The best dystopian books to feed your rebellious spirit

Mikhaeyla Kopievsky Author Of Resistance
By Mikhaeyla Kopievsky

Who am I?

All my life, I have been drawn to the dark, twisty, unconventional, rebellious stories; I was always a little disappointed with the Disney-fied fairytales, always enthralled by the dark imaginings of the originals. As I grew older, I recognised that these dark fables were not just confined to stories of fantasy, but present as seeds of discontent and destruction in our own reality—in the injustices of the present, and disasters of our potential future. As an author, I use these modern parables and prophecies—in dystopian, weird, and gothic science fiction—as a way to explore and critically reflect on our humanity and its future.  


I wrote...

Resistance

By Mikhaeyla Kopievsky,

Book cover of Resistance

What is my book about?

In a dystopian future, Paris is now the walled city-state of Otpor and revelling in its latest Golden Age: an intoxicating mix of abandon and apathy made possible by the Orthodoxy. The population is engineered into four neuro-social classes, ensuring citizens exist in complete equality, fraternity, and liberty. But, not everyone is satisfied with the status quo. When forbidden murals start appearing in the city, the Government moves quickly: realigning the neural conditioning of one of their Peacekeepers, Anaiya 234, and sending her deep undercover to infiltrate the resistance. As her realigned identity fractures and the city descends into chaos around her, Anaiya is forced to confront a different truth to the one she's been conditioned to obey.

The books I picked & why

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Fahrenheit 451

By Ray Bradbury,

Book cover of Fahrenheit 451

Why this book?

One of the most well-known dystopian classics, Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 builds its dystopic society around the banning of knowledge and over-consumption of mindless entertainment. The book is subversive from the very first line—“It was a pleasure to burn”—introducing us to a world where firemen start fires rather than put them out. And our main character, fireman Guy Montag, is the perfect dystopian protagonist—deeply conflicted throughout, and seduced by the very thing he has been employed to destroy. The perfect dystopian book to feed your rebellion against censorship. 


Snow Crash

By Neal Stephenson,

Book cover of Snow Crash

Why this book?

A futuristic cyberpunk indictment of capitalism and privatisation, Snow Crash is a wild ride from start to finish. Less dense and more accessible than some of other Stephenson’s novels, Snow Crash still pays homage to Stephenson’s love of linguistics, with the story centering on a digital language-based virus (disguised as a drug) that allows brain function to be programmed and controlled. But the real draw of this novel are the characters, the punk vibes, and the fun (almost satirical) story development: with mafia-employed, pizza deliverer, Hiro Protagonist navigating the metaverse, 21st Century Los Angeles, and Mr. Lee’s Greater Hong Kong with his skateboard-riding courier accomplice, Y.T. The perfect dystopian book to feed your rebellion against corporatisation. 


The Handmaid's Tale

By Margaret Atwood,

Book cover of The Handmaid's Tale

Why this book?

Like all great dystopian books, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is a powerful condemnation of our present reality, and is finding particular resonance in today’s debates on female agency and equality. The story takes place in a United States transformed into a religious-military dictatorship known as the Republic of Gilead, where women are only valued for what they can contribute to men. Beyond denying women property and literacy, Gilead denies them their names and autonomy over their bodies. The story is made more poignant and powerful through the eyes of Offred, a handmaid who still remembers and yearns for the life stolen from her—one where she had a job, a husband, and a child. The perfect dystopian book to feed your rebellion against female oppression.


Animal Farm

By George Orwell,

Book cover of Animal Farm

Why this book?

It’s impossible to talk about dystopian fiction without mentioning George Orwell. But rather than recommend his seminal 1984, I prefer his more subversive Animal Farm. While the novella is a satirical allegory of the Russian Revolution and Stalinist Soviet, its appeal and lessons are much broader. After the animals of Manor Farm stage a revolt and drive their drunken master off the property, they establish a doctrine of ‘all animals are equal’ and the maxim "Four legs good, two legs bad." But as the pigs begin to assert their governance, and then their dominance, the lofty ideals of the revolution are overturned and history rewritten: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." The perfect dystopian book to feed your rebellion against political corruption.


The Trial

By Franz Kafka,

Book cover of The Trial

Why this book?

A surreal, tense, almost absurd story that was never supposed to see the light of day. Published after Kafka’s death, The Trial is the story of Joseph K, who is unexpectedly arrested for an unspecified crime and subjected to the mercy of a court system that is as irrational as it is inexplicable. Despite its absurdity, the story holds a real menace and ever-present claustrophobia related to the desperate and futile attempts of Joseph K. to find answers and clear his name. The perfect dystopian book to feed your rebellion against inaccessible and unjust institutions and their systems. 


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