I know I focused on very new/upcoming titles (mostly YA) this month, so I asked my dystopian reader panel for some recommendations of older/more obscure/adult dystopian works.
Diana Peterfreund recommends:
I really love Marianne Mancusi's RAZOR GIRL. I don't know if it's still in print. It's a zombie book with all kinds of cyberpunk shout-outs and it's told half before and half after the zombie apocalypse, from the point of view of a girl who has been turned into a weapon by her father in preparation for the coming plague. Also, seriously, FEED, by MT Anderson, though that was an LA Times notable book when it came out, so I don't know how "obscure" it is. But it's amazing. It's set in a very scary, very realistic near future in which everyone has the internet in their brains, and it shows how society and language and even thought can break down if that's the case. And finally, there's an adult novel by Shawn Klomparens called JESSICA Z that I really enjoyed. It's extremely subtle. It's set in our world, our time, except with terrorism being an everyday occurrence in America. Ooh, and Robin Wasserman's SKINNED series. It's about robots. And an oldie but a goodie: EVA, by Peter Dickinson, about a girl who gets "downloaded" into the body of a chimp. SKINNED and EVA are actually great books to read side by side.
THE SILENCED by James DeVita (from 2007) is the best I could recommend here. It is most likely not considered obscure but overall it was an amazing read to me. It is Marena’s journey at a time that the Zero Tolerance Party has complete control of their world which engages its citizens in heavy restrictions like no reading or writing. Not only did it help me investigate dystopian lit to read more but it also encouraged me in learning more about WWII and the events surrounding the symbolism and significance behind “The White Rose” during that time period in our world’s history. It helped me give me perspective into the very depths of identity and integrity as well.
THE GATE TO WOMEN'S COUNTRY by Sheri S. Tepper because most people haven't heard of it, and I think it's an excellent book. It's not obvious that it's a dystopian book from the beginning, but sometimes I think those that surprise are the best (kind of like the ending of The Planet of the Apes movie).
Amy H. Sturgis recommends:
I think MARY'S COUNTRY by Harold Mead (1957) deserves to be much more widely read than it is. My understanding is that it came out too soon after both 1984 and LORD OF THE FLIES, and thus became characterized as a mixture of the two, although that's a gross oversimplification of this haunting and sensitive novel. This is the story of what happens to the isolated young people who were being groomed for leadership roles in a totalitarian regime, when their country is hit by the enemy's devastating biological weapons and the children are free to flee on their own. It is a chilling and beautiful story about what makes us human and what gives us hope.
Heather Trese recommends:
AFTER DACHAU by Daniel Quinn. It's an adult title, and so, so powerful. I didn't really know anything about it going into it, which really made my reading of it even more enjoyable because there's a twist and I was totally blind-sided when it happened.
The Y: THE LAST MAN graphic novel series is incredible, and I’d call it both post-apocalyptic and dystopian. One day, for no apparent reason, all the males in the world (human and animal variety) die at the exact same moment – except two, Yorick Brown and his monkey. It’s funny and cynical and fascinating and heartbreaking all at once.
SPARES by Michael Marshall Smith. I think that some people may shelve this with sci-fi but it has always seemed pretty dystopic to me - based in a world where people are cloned for spare body parts. I am also always amazed at how many people haven't read PD James THE CHILDREN OF MEN - particularly after the success of the movie a few years ago.
Steph Su recommends:
BATTLE ROYALE by Koushun Takami. It's like the Rated R version of The Hunger Games. Terrifyingly visceral, incredible character development, only to have the characters killed as soon as we start to care for them. Yiiiikes!
Celia Larson recommends:
SHADE'S CHILDREN by Garth Nix. It was published back before dystopian lit hit big, and it's VERY good. Everything Nix writes is fantastic, really.
Have you read any of these? What did you think? What are some other dystopian titles you'd recommend?