9 Top Selling American Novels in Dystopian Genre

America’s Best Novels For Dystopian Fans

While there are lots of great dystopian novels written by non-Americans, there’s something about American authors that can write stories with relatable plots and themes. A major reason for this is probably due to the political and social climate, which makes their stories much more relatable and closer to home.

American Dystopian Novels
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Some American writers, while not setting their stories in America per se, are really good at reflecting their commentaries on what is going on in the country right now, which is why their works are such great reads for those who are fans of the genre.

Here are some of the best American dystopian novels written by some of the most renowned authors in the past and present.

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The Running Man

This novel by Stephen King, writing as Richard Bachman, tells the story of a dystopian America that is rotten with consumerism and mass media. The hero, Ben Richards, sacrifices everything as he enters the game for the chance to win money that will last him a lifetime. However, it comes at the risk of death at the hands of the dreaded Hunters.

The Running Man

As the game unfolds, the world watches his every move to delay death second by second. The book also reflects the dehumanization of the poor as well as the segregation of classes. This will cause Richards to take on a new mission, far from his personal goals of winning the game.

Put in a no-win situation, Ben Richards will put every resource to use and, in the process, attempt to awaken the sleeping masses of the situation that there are in. All of this is narrated as a countdown of events as Richards runs towards his ultimate fate.

Genre:  Dystopian Literature

Pages:  317

Goodreads Rating:  3.87/5.00

My Rating:  7.75/10.00          

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The Running Man

Bird Box

This immensely popular novel by Josh Malerman tells the story of Malorie, a pregnant woman who finds herself caught in a worldwide attack of unknown beings that trigger suicidal tendencies upon seeing them. A small band of survivors must help each other to survive not only the entities but other humans as well.

Bird Box

The novel reflects concepts of sacrifice, rising above adversity, and family, but it also presents the extremes that humans will do to survive amidst the darkness inherent in humanity. All these can be clearly seen in how the main character adapts to the new normal with her own and adopted family.

A huge hit that spawned a sequel as well as its own movie, Bird Box is a dark story that will keep you at the edge of your seats with every turn of the page. The novel also portrays very relatable characters that you will definitely feel for as they try to live in the darkness one day at a time.

Genre:  Dystopian Literature

Pages:  273

Goodreads Rating:  4.02/5.00

My Rating:  9.00/10.00                   

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Bord Box

The Giver

The Giver

This novel, which began a series of four books, was written by Lois Lowry. It tells the story of Jonas, a 12-year old boy with the ability to store all the memories of the past. As such, he was assigned the role of the Receiver of Memory and is trained by the Giver, keeper of information and advisor to the Elders.

Living in the Community that suppresses information about the past and releases those unfit to live among them, Jonas sees the error of the utopian society that he and his people has been living in and aims to release the memories to the public.

A clear reflection of the dangers of suppression and censorship as a way to not repeat the ways of the past, The Giver is also an allegory to what happens when people are deprived of their rights to individuality and to make their own choices in life. 

Genre:  Dystopian Literature

Pages:  317

Goodreads Rating:  4.13/5.00

My Rating:   8.0 /10.00          

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The Giver

The Stepford Wives

The Stepford Wives

The Stepford Wives is a hugely popular novel by Ira Levin. In fact, it is so impactful that the term “Stepford wife” has now been adopted into American language and culture. The novel follows Joanna Eberhart as her family moves to a seemingly idyllic Connecticut town where everything seems perfect and serene.

However, the suspicion arises as Joanna notices that the Stepford wives seem too perfect. Submissive and docile, the wives in the town give the protagonist, even more, to worry about especially once their pasts have been brought to light.

A representation of suburban living as well as a satire of gender stereotypes, Stepford Wives is a thriller dystopia that is fully engaging up until the last page. How far does the conspiracy go, and how will Joanna escape with her sanity, and identity, intact?

Genre: Dystopian Literature

Pages:  145

Goodreads Rating: 3.76/5.00

My Rating:  8.50/10.00        

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Stepford Wives

It Can’t Happen Here

It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis is a cautionary tale, a political dystopian work of literature that was published in 1935 but holds true to this day, especially during this climate of volatility within the country. The novel, basically, tells a story of what can happen when the wrong leader is elected, and of the disastrous results that it can entail.

