GoodReads Reviews – Dystopian Novels

GoodReads Part 2

It’s that time again – yes, if you are thinking about reading through some helpful writing tips (or add some books to your reading list) from readers on GoodReads then OMG, you are completely reading my mind (or hacked my email–stop it!). Usually, I am annoyed at keyboard warriors and their unwanted opinions and disregard of grammar posts but in GR, it’s a refreshing experience because we all share the love of reading and are passionate about how a book has impacted us. Sometimes, it’s positive while other times a book which left a bad taste in my mouth seems to have duplicated to other readers across the country. For this post, (and you can read my previous post here), I’d like to dig in at comments left on some of our favorite classic dystopian novels.

the-handmaids-tale-bookThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

It was hard to find a negative review but there were some worth mentioning and appropriate considering our real life circumstances (or extremely bad luck?). One reader suggested the author was inexperienced or straight up doesn’t believe in quotation marks. At times I agree because the distinction can be tricky. Do quotations need to be used or is it obvious depending on how the information is delivered? Comment at the bottom if you prefer this style and find it annoying.

On a harsher post, a reader suggested this feminist-driven book made no sense and is taken to the extreme in our time, and that the dystopian world Atwood created should reflect the Reagan era that inspired the book. The suggestion seems to point out that it’s ridiculous. Though I agree the reader suggests it’s impossible to change a society overnight, we must acknowledge the year this book was written and not ignore human nature.

Perhaps a vast country such as the U.S. could not so easily be taken over, but it’s foolish to think we know what extremes people will take and how people will confirm simply out of fear. Though perhaps an extreme, we can look at the genocide that occurred in Rwanda. For centuries, ethnic tension built between the Tutsis and Hutus people and through manipulation that led to over 800,000 deaths, was a devastation done in merely 100 days. Whether it was hatred or conformity, historical tension or the death of then President Juvenal Habyarimana (Hutu), it doesn’t much matter in terms of the outcome. For this reason, among many historical moments of genocides or civil wars, I can not scoff at dystopian driven novels, even if it seems unrealistic to others because we are humans and we are capable of anything on the spectrum.

What works well in the book:
Tips: maybe stick to quotations in dialogue. Let the reader be distracted by the amazing plot, not pick at the writing style.
Second tip: go there – the end of the world dystopian and don’t let anyone else try to water down your idea.


Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

I was young when I first read this book – enamored with the creativity of this strange dystopian world where firefighters burned books (and of course raised questions as one of my parents was a firefighter). Known to one reader as an ‘english professor’s dream’ for its overused metaphors and ‘flowery style’, it seemed the reviews were hit and miss for one of my favorite books. What I think is overseen is the insight Bradbury pulled in the story in his time. Yes, it’s not as vivid as other works, and may not be as moving compared to today’s New York Times Best Sellers, but the problem with censorship through the book in an era that reflected his fears and comparing it to now with the issue of censoring fake news (or politically motivated news) feel prevalent. And of course the plot is easy to follow.

1984 by George Orwell
Book is awesome – never change 1984. 😉

1200A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

A terrifying, and more believable dystopia where criminals own the night in this extremely disturbing novel (and just as creepy film). The book follows Alex, gang member and well, rapist who ends up getting what he deserves in prison/government monkey/then gets released where life begins to crumble even further before he gains growth and perspective (note this is with the first version of publication) but it seems the criticism would be of the first version, the second publication for the U.S. continuing in a dark twisted path with no real happy ending and the character doesn’t mature with age. Instead that part is left out. Most of the criticism I came across were in terms of the story not really starting until far into the book, the title (which I actually like), the slang words used, and the whole theme of freedom of choice was not more profound than it could have been (I’m paraphrasing what I read between swears). The book is racy and very violent and details some horrific events that exceed the above books.

Tip: go dark but be wary people may not finish it. Having read books with graphic rape scenes, sometimes it can really push a reader away. But of course don’t censor yourself either.

Dystopian Novels To Check Out At Your Local Library

  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • The Iron Heel by Jack London
  • Logans’ Run by William F. Nolan & George Clayton Johnson
  • The Running Man by Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King)
  • The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
  • We by Yevgeny Zamyatin


If you have some books in this genre to share or a comment, please post below!

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