Hello, dear readers! Today I have some dystopian reading recommendations for you. We seem to already live in dystopia so why not contemplate this particular literary genre? The location for the photographs is University Campus in Mostar. An appropriate location for sure! This is the place where I took a course in Dystopian Literature many years ago. In fact, I read many of the novels on this list for the first time as a student. 

 Since then I've read many of them again. Furthermore, I found more dystopian novels to love. Just in case anyone is interested this is the list of novels I read for that dystopian class more than a decade ago: We, 1984, The Handmaid's Tale, Fahrenheit 451, The Brave New World, A Clockwork Orange and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? A great list for sure! Today I'll add more books to that list to present you with a list of 10 classical dystopian novels to read. Over the years, I have discovered more dystopian novels to recommend.  Scroll down to read my reading recommendations


I reviewed this novel on my blog a few months ago. The reason I'm placing it on the first place is the fact that We has profoundly influenced (and continues to do so) Dystopian genre. We is one of the first dystopian novels ever written. In addition, a work that contains autobiographical elements, so one needs to keep Zamyatin's biography in mind. In a nutshell, Zamyatin was a scientist/writer and a pre-Revolution Bolshevik turned post- Revolution Soviet dissent. A Bolshevik before the Russian Revolution, Zamyatin became critical of the communist party following the Revolution. Like Orwell, Zamyatin was able to foresee the totalitarianism aspect of communism and warn us against it. Zamyatin dissociated himself from the communist party early on and remained critical of it.

 On overall, We is not as bleak as the famous 1984 it helped to inspire, but it is obviously not a merry story. I think it's no spoiler if I write that this anti-utopia does not have a typical 'happy end'. Even if the end of the book can be open to interpretation, it is a chilling tale at times and one not missing human tragedies. Knowing of tragedies to come, made the reading a bit more melancholic at times. I felt a definite feeling of almost overwhelming sadness reading it. Either it is something  I missed the first time I read it or is it something that is more a recent personal experience/reading of mine. Either way, this time around this book kind of broke my heart.  Not only sadness, but I picked up on other emotions such as loneliness, isolation and longing that were all the more powerful because they were suppressed. 

I still found the novel wonderfully funny at times. I'm not sure everyone will enjoy this kind of reverse logic jokes and dry (even dark) humour, but I did.  Nevertheless enjoying its humour, the novel appeared more tragic and pessimistic this time around. Not just when it comes to fates/lives of individual character, but in general. I don't think I noticed before how this novel views humanity as a fragile and naive entity doomed to repeat its mistakes. Perhaps it's just me or perhaps I was more focused on those 'dark' elements of the book, but I did see things in a more tragic way the other time around. 



1984 is an absolute masterpiece of the dystopian genre, there's no doubt about that.  It portrays a totalitarian society of absolute surveillance that at times much alike to the world we live in. The world-building is incredibly credible and bleak. The protagonist Winston is easy to relate to and the plot keeps the reader's interest. 1984 is at the same time, a well paced and incredibly profound novel. There are so  many brilliantly written and intelligent passages in this novel. However, 1984 is also quite a depressing and sad novel that ends on a pessimistic note. I remember being quite shaken up by it. It was a novel that broke my heart. If you would like a lighter version of it, you should opt for Animal Farm by the same author. Animal Farm focuses on many of the same times but it is told in a more approachable and simple way. 

BASIC INFO ABOUT THE NOVEL CITED FROM WIKI: Nineteen Eighty-Four (also published as 1984) is a dystopian social science fiction novel and cautionary tale by English writer George Orwell. It was published on 8 June 1949 by Secker & Warburg as Orwell's ninth and final book completed in his lifetime. Thematically, it centres on the consequences of totalitarianismmass surveillance and repressive regimentation of people and behaviours within society.[2][3] Orwell, a democratic socialist, modelled the authoritarian state in the novel on Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany.[2][3][4] More broadly, the novel examines the role of truth and facts within societies and the ways in which they can be manipulated. The story takes place in an imagined future in the year 1984, when much of the world is in perpetual war. Great Britain, now known as Airstrip One, has become a province of the totalitarian superstate Oceania, which is led by Big Brother, a dictatorial leader supported by an intense cult of personality manufactured by the Party's Thought Police. Through the Ministry of Truth, the Party engages in omnipresent government surveillancehistorical negationism, and constant propaganda to persecute individuality and independent thinking.[5] The protagonist, Winston Smith, is a diligent mid-level worker at the Ministry of Truth who secretly hates the Party and dreams of rebellion. He keeps a forbidden diary and begins a relationship with his colleague Julia, and they learn about a shadowy resistance group called the Brotherhood. 


