George Orwell's 1984 is a classic dystopian masterpiece—one that has captivated readers with its chilling portrayal of a totalitarian regime. First published on June 8, 1949, this novel would prove to be Orwell's last. Writing it took a huge toll on him, and it's believed it played a part in Orwell's failing health which led to his death in 1950.
If you haven't read 1984 yet, there are a lot of great reasons you should! But, perhaps you've read it and loved it and are looking for other dystopian books in the same vein. So, here are 5 dystopian novels you should read next if you loved George Orwell's 1984.
1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
If you're looking to follow up reading 1984 with a book that closely reflects our modern age, Fahrenheit 451 is a great choice. Bradbury's novel imagines a future where reading books is forbidden and firemen are employed to destroy them (the title reflects the ideal temperature at which books burn). Fahrenheit 451 warns against a society obsessed with empty consumerism, addiction to screens, a loss of critical thinking, and the ability to engage with one another face-to-face. Sound familiar? Perhaps the biggest, most frightening lesson of Fahrenheit 451 is that you don't have to ban books to stop people from reading them, you just have provide enough distractions that no one wants to read.
2. The Circle by Dave Eggers
The Circle by Dave Eggers was published in 2013, after the rise of social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. Like 1984, this dystopian novel tackles the issue of mass surveillance, albeit in the post-internet age. The Circle is a spooky story about a young woman who lands what she believes to be a dream job at the most powerful internet company in the world. What begins as an optimistic story soon devolves into a tense exploration of human memory, privacy, and the dangers of too much online transparency.
3. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Often touted as one of the best dystopian novels of all time, Slaughterhouse-Five is a must-read for anyone who loves 1984. Vonnegut's anti-war novel tells the story of a WWII soldier who is captured by Germans and held prisoner in a labor camp in Dresden. He survives the ordeal, but years later is abducted by aliens and eventually becomes 'unstuck in time'. He begins to experience his past, present, and future all at once. While it sounds bizarre, there are some truly potent messages in Slaughterhouse-Five. Not only does it explore humanity's search for meaning, but this wonderful dystopian novel will make you think about free will, morality, mortality, and trauma in a whole new way.
4. Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
This dreamy dystopian novel is one of the best things to come out of 2022. Jumping back and forth through time, from early colonies in the harsh Canadian wilderness to futuristic moon colonies, Mandel poignantly tackles questions about our mortality, the limits of human achievements, and our helplessness in the face of global scale events like a pandemic. While Sea of Tranquility doesn't quite mirror 1984's criticism of mass surveillance, it does touch on the necessity of love and art in a world outside of our control.
5. The Giver by Lois Lowry
We're going to end our list of dystopian novels in the vein of 1984 with another amazing classic. Lowry's young adult novel, The Giver, made huge waves when it was first published in 1993, and continues to intrigue readers today. It follows a boy who lives in a colorless world of peaceful conformity. But this contentment comes at a cost: because while there is no fear or pain, everything is controlled and there is no individual freedom. When this boy is assigned the role of The Giver—someone who takes on all the memories of pain and pleasure for all of society—he realizes that there's more to being alive, to being human, than unchanging contentment.
George Orwell's 1984 remains one of the most influential works of dystopian literature, and many books (including those listed here) take inspiration from it. What did YOU like about 1984? Tell us in the comments 👇 what you thought!