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Dystopian Fiction

No-one knows what a Dystopian future might look like, but many authors have imagined what could occur after a catastrophic event, be it a nuclear strike, electro-magnetic pulse, natural disasters or a super flu.

A post-apocolyptic future could see the fall or change of establishment, a devastated environment and the loss of technology. The plight of those ‘left behind’ to survive has long since pre-occupied the minds of humans and led to some great pieces of literature.

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Adult Dystopian Fiction

1984 by George Orwell

Nineteen Eighty-Four is set in a society run by Big Brother where people are made to conform to orthodoxy by the Thought Police. Winston Smith yearns for truth and liberty, but he comes to realize that he cannot outwit the forces at work.

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Fahrenheit 415 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature at which book paper burns. Fahrenheit 451 is a novel set in the future when instead of putting out fires, ‘firemen’ burn books (houses and sometimes people), forbidden by a totalitarian regime. The hero is a ‘fireman’ who suddenly discovers that books are flesh-and-blood ideas and cry out silently when put to the torch.

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The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood

A look at the near future presents the story of Offred, a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, once the United States. Gilead is now an oppressive world where women are no longer allowed to read and are valued only as long as they are viable for reproduction. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire - neither Offred's nor that of the two men on which her future hangs.

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One takes place in the not-so-distant future. The world has turned into a very bleak place, but luckily there is OASIS, a virtual reality world that is a vast online utopia. People can plug into OASIS to play, go to school, earn money, and even meet other people (or at least they can meet their avatars), and for protagonist Wade Watts it certainly beats passing the time in his grim, poverty-stricken real life.

Wade dreams of finding three keys left behind by James Halliday, the now-deceased creator of OASIS and the richest man to have ever lived. The keys are rumored to be hidden inside OASIS, and whoever finds them will inherit Halliday's fortune.

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Red Rising series by Pierce Brown

Darrow and Reds like him, are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class. Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity's overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society's ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies . . . even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

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Wool (Silo series) by Hugh Howey

An epic story of life, love and survival at all odds and one of the most-talked and anticipated books of the year. In a ruined and hostile landscape, in a future few have been unlucky enough to survive, a community exists in a giant underground silo. Inside, men and women live an enclosed life full of rules and regulations, of secrets and lies. To live, you must follow the rules. But some don't. These are the dangerous ones; these are the people who dare to hope and dream, and who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple and deadly. They are allowed outside. Jules is one of these people. She may well be the last.

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The Passage (trilogy) by Justin Cronin

Amy Harper Bellafonte is six years old and her mother thinks she's the most important person in the whole world. She is. Anthony Carter doesn't think he could ever be in a worse place than Death Row. He's wrong. FBI agent Brad Wolgast thinks something beyond imagination is coming. It is.

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Teen Dystopian Fiction

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking Series) by Patrick Ness

Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown, a town where everyone can hear your thoughts. One month before he is due to become a man Todd discovers that the town has been keeping secrets from him, and he is going to have to run. Todd is soon going to learn about the dangerous choices of growing up.

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The Hunger Games series by Susan Collins

The nation of Panem, formed from a post-apocalyptic North America, is a country that consists of a wealthy Capitol region surrounded by 12 poorer districts. Early in its history, a rebellion led by a 13th district against the Capitol resulted in its destruction and the creation of an annual televised event known as the Hunger Games.

When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives. Sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

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Blood Red Road (Dustlands trilogy) by Moira Young

There are no laws in Saba's world. When her twin brother is stolen, she pursues his captors through a wild, wasted land. She must become a warrior to survive. On this dangerous road she can trust no one. Not even the handsome thief who saves her life - and steals her heart.

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Uglies series by Scott Westerfield

Just before their sixteenth birthdays, when they will will be transformed into beauties whose only job is to have a great time, Tally's best friend runs away and Tally must find her and turn her in, or never become pretty at all.

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Mortal Engines (Hungry Cities Quartet) by Philip Reeve

In a terrifying and brutal future world, cities are mounted on giant wheels. They hunt each other to the death. Aboard London, lowly apprentice Tom Natsworthy longs to be part of the next attack. When he saves his chief from a mad assassin, he is suddenly flung from the speeding city with a mysterious scar-faced girl. They must run for their lives through the wastelands, tracked by an unstoppable cyborg programmed to kill them.

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Pure (Pure Trilogy) by Julianna Baggott

In a post-apocalyptic world, Pressia, a sixteen-year-old survivor with a doll's head fused onto her left hand meets Partridge, a "Pure" dome-dweller who is searching for his mother, sure that she has survived the cataclysm.

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And many more.

Visit the Dystopian fiction page on Wikipedia for more titles.