Dystopias & Apocalyptic Booklist overbooked.com

Dystopian & Apocalyptic Fiction - novels set in a world gone wrong. Its the end of the world as we know it...This list includes classic titles, current fiction (all genres) and some novels for children and teens.

Annotations are from Advance, the Ingram Book Magazine, unless noted.

Adult Fiction Stars

  • The Handmaid's Tale
    Author: Atwood, Margaret
    Publisher: Houghton $ 16.95 ISBN: 0395404258 Date: 1985
    First published in 1985, this is a novel of such power that the reader is unable to forget its images and its forecast. It is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force. "A novel that brilliantly illuminates some of the darker interconnections between politics and sex".--"The Washington Post Book World".
    Updated 5.18.05
  • Oryx and Crake
    Author: Atwood, Margaret
    Publisher: Doubleday $ 26 ISBN: 03885503857 Date: 2003
    With command of her material and with her sharp wit and dark humor, Atwood projects a conceivable future of the world, a place left devastated in the wake of ecological and scientific disaster, and populated by a cast of characters who will continue to inhabit dreams long after the book is closed.
    Suggested Reading: All Stars
    Updated 4.29.03
  • The Year of the Flood
    Author: Atwood, Margaret
    $ 26 ISBN: 9780385528771 Date: 2009
    star PW star Booklist star LJ
    The long-awaited new novel from the author of The Handmaid's Tale and The Blind Assassin, The Year of the Flood is a dystopic masterpiece and a testament to Atwood's visionary power.
    Suggested Reading: All Stars
    Updated 8.18.09
  • The Vaults
    Author: Ball, Toby
    $ 24.99 ISBN: 9780312580735 Date: 2010
    Ball presents a dystopian period thriller in which a chilling series of events leads three different men to join in exposing the legacy of a radical program for punishing murderers.
    Updated 7.12.10
  • Turning on the Girls
    Author: Bernard, Cheryl
    Publisher: FSG $ 23 ISBN: 0374281785 Date: 2001
    In the wickedly amusing Turning on the Girls, Cheryl Benard proves herself to be truly an equal-opportunity satirist. It's the year 2000-something. A decade ago, the world's power was seized by women, and since then things have been wonderful . . . or at least they will be--just as soon as the new rulers finish fixing things.
    Updated 5.26.05
  • Bloodtide
    Author: Burgess, Melvin
    Publisher: Tor $ 24.95 ISBN: 0765300486 Date: 2001
    From the author of the critically-acclaimed award-winning Smack comes a novel set in the chaos of a ruined London in the not-too-distant future. Twins Siggy and Signy become entangled in family ties and the tragic rivalries that could destroy them both in a city that becomes a battle ground between two warring families of ruthless ganglords.
    Suggested Reading: Adult Books for Teens
    Updated 5.26.05
  • Parable of the Sower
    Author: Butler, Octavia
    Publisher: Seven Stories $ 19.95 ISBN: 1888363258 Date: 1993
    In a time of urban squalor, rampant violence, and deadly decay, anarchy rules. But for Lauren Olamina, a new hope is dawning when she leaves the chaos of L.A. and flees north with a tiny band of followers.
    Updated 5.23.05
  • Parable of the Talents
    Author: Butler, Octavia
    Publisher: Seven Stories $ 24.95 ISBN: 1888363819 Date: 1998
    star PW star LJ
    In this long-awaited novel, Butler revisits familiar themes to tell of a society in 2032 whose very fabric has been torn, and where the basic physical and emotional needs of people seem almost impossible to meet.
    Suggested Reading: African American Stars
  • Circuit of Heaven
    Author: Danvers, Dennis
    Publisher: Eos $ 14 ISBN: 0380974479 Date: 1998
    arrow image NYTBR Notable Book
    Reluctant to visit the parents who had forsaken him for a virtual reality paradise called "the Bin," Nemo, who refuses to submit to technological advances, meets Justine and begins to doubt his fervent beliefs, and when she begins to have someone else's dreams, they are both plunged into a nightmare world.
    Updated 5.26.05
  • Walking Tour
    Author: Davis, Kathryn
    Publisher: Houghton Mifflin List Price: $ 23 ISBN: 0395945410 Date: 1999
    By turns dazzling and as dark, as risky and entrancing as the landscape it describes, The Walking Tour is part mystery story, part shrewd visionary meditation on the uneasy marriage of art and commerce, telling the story of a fatal accident which occurs during a walking tour in Wales.
  • Distress
    Egan, Greg
    Publisher: HarperPrism List Price: $21 ISBN: 0061052647 Date: 1997
    starPublishers Weekly
    In his latest novel, the author of Permutation City and Quarantine creates a fragmented futuristic world where technology and bio-engineering threaten humanity's very existence. The year is 2055, and the world's only hope for survival lies in Violet Mosasa's development of a final Theory of Everything. But whether it will lead to the total destruction of Life As We Know It or the complete remaking of the Universe may be a risk to dangerous to take.