This is such an amazing novel! Not that I would expect anything else from Margaret Atwood for she is a phenomenal writer. Set in a dystopian world where the religious totalitarian government controls the life of its subjects in a disturbing ways, The Handmaid's Tale is both a chilling and touching read. What sets it apart from other novels on this list is the fact that it features a female protagonist. Moreover, there is  a distinctly female gaze to this novel. The novel is narrated by Offred (we never learn her true name) who is reduced to being a piece of property but never gives up even in the hardest of conditions. The style of writing makes this book very approachable. Atwood has spoken a great deal about this novel from a political point of view (Atwood was known to carry around newspaper clippings to her various interviews to support her fiction's basis in reality.[16] ) and there is also sequel.  However, even if you don't prefer  the political reading of this book, you can still enjoy it as it is really a work of art. 

MORE INFO FROM WIKI: Atwood argues that all of the scenarios offered in The Handmaid's Tale have actually occurred in real life—in an interview she gave regarding her later novel Oryx and Crake, Atwood maintains that "As with The Handmaid's Tale, I didn't put in anything that we haven't already done, we're not already doing, we're seriously trying to do, coupled with trends that are already in progress... So all of those things are real, and therefore the amount of pure invention is close to nil."[15] Atwood has explained that The Handmaid's Tale is a response to those who say the oppressive, totalitarian, and religious governments that have taken hold in other countries throughout the years "can't happen here"—but in this work, she has tried to show how such a takeover might play out.[17]  Atwood was also inspired by the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1978–79 that saw a theocracy established that drastically reduced the rights of women and imposed a strict dress code on Iranian women, very much like that of Gilead.[18] .... Atwood's picture of a society ruled by men who professed high moral principles, but are in fact self-interested and selfish was inspired by observing Canadian politicians in action, especially in her hometown of Toronto, who frequently profess in a very sanctimonious manner to be acting from the highest principles of morality while in reality the opposite is the case.[18]


Arguably Bradbury's best work, Fahrenheit 451 is (in my view) simply perfect. It warns us of the pitfalls of modernist consumerism and materialism. Sadly, we can see that many of Bradbury's predictions have come true. Like all the dystopian novels what I'm recommending today, Fahrenheit 451 does an amazing job of describing  future dystopian world in which we can recognize our societies, past and present. What sets it up for me personally is the way Guy, the protagonist slowly awakes from the society's illusions. Originally a fireman that burns books, Guy becomes fascinated by book. His character's ark is quite convincing.  Moreover, there is something very poetical in the way this dystopian novel is written. 

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there. It doesn't matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.” Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

I find it uncanny how much some writers were able to guess the future, down to minute details. Every time when I ponder about our modern society problems and questionable practices, I think of this novel and I realize I'm not crazy. Some things are just wrong and that's the way it is. You know what I mean? The fact this novel was censored is one of those superb ironies of life.

BASIC INFO FROM WIKI: Fahrenheit 451 is a 1953 dystopian novel by American writer Ray Bradbury[4] Fahrenheit 451 presents an American society where books have been personified and outlawed and "firemen" burn any that are found.[5] The novel follows Guy Montag, a fireman who becomes disillusioned with his role of censoring literature and destroying knowledge, eventually quitting his job and committing himself to the preservation of literary and cultural writings.


This is a book that made me fall in love with Huxley as a writer. I cannot recommend it enough. Published in 1932, Brave New World has proved to be uncannily prophetic. Describing a future society where people are genetically and socially programmed into belonging to certain groups, it remains a relevant read. 

Brave New World excels at word-building. The future society, divided into castes, is distributing credible. Everyone is hypnotized into believing their place is society is best for them. This reminded me of our modern society and its obsession with forced positive thinking. Moreover, it features a set of interesting characters. One of the protagonists, Bernard is a psychologist with an inferiority complex. Due to an accident in his engineering, Bernard is shorter than other members of his (intellectually superior) castle. This makes him feel isolated. Perhaps this is what helps Bernard to become vocally critical of the society he lives in. The novel's plot really starts with the introduction of the savage- John. A young who was raised by his mother outside the modern society and who learned to red and write from the only two books his mother had at disposal:  the complete works of Shakespeare and a scientific manual. The 'savage' John is introduced to the modern society but he ends up being disillusioned with it. 

