Dystopian Fiction

Commonly extrapolating elements of current society, dystopian fiction explores the darker side of possible worlds. Discover more than a Brave New World here.

The Measure

The Measure

Author: Nikki Erlick Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/07/2022

Your fate arrives in a box on your doorstep. Do you open it? It seems like just another morning. You make a cup of tea. Check the news. Open the front door. On your doorstep is a box. Inside the box is the exact number of years you have left to live. The same box appears on every doorstep across the world. Do you open yours?

Femlandia

Femlandia

Author: Christina Dalcher Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/10/2021

In this her third dystopian thriller, Dalcher gives another chilling look into an alternative future where a woman and her daughter seek refuge in a women-only colony after the country sinks into total economic collapse. Darker than her other reads, but still female-centric and speculative, this tells the tale of widowed Miranda Reynolds and her sixteen-year-old Emma whose only hope for survival is Femlandia, a male-free colony set up decades earlier by Miranda's estranged mother.  It's another twisty turny rollercoaster ride of emotion and thought-provoking themes. It's raw, it's disturbing in places, the characters are incredibly flawed and I flew through it at pace. Pulled in from the very first few pages and hooked until the end, for me Dalcher is firmly becoming the queen of speculative fiction.

Books of the Month
Circles a Clover

Circles a Clover

Author: Michael Egan Format: Hardback Release Date: 26/08/2021

Egan’s finely tuned skill as a storyteller seduces you. Right from the opening chapter he sets up a delicious, nerve-tingling sense of foreboding, with references that range from Game of Thrones and mushroom clouds to Afghanistan, Iraq and the impending end of the world. He doesn’t so much hook you into his imagined world, as gently caress a net around you, coaxing you onto each page after the next. And what a story he tells.  Plucky, thoughtful Kyle Halfpenny, year 11,  lives with her Dad who is either a mad drunk or prescient seer. She sees bigger pictures and small details and has views, thoughts and fears that all speak of a profound understanding and compassion for the lot of those in her world.  She communes with foxes, mourns for a lasagne that had ”shrunk in on itself, like it was trying to hide from it’s own failings” and through the absence of her mother and missing her brother, she cares for her Dad, a lasagne made mortal, who seeks sanctuary with Kyle on a island imbued with history, overrun by rabbits and the home of hope. This is a one hell of a read, for YA readers as much as for the intended adult audience. It is a cautionary tale of the corrosive effect on life of unfettered fear, the acid that eats joy. It is a sad and lyrical hymn to our responsibilities to ourselves and to each other. And, with its exquisite, magical, story-within-a story, it is an enchanting fable about the gritty beauty of life and of all lives. Unless you’re a rabbit.

Iceapelago 2091

Iceapelago 2091

Author: Peter Brennan Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/07/2021

30 years after the dramatic climate events of ‘Iceapelago’ Peter Brennan’s sequel ‘Iceapelago 2091’ shows us how those who survived have managed to cope with the devastation and loss caused by the collapse of the gulf stream and the arrival of tsunamis, referenced as the Eriador event. Having read and enjoyed the first book in this series, I was curious to see where the story went next. There’s lots of explanation throughout, so those who haven’t read the first book won’t be too lost although to fully understand how Ireland became Iceapelago I would recommend starting with Brennan’s previous book. As bad weather is on the horizon yet again, the struggle to survive for all across Iceapelago is about to get tougher. I really enjoyed this follow-up by Peter Brennan. A survival thriller with plenty of drama, the storyline didn’t once go where I expected it to. I also liked the way that the book shows the perspective of the animals, Rory’s Dog Alfie and the Arctic Foxes, I found this an entertaining twist. This environmental thriller is fast paced, easy to read and - as our weather systems continue to change with the impact of climate change - worryingly plausible.  Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

