Four dystopian novels that will alter the way in which you think
With Britain’s impending exit from the European Union, daily global political demonstrations and world leader interrelations beginning to grow sour, there has never been a more appropriate time to read a dystopian novel. Whether they are taken as a preluding cautionary tale of the way in which modern society may be headed or simply as a fabulously crafted story, the below titles will certainly leave a lasting impression.
The one that will make you glance over your shoulder: George Orwell, 1984
In this classic novel, Great Britain has become a province of a super state named Oceania, ruled by the “Thought Police”: a brutal organisation who stamp out any form of individualism or personality from the masses. All of this is overseen by the ominous but evasive Big Brother and everyone is truly watched 24 hours a day. When protagonist Winston begins an inner-rebellion, at odds with his meticulous, party member outer-shell, a dangerous game of cat and mouse ensues. With our data being shared more than ever and our every move being tracked by modern technology, there has never been a more appropriate time to read this novel.
The one that will rouse feminists: Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
With an eerie combined focus of religious radicalism and post-nuclear radiation warning, The Handmaid’s Tale is a magnificently crafted story of what happens when the governing state takes advantage of desperation. A particular focus is paid to the way in which women could (and still are in parts of the world) be subdued and used for little more than their reproductive abilities. Atwood manages to combine a unique amalgamation of old world rituals and ideologies about gender roles and religion, with modern post-society elements.
This is one for the feminists and is sure to light fires and rouse those who seek to stomp out sex inequality. The focus on religious extremism is also particularly apt in an age where terrorism is a regular occurrence.
The darkly satirical warning: Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange
For the many or for the few? A Clockwork Orange is Anthony Burgess’s most famous novel and its impact on literary, musical and visual culture has been extensive. The novel is concerned with the conflict between the individual and the state, the punishment of young criminals, and the possibility or otherwise of redemption. The linguistic originality of the book, and the moral questions it raises, are as relevant now as they ever were. Is the youth really public enemy number one or are people simply the product of state brutality?
As knife crime figures rise across the UK and many of the younger generation are becoming increasingly disenchanted with the Britain that they will inherit, A Clockwork Orange is an enduringly relevant examination of rebellion and culture.
The science-fiction one with a dose of reality: James Dashner, The Maze Runner
When the doors of the lift open, the only thing that Thomas remember is his first name. But he’s not alone: other boys who have arrived in the same manner welcome him to the Glade- a walled camp at the centre of a bizarre and frightening maze. Nobody knows why they are there, but the Gladers ventures to try and escape the maze prove to be truly terrifying as they discover more about their post-environmental-disaster circumstances.
This novel is pure escapism for those who are looking for a slightly more light-hearted dystopian read. Although the premise is more science-fiction based, The Maze Runner still asks some searching questions regarding how much we actually know about our own existence and the way in which we are treating the world.