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Underrated Dystopian Novels

Underrated Dystopian Novels To Read

When you hear about dystopian novels, you’ll probably think of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four or, if you are part of the younger crowd, favourites such as The Hunger Games or Maze Runner. While these books are extremely popular, fans of dystopian novels can find lots of other gems from the past and present.

Underrated Dystopian Novels
Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

Some of the books listed here are not considered as classics, but they still make up great reads. You may even find them to be some of your favourite stories if you are willing to pick them up and give them a try. Simply put, you may find that some of these underrated dystopian novels should be given more credit.

With that, here are some of the most underrated dystopian novels that are definitely worth your time.

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History of Dystopian Literature

In the Country of Last Things

The Country of Last Things

In the Country of Last Things by Paul Aster tells the story of Anna who is looking for her brother William. Her journey leads her to a city where society has pretty much crumbled, with citizens scavenging for food and corpses have become a commodity.

Along the way, Anna meets people who reflect the desperation of life, people who are willing to rape, steal, murder, and betray other people to survive. While there is some semblance of government, it is oppressive and is no help in relieving the plight of the population.

Reflecting the last days of civilisation as we know it, In the Country of Last Things depicts the desperation and bleak nature of humanity once all of the things that we used to take for granted no longer exist. It also shows that, despite the majority of evil in the world, some people are still good and civility can still exist despite scarce resources and a dog eat dog existence.

Genre:  Dystopian Literature

Pages: 188

Goodreads Rating:  3.87/5.00

My Rating:  8.25 /10.00 

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The Country of Last Things

The Circle

The Circle

The Circle is Dave Eggers’ take on themes of constant surveillance as well as the threat of technology to society. The novel is about Mae, a woman that quickly climbed up the ranks of a company that is responsible for amazing advances in technology that, at first glance, can benefit the world.

However, it is quickly seen that The Circle’s products are their way of usurping the privacy of everyone, with the ultimate goal of subjugating everyone by being able to see their past as well as their present any time they want.

Ambition, ethics, peer pressure, and the invasion of privacy are themes that are prevalent within the book. The Circle can also be considered as a prequel for any dystopian society where technology monitors everyone under a totalitarian state. This 2013 book presents this reality in a methodical yet all too real pace that can be hard to shake off.

Genre: Dystopian Literature

Pages:  493

Goodreads Rating:  3.43/5.00

My Rating:  9.00 /10.00 

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The Circle

The Iron Heel

The Iron Heel

The Iron Heel by Jack London is his take on what the world would have been had some of his predictions had come true. In the story, which actually took place many centuries in the future, a document was found detailing the state of America in the rest of the world, along with the story of the author of the manuscript and his husband which ended in their executions.

Contained within the Everhard Manuscript, the document used to frame the story, the United States is a socialist country run by an oligarchy. Control is maintained by running the poor out of business, as well as the use of military power.

The great divide between the rich and the poor, the effects of socialism, the exploitation of labourers, and the battle against the oppressors are the main focus of The Iron Heel. The novel jabs at both the emerging, at the time, socialist powers in the United States as well as Marxist views on the weakness of capitalism as an ideal form of government.

Genre:  Dystopian Literature

Pages:  354

Goodreads Rating:  3.76/5.00

My Rating:  8.50 /10.00 

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The Iron Heel

The Long Walk

The Long Walk

The Long Walk by Stephen King, writing under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, only picked up in popularity after the real identity of the author was revealed. Nevertheless, this novel is severely underrated as you can feel every walker’s emotions as they trudge along and get picked off one by one.

The Long Walk tells the story of a hundred boys who participated in an annual event. Required to walk four miles an hour, failure to do so will mean death. Once only one participant is remaining, they will be able to wish for anything that they would want for the rest of their life.

A classic take on the segregation between the rich and the poor, The Long Walk also reflects the rat race that people go through just to get what they want. In some cases, they have to do so just in order to survive. A tale of survival, The Longest Walk is a truly engaging read that doesn’t get as much praise as it truly deserves.

