First of all, I would like to explain what a dystopia is in case there’s somebody who hasn’t encountered this term yet.
Dystopia is an antonym of utopia, sometimes referred to as antiutopia, and it’s the idea of how our society will work in the future – in the case of dystopia, this idea is always murky and pesimistic. I love dystopias since they show us which way NOT to go and what we should try to avoid. In addition, it really might end up like this if we continue to live the way we do today.
Written by: George Orwell
Published in: 1949
Number of pages: 264
“Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.”
Let’s start with the most famous one. Everyone who has some knowledge about literature knows that “Big Brother is watching you”. But if you don’t, I will be very happy to tell you something about this story.
1984 is about Winston Smith who lives in a province of the superstate Oceania. Oceania is in constant war with two other superstates. People speak in Newspeak, which is a language invented by the government, and everybody is being watched. Literally. Every single person is obligated to own a TV with a camera at home and they are under consant surveillance. They even have the Thought Police which prevents people from committing so called ‘thoughtcrimes’. In this world you cannot even have your own opinion. There’s even a method that people use in order to keep up with the regime – it’s called Doublethink. What is it? Well, basically it means that you are capable of keeping two contradictory beliefs in your mind and believe both of them. It also means that if they say that we’re in war with Eurasia and we’ve always been in war with Eurasia but you remember that not a long time ago we were in war with Eastasia and Eurasia was our ally, you need to do 2 things – forget that Eurasia was our ally and forget that you had to forget. Insane, isn’t it?
So Winston meets Julia and together they try to stand up to the regime as they realise that it’s not right. Many crazy things follow and the closer you get to the end, the more brilliant it is. Everyone should read 1984 because the Big Brother might be watching us one day as well.
BRAVE NEW WORLD
Written by: Aldous Huxley
Published in: 1932
Number of pages: 198
“All right then,” said the savage defiantly, I’m claiming the right to be unhappy.”
“Not to mention the right to grow old and ugly and impotent; the right to have syphilis and cancer; the right to have too little to eat, the right to be lousy; the right to live in constant apprehension of what may happen tomorrow; the right to catch typhoid; the right to be tortured by unspeakable pains of every kind.”
There was a long silence.
“I claim them all,” said the Savage at last.”
The story is set in London in the year 632 A.F. (which means After Ford). In this world people are being created in artificial wombs and they are predestined to be in a particular intelligence group (alpha, beta, gama, delta). Everything is artificial. People don’t have parents and ‘a mother’ is considered to be a real swearword. Natural breeding is disgusting. People are supposed to do one kind of work, have sex with many people but never create a bond with them (they cannot date anyone for more than a month I guess) and if they feel down, they swallow a pill for happiness. Bernard Marx and Lenina Crowne take a trip to New Mexico. There’s a Savage Reservation, which means there’s a rainforest and a group of people who live in the natural way (Lenina finds it very disgusting, all those illnesses and all that dirt, ugh). But when they come back from their trip, they’re not alone – they’ve brought two savages. And these two are trying to cope with the artificial world.
This book is really important since I feel like it’s not unlikely to happen – with all those plastic surgeries and artificial fertilisation today. Science can be really scary and we should not misuse it.
THE WAYWARD PINES
Written by: Blake Crouch
Published in: 2012 – 2014
Number of pages (the first book): 384
“You think man can destroy the planet? What intoxicating vanity. Earth has survived everything in its time. It will certainly survive us. To the earth…a million years is nothing. This planet lives and breathes on a much vaster scale. We can’t imagine its slow and powerful rhythms, and we haven’t got the humility to try. We’ve been residents here for the blink of an eye. If we’re gone tomorrow, the earth will not miss us.”
Pines is not a single book, it’s The Wayward Pines Trilogy (Pines, Wayward, The Last Town) but I’ve read only the first one because 1) the rest isn’t published in Czech and 2) I couldn’t find the English version online and 3) still haven’t the money to order it from Amazon (I mean, I could but there are so many other priorities right now). But I’ve also seen the series (which you can read about in this ARTICLE) and I really like it.
The main character, Ethan Burke, is a Secret Service agent who looks for a lost woman agent. He gets involved in a car crash and when he wakes up, he finds himself in a hospital in the town of Wayward Pines. He doesn’t have his personal belongings and the signal doesn’t work. He starts revealing the secrets of Wayward Pines step by step and the more he knows the scaries it gets… it’s a dystopia but actually you wouldn’t even GUESS for the first part of the series (and the trilogy).
Written by: Patrick Ness
Published in: 2008 – 2010
Number of pages (the first book): 376
“We are the choices we make.”
I read this trilogy (The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer, Monsters of Men) such a long time ago but man, I swear I still love it. This story is set in a dystopian world (obviously) without any women since they all died because of a deadly disease. All the living men can hear and see thoughts of each other. They call it the Noise.
The main hero, Todd Hewitt, discovers a place where there’s no Noise – just silence. He also encounters a GIRL, which is a great surprise since they are not supposed to be alive. They go to the world in order to see what secrets it keeps away from them. That’s the first book and in the second, a war breaks out. A totally new species comes in and this trilogy is just one massive rollercoaster, I swear. Oh, and I forgot to say that Todd had a dog – who he can actually talk to because of the Noise! I totally love Todd, his dog and Viola as well. Publisher’s Weekly said that the series is ‘one of the most important works of young adult science fiction in recent years.’ And it is. It’s about war, tyranny, the distinction between good and evil… Read it, people, it’s great!
THE HUNGER GAMES
Written by: Suzanne Collins
Published in: 2008 – 2010
Number of pages (the first book): 272
“Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor.”
Everybody knows The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay). Some people love it, others hate it. I just want to say that when I was reading this book a few years back, I literally couldn’t do anything else. I kept thinking about it all day all night, the plot was just so greatly created and although I had some remarks on Collins’s writing style, I loved the story. My favourite one is the second book and even though the third one is quite slow and prolonged, I was crying my eyes out for the WHOLE second part of the book. Seriously. I remember locking myself in the bathroom to have complete silence (I didn’t have my own room at that time, ups) and crying and crying until I finished the freaking Mockingjay. And then I cried because I had a massive book hangover and I was feeling really miserable because there was no sequel. So, yeah. I’m not going to describe the plot, I think that almost everyone knows it because the movies are famous as well. I just wanted to include HG in this blog post since I personally believe that it’s a great dystopia and it deserves its place on this list.
That’s all for this post, I hope you enjoyed it and if you have any comments on dystopias (or books in general… or anything, really), leave them below. Thank you for reading and have a lovely Saturday.