The best dystopian novels set in the UK

Who am I?

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?

The books I picked & why

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1984

By George Orwell,

Book cover of 1984

Why 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.


Slated

By Teri Terry,

Book cover of Slated

Why 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. 


Cell 7

By Kerry Drewery,

Book cover of Cell 7

Why 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? 


Naughts & Crosses

By Malorie Blackman,

Book cover of Naughts & Crosses

Why 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.


The Extinction Trials

By Susan Wilson,

Book cover of The Extinction Trials

Why 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. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in dystopia, life satisfaction, and totalitarianism?

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