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Iliba Unravels

Iliba Unravels

Author: Ed Crutchley Format: Paperback Release Date: 26/07/2021

‘Iliba Uravels’ by Ed Crutchley has a futuristic storyline, where constant surveillance via wristwatches monitor everyone’s interactions, crime is at its lowest levels, and yet we have Detective Inspector Hubert Plon on hand to handle any murders that do arise. As he begins a budding yet secretive relationship, he is called to investigate the murder of a man that had been developing artificial intelligences connected to the country-wide surveillance, Iliba, of his own.  This is an interesting dystopian mystery, futuristic in plot but still containing plenty of mystery, action and twists to suit crime fiction fans. The plotline is well written and I found the characters to be well-developed, with each new piece of information taking me down a path I wouldn’t have guessed. With the technology held within the smart watches a lot of us wear today, it’s not difficult to believe that the creation of something like Iliba could be possible and I feel the author did a brilliant job of setting the scene in a way that is uncanny yet highly believable. An interesting mystery with a dystopian twist that I feel would appeal to fans of either genre.

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Pelagia Between the Stars and the Abyss

Pelagia Between the Stars and the Abyss

Author: Steve Holloway Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/06/2021

An interesting and challenging speculative science fiction novel that begins in 2066. Covering a number of years and several time frames, Ben Holden is on the run after being targeted for his scientific research. It really does feel as though this world could be our future, enough is relatable and touchable to allow you to easily slip into what could be. Author Steve Holloway has a degree in Aquatic Biology and has worked around the world in marine science, it means that the scientific and oceanic world Ben finds himself in teems with possibilities and I particularly enjoyed these sections. The frequent moves in time and locations are clearly marked, which allowed me to flick between the different timelines in the plot with ease. Faith plays a part here, in terms of what is on offer in the future, and the main character’s transformation. I’m not in the slightest bit religious and found that this element, rather than overpowering proceedings, slotted into the story with ease. There is also enough action to keep the plot moving along at a good pace. Pelagia: Between the Stars and the Abyss makes for a refreshing and thought-provoking read.

Debut Books of the Month
The End of Men

The End of Men

Author: Christina Sweeney-Baird Format: Hardback Release Date: 29/04/2021

An exquisitely unsettling and fabulous blast of speculative fiction awaits in this provocative, hard-hitting debut novel. An unknown virus that only kills men hits Glasgow in 2025, as it spreads, confusion, lies, and heartbreak follows. As Christina Sweeney-Baird explains in her author’s note, she wrote The End of Men before Covid 19 affected the world. While the current pandemic remained tucked away in my thoughts as I read, this is very much a work of fiction and the focus lies with a female lead society coping with life during and after a pandemic. This is told on a world scale over five years and is set as a gathering of memories, as though this event has already come to pass and you are reading a piercing slice of history. This novel contains a huge number of characters, and I felt as though I was observing them at a distance. Having said that, some characters return throughout the book, and I formed more of a bond, felt more of a connection with them. Short chapters, headed by the day after the outbreak and name of the character ensured my focus remained sharp and on point. There are bubbles of humour to be found along the way, as well as the more obvious emotions. Yes this is so very close to what is happening right now, but it is different enough to make this novel more readable as a result. Joining our LoveReading Star Book collection, The End of Men is a powerful, thought-provoking read that is both epic in scale and intimate in memories. The LoveReading LitFest invited Christina to the festival to talk about The End of Men.   You can view the event by subscribing to the LitFest programme for as little as £6 per month - or you can pay per view. For just £2, go, see Christina in conversation with  and find out why everyone should read this book. Check out a preview of the event here

Star Books
Queentide

Queentide

Author: Donna Fisher Format: Paperback Release Date: 17/04/2021

A tense and concerningly believable read, ‘Queentide’ by Donna Fisher is a dystopian fiction about women. Set in 2026 Australia (in the near future but not futuristic-feeling), authoritarianism is rife and women are fast losing their voice in the maelstrom of patriarchal outrage. In a sort of exacerbated truth, 2020 pandemic lockdowns led to an increase of domestic abuse reports, and a society that, instead of resolving these cases, turned the blame on women, leading to an escalation in harassment and prejudice. As I read I saw the modern world we live in now but twisted, as though perceived in a carnival mirror. The writing in this book is brilliant. The radio broadcast with Kathleen Rae had my blood boiling and the characterisation of slippery, manipulative politicians and media outlets were all so well crafted and believable. I enjoyed reading as Lillith grows in strength and confidence, and I was intrigued and daunted by Insley’s more aggressive path. There are plenty of strong female characters, with their own backstories, flaws and views that helped to demonstrate a realistic variety of feminist perspectives. Amongst the agenda of Queentide, and as with any brilliant story focusing on people, individual beliefs cause conflicts about what the end goal is, and the means to achieve it. Will Queentide be able to remain united? Will their plans make a positive difference or lead to a direct role reversal? An evocative merging of political thriller and dystopian fiction, ‘Queentide’ has claws. It is a gripping read with grit, heart and good intentions and I’d highly recommend it. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador 

