This week’s Top Ten Tuesday over at the Broke and the Bookish is a “freebie” week, meaning that bloggers can post about whatever they want to. One of the suggestions they make is a top ten list of the best dystopian novels. Since August is Dystopian Month over at Presenting Lenore, I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon (and yeah, okay, I’m feeling a little uninspired when it comes to other ideas) and present a list of ten of some the best Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic* novels around.
1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: Quite possibly my favorite book of all time, Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale should be required reading, whether you’re a fan of dystopian lit or not. I’m so glad to have my copy of the book back (it’s a long, boring story) it’s not even funny.
2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: Three of the girls I shared a cabin with this past week devoured the series while we were in the nature. While it is my personal belief that the first book is the strongest, all three of the books in Collins’s trilogy are well worth your time. If you haven’t read the series (whatever your reasoning might be), you should rectify that. Like right now.
3. Into the Forest by Jean Hegland: This book is disturbing, but also completely haunting. It’s a book about sisters and nature and survival. Technically post-apocalyptic, it’s an adult novel with YA-crossover appeal. If you haven’t read any of Hegland’s work, this is the book to start with. It’s been years since I’ve read it, but the characters are still with me.
4. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness: I’ve talked about my love for Ness’s richly-realized series about a boy named Todd and the future world he lives in on this blog before, but it bears repeating. Like the Hunger Games, I think the first book in the Chaos Walking Trilogy is the strongest, but all three novels are fast-paced, fascinating, and compulsively readable.
5. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson: The only short story to make the list, Shirley Jackson’s terrifying account of a small town with a terrible tradition is one of the first dystopian tales I ever read. From a young age, I was affected by this story and Jackson’s lyrical, sparse prose. If you haven’t read this story (or the rest of the tales in the eponymous collection), you should.
6. The Stand by Stephen King: Long and twisty, The Stand is arguably King’s best work. A contemporary tale about a deadly virus that wipes out most of the world’s population is absolutely terrifying and totally compelling. The terrible miniseries starring Gary Sinise and Molly Ringwald is worth watching, too.
7. Y: The Last Man (series) by Brian K. Vaughn: Another series I’ve talked about on the blog, Brian K. Vaughn’s gorgeous graphic novel series (collected into 10 trade paperbacks) tells the story of perennial man-child Yorick Brown who suddenly finds himself the only man left on the planet. Funny, smart, and more than a little heartbreaking, this is a series for even the most skeptical of graphic novels.
8. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff: Rosoff’s story about a young girl who falls in love with her cousin as the world around them erupts into a devastating war is lyrical and gorgeous. The unique prose makes for an interesting, stream-of-consciousness tale, but it is the rawness of narrator Daisy’s voice that makes this novel worth your time.
9. The Road by Cormac McCarthy: Perhaps one of the most famous post-apocalyptic novels to come out of the past decade, McCarthy’s sparse, horrifying account of a man and his son trying to survive in a world full of predators is one of the most depressing books I think I’ve ever read. That being said, it’s still pretty terrific.
10. The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman: Perhaps not one of the best dystopian novels out there, but one that’s certainly worth mentioning, if not just for the fact that I think it’s really underrated. Perfect YA for the younger crowd, Goodman’s novel about a girl, her family, and her struggle for the truth about the world in which she lives is an entertaining, interesting story. Something about it reminds me of Matched, only this one’s less gimmicky (and has about 99% less hype surrounding it).
*While I realize that there is a firm, definite difference between dystopian fiction and post-apocalyptic tales, for the purposes of this assignment, I am combining them. I’m too tired and more than a little lazy this week. I know, I know.
What did I miss? Probably a lot, right? TELL ME.