Newest Dystopian Fiction Reviews

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Contagion: Book 1 (Dark Matter) by Teri Terry

4.5star.jpg Teens

It's not a spoiler if I tell you that Callie dies because she does die and she dies in the first few pages of Contagion. Callie - Calista - disappeared more than a year ago. Her brother Kai is still looking for her, hopeful that she will be found alive and well. But Callie isn't alive and well. She's been taken to a secretive medical facility on the island of Shetland, experimented on, and then burned to death. But Callie survived the burning in non-corporeal form. How? Full review...

The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips

4.5star.jpg General Fiction

Meet Josephine. Married to Joseph Jones, she has kept her maiden name to keep at least some character to her identity. As opposed to her new boss, who has no gender, no face, and horrid halitosis. The job Josephine is forced to choose is a simple one, of taking a file's paper contents, clicking up the subject on a huge database, entering a date newly printed on the sheet, and repeating. Told to obey strict secrecy rules, she starts to find unusual signs of malignance all over – a man in a grey sweatshirt following her, post redirected when nobody knows where Josephine and Joseph are even living from one month to the next, and a husband missing from the marital bed more and more often… Is there a way for her find a spark of happiness in the humdrum, windowless cell she works, and the horrid housing that is all the couple can afford? Full review...

The Weight of the World (The Amaranthine Spectrum) by Tom Toner

4star.jpg Science Fiction

One thing great science fiction needs is solid world building. When I pick up a book like this, I need to imagine that the universe has existed before the plot has started and will continue to do so after: it needs a strong sense of history and future. With this book, and series, I feel like I have just had a brief glimpse into something much larger. A great deal happens in the plot, but even more is happening, and has happened, across the Firmament. Full review...

Defender by G X Todd

5star.jpg Dystopian Fiction

We have all become strangers to each other and, worse still: enemies. The human spirit that once tethered us together has now divided us as surely as any ocean ever could.

Defender describes a post apocalyptic world in the which destructive voices have entered people's minds. In three short weeks, these voices have persuaded people to kill their most loved ones and themselves resulting in significant proportions of the worlds population being wiped out. Those who have survived, with voices and voiceless alike, are few and far between. Full review...

The Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo and Lola Rogers (translator)

4star.jpg Dystopian Fiction

In a different world, women are bred to be beautiful, man-serving and submissive, little more than pretty faces on walking reproductive machines. All the intelligent, independent women are being removed from the gene pool through forced sterilisation, compelled to while away their days doing menial jobs until the blessed end comes. To the world, Vanna is one of the former, an eloi with few rights and of whom there are few expectations beyond being well groomed and keeping her man well fed. But she has a secret – she is not dim at all. She is one of the clever ones, who is playing dumb to further her cause. In between her college courses in good housekeeping, (which she's flunking, to perfection), she has the small matter of a drug addiction to feed, and the mystery of her true-eloi sister's disappearance to solve. Full review...

Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

4star.jpg Crime

Second and final book in sequence set in a world where Germany won WW2 and Nazi experiments on Jewish children has produced shapeshifting humans. Can Yael defeat the Wehrmacht? Interesting, moving and absorbing. Full review...

The Call by Peadar o Guilin

5star.jpg Teens

The Aes Sidhe are back. And in their quest to win back Ireland from humankind, they have placed a magical seal around the entire island. Nobody can get in or out. North? South? Doesn't matter any more. What does matter is The Call. At some point during adolescence, every teenager is transported to the Sidhe realm, that grey, colourless land to which they were banished thousands of years before. If they can evade the vengeful faerie kind for a full day (just three minutes in the human world) then their lives are spared, although they are often sent back with horrific mutilations. Fewer than one in ten children survive. Full review...

The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J Walker

4star.jpg Thrillers

When the end of the world as we know it comes, Edgar is totally unprepared. Still slightly drunk from drowning his sorrows, and in a panic, he throws random items, including his daughter, down into his cellar, and then he and his family eke out a nightmarish existence in the dark until their supplies run out. Fortunately they are lucky, and they are rescued from the cellar. As they emerge back into the world they see the ruin and disaster around them, caused by hundreds of large asteroids hitting the earth. Large areas of the country have been destroyed. Groups of people left alive scavenge houses and towns, turning feral, trying to find what's left to help them to survive. Edgar's family are rescued by a small remaining army unit, but he and his wife and children become separated, and so begins Edgar's desperate race to reach his loved ones, who are hundreds of miles away, before they leave on an evacuation ship for another country. Full review...

