when a pregnant woman appears. She might be the key to saving humanity so keeping her safe becomes the most important thing.
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
Similarly to Orwell's 1984 "Brave New World" sends some political messages across although it stands very far away from the idea of Big Brother. However, it provides warning against governmental control. Huxley succeeded to paint a dark cold image of a world where people are being brainwashed since birth. The government encourages them to take drugs and have limitless sex relations. The result from this nonsense is organized reproduction and completely killing the concept of a family.
Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
The principal character in this brilliant novel is Guy Montag. He works as a firefighter whose job is not to put out fire but to burn books. Set in a future where books are forbidden and people's homes have giant TV screens instead of walls, the book follows some Orwell's 1984’s ideas about censorship, leaning thinking and loss of ideas.
Article 5 - Kristen Simmons
“Article 5” is a Young Adult dystopian read. Soon after its release in January 2012 it brought high critical acclaim proving that genre is still alive and with high potential to deliver more to readers. Kristen Simmons is a debutant writer and she makes her mark of success in the writing field thanks to this book. In ultra-conservative USA major cities like Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, D.C have been deserted. Instead of police force to keep the order, the government has soldiers. People are not charged for bad behavior but, whoever breaks the law is arrested, put on trial and, in most cases, no one ever sees him or her again.
The Drowned World - J.G. Ballard
Similar to "The WindUp Girl" this book also lead us through a world damaged by the global warming. Most readers find this post-apocalyptic scenario highly compelling. Given the fact that the book was written back in 1962 the plot stuns with its originality. Shocking as it may seem, the author's ideas and predictions appear strikingly truthful and likely to happen in a not very distant future.
The Hunger Games – Susan Collins
The Hunger Games trilogy is another brilliant example of how dystopias are extremely popular in our modern society. The books received high international acclaim and inspired producers to make a film adaptation. Considered an absolute classic, the Hunger Games gives a different outlook to contemporary reality television programs. Set in a future world of Panem, controlled by dictatorial regime, the trilogy tells the story of a wicked and ruthless annual competition called ‘The Hunger Games’ where people are forced to kill each other so to bring enjoyment to the upper-class.
Uglies - Scott Westerfeld
Beauty is in eye of the beholder, or is it? The writer Scott Westerfeld provides an intriguing story describing a world which has become a place where prettiness is a primal goal to people. Everyone must be supermodel beautiful. Whoever is not pretty by birth must achieve the demanded good looks by surgical interventions soon after turning 16. To make sure that society obeys to the government’s policy everyone is under surveillance. Following the Orwellian “Big Brother” approach, Westerfeld gives a good reason to believe that such image-dictated world is not too far away.
The Time Machine – H.G. Wells
At first glance this book does not seem to tell a story of a traditional dystopian world. It is about a time travel enthusiast who builds a time machine and starts travelling to various places in the future. Then he gets stuck in a world dominated by predators who hunt people for food. Written in 1895, the novel remains highly innovative. In addition, it has introduced to the public the terms "time machine" and "time travel".
The Legend trilogy – Marie Lu
Marie Lu's fast-paced dystopian novels have won the hearts of millions of fans worldwide. The Legend trilogy became immensely popular and brought about a graphic novel paperback, which hit the book shelves in April, 2015. If the Dystopian young adult genre is yuor favourite weakness, and you crave for a compelling new page turner like The Hunger Games, this series will probably meet your need. There is a versatile smartly written story set in a in a dark, post apocalyptic Los Angeles.
Did you find some new titles to suit your taste?
Which are your favorite dystopian novels?