  • The Misconceiver
    Author: Ferriss, Lucy
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster $ 22.95 ISBN: 0684800926 Date: 1997
    A provocative, dystopian novel in the tradition of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Caught in the social and political crossfire after Roe v. Wade is overturned in 2011, Phoebe performs illegal "misconceptions" in her basement, restoring to desperate women some control over their own bodies.
  • The Physiognomy
    Author: Ford, Jeffrey
    Publisher: Avon $ 12 ISBN: 0380793318 Date: 1997
    starKirkus arrow image NYTBR Notable Book
    Sent from the Well-Built City to a barren mining town, physiognomist Cley is directed to find the thief who has stolen a supernatural and legendary white fruit that grew in the Earthly Paradise. By the author of Vanitas.
    Updated 5.25.05
  • P.E.A.C.E
    Author: Holmes, Guy
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster $23 ISBN: 0684870797 Date: 2000
    The police procedural meets 1984. In this sharply drawn, prophetic literary thriller, an anti-crime video surveillance system turns New York City into the base for an astonishing conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of government.
    Suggested Reading: Conspiracy Theory
    Updated 10/5/00
  • The Children of Men
    Author: James, P.D.
    Publisher: Knopf $ 22 ISBN: 0679418733 Date: 1993
    In 2021, with the human race becoming extinct because of the infertility of all males, Oxford historian Theodore Faron is drawn into the schemes of an unlikely group of revolutionaries out to save society
    Updated 5.18.05
  • Body Politic
    Author: Johnson, Paul
    Publisher: St Martins List Price: $ 22.95 ISBN: 0312202792 Date: 1999
    Gorky Park meets Brave New World in this award-winning debut novel of a serial killer lost in a supposedly perfect society overtaken by the Enlightenment.
    Suggested Reading: Scottish Crime Fiction
  • Water of Death
    Author: Johnston, Paul
    Publisher: Minotaur $ 24.95 ISBN: 0312273118 Date: 2001
    Edinburgh, 2025: an almost crime-free oasis surrounded by anarchic city-states. But global warming has turned summer into the Big Heat, and water, like everything else, is strictly rationed. Citizens live only for the weekly lottery drawing. When a recent winner goes missing, however, subversive investigator Quintilian Dalrymple is called in to deal with a case of the summertime blues. Then a body is discovered face down in the Water of Leith, and the only clue to the death is a bottle of contraband whisky. Quint thinks he sees traces of a conspiracy to destabilize the city, as the body count -- like the temperature -- keeps on rising.
    Suggested Reading: Scottish Crime Fiction
    Updated 3/13/01
  • The Tyrant's Novel
    Author: Keneally, Thoams
    Publisher: Delacorte $ 25 ISBN: 0385511469 Date: 2004
    In a work that evokes the classic cautionary tale Fahrenheit 451, Keneally masters the gripping perspective of a man caught between the unconscionable demands of his government and the meager prospect of running for his life.
    Suggested Reading: Political Fiction
    Updated 5.24.04
  • A Philosphical Investigation
    Author: Kerr, Philip
    Publisher: FSG $ 20 ISBN: 0374231761 Date: 1993
    In an intensely violent futuristic world where serial killers abound and people are screened to determine their predisposition for criminality, a man who fits the model decides to become a serial killer of serial killers.
    Updated 5.25.05
  • Second Angel
    Author: Kerr, Philip
    Publisher: Henry Holt $ 25 ISBN:0805059628 Date: 1999
    star Kirkus
    Set in 2069, on the centennial of the Apollo XII Moon mission, this dystopian high-velocity thriller reveals an Earth where plagues have destroyed the major food supplies, climatic changes have brought constant winter to the once-industialized West, and a new and virulent virus has infected the population.
  • Cell
    Author: King, Stephen
    Publisher: Scribner $ 26.95 ISBN: 0743292332 Date: 2006
    Civilization doesn't end with a bang or a whimper. It ends with a call on your cell phone. What happens on the afternoon of October 1 came to be known as the Pulse, a signal sent though every operating cell phone that turns its user into something...well, something less than human. Savage, murderous, unthinking-and on a wanton rampage. Terrorist act? Cyber prank gone haywire? It really doesn't matter, not to the people who avoided the technological attack. What matters to them is surviving the aftermath. Before long a band of them-"normies" is how they think of themselves-have gathered on the grounds of Gaiten Academy, where the headmaster and one remaining student have something awesome and terrifying to show them on the school's moonlit soccer field. Clearly there can be no escape. The only option is to take them on.
    Suggested Reading: Zombies
    Updated 1.25.06
  • Just Like Beauty
    Author: Lerner, Lisa
