12 Arresting Dystopian Novels for Adults

Posted on August 28, 2019

by April S

Welcome to our appeal series.

We’re highlighting a variety of books to help our readers find that next great read. In each post you’ll find books that share similar appeal or story elements like genre, pacing, tone, storyline, writing style and/or characters.

This blog post features Dystopian Fiction (genre).

What’s Dystopian Fiction?

The future isn’t so bright in dystopian-themed novels. The stories explore dark social and political themes in futuristic settings. They are compelling, thought-provoking and incredibly interesting for many reasons. If you’re a fan of dystopian fiction you’ll definitely appreciate the titles in this blog post.

Dystopian-Themed Reads

Radicalized by Cory Doctorow

1. Radicalized by Cory Doctorow

Told through one of the most on-pulse genre voices of our generation, Radicalized is a timely novel comprised of four SF novellas connected by social, technological, and economic visions of today and what America could be in the near, near future.

  • Genre: Canadian Fiction / Short Stories / Science Fiction
  • Tone: Thought-provoking
  • Writing Style: Engaging

Early Riser by Jasper Fforde

2. Early Riser by Jasper Fforde

Offers four science fiction novellas about America’s near future, including “Radicalized,” a story about violent uprisings against insurance companies.

  • Genre: First Person Narratives
  • Character: Large Cast of Characters
  • Storyline: Intricately Plotted and World Building
  • Tone: Darkly Humorous and Offbeat
  • Writing Style: Compelling, Richly Detailed and Witty

Future home of the living god : a novel / Louise Erdrich

3. Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich

A tale set in a world of reversing evolution and a growing police state follows pregnant thirty-two-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, who investigates her biological family while awaiting the birth of a child who may emerge as a member of a primitive human species.

  • Genre: Apocalyptic Fiction / Literary Fiction
  • Character: Authentic, Complex and Culturally Diverse
  • Tone: Thought-Provoking
  • Writing Style: Compelling and Lyrical

Humans Bow Down by James Patterson and Emily Raymond

4. Humans, Bow Down by James Patterson and Emily Raymond

Following the Great War, which saw the prevailing of the Robots, Six, a feisty survivor whose family was killed in the massacre, spearheads a rebellion to save the human race.

  • Genre: Apocalyptic Fiction / Science Fiction
  • Storyline: Action-Packed and Plot Driven
  • Theme: Rise of the Machines

Golden State by Ben H. Winters

5. Golden State by Ben H. Winters

A veteran of the Speculative Service in an alternate-world California where the law and truth are valued above all else uses his rare authority to question the facts when truth enforcement is manipulated for corrupt purposes.

  • Genre: First Person Narratives / Hardboiled Fiction
  • Character: Flawed
  • Storyline: Character-Driven
  • Pace: Fast-Paced
  • Tone: Suspenseful and Thought-Provoking
  • Writing Style: Descriptive and Stylistically Complex

Gather the daughters : a novel / Jennie Melamed

6. Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed

Starving herself to fend off adulthood in a radical post-apocalypse community where a few chosen men scavenge for detritus and women are little more than breeders, a teen leader investigates a shocking mystery that is contradictory to law before risking her life to organize a girl uprising.

  • Genre: Apocalyptic Fiction
  • Character: Well-Developed
  • Tone: Atmospheric, Bleak, Disturbing, Haunting and Suspenseful
  • Writing Style: Candid and Compelling

The Sky is Yours by Chandler Klang Smith

7. The Sky is Yours by Chandler Klang Smith

Navigating their burned-out, futuristic city home under constant threat from a pair of dragons circling the skies, three young people, including a spoiled heir, his tempestuous fiance and a wild beauty are forced to flee everything they have ever known and confront challenges ranging from fire and conspiracies to taboo drugs and dragon-worshippers.

  • Genre: Coming-of-Age Stories / Apocalyptic Fiction
  • Pace: Intensifying
  • Tone: Darkly Humorous and Dramatic
  • Writing Style: Compelling

Vox by Christina Dalcher

8. Vox by Christina Dalcher

Marginalized in a near-future America where the government limits women to no more than one hundred spoken words daily before outlawing women’s education and employment altogether, a former doctor resolves to be heard for the sake of her daughter.

  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Tone: Suspenseful and Thought-Provoking
  • Subject: Near Future / Political Persecution

Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

9. Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

In a ruined, nameless city of the future, a scavenger named Rachel finds a creature named Borne, a leftover from a biotech firm called The Company, and she takes it back to her underground lair, where she must shield it from her drug-dealer boyfriend, Wick.

  • Genre: Apocalyptic Fiction / Science Fiction
  • Character: Authentic
  • Storyline: Unconventional and World Building
  • Writing Style: Compelling and Lyrical

Of Blood and Bone by Nora Roberts

10. Of Blood and Bone by Nora Roberts

Series: Chronicles of the One, book 2

When Fallon Swift’s identity as the One can no longer be hidden, she begins her training in a mysterious shelter in the forest under the guidance of Mallick.

  • Genre: Apocalyptic Fiction / Fantasy Fiction
  • Character: Large Cast of Characters
  • Storyline: Plot-driven, Sweeping and World-building
  • Tone: Dramatic
  • Writing Style: Compelling
  • Theme: Band of survivors

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

11. Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

Five women–including a high school teacher, a pregnant teenager, and a forest-dwelling homeopath–struggle with changes in a near-future America where abortion and assisted fertility have been outlawed and where the homeopath is targeted by a modern-daywitch hunt.

  • Genre: Literary Fiction
  • Character: Complex
  • Storyline: Character-Driven and Intricately Plotted
  • Tone: Atmospheric, Darkly Humorous and Thought-Provoking
  • Writing Style: Compelling, Lyrical and Richly Detailed

Street Freaks by Terry Brooks

12. Street Freaks by Terry Brooks

Receiving a dire warning immediately before his father disappears, Ash finds himself hunted in a futuristic mega-city where he searches for help from a human and part-human underworld.

  • Genre: Cyberpunk / Science Fiction
  • Pace: Fast-Paced
  • Storyline: Plot Driven
  • Theme: Evil Corporations

Further Reading

15 Compelling Dystopian Reads

It Could Be Worse… Great Dystopian Reads

Featured Image Credit: Image by David Bruyland from Pixabay.

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