Children of Icarus by Caighlan Smith

4star.jpg Teens

Daedalum's children have one collective ambition. They pray to be chosen as Icarii - honoured ones between the ages of ten and sixteen who will enter the labyrinth, find their way through it to Alyssia, and become angels. Every child yearns to be chosen. Every parent yearns for their child to be chosen. Clara, our girl's best friend, is the most devout of everyone. She knows she is destined to become an angel. Our girl, though, does not want to be chosen. In her society, this is such a badge of shame that she keeps silent. And, along with Clara, chosen she is. Full review...

Blame by Simon Mayo

4star.jpg Teens

A small hand in hers. 'Is it our fault?' Abi said nothing. These tender words show the situation. Ant (a teenaged girl) and Mattie (her younger brother) are innocent and in a prison – HMP London, no less. Since the death of the EU and a huge, all-conquering recession, people are being imprisoned left, right and centre for the crimes of their parents and their parents in turn, meaning anyone with any slightly dodgy firm or habit in their family that might have taken money away from the common good is having their children imprisoned. And even though Ant and Mattie are legitimately in there, due to their parents' activities, they've since been adopted by people who have themselves been accused and imprisoned, thus making them real tabloid-fodder as the worst criminal family in Britain. Surely, then, there's no hope? Full review...

Concentr8 by William Sutcliffe

5star.jpg Teens

In a speculative near-future London, there's a new wonder drug to treat ADHD. Concentr8 is cheap and effective. So effective that the mayor has instituted a programme to identify children for early, preventative treatment. Almost every troublesome teen in London is taking it, often before they've actually become troublesome. But then an austerity drive sees the program cut abruptly. Riots break out, led by the unmedicated teens. Full review...

The Hunt by Paul Bird

4star.jpg Teens

This is Britain after the Very Big Crash. Life is very different, especially if you live in one of the lower suburbs under the Local Government's authority. Cush lives in one such suburb. He works as a detective in the floating Krawczyk building and, though he thinks it himself, is pretty good at his job. His wife Samir doesn't work, even though she'd like to, and spends her days at home reading those most antiquated of things: books. Their son Nim is sixteen and is obsessed with a video game called The Hunt. Cush and Samir fall out constantly over their differing approaches to Nim's obsession. Full review...

Doctor Who: Vengeance on Varos by Philip Martin

4star.jpg Science Fiction

If only those critiquing Doctor Who had access to a time machine, they would be able to temper all their responses. When Mary Whitehouse found the likes of Genesis of the Daleks to be too violent, she and her coterie had no idea the series would soon turn to a prison world, where soon-to-be victims of snuff movies are trapped in a reality-show styled existence, and a hard-done-by populous are sat at home doing nothing other than watching the feeds from the executions, the morgues and worse. If those watching Doctor Who had the benefit of foresight they might have responded to Vengeance on Varos differently. They were quite vocal in complaining about a horrific character being a trade delegate who is half-man, half-slug and wholly stupid evil laugh, and such an artificial premise. Little did they know the series would soon lumber people with Bonnie Langford, and aliens looking like liquorice bleeding allsorts… Full review...

The Four Books by Yan Lianke

5star.jpg Literary Fiction

The Four Books is a difficult, challenging novel and not for the feint hearted, or for someone looking for a page-turner. It really challenges the reader's perceptions and opens up a gateway to an era that is difficult to imagine for anyone brought up in a western culture. Set in Maoist China it tells the story of four protagonists and a memorable antagonist. The four, found guilty of anti-revolutionary crimes are undergoing re-education in a work camp governed by the child. With an Orwellian feel, The Four Books will come to be regarded as an undoubted masterpiece. Full review...