    Publisher: Farrar $ 24 ISBN: 0374180628 Date: 2002
    starLibrary Journal
    A darkly comic and surprisingly sweet coming-of-age story is set in the dystopic suburban near future, where a plague of mutant grasshoppers invades a hopelessly artificial landscape and bands of teenage boys run amok.
    Updated 10/8/01
  • Girl in Landscape
    Author: Lethem, Jonathan
    Publisher: Doubleday List Price: $ 22.95 ISBN: 0385485182 Date: 1998
    Fourteen-year-old Pella flees a post-apocalyptic Brooklyn for the frontier of a recently discovered planet. Girl in Landscape is a daring exploration of the violent nature of sexual awakening, a meditation on language and perception, and a homage to the great American tradition of the western - a genre-blowing, mind-blowing tale.
  • Aftertime
    Author: Littlefield, Sophie
    $ 15 ISBN: 9780373803361 Date: 2011
    Set in a dystopian world and featuring zombies, Aftertime is the first novel in a new series. Cass Dollar had been taken by zombies and turned into one of them. But she got better somehow. Now all she wants to do is find her daughter.
    Suggested Reading:Zombies
    Updated 2.14.11
  • The Execution Channel
    Author: MacLeod, Ken
    Publisher: Tor $ 24.95 ISBN: 9780765313324 Date: 2007
    It's after 9/11. After the bombing. After the Iraq war. After 7/7. After the Iran war. After the nukes. After the flu. After the Straits. After Rosyth. In a world just down the road from our own, on-line bloggers vie with old-line political operatives and new-style police to determine just where reality lies. James Travis is a British patriot and a French spy. On the day the Big One hits, Travis and his daughter must strive to make sense of the nuclear bombing of Scotland and the political repercussions of a series of terrorist attacks. With the information war in full swing, the only truth they have is what they're able to see with their own eyes. They know that everything else is--or may be--a lie. - Publisher Marketing
    Updated 5.1.07
  • Eyes of the Calculor
    Author: McMullen, Sean
    Publisher: Tor $ 27.95 ISBN: 0312877366 Date: 2001
    Two thousand years in the future, the Dragon Librarians of Australica have just one means to hold their world together: kidnap every numerate person on their continent and rebuild their out-of-date, human-powered computer--the Calculor.
    Suggested Reading: Librarian Stars
  • Perdido Street Station
    Author: Mieville, China
    Publisher: Del Rey $ 18 ISBN: 0345443020 Date: 2001
    In the sprawling gothic city of New Crobuzon, a stranger has come to request the services of Isaac, an overweight and slightly eccentric scientist. But it is an impossible request--that of flight--and in the end Isaac's attempts will only succeed in unleashing a dark force upon the city.
  • Scar
    Author: Mieville, China
    Publisher: Del Rey $ 18.95 (trade paper) ISBN: 0345444388 Date: 2002
    Aboard a vast seafaring vessel, prisoners and slaves are being transported to a fledgling colony of New Crobuzon. When the ship is besieged by pirates, the senior officials are executed, and surviving passengers are brought to a floating city constructed upon the hulls of pirated ships, a place whose leaders harbor a sinister agenda.
    Suggested Reading: Pirate Stars
  • Iron Council
    Author: Mieville, China
    Publisher: Del Rey $ 24.95 ISBN: 0345464028 Date: 2004
    Following Perdido Street Station and The Scar, acclaimed author China Mieville returns with his hugely anticipated Del Rey hardcover debut.
    Updated 7.6.04
  • Cloud Atlas
    Author: Mitchell, David
    Publisher: Random $ 14.95 (paper) ISBN: 0375507256 Date: 2004
    From David Mitchell, the Booker Prize nominee, award-winning writer and one of the featured authors in Granta's Best of Young British Novelists 2003 issue, comes his highly anticipated third novel, a work of mind-bending imagination and scope.
    Updated 5.10.04
  • Ashes of the Earth: A Mystery of Post-Apocalyptic America
    Author: Pattison, Eliot
    $ 26 ISBN: 9781582436449 Date: 2011
    starPW star Booklist
    Thirty years after global holocaust, the colony of Carthage still struggles to build its new world. Embittered survivor Hadrian Boone--once a revered colony founder--has been hounded by despair. After the colony's leading scientist is murdered, Hadrian unearths chilling secrets behind the killing.
    Updated 3.27.11
  • Woman on the Edge of Time
    Author: Piercy, Marge
    Publisher: Random Date: 1976
    Connie Ramos, a woman in her mid-thirties, has been declared insane. But Connie is overwhelmingly sane, merely tuned to the future, and able to communicate with the year 2137. As her doctors persuade her to agree to an operation, Connie struggles to force herself to listen to the future and its lessons for today....
    Updated 5.23.05
  • Thinner Than Thou
    Author: Reed, Kit
    Publisher: Tor $ 24.95 ISBN: 0765307626 Date: 2004
