Six dystopian novels by women

Given current events across the Pond and closer to home, many already feel like they’re living in a nightmarish version of reality. To provide a little comfort, we’ve compiled a list of dystopian novels by women. From Margaret Atwood’s Gilead to Suzanne Collins’ Panem, these creepy alternate worlds will make you feel a little better about recent events closer to home.

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

No list of ghastly parallel universes would be complete without Suzanne Collins’ 65 million copy bestselling trilogy The Hunger Games. Panem is a truly horrendous place to live, especially if you live in the 12 poverty-stricken districts, and with the constant threat of one of your loved ones being taken away to fight to the death in a public arena, suddenly our world doesn’t look too terrible.

Station Eleven, Lauren St. John Mandel

Lauren St. John Mandel’s Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction nominated book is far more concerned with what a post-apocalyptic world means for the humans living in it than it is with sensationalising a disaster or political upheaval. Involving a travelling Shakespearean theatre company and many a Star Trek reference, for those fans amongst you, Station Eleven is an incredible meditation on humanity and the parts of civilisation worth preserving.

The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is surely the undisputed Queen of Dystopian Fiction and choosing just one of her novels is a challenge, but the award-winning The Handmaid’s Tale surely has to take the crown. Set in near-future North America, a totalitarian theocracy has overthrown the US government and uses its control to subjugate women, relegating many, including our narrator Offred into the role of domestic sex slaves.

The Country of Ice Cream Star, Sandra Newman

In this Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction longlisted novel, Sandra Newman plunges you into an America devastated by a strange virus known as Posies. This America is populated only by children who perish before their 20th birthday. You’ll find yourself cheering on Ice Cream Star, our unlikely but charismatic 15-year-old heroine, as she takes on the world, hellbent on finding a cure for this disease.

The Bees, Laline Paull

A dystopia with a difference, don’t be put off by the fact that this novel is set in a bee colony – we promise it’ll keep you on the edge of your seat. Laline Paull’s unique tale follows Flora 717, a sanitation bee, the lowest class of her society. Yet Flora is different, possessing talents forbidden and strange to her kin. We guarantee you’ll be hooked as Flora struggles for survival in her hive where ‘mutant’ bees are routinely destroyed.

The Children of Men, P. D. James

P. D. James’ The Children of Men is a classic of dystopian fiction, and now also a big screen blockbuster. Set in England in 2020, for reasons unknown all males’ sperm count has plummeted to zero, and mankind now faces its own extinction. Propaganda and strange rituals have sprung up across the country, giving governments extraordinary powers to keep the peace, and when a woman somehow becomes pregnant, the implications are huge.

Did we miss your favourite dystopia by a woman? Tell us your thoughts and join in the conversation on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The Women's Prize Podcast

Tune into host Vick Hope and a line-up of incredible guests on our weekly podcast full of unmissable book recommendations.