Maladapted by Richard Kurti

3star.jpg Teens

Cillian isn't an average teenager. He knows he's a mathematical genius, he's already at university studying advanced theory, but Cillian doesn't realise quite how above average he is until he's the sole survivor of a train explosion. With his father is dead and his last words to Cillian a riddle, Cillian's existence is thrown in a whole new light. Full review...

Nod by Adrian Barnes

4.5star.jpg Dystopian Fiction

For anyone who has suffered from insomnia, the idea of a world with no sleep is an unsettling place as it feels so real. The thought of having to drag yourself to work after a night with no sleep is bad enough, but what about two nights, or three, or four? Society will crumble if everyone missed five meals in a row, but what would happen if we all missed five nights of sleep? If you end up in the land of Nod, we are all in trouble. Full review...

The Philosopher Kings by Jo Walton

3.5star.jpg Science Fiction

Twenty years have passed since the Goddess Athene founded the Just City. The god Apollo is still living there, albeit in human form. Now married, and the father of several children, the man/god struggles to cope when tragedy befalls his family. Beset by grief and a need for revenge, Apollo sets sail to find the man who caused him such pain, but discovers something that may change everything… Full review...

Boy 23 by Jim Carrington

4.5star.jpg Teens

Boy 23 isn't in My Place any more. He can't see The Screen, he can't hear The Voice. Boy 23 is alone.

Before being dumped alone in the forest by The Voice, Boy 23 - or Jesper, as we shall call him - has lived in a room entirely by himself. He has never met another human being or been outside. His only experience of the world has been through a few short video clips, shown to him on his Screen by The Voice in My Place. Now, he finds himself alone with only a bag full of survival equipment and some brief words from The Voice: his life is in danger, people have been sent to kill him, he must head north west to the Low Countries, The Voice will meet him there and explain everything. Full review...

Black Moon by Kenneth Calhoun

5star.jpg Dystopian Fiction

Do you ever have those nights when you hear every chime of the clock, when you watch the shadows move round the room painfully slowly as the moon crosses the sky? Thankfully I have very few of those. I know that the thing most likely to keep you awake is the worrying about the fact that you're not asleep, and I have distraction mechanisms for when I need them. Full review...

After Many A Summer by Aldous Huxley

4star.jpg Dystopian Fiction

Like many of us, I suspect, I knew nothing of Huxley other than the "required reading" of Brave New World. Naturally, on that basis alone, he was pigeon-holed in my head under the heading Sci-fi - must check out further. Full review...

Confluence by Paul McAuley

5star.jpg Dystopian Fiction

Yama is a foundling orphan adopted as a baby by the Aedile (chief civil servant) of a small city downriver of the mighty, ancient city of Ys, capital of the man-made world of Confluence. Longing to become a soldier and take his late brother's place in the long-running war against the heretics, the restless seventeen year old is about to be taken as an apprentice clerk despite his young age, to keep him out of trouble. Destiny, however, has other plans for him. Full review...

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

4star.jpg Teens

In the walled city of Hak Nam, there are three rules; run fast, trust no one, and always carry your knife. In streets controlled by vicious and sadistic drug lords, three individuals all seek something. Dai seeks information on the criminal brotherhood which employs him, lest he be imprisoned. Jin Ling seeks her sister in the Walled City's brothels, evading the roaming street-gangs as she goes. Mei Yee, trapped in a brothel in the city and forced into sexual relations with the two-faced Ambassador Osamu, desperately seeks freedom. The three have just eighteen days to accomplish this, as the officials of Seng Ngoi plan to evict all residents of Hak Nam in preparation for its demolition… Full review...

The Just City by Jo Walton

3.5star.jpg Dystopian Fiction

Urged on by her brother Apollo, goddess Pallas Athene founds the Just City of Atlantis – a city based on Plato’s republic. Filling it with an assortments of adults collected from throughout time, as well as ten thousand ten year olds, (one of whom is a disguised Apollo). Whilst the city flourishes, the arrival of Socrates may prove to be a fly in the ointment… Full review...

System: With his face in the sun by Jon A Davidson

3.5star.jpg Science Fiction

Wallace Blair, like everyone else, is used to the benefits of a life guided by The System. After all, The System knows best. However he is somewhat dismayed when he wakes to a System message on his Commcuff informing him that his happy marriage is about to be dissolved and that's not his only concern. After being sent to retrieve papers from his grandfather's house, Wallace reflects on how long it's been since he's seen the old man. Wallace decides to drop in on him but what should be a trip to an elderly care facility takes him down an unexpected path. Full review...

