In early 2016, I published a roundup of The 110 Best Dystopian Novels. Of course, many new dystopian novels came out during the remainder of 2016 and throughout 2017. And more will continue to do so with each passing year. So to keep my list updated over time, here are the best dystopian novels of 2016 and 2017. The final rankings are based on curated lists from the Huffington Post, Vulture, Publishers Weekly and more, suggestions from readers on Goodreads and Reddit and ratings on Goodreads and Amazon.
To complement these rankings, I have created two pieces of bonus content:
- Dystopian fiction book recommendations from fifteen contemporary dystopian authors like Neal Shusterman (author of the number three book of 2016), Omar El Akkad (author of the number one book of 2017) and Lois Lowry.
- A one-page PDF shopping guide to the complete list of The Best Dystopian Novels.
You can access both of these free resources using the form below. And now, on with The Best Dystopian Novels of 2016 and 2017!
The Best Dystopian Novels of 2016
5. The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin
The conclusion to Cronin’s Passage Trilogy was a 2016 Goodreads Choice finalist for best horror. It continues the tale of a near-future world plagued by vampire-like creatures infected with a highly contagious virus and explores the stories of Subject Zero, the first human to be infected with the virus, and his nemesis Amy, humanity’s last hope for survival.
4. Heartless by Marissa Meyer
This Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland prequel was a 2016 Goodreads Choice finalist for best young adult fantasy and science fiction. Aspiring baker Catherine defies Wonderland’s King of Hearts to pursue a courtship with the handsome and mysterious court joker, Jest.
3. Scythe by Neal Shusterman
The first in the Arc of a Scythe series was another Goodreads Choice finalist in YA fantasy and science fiction. In it, Shusterman imagines a world without hunger, disease, war and misery, where two teenagers must learn the “art of killing” at the risk of losing their own lives.
2. The Fireman by Joe Hill
Amazon editors chose this novel as one of the best mystery, thriller and suspense books of 2016. It also won the Goodreads Choice award for best horror novel. When a global pandemic of spontaneous combustion threatens to destroy civilization, a group of heroes led by the mysterious Fireman fight to save humanity.
1. The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
The second book in Jemisin’s Broken Earth series picks up after the latest of several recurring massive climate changes called “Fifth Seasons.” The story follows a mother and daughter seeking to reunite and discover why Fifth Seasons exist. Amazon and Publisher’s Weekly both named it one of the best science fiction and fantasy books of the year. It also captured the Hugo Award for Best Novel, a year after its predecessor The Fifth Season won the award. Given its public and critical success, The Obelisk Gate is not just one of the best dystopian novels of 2016. It also would have ranked seventy-fifth on my original list of The 110 Best Dystopian Novels (behind The Day of the Triffids).
The Best Dystopian Novels of 2017
5. Void Star by Zachary Mason
In near-future San Francisco, the seas have risen and armed drones patrol the sky. Amidst this dystopian landscape, a thought wave translator, the son of Brazilian politician, and a self-taught martial artist and thief discover that the contents of cranial memory implants can be secretly extracted. Amazon editors named Void Star one of the best science fiction and fantasy books of 2017.
4. The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch
Esquire magazine named this novel one of the fifty best books of 2017. It depicts a war-ravaged and radioactive Earth, where humans inhabit a platform hovering above the planet and group of rebels rallies around a reimagined Joan of Arc heroine in opposition to a totalitarian cult leader.
3. Warcross by Marie Lu
Amazon and Publisher’s Weekly both declared Warcross one of the best young adult books of the year. It was also a Goodreads Choice finalist in YA fantasy and science fiction. The novel follows bounty hunter and hacker Emika Chen, who competes in a major virtual reality game tournament while simultaneously hunting a rogue hacker.
2. Borne by Jeff VanderMeer
Another Publisher’s Weekly favorite and Goodreads Choice finalist (in fiction and science fiction, respectively). A female scavenger finds and raises a genetically engineered creature that threatens her and her lover’s existence as painful secrets are revealed.
1. American War by Omar El Akkad
In a near-future United States ravaged by climate change, a second Civil War erupts over the use of fossil fuels and a preteen girl is turned into a killer. El Akkad’s debut novel was an Amazon editors’ favorite and Goodreads Choice finalist in science fiction. And Esquire continued its dystopian love by naming it one of the best books of the year.