Why would anyone want to read dystopian books when it feels like we’re living through our own dystopia? So glad you asked. There are a number of reasons that perennially best-selling sci-fi novels have become even more popular in recent months, as the world reacts to the COVID-19 pandemic. In some cases, like reading A Clockwork Orange or The Hunger Games, it can be a pleasant reminder that — as bad as things are — these ultra-violent visions of the future haven’t quite come true yet. In other cases, like The Machine Stops, it’s simply awe-inspiring to see just how accurately writers of the 20th century did predict our future. But above all, these dystopian novels give us a central hero who we can look to as we face our own travails.
While many have been busying themselves setting up a new routine and loading up on all the #quarantainment they can find, the truth is that there’s no roadmap for going through this — unless we start looking to fiction, that is. Part of the reason dystopian novels are so fun is that they push characters to extremes, stripping them down to their essential natures and forcing them to face who they are when they have no choice but to keep going. When the stakes are the highest, and the chances of survival are the lowest, these heroes time and time again break through their given chains and fight for what they’ve held in their hearts all along: Family. Love. A better world for our children.
Right now, we’re all feeling pushed to extremes, and hoping we’ll prove ourselves if and when the time comes. The circumstances of these dystopian novels may be dire, but their message is anything but. The human spirit, these authors assure us, will always prevail, one way or another.
If you’d like to spend some time living in someone else’s nightmare for a change, here are the best dystopian books to check out right now.