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The Best Dystopian Novels Everyone Should Read

Redbook Logo By Carolyn Quimby of Redbook | Slide 1 of 38: The best dystopian novels aren't escapes to other worlds. Rather, they're reflections of our world—and what could happen in the future. Steeped in cultural criticism and endlessly entertaining, these tales often serve as a warning of what can happen if our worst impulses are left unchecked.The modern dystopia craze is marked by YA books like The Hunger Games, though dystopian novels have been popular for far longer (see: George Orwell's 1984). By now, there are dystopian scenarios for all audiences, from middle-school students to adults seeking an entire modern series like N.K. Jemisin's The Broken Earth trilogy. Then, there are seminal books, like Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale or P.D. James's Children of Men, which have been turned into movies and TV shows. Our list of the best dystopian novels offers some escapism, but also, just as crucially, a resistance blueprint for when things go sideways. Here are 38 books to start with when your mind wants to wander to some dark places.

The best dystopian novels aren't escapes to other worlds. Rather, they're reflections of our world—and what could happen in the future. Steeped in cultural criticism and endlessly entertaining, these tales often serve as a warning of what can happen if our worst impulses are left unchecked.

The modern dystopia craze is marked by YA books like The Hunger Games, though dystopian novels have been popular for far longer (see: George Orwell's 1984). By now, there are dystopian scenarios for all audiences, from middle-school students to adults seeking an entire modern series like N.K. Jemisin's The Broken Earth trilogy. Then, there are seminal books, like Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale or P.D. James's Children of Men, which have been turned into movies and TV shows.

Our list of the best dystopian novels offers some escapism, but also, just as crucially, a resistance blueprint for when things go sideways. Here are 38 books to start with when your mind wants to wander to some dark places.

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