Sunday, November 26, 2023

The ten best dystopian novels ever written

Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Editor of Writer's Digest and the author of 40 Plot Twist Prompts for Writers: Writing Ideas for Bending Stories in New Directions, The Complete Guide of Poetic Forms: 100+ Poetic Form Definitions and Examples for Poets, Poem-a-Day: 365 Poetry Writing Prompts for a Year of Poeming, and more.

At Writer's Digest he tagged "what I consider the 10 best dystopian novels ever written," including:
The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

If Lord of the Flies is number one on my imaginary "most depressing novel" list, McCarthy's The Road is probably number two. It's a super compelling read and somehow actually offers a little hope, but it's about as dark as a novel can get.

The main premise is that a father and son travel across the mainland to the sea years after an extinction event has reduced the United States to a post-apocalyptic world filled with cannibals, ash, and little else. Oh yeah, and the mother of this family commits suicide just a bit before they start their trip. Real upbeat stuff here, right?

That said, the father and son are about as likeable as you can make characters in this kind of man-eat-man world, in which the father continually assures his son that they're "good guys." The setting is grim, but that's why I found myself entranced by this novel and rooting for these "good guys" to find some sort of success.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Road appears on Pedro Hoffmeister's list of five titles with lessons to turn a post-apocalyptic novel into a thriller, Malcolm Devlin’s list of eight zombie stories without any zombies, Michael Christie's list of ten novels to reconfigure our conception of nature for the better, Emily Temple's list of the ten books that defined the 2000s, Ceridwen Christensen's list of ten novels that end their apocalypses on a beach, Steph Post's top ten list of classic (and perhaps not so classic) road trip books, a list of five of the best climate change novels, Claire Fuller's top five list of extreme survival stories, Justin Cronin's top ten list of world-ending novels, Rose Tremain's six best books list, Ian McGuire's ten top list of adventure novels, Alastair Bruce's top ten list of books about forgetting, Jeff Somers's lists of five science fiction novels that really should be considered literary classics and eight good, bad, and weird dad/child pairs in science fiction and fantasy, Amelia Gray's ten best dark books list, Weston Williams's top fifteen list of books with memorable dads, ShortList's roundup of the twenty greatest dystopian novels, Mary Miller's top ten list of the best road books, Joel Cunningham's list of eleven "literary" novels that include elements of science fiction, fantasy or horror, Claire Cameron's list of five favorite stories about unlikely survivors, Isabel Allende's six favorite books list, the Telegraph's list of the 15 most depressing books, Joseph D’Lacey's top ten list of horror books, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five unforgettable fathers from fiction, Ken Jennings's list of eight top books about parents and kids, Anthony Horowitz's top ten list of apocalypse books, Karen Thompson Walker's list of five notable "What If?" books, John Mullan's list of ten of the top long walks in literature, Tony Bradman's top ten list of father and son stories, Ramin Karimloo's six favorite books list, Jon Krakauer's five best list of books about mortality and existential angst, William Skidelsky's list of the top ten most vivid accounts of being marooned in literature, Liz Jensen's top 10 list of environmental disaster stories, the Guardian's list of books to change the climate, David Nicholls' top ten list of literary tear jerkers, and the Times (of London) list of the 100 best books of the decade. In 2009 Sam Anderson of New York magazine claimed "that we'll still be talking about [The Road] in ten years."

--Marshal Zeringue