IT CAN'T HAPPEN HERE

It Can’t Happen Here begins with a popular senator, Buzz Windrip, winning the U.S. Presidential election amidst promises of prosperity. What follows, however, are kangaroo courts, suppression, and a rule that favours corporations while oppressing the citizens themselves.

Obviously, this causes dissent and betrayal from the government, with each succession to the presidency only making matters worse. It Can’t Happen Here is a dark and daunting tale, but what makes it truly troubling is the fact that as the title itself states, the events in the book can be all too real especially during this current administration.

Genre:  Dystopian Literature

Pages:  458

Goodreads Rating:  3.76/5.00

My Rating:  9.00/10.00                   

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IT CAN'T HAPPEN HERE

The City of Ember

The City of Ember

The City of Ember by Jean DuParu tells the story of the eponymous city, an underground and self-sustaining city that is on the verge of collapse. With limited power and dwindling supplies, the protagonists find a box with clues left by the builders on how to escape.

Depicting a world where only the corrupt benefit from the totalitarian structure of government and where jobs are assigned without consideration of personal desire, The City of Ember is an exciting read with riddles and threats challenging the protagonists on their way to escape their dystopian society.

The City of Ember is the first part of a series of books, including a prequel as well as two sequels. This book, however, is a great starting point for those who want to know more about this city as well as the struggles of the inhabitants to survive their decaying world.

Genre:  Dystopian Literature

Pages:  270

Goodreads Rating:  3.86/5.00

My Rating:  8.50/10.00        

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The City of Ember

The Windup Girl

The Windup Girl is a biopunk novel set in a dystopian world where food and energy are scarce. Set in the future, this story by Paolo Bacigalupi is filled with conspiracy, bioterrorism, and espionage. Power struggles occur left and right amidst troubled times, and at the centre of it is the eponymous windup girl, Emiko, as she simply wishes to find a place to belong.

The Windup Girl

Set in Thailand, The Windup Girl shows a world where corporations make money off basic needs and will do everything that they can, including but not limited to using bioengineered plagues and military force, to maintain their position of power.

Reflecting several important themes such as capitalism, ethics, and discrimination, The Windup Girl is able to provide a compelling story that will make you question how humanity will co-exist given rapidly dwindling resources, and how the world will survive when desperation causes corporations to go to drastic and extreme lengths just to turn a profit.

Genre:   Dystopian Literature

Pages:   361

Goodreads Rating:   3.75/5.00

My Rating:  9.25/10.00     

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Divergent

Divergent

Divergent is the first of three books written by Veronica Roth about a dystopian Chicago where teenagers are grouped into one of five factions. The novel follows Beatrice, also known as Tris, as she fights to belong in her own faction while also discovering a conspiracy that can destroy another.

Like most young adult novels, themes such as identity, conformity, and authority are reflected in detail in the book. Forced social structures are symbolised by the factions, and the Divergents, select people who do not belong to any particular faction, represent those who cross these boundaries, whether it be in terms of race, gender, or belief, among others.

Divergent is one of the most popular pieces of modern dystopian literature, spawning a cult following as well as a series of films. The book also aims to break gender barriers by setting a strong and independent woman as the main protagonist.

Genre: Dystopian Literature

Pages:   487

Goodreads Rating:  4.20/5.00

My Rating:  9.00/10.00       

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Divergent

Ready Player One

Ready Player One

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is chock full of pop culture references, including video games, music, and film. The story follows Wade Watts as he aims to find the ultimate Easter Egg in a simulated reality called OASIS.

Aside from the excitement of the main quest, Ready Player One also tackles issues such as the power of corporations, the overuse and dangers of technology, stoicism, and the search and misuse of power and wealth.

Turned into a big-budget Hollywood movie, Ready Player One is filled with homages and callbacks to some of the most memorable parts of the 1980s and 1990s. This makes the novel a must-read for adults who wish to remember their childhoods during these times.

Genre: Dystopian Literature

Pages:  579

Goodreads Rating:   4.26/5.00

My Rating:   9.50/10.00    

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Ready Player One

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Feature Image Credits: Image by DWilliams from Pixabay

Dave Peterson

Dave Peterson Passion for adventure and sharing his life long journey with as many others as possible. "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." HENRY S. HASKINS

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