“All right then," said the savage defiantly, I'm claiming the right to be unhappy."
"Not to mention the right to grow old and ugly and impotent; the right to have syphilis and cancer; the right to have too little to eat, the right to be lousy; the right to live in constant apprehension of what may happen tomorrow; the right to catch typhoid; the right to be tortured by unspeakable pains of every kind."
There was a long silence.
"I claim them all," said the Savage at last.”
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

CITED FROM WIKIPEDIA: "Brave New World is a dystopian novel by English author Aldous Huxley, written in 1931 and published in 1932.[2] Largely set in a futuristic World State, whose citizens are environmentally engineered into an intelligence-based social hierarchy, the novel anticipates huge scientific advancements in reproductive technologysleep-learningpsychological manipulation and classical conditioning that are combined to make a dystopian society which is challenged by the story's protagonist. Huxley followed this book with a reassessment in essay form, Brave New World Revisited (1958), and with his final novel, Island (1962), the utopian counterpart. This novel is often compared to George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). In 1999, the Modern Library ranked Brave New World at number 5 on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.[3] In 2003, Robert McCrum, writing for The Observer, included Brave New World chronologically at number 53 in "the top 100 greatest novels of all time",[4] and the novel was listed at number 87 on The Big Read survey by the BBC.[5] Brave New World has frequently been banned and challenged since its original publication. It has landed on the American Library Association list of top 100 banned and challenged books of the decade since the association began the list in 1990."  SOURCE HERE 18.4.2023.


When it comes to dystopian literature, A Clockwork Orange is honestly one of the first novels that comes to my mind.  Published in 1962, A Clockwork Orange describes a near future society in which the youth turns to extreme violence for amusement. Its protagonist Alex belongs to a youth subculture characterized primarily by the brutal violence. The novel focuses on the protagonist Alex and explores the themes of free will and human maturation.  This beautifully complex dystopian novel by Anthony Burgess remains a popular  representative of the dystopian genre. 

 Despite is popularity, this masterpiece is sometimes misunderstood and underappreciated. Dealing with some seriously bleak topics such as juvenile delinquency,  A Clockwork Orangmanages to remain humorous albeit in a dark way. In fact, one could call A Clockwork Orange a dark comedy. This isn't the easiest novel to read. The language employed for descriptions of violence is quite graphic at times. This combination of violence and dark humour might be the reason why some readers miss the profoundly philosophical aspect of this novel. Some readers will see A Clockwork Orange as entertaining horror, while others will realize it is much deeper that. 

The Warhol's and Kubrick's adaptations certainly helped put this novel on the map. The initially controversial but later rehabilitated Kubrick's film adaptation introduced this book to the general public. In fact, my initial introduction to this important work of literature was via the famous film adaptation. I had mixed feelings about the film initially. Not surprisingly, I enjoyed the book much more than the movie. That being said, having read the novel and all, I do feel a certain new appreciation of the Kubrick's movie as well. READ MY FULL REVIEW HERE!


Sometimes the book and the movie adaptation can be different but fantastic in their own way. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a profound dystopian novel that asks what it means to be human. I immensely enjoyed both the book and the original movie version.
'You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go. It is the basic condition of life, to be required to violate your own identity. At some time, every creatures that lives must to so. It's the ultimate shadow, the defeat of creation. This is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life. Everywhere in the Universe.' Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

This quote has haunted me for the years. I think I even copied it to one of my watercolour illustrations. Moreover, there are many quotes from this novel that I absolutely loved. It's a very quotable book for sure.

BASIC INFO ABOUT THIS NOVEL FROM WIKI: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (retrospectively titled Blade Runner: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? in some later printings) is a dystopian science fiction novel by American writer Philip K. Dick, first published in 1968. The novel is set in a post-apocalyptic San Francisco, where Earth's life has been greatly damaged by a nuclear global war, leaving most animal species endangered or extinct. The main plot follows Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter who has to "retire" (i.e. kill) six escaped Nexus-6 model androids, while a secondary plot follows John Isidore, a man of sub-par IQ who aids the fugitive androids.The book served as the basis for the 1982 film Blade Runner, even though some aspects of the novel were changed, and many elements and themes from it were used in the film's 2017 sequel Blade Runner 2049.


