The best dystopian books of the past five years

Who am I?

I love dystopian novels because they allow us to explore our fears and follow those pesky what-ifs floating around our heads to their most extreme conclusions. Often, when I talk to people about dystopian literature, their minds go straight to the classics such as 1984, The Handmaid's Tale, or Fahrenheit 451. While these are timeless and amazing books, there have been so many ground-breaking dystopian novels written in the past five years that you won't want to miss.

I wrote...

The Seclusion

By Jacqui Castle,

Book cover of The Seclusion

What is my book about?

"...a dystopian drama that shows the grim rise of totalitarianism with scenes that echo today's headlines. 
The author has crafted an intricately detailed world. Intriguing and surprising supporting characters give depth to a somber story that begs for a sequel. ­Verdict: A must-have for all libraries and fans of ­sci-fi." 
School Library Journal

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

The Power

By Naomi Alderman,

Book cover of The Power

Why this book?

The Power was hands down my favorite dystopian book of the past five years. It explores a world in which power, physical power followed shortly by political power, lies with women rather than men. 

The story is told through six vastly different points of view, and in turning the tables from a patriarchal culture to a matriarchal one, The Power shines a light on the disparity within gender dynamics in our current world. The Power was thrilling, brutal, and surprisingly cathartic to read.

Klara and the Sun

By Kazuo Ishiguro,

Book cover of Klara and the Sun

Why this book?

Klara and the Sun is a dystopian story written by the Nobel Prize winning author of Never Let Me Go. In an interesting presentation of narrative, Klara and the Sun is told from the perspective of a young girl's artificial friend Klara. 

Klara and the Sun is a slow burn that tends to meander around a bit, so if you need a fast-paced, page-turning dystopian novel, this may not be the book for you. If you want to be immersed in a unique world full of Ishiguro's lyrical prose as you experience the world through Klara's hopelessly optimistic eyes, give this one a try.


By Neal Shusterman, Jarrod Shusterman,

Book cover of Dry

Why this book?

Dry, written by father and son duo Neal and Jerrod Shusterman, is a young adult novel that examines a world in which the California drought has reached a tipping point, and the state no longer has any running water. After what has been dubbed the 'tap-out,' our teen protagonist Alyssa must make life or death decisions when her parents leave in search of water, and do not return.

This plot-driven novel soon turns into an apocalyptic road trip that rarely lets up in the tension department as we watch humanity crumble and our protagonist and her friends struggle to survive. Prepare for this book to make you thirsty.

Lock in: A Novel of the Near Future

By John Scalzi,

Book cover of Lock in: A Novel of the Near Future

Why this book?

In Lock In, John Scalzi presents a truly unique and complex world, in which a large portion of the population has experienced a virus that leaves about one percent of its victims with a condition known as Haden's Syndrome. Those with Haden's Syndrome are "locked in," and are trapped in a sleep-like, paralysis state. 

About twenty-five years after the pandemic, scientific advancements have allowed those with Haden's Syndrome to interact with the world through surrogates or artificial intelligence. This is one of those books that is so complex that you will just have to dive in and enjoy the creativity.

The Punch Escrow

By Tal M. Klein,

Book cover of The Punch Escrow

Why this book?

I adored this fast-paced near-future dystopian book by debut author Tal M. Klein. Prepare to be thrown into an innovative world where teleportation is the primary means of travel, and people don't think twice before taking advantage of this convenience. Though, as we soon find out, maybe they should. 

There are so many fun tidbits in this novel such as nanotechnology and genetically engineered mosquitoes that help clean the air. You'll also find plenty of nostalgic references for fans of books such as Ready Player One. Prepare for engaging characters, unique worldbuilding, thought-provoking philosophical questions, and plenty of twists to keep you guessing.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in dystopia, survival, and robots?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about dystopia, survival, and robots.

Dystopia Explore 233 books about dystopia
Survival Explore 112 books about survival
Robots Explore 60 books about robots

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Handmaid's Tale, Where the Crawdads Sing, and The Mars Room if you like this list.