9 New Dystopian Novels That Might Distract You For A Bit From The Real-Life Nightmare
You don't have to look far in 2018 to find dystopian narratives in one form or another. If I'm being honest, all you really have to do is turn on the television and flip it to any news station to see a true story that feels like something out of an Orwellian nightmare. But if you're looking for something a bit more fictional, then fear not, because there are plenty of new dystopian novels you can read if you can't get enough of the reinvigorated genre.
For a great many number of people, 2018 has felt like a dystopian novel playing out in real life. The past year has been filled with terrifying true stories of sexual assault, child detention, natural disaster, domestic terrorism, police brutality, and so many other things that seem like they're ripped from the pages of a Margaret Atwood novel. Maybe that is why the genre appears to be more popular than ever, because it just feels so topical, to timely, so relatable.
In the past two years, dystopian literature has made something of a comeback. Following the election of Donald Trump, the sales of classic books like 1984 and Brave New World skyrocketed. More than one major network/streaming service decided it was time to tackle series and film adaptations of some of the most well-known dystopias, including Hulu's wildly popular The Handmaid's Tale and HBO's less well-received Fahrenheit 451. But it isn't just old stories being made new again. There are also plenty of authors writing modern dystopian stories that reflect the realities of today.
If you want a taste of what today's dystopian literature has to offer, check out these nine new novels about climate change, reproductive rights, the apocalypse, and more.
'Vox' by Christina Dalcher
In an alternate United States in which women are only allowed to speak 100 words per day, a cognitive linguist fights back against a fundamentalist government to protect her family and win back her voice. The only question is, how far is she willing to go — and who is she willing to hurt — in order to do it?
'Blackfish City' by Sam J. Miller
If you can't stop thinking about the devastating UN report on climate change, then it's time to pick up Blackfish City. Set in the future after climate wars that devastated the earth, it tells the story of a floating city near the Arctic Circle and the unusual group of people who came together to save it from corruption, crime, and natural catastrophe.
'Suicide Club' by Rachel Heng
In a near-future New York, humans have unlocked the secret to living up to three hundred years and are even closer to immortality than ever before. But not everyone wants to live forever, and when Lea, a "Lifer" with the potential to avoid death indefinitely, learns about a secret group of rebels who reject this idea of immortality, her entire life is changed and, for maybe the first time ever, seems to be in her control.
'Before She Sleeps' by Bina Shah
In the capital city of South West Asia, the ratio of men to women has fallen to frighteningly low levels, and as a result, women are forced to take multiple husbands and reproduce as quickly as possible, whether they want to or not. But not all women are following the rules. There is one group who use emotional intimacy without sex to resist, but when they are discovered, not even the powerful men that protected their secret can save them.
'Severance' by Ling Ma
Part apocalyptic dystopia, part coming-of-age narrative, part satire, Severance tells the story Candace Chen, a disillusioned millennial office worker struggling to survive alone in New York City after strange plague sweeps the country. When she is found by a group of survivors lead by someone who knows one of her deepest secrets, Candace must decide whether she is willing to risk being exploited, or if she is better off on her own.
'The Rule of One' by Ashley Saunders & Leslie Saunders
In a near-future America where a one-child policy is strictly enforced, a set of eighteen-year-old identical twins live as one, trading places every day while keeping up the appearance of a uniform existence. But when their secret is discovered, they are forced to flee their home and their beloved father and fight for their lives as fugitives on the run. A heart-pounding adventure set in a dystopia that feels frighteningly possible, The Rule of One will captivate readers of all ages.
'Red Clocks' by Leni Zumas
In this acclaimed bestseller, reproductive rights aren't just limited, they are non-existent. Abortion is illegal, in-vitro fertilization is banned, and embryos are granted more rights than the women who carry them in their bodies. With the government controlling every aspect of their lives, what lengths are five different women in a small Oregon town willing to go in order to get the lives, the families, and the freedom they want?
'Hazards of Time Travel' by Joyce Carol Oates (Nov. 27)
As a punishment for pushing back against the rules of her strict world, a young woman is sent back to another time and place for "rehabilitation." Stuck trying to fit into the idyllic Midwestern town, she feels completely Wainscotia, Wisconsin of 80 years ago. That is, until she falls in love with another exile and begins to question the constraints of the past she is stuck in and the future where she comes from.
'The Water Cure' Sophie Mackintosh (Jan. 8)
In this Man Booker Prize long-listed debut that is being described as "The Handmaid's Tale meets The Virgin Suicides," three sisters are raised on an isolated island surrounded by barbed wire, where they are told by their father to fear the dangerous men on the mainland. But their strange and quiet lives are completely upended when their father disappears and two men and a boy wash up on the shore near their home. Overcome with fear, desire, jealousy, the sisters learn what it is like to live, and try to survive, in a world with men.