Guest Post by Abel Keogh

Today Abel Keogh is on To Read or Not To Read. He is the author of the dystopia novel, The Third. Today he will be telling us what his top five dystopian novels are.

5 Best Dystopian Novels

The best social and philosophical commentary in fiction is found in dystopian novels. Setting a story at a distant “utopian” future is a great way to talk about where the author thinks society is headed. Though the complete dark and dreary outlook of most dystopian futures don’t come true, bits and pieces of the best dystopian novels still resonate in a culture years after their initial publication because they continue to speak to societal ills. Here are what I consider the five best.

5. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (1949)
Unlike most dystopian novels, this tale of government propaganda and mind control doesn’t have a happy ending as Winston Smith realizes he loves Big Brother. However, 60 years after its publication terms like “big brother” and “doublethink” are still commonly used today by both sides of the political spectrum. This book is a great guide on political marketing and misinformation campaigns even in the age of Facebook and Twitter.

4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (2008)
Meant for teens but enjoyed by adults, The Hunger Games takes dystopian novels to a new level with its complex plot, complex characters, and vivid action scenes that would hold the attention of any ADD teenager. Still, Collins’ novel combines the classic elements of a dystopia including an oppressive government who makes children from various districts fight for their lives in a tournament that’s broadcast to every household. Katniss Everdeen’s fight for her and her family’s freedom may be the standard foundation of most dystopian novels, but Collins’ amazing storytelling ability add jolt of energy freshness that has been lacking from the genre.

3. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (1957)
Most people view Rand’s classic more as a political commentary but it also fits the definition of dystopian novel. Set during an unspecified time in the future, a collectivist government seeks to to push the innovators and artists – people Ryan would refer to as “produces” – who are the driving force behind the economic prosperity of the United States. Finally the heroes of the book are forced to flee to Gault’s Gulch where they can live their lives without government interference. Sadly the only down side to Rand’s hefty tome is that it’s extremely preachy in places. A more subtle approach would have made the book much more enjoyable.

2. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1951)
Bradbury’s short tale of fireman Guy Montage has become an anti-censorship classic. However, most readers forget that books in his futuristic society were banned not from an edict of a brutal, power-hungry government but because their content was found offensive to different religious, ethnic, and other groups. The real and often missed message of Bradbury’s novella is one of tolerance for views the reader might find offensive. It’s a message that needs to be taught over and over again.

1. The Children of Men by P.D James (1992)
James usually writes compelling mysteries, but her lone foray into a futuristic world is downright haunting. The human race can no longer have children and now that the last generation has reached adulthood, the world is without hope or much of a future. As the population declines, people are moved to crumbling cities, women walk around with lifelike dolls, and suicide is encouraged. But a band of revolutionaries has found a woman that is miraculously pregnant. However, once word gets out that someone is pregnant, the powers at be realized she’s a powerful political tool and will do anything to get their hands on her. An unforgettable reminder of how much hope children bring to the world.
Abel Keogh is the author of the just released dystopian novel The Third (Bonneville Books, 2011). You can read the first chapter of his novel here.

Summary of The Third:
When Ransom Lawe, a recycler in the Pacific Northwest, finds out his wife is pregnant with their third—and therefore illegal—child, he’s forced to choose between the government who proclaims a desire to save the planet and his hope for a place where his family can live in freedom. But with the Census Bureau Sentinels closing in on his wife and unborn child, Ransom’s choice will either save his family or tear them apart forever. 

Abel Keogh offers a stark and haunting look at a not-so-distant future in this chilling new novel. Crossing lines between good and evil, freedom and oppression, and political and environmental responsibility, The Third is a gut-wrenching tale of intense loyalty and unconditional love.

Find out more about Abel Keogh blog | goodreads | facebook | website
You can purchase a copy of The Third at Amazon. Available in paperback and Kindle


  1. I haven't read Atlas Shrugged, but I have read Anthem by Rand and think it is a great, short dystopian novel that doesn't get talked about a whole lot.


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