 Player Piano is a novel set in near future. It is a dystopian kind of future, set in USA. In this part of the word, most of the labour is done by machines, meaning that only a selected few get to have a real job. Others aren't exactly starving, the state feeds them but that's about it. They are depressed and lack a sense of purpose in their lives. The plot focused on a young engineer who is increasingly unhappy and frustrated in a society where the work force is composed primarily of managers and engineers. Why is he unhappy? He is young, successful and married. But not everything is as it seems. Our protagonist feels guilty and more than that, he is starting to realize something is terribly wrong with the society he lives in.

This novel is very relevant for today's world, especially if one takes a look at the number of unemployed young people. In the future, most work will be done by machines. Player Piano asks some really interesting questions, and it certainly got me thinking. Simply said, I was absolutely blown away by this book. I wrote a rather long review for it but unfortunately my laptop shot down in the middle of it and it was all lost. I don't have the time to rewrite that review, so a shorter one will do. Perhaps this little incident is a perfect metaphor for this novel. Technology influences our lives in ways we can't always predict.

What does Wikipedia has to say about Player Piano? Player Piano is the first novel by American writer Kurt Vonnegut Jr., published in 1952. The novel depicts a dystopia of automation partly inspired by the author's time working at General Electric, describing the negative impact technology can have on quality of life.[2] The story takes place in a near-future society that is almost totally mechanized, eliminating the need for human laborers. The widespread mechanization creates conflict between the wealthy upper class, the engineers and managers, who keep society running, and the lower class, whose skills and purpose in society have been replaced by machines. The book uses irony and sentimentality, which were to become hallmarks developed further in Vonnegut's later works.[2] 


Published in 1984, Neuromancer won all three major science fiction awards: Nebula, Philip K.Dick and Hugo award. Neuromancer brought fame to its author William Gibson, an American Canadian writer who (largely thanks to this novel) is today known as the leader of the cyberpunk genre. A classic of science fiction genre, Neuromancer is a novel that isn't easily forgotten. It's an unique and revolutionary piece of writing! I loved Neuromancer. I knew I would love it as soon as I started reading it, for its flawed but amazingly charming protagonist got instantly under my skin. Moreover, the premise of the novel was ingenious. I won’t even say anything of the fact that this novel (dealing with the theme of cyberspace and inventing the world itself!) was published in 1984 and how ingenious that makes it.The story drew me in right away. The descriptions felt very poetic and the ideas came off as very fresh. So, I enjoyed the introduction…Just when I was getting used to our protagonist and was learning of this new world, thinking how world building was done very well…along came Molly. What a woman! She is a wonderfully portrayed (albeit not in great detail) and seems to have that star quality. That charisma that some seem to have, that magic something that draws people instantly to them. I know she is a fictional character, but in this world of fiction, she is a star. This novel wouldn’t be what it was without her.

Some may say that the language is difficult but I don’t share that opinion. To me language of this book is absolutely beautiful and surprisingly poetic. The imaginative force of Neurmancer is very impressive. There was something visual and loud about it, something that make me see and hear it, even more than feel it. Style of this novel is stuff of legends and rightfully so. The writing is very unique, often mesmerizing but I must say that, on overall, it is not perfect. What do I mean?There were times when this novel felt rushed. I didn’t find it hard to get into, nothing had felt easier but I found it hard to follow. It is as if the writer itself wasn’t sure what he was doing, it is like this marvellous vision was getting from his control…but what a magnificent vision it was! The imagination it must have took to write it!!! No wonder it must have been getting out of hand. There is so much newness in it, so much rawness that it must have taken some concentration of the writing. Nevertheless, the novel is a lot of fun to read. Moreover, reading it felt like trying a new dish for the first time. The flavour!!!! The writing might be flawed; the narrative might be confusing but what a rush it is to read it!



What kind of novel is The Dispossessed?   It is an Utopian (at times Dystopian) philosophical science fiction novel with a developed plot, charismatic protagonist and detailed world building. Focusing on social and philosophical themes, The Dispossessed is written in a non-chronological way. 

What is the setting for this novel? The Dispossessed is set on two planets: Anarres and Urras, the twin inhabited worlds that are very different one from another. Urras is divided into different states, while Anarres isn't- existing as one planet one state, if state is a proper term for they (people of Annares) claim to have no government. Anarres was actually settled by revolutionaries who fled Urras planet in order to establish a sort of Marxist utopia on Anarres. Some Marxist/Communist/ Anarchist elements exist on Urras as well, but not in such a way as on Anarres. Urras planet is said to be home of different states, two of them being the biggest and most dominant forces: A-Io (capitalist) and Thu (totalitarian communism of sort). 