    In the tomorrow of Thinner Than Thou, the cult of the body has become the one true religion. The Dedicated Sisters are a religious order sworn to help anorexic, bulimic, and morbidly obese youth. Throughout the land, houses of worship have been replaced by the health clubs of the Crossed Triceps. And through hypnotically powerful evangelical infomercials, the Reverend Earl preaches the heaven of the Afterfat, where you will look like a Greek god and can eat anything you want. Just sign over your life savings and come to Sylphania, the most luxurious weight-loss spa in the world, where the Reverend himself will personally supervise your attainment of physical perfection.
  • But the glory of youth and thinness that America worships conceals a hidden world where teens train for the competitive eating circuit, where fat porn and obese strippers feed people's dark desires, and where an underground railroad of rebellious religions remember when people worshipped God instead of the Afterfat. - Publisher Marketing
    Updated 6.15.04
  • Super Sad True Love Story
    Author: Shteyngart, Gary
    $ 25 ISBN: 9781400066407 Date: 2010
    starKirkus star Booklist
    The author of two critically acclaimed novels, The Russian Debutante's Handbook and Absurdistan, Shteyngart has risen to the top of the fiction world. Now, in his hilarious and heartfelt new novel, he envisions a deliciously dark tale of America's dysfunctional coming years--and the timeless and tender feelings that just might bring us back from the brink.
    Updated 6.15.10
  • Distraction
    Author: Sterling, Bruce
    Publisher: Spectra $ 23.95 ISBN: 0553104845 Date: 1999
    star PW star Kirkus
    An electrifying cautionary tale from Bruce Sterling - called "one of the best thinkers in science fiction today" (Newsweek) - propels readers to 2043, when high technology is humanity's ultimate threat.
  • The Visitor
    Author: Tepper, Sheri S.
    Publisher: Eos $ 25.95 ISBN: 0380979055 Date: 2002
    Centuries after an asteroid nearly obliterates the Earth, young orphan Disme Latimer is keeper of a mysterious book. Written by her ancestor, Neil Latimer, who chose to protect the remains of the post-apocalyptic world, the book contains "myths" that suggest that a band of scientists from that time--including Neil--have miraculously survived. Disme's quest to discover the truth will bring her face to face with an unimaginable evil.
  • Player Piano
    Author: Vonnegut, Kurt , Jr.
    Publisher: Macmillan Date: 1952
    Vonnegut's first novel spins the chilling tale of engineer Paul Proteus, who must find a way to live in a world dominated by a super computer and run completely by machines. His rebellion is a wildly funny, darkly satirical look at modern society.
    Updated 5.23.05
  • City on Fire
    Author: Williams, Walter Jon
    Publisher: HarperCollins $22 ISBN: 0061052132 Date: 1997
    starPW arrow image NYTBR Notable Book
    After the war, Aiah must contend with Constantine, the man she transformed into a leader, as he forces her to recruit plasm divers to destroy the Silver Hand and work with a terrifying human-turned-monster that only ventures out of his hole to destroy life, but she also discovers her heritage and what lurks behind the Shield.
    Updated 5.26.05
  • Let's Put the Future Behind Us
    Author: Womack, Jack
    Publisher: Atlantic $ 23 ISBN: 0871136279 Date: 1996
    In this satirical romp through post - Soviet Russia, Womack describes a world of petty bureaucrats, shameless opportunities, and full-blown mafiosi.
    Updated 5.25.05
    Also: Random Acts of Senseless Violence, Heathern, Ambient
  • Classics

  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner
  • A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick
  • 334 by Thomas M. Disch
  • A Very Private Life by Michael Frayn
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell
  • For Children and Teens

  • Off the Road by Nina Bawden
  • No Kidding by Bruce Brooks
  • The White Mountains, The City of Gold and Lead and The Pool of Fire by John Christopher
  • The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer
  • The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
  • The House of the Scorpion and The Ear, the Eye and the Arm by Nancy Farmer
  • The Dirt Eaters by Dennis Foon
  • Hole in the Sky by Pete Hautman
  • The Cure by Sonia Levitin
  • The Giver and Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
  • Secret Under My Skin by Janet Elizabeth McNaughton
  • Shade's Children by Garth Nix
  • The Last Book in the Universe by W.R. Philbrick
  • Rotten Island by William Steig
  • River Rats by Caroline Stevermer
  • Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Seeing Stars

Annotated lists of books receiving at least one starred review from one of four major review sources: Booklist, Kirkus, LJ and PW.

2012 Lists

more stars lists...

Hotlists@ Google Docs

Crime Fiction... 2012 | 2011

Fiction... 2012 | 2011

(lists of new and notable books - lists are sortable and can be downloaded)


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