We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

4.5star.jpg Teens

Peter, Eliza, Andy and Anita are all about to graduate high school. They all have plans and expectations, even slacker Andy. But those expectations are about to be thrown into disarray. An asteroid is approaching Earth and there's a 66% chance of a collision and an extinction level event. There are just a few weeks before a possible, no a likely, end of the world. What will happen? How will they react? What will they do? Full review...

The Well by Catherine Chanter

3.5star.jpg Dystopian Fiction

The subject and title of Catherine Chanter's debut novel is a country idyll of which dreams are made: charmingly ramshackle, disarmingly verdant and heaving with fertile acreage. Ruth and Mark can barely believe their luck at finding this perfect retreat, an oasis from their tired and overwrought City existence. Several months down the road and with the entire nation brought to its knees by an almost apocalyptic drought, Ruth and Mark are beginning to question their good fortune in their ownership of The Well. Full review...

Mind Games by Teri Terry

4star.jpg Teens

Luna is a Refuser. In her world, a Refuser is a kind of cross between a conscientious objector and a Luddite. In this post WW3 Britain, almost everyone has a brain implant which they use to spend most of their lives in a virtual environment. People don't just play in the vast array of games: they work, they learn, they date. Even hacking is encouraged. And those who opt out, like Luna, are shut out of the best careers and viewed with suspicion. Full review...

The Ship by Antonia Honeywell

4star.jpg Dystopian Fiction

Sixteen year old Lalla has spent her life in London – mostly inside her family home. Because this is not the London of today, or any other day. When Lalla was seven, the apocalypse arrived; banks crashed, flood defences failed, power failed – and the world could only focus on survival. Now the Nazareth Act is in force and without your identity card, you don’t exist – literally, as you will be shot if you don't produce it. Full review...

Influx by Daniel Suarez

5star.jpg Science Fiction

We are told to never judge a book by its cover and that certainly includes any quotes that should adorn the front. Since his debut novel, all the Daniel Suarez books I have read had a quote suggesting that he was the legitimate heir to Michael Crichton. To compare your work with one of the best techno thriller writers of all time is never going to be easy and time after time, Suarez fell short. That is until Influx, a book that finally puts Suarez in the same illustrious company as Crichton. Full review...

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

4star.jpg Dystopian Fiction

The Age of Miracles was one of those much-talked about books that I never got the time to read on its first go around. I'm not sure how I managed that, but I did. Anyway, it got debut author Thompson Walker a seven figure deal after a bidding war and it has dystopian themes, so it is right up my alley and not the sort of thing I'd usually miss. And so, I was happy that Simon & Schuster decided to reissue it for a YA market and even happier that they decided to send me a copy. Full review...

Goodhouse by Peyton Marshall

3.5star.jpg Dystopian Fiction

There have been times in history when governments have thought they knew who the criminal underclass was. This did not lead to anything good under the Nazis and the same can be said of the Goodhouse regime. If we knew that certain genetics led to an increased chance of criminality, wouldn’t educating these people when they were young be a good thing? Prevention is better than cure, but I am not sure if fascism is. Full review...

This is Shyness by Leanne Hall

4.5star.jpg Teens

This is Shyness is an unusual and brilliant story about Wolfboy and Wildgirl, two strangers who meet in a pub in the town of Shyness. The teenagers are drawn together, each adopting a different identity so for the night they can be anyone but themselves. Full review...

The Remaining: Aftermath by D J Molles

4star.jpg Dystopian Fiction

A week is a long time in politics, but it feels infinitely longer in a zombie apocalypse. The Remaining started a new series of books that followed trained military expert Captain Lee Harden and his mission to rebuild America should the undead hit the fan. As an introduction, The Remaining did a great job in creating the world and exploring Harden’s tenacity to stick to the mission, but it ended so abruptly. The Remaining: Aftermath picks up moments later and continues the tale, but does it still deliver a week into his mission? Full review...