The best dystopian novels set in the UK

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an English writer based in Sheffield. I started reading dystopia when I was around 19 and in a very bad place mentally, it became an escape for me and I would read everything in the genre. It got to the point where I was writing in the notes on my phone (not very well, I might add). Somehow dystopia ignited my passion for writing and so I went to university to study it. Almost everything I wrote for both my undergrad degree and my master's was set in a future dystopian UK. It is where my passion still lies and I hope to create more futuristic worlds like those I have listed.


I wrote...

Trials of the Realm

By Lauren Stabler,

Book cover of Trials of the Realm

What is my book about?

Adelaide Taylor’s life is anything but ideal. After losing her parents to the new, tyrannical government, she’s forced to live in an orphanage for women under twenty-five. While she toils away six days a week at a thankless job, the government systematically destroys the country. Elections are abolished. Borders are closed. The death penalty is reinstated for anyone who dares defy the new world order. All anyone can do is hope they survive. But Adelaide needs a way out.

When new trials are introduced, she jumps at the chance to win a second chance at life. Should she win, she will regain some semblance of a life. But success won’t come easily, and failure will mean death. Will she escape this brutal life or has her fate already been sealed?
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of 1984

Lauren Stabler Why did I love this book?

I thought I’d start off with a well-known dystopian novel set in the UK. When I started reading the genre, I mainly read Young Adult that end with happy endings. However, I think 1984 is a good representation of what the world could become so easily. It has inspired me as a writer to pay attention to the bleak, not everything has to have a rosy outcome.

By George Orwell,

Why should I read it?

45 authors picked 1984 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU . . .

1984 is the year in which it happens. The world is divided into three superstates. In Oceania, the Party's power is absolute. Every action, word, gesture and thought is monitored under the watchful eye of Big Brother and the Thought Police. In the Ministry of Truth, the Party's department for propaganda, Winston Smith's job is to edit the past. Over time, the impulse to escape the machine and live independently takes hold of him and he embarks on a secret and forbidden love affair. As he writes the words 'DOWN WITH BIG…


Book cover of Slated

Lauren Stabler Why did I love this book?

The prequel to this book had a big influence on me when writing my own book, as I wanted to explore how something so awful, like my trials and Terry’s slating process, could be introduced and the reasoning behind that. What I really love about Terry’s book is the science included. Slated explores wiping someone’s brain completely and giving them a blank slate. Her other books explore things like dark matter, think tanks (literally, the brains are in tanks), and global warming. Slated is where I started and is a series I read every year. While the subject matter is dark, it has become a comfort series, and Kyla a comfort character, for me. 

By Teri Terry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Slated as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

The gripping first book of a rebellious trilogy about truth, power, and impossible choices, perfect for fans of Divergent and Legend.

Kyla’s memory has been erased, her personality wiped blank, her memories lost forever. She’s been slated. The government claims that she was a terrorist and they are giving her a second chance—if she plays by their rules. But scenes from the past haunt her as she tries to adjust to a new life, family, and school, leaving her unsettled. Who is she really? And if only criminals are meant to be slated, why are so many other teens disappearing?…


Book cover of Cell 7

Lauren Stabler Why did I love this book?

Kerry Drewery is an author that came in for a Masterclass when I was studying my undergrad in Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University. As this book series was right up my alley, I decided to buy every book on kindle (and most recently in paperback). This series reminded me a lot of 1984 with the dark setting and horrific outcomes. Set in a future London, the reality show format of the book gives an insight into human nature. How far will we go for entertainment? 

By Kerry Drewery,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cell 7 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Should she live or should she die? You decide.

A heart-stopping thriller. Shortlisted for the Lancashire Libraries Book of the Year 2018.

An adored celebrity has been killed. Sixteen-year-old Martha Honeydew was found holding a gun, standing over the body.

NOW JUSTICE MUST PREVAIL.

The general public will decide whether Martha is innocent or guilty by viewing daily episodes of the hugely popular TV show Death is Justice, the only TV show that gives the power of life and death decisions - all for the price of a premium rate phone call.

Martha has admitted to the crime. But is…


Book cover of Naughts & Crosses

Lauren Stabler Why did I love this book?

Another well-known book. It has recently been adapted into a TV show (which I’m sure all of us authors would love). I absolutely recommend reading the books before watching the show as they are very different mediums and have their own spins on each. The books feel darker than the TV show, which is something I appreciate. Dystopia shouldn’t be light, the world is filled with darkness and Blackman really captures this element in her series. I love that she flips apartheid but for a modern-day world, showing people what could happen if we carry on as we have been going but making many readers the target.

By Malorie Blackman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Naughts & Crosses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Two star-crossed lovers fight for a more just world in this searing novel with a critically-acclaimed BBC series adaptation now streaming on NBCUniversal’s Peacock platform!

Sephy is a Cross: dark-skinned and beautiful, she lives a life of privilege and power. But she’s lonely, and she burns with injustice at the world she sees around her.

Callum is a nought: pale-skinned and poor, he’s considered to be less than nothing, there to serve Crosses, but he dreams of a better life.

They’ve been friends since they were children, and they both know that’s as far as it can ever go. Noughts…


Book cover of The Extinction Trials

Lauren Stabler Why did I love this book?

Why am I recommending this book? First of all – Dinosaurs. I don’t know where they came from in the book series and frankly I don’t care. I’ll read anything with dinosaurs. I think this book series is set in a modern UK but it’s never explicitly stated. It’s set in a futuristic world where nature has failed us – because of us – and humans need to find a new way of living. They must learn to live with dinosaurs. Maybe the new Jurassic World film could learn from the characters? Who knows. 

By S.M. Wilson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Extinction Trials as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

The first book in the heart-stopping The Extinction Trials trilogy, for fans of The Hunger Games and Jurassic Park.

Betrayal. Sacrifice. Survival. Welcome to The Extinction Trials...

In Stormchaser and Lincoln's ruined world, the only way to survive is to risk everything. To face a contest more dangerous than anyone can imagine. And they will do anything to win.

But in a land full of monsters - human and reptilian - they can't afford to trust anyone. Perhaps not even each other...

Shortlisted for the 2019 Scottish Teenage Book Prize


You might also like...

The Flower Queen: A 1970's Suspense Romance

By Kay Freeman,

Book cover of The Flower Queen: A 1970's Suspense Romance

Kay Freeman Author Of Hitman's Honey

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Retired art professor Tequila aficionado Weightlifter Owned by Standard Poodle Blues lover

Kay's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

It began with a dying husband, and it ended in a dynasty.

It took away her husband’s pain on his deathbed, kept her from losing the family farm, gave her the power to build a thriving business, but it’s illegal to grow in every state in the country in 1978.

It even brings her first love from high school back; the only problem is that he works for the FBI. Will their occupations implode their romance, or will the opposite happen?

A second chance at love, opposites attract, rags to riches heroine trope story.

The Flower Queen: A 1970's Suspense Romance

By Kay Freeman,

What is this book about?

It began with a dying husband and it ended in a dynasty.

It took away her husband’s pain on his deathbed, kept her from losing the family farm, gave her the power to build a thriving business, but it’s illegal to grow in every state in the country in 1978. It even brings her first love from high school back; the only problem he works for the FBI. Will their occupations implode their romance or will the opposite happen? A second chance at love, opposites attract , rags to riches heroine trope story.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in dystopian, life satisfaction, and totalitarianism?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about dystopian, life satisfaction, and totalitarianism.

Dystopian Explore 564 books about dystopian
Life Satisfaction Explore 215 books about life satisfaction
Totalitarianism Explore 46 books about totalitarianism