Genre:  Dystopian Literature

Pages:  370

Goodreads Rating:  4.11/5.00

My Rating:  9.25 /10.00 

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This Perfect Day

This Perfect Day

This Perfect Day by Ira Levin tells the story of a seemingly utopian society where everyone is equal, and everyone is controlled by a computer which is in turn controlled by a select few. The population is controlled through drugs, and those who fail to comply are shipped off to remote islands to live on their own.

The novel shares many aspects of the film The Matrix where the people are seemingly unaware of their reality and only through “waking” will they discover that they are living a lie. Another critical plot point is the recruitment outcasts with high potential to be programmers that pretty much rule the world.

This Perfect Day is a great allegory of the dangers of restriction and loss of identity. The story also has a religious theme with UniComp serving as the symbol for God and the programmers serving as its prophets, false or otherwise.

Genre:  Dystopian Literature

Pages:  368

Goodreads Rating:  4.02/5.00

My Rating:  9.25 /10.00 

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This Perfect Day

Make Room! Make Room!

Make Room! Make Room!

Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison is a dystopic tale about an overpopulated New York with little living space and even limited resources. The novel was written when overpopulation was not too big of a problem, although now it serves as a prophecy of things to come.

The book tells the story of Andy Rusch, a detective that aims to perform his duty despite living in a cramped space and surviving amidst food and water shortages, riots, and betrayal. Make Room! Make Room! tells of the dangers of overpopulation and how society would be further divided as only a few would benefit from the situation as more and more would suffer.

The novel also depicts the division of classes within society, how selflessness would dissolve in a climate of limited resources, and how the oppressed will react against the government once the point of desperation has been reached.

Genre:  Dystopian Literature

Pages:  288

Goodreads Rating:  3.72/5.00

My Rating:  8.75 /10.00 

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Make Room! Make Room!

The Sheep Look Up

The Sheep Look Up

The Sheep Look Up is a story by British author John Brunner. It tells the story of an Earth on the brink of collapse. Animals are dying off and becoming extinct, food supplies are scarce, water and air are heavily polluted, pests have become highly resistant to poisons, and new and dangerous human diseases are running rampant.

The novel takes place over a year, with characters experiencing different effects of this condition such as contamination of food supply, a new type of pest, terrorist acts, disease outbreaks, and civil unrest. The U.S. government also initiates martial law which only exacerbated and sped up the rate of the country’s collapse.

While the major theme of The Sheep Look Up is about ecological preservation, the novel was still able to touch upon topics such as corporate greed as well as the importance of competency in the government. This makes John Brunner’s The Sheep Look Up a very interesting read especially in this day and age.

Genre:   Dystopian Literature

Pages:   388

Goodreads Rating:  3.95/5.00

My Rating:  9.00 /10.00 

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The Sheep Look Up

Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang

Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm is a tale that tells the story of a post-apocalyptic world where people have been rendered sterile. In order to combat the coming extinction of the human race, the remaining survivors utilised cloning on the hope that their clones will eventually regain their ability to reproduce.

Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang

However, the clones rejected the concept of sexual reproduction and, as the old community died out, clones began to outnumber true humans. Deviant clones, however, reproduced Mark, the only real human as well as the only one who is unique among a society of copies and facsimiles.

Identity, suppression, empathy, and herd mentality are topics covered in Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang. The novel can also be categorised as a coming of age story as sexual tendencies are discovered during puberty in a dystopic place and time.

Genre:  Dystopian Literature

Pages:  251

Goodreads Rating:   3.87/5.00

My Rating:  8.75 /10.00 

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Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang

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Max Atlas
Max Atlas
I am Max Atlas; my only mission is to raise awareness of Dystopian fiction and share in a collective awakening. Together we will explore not only the best Dystopian Novels ever written but also new and upcoming Authors, giving future greats a platform to share their Dystopian Worlds.