 The narration is not linear and some might find it slightly confusing. Personally, I found the non linear narration suitable for this novel. The novel is set on two worlds: one being a planet and other the moon.  The chapters alternate not only between these two worlds but between the present and the past.  The novel is constantly focused on its protagonist Shevek, though. This makes things less confusing, it is easier to navigate these time humps as Shevek remains always at focus.

The narrator is omniscient but follows primarily the protagonist Shevek.  The narrator often shares Shevek's personal thoughts and inner feelings. Moreover, the writer successfully employs dialogue to aid the narration and better portray the characters. In most cases, Shevek is the one who participates or initials these dialogues, so with each one we get to know him (and someone else) better. Moreover, the dialogues aid considerably in world building. Through descriptions and dialogues, Ursula K. Le Guin masterfully portrays the two very different society that exists on two planets. That being said, the protagonist remains at the center of this book. 

The protagonist is Shevek, a scientist from a world that functions without a government. He is the key figure and the one who drives the plot forward. When Shevek leaves his home world, he experiences severe culture shock and that's only the start of his practical and moral struggles. Shevek is torn between loyalty to his own society and desire for scientific discovery that can only be achieved on (alien) Urras. Shevek is a man from the moon, a man from a culture that is completely alien to everyone on the planet he visits.When Shevek visits Urras, he stays in the capitalist country but the socialist one doesn't seem much different either. Both the ruthless capitalism and totalitarian socialism is something alien to Shevek. He strives to understand Urras, but eventually ends up disillusioned.  Shevek is the kind of protagonist who strives always to do the right thing. He is capable of being critical thinking but he has a warm hearth. The fact that Shevek is a family man humanizes him even more. As a reader, I found it easy to sympathize with him. 

Why is Shevek's point of view so important? While the narrator is omniscient, it's still through Shevek's experiences that we experience these two worlds (a planet and its moon). Shevek is not only the character that is examined most closely, he is in some ways our moral guide. Shevek is the only person from his ( revolutionary) planet that has even visited the other (capitalist) planet.  While Shevek is not the narrator of this novel, his point of view is very important. The examination of Shevek's most inner thoughts and feelings, make us not only sympathize with him, but experience these two societies/planets with him.


Thank you for reading and visiting!


  1. Sounds interesting and well detailed.

  2. Gran compilado de novelas distopícas. Muy buena entrada 🖤

    Un beso desde Plegarias en la Noche

  3. He leído algunas como la naranja mecanica , el cuento de la criada y 1984. Tomo nota de las otras Te mando un beso.

  4. He leído algunas como la naranja mecanica , el cuento de la criada y 1984. Tomo nota de las otras Te mando un beso.

  5. An interesting list. Nows the time to read them and take note if you are going in to academia land. Nice academic look too.

  6. That's a lot of reading! Thanks for the list.

  7. Truly classics. Thanks so much! Great blazer too!

  8. Boa tarde de segunda-feira e boa semana. Obrigado pela visita e comentário.

    Luiz Gomes

  9. Not too bad - I've read 7 of those! I went through a PK Dick phase years ago - and was never able to get into Vonnegut.

  10. Out of these I've read 1984, Brave New World and A Clockwork Orange. I'll have to check out some of your other recommendations.

  11. Ia m big fan of dystopian books - I ready many of them but still on my list is Fahrenheit 451 - I have to read this finally :-)

  12. Ah yes dystopian reading for dystopian times. I have already read a few of these books. Have you ever seen the series West World? You might like it, not sure if it is streaming over there but if it is, you may want to check it out.

    Allie of

  13. I was always fan of dystopian stories! The books sound really interesting!

  14. I love the second, the third and the fifth book. Nice recommendations!

  15. I wouldn't class 1984 or Animal Farm as dystopian, because they both show with great accuracy the soviets in the 1930s and 1940s. I loved both.
    I was thinking of Handmaid's Tale and I plan to read another one of Dick's books.

  16. I have read A Clockwork Orange as a teenager and later seen the movie and I prefer the book too.
    Very interesting list, I would like to read some of them.

  17. I haven't read Dispossessed by Le Guin. In fact I didn't know she wrote anything but the Earthsea chronicles at all. I need to change it. tahnk you so much!
    You made a great list and you feature many classic and heavily loved by yours truly novels. We shocked me very deeply when I first read it. Neuromancer is one of the books I always suggest to read when asked. Also currently reading: Do android dream of electrical sheeps? Can you believe it?


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