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Dreamland

Dreamland

Author: Rosa Rankin-Gee Format: Hardback Release Date: 15/04/2021

Spanning twenty years, beginning four years from now, Rosa Rankin-Gee’s Dreamland is a haunting, visionary dystopian novel. Set against a bleak backdrop of escalating inequality, austerity and climate change in post-Brexit Britain, the novel feels both hyper-real and dream-like, suffused as it is in the ethereal melancholy of an abandoned seaside town and the longings of its inhabitants. Seven-year-old Chance and thirteen-year-old JD were born in London, which “was a fourth world country now. A hotbed. A timebomb waiting to go off. That, and an island for rich Russians.” And so their mother accepts a grant from a right-wing foundation for them to move to Margate at a time when droves of people are moving inland to escape the rapidly rising sea. It’s run-down, boarded-up, and subject to the hazardous consequences of climate change, from the rising sea, to the extreme heatwave that hits during their second summer. There are black-outs too, power outages, riots and looting, and then comes the Localisation Act, which grants greater autonomy to smaller regions, resulting in London isolating itself further from the rest of the country and a mass exodus from hard-hit Margate. The creeping sense of change, deterioration and desperation is palpable as Chance seeks to settle into herself, to make a life in Margate while her mother has a new baby to care for and a violent boyfriend to watch out for. And then Chance meets Francesca (Franky), and both their lives change forever thanks to a love that both sets them spinning and roots them, as the world spins out of control. Beautifully-written (the calm, crystalline language is loaded with longing), and powerfully prescient, this is a unique and captivating cautionary tale of our times.

Audiobooks of the Month
Line

Line

Author: Niall Bourke Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/04/2021

With bleak and evocative imagery, ‘Line’ by Niall Bourke, is a short yet intriguing read that I think would be perfect for fans of ‘1984’ and books that fall into the literary/dystopian fiction genre. The eponymous Line is everything to Willard and his girlfriend Nyla, with generations and generations of families being born, living and dying waiting to reach some unknown and possible better destination. There are strict rules that must be obeyed with brutal almost  ritualistic punishments for anyone who breaks the rules or that attempts to skip the line. In the beginning I found it easy to draw parallels and see a commentary on immigration, that with this more dystopian setting reminded me of ‘The Wall’ by John Lanchester. As the story progressed I saw similarities between Willard and Nyla’s path and Julia and Winston’s storyline in ‘1984’. As the plot develops ‘Line’ also includes a commentary on corporations and their power.  I liked the way that ‘Line’ develops. Avoiding spoilers as much as possible, I started to read thinking that the book was one thing, and as more details were revealed I understood that the scope of the book was much larger than I would have predicted. I found the writing succinct, with enough detail to expose the harsh realities of the line and the journeys beyond while encouraging you to get to know the characters. I liked the excerpts throughout the book that helped to explain the wider world and add exposition and context, this reminded me of the book in ‘1984’ and I feel it benefitted the overall story, allowing ‘Line’ to be the short and powerful read it is and removing the need for Willard and Nyla (and by default the reader) to spend time and pages searching for information. A brilliant read for fans of literary, speculative and dystopian fiction, one that I would highly recommend. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Amabssador

Indie Books We Love
Ashes of the Sun

Ashes of the Sun

Author: Django Wexler Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/04/2021

Immensely enjoyable, this high fantasy novel contains characters and a storyline to die for. Oh, and if you think you don’t like fantasy, you might want to think again - this has heaps of drama, action, and thoughtful intrigue, as well as allowing an escape from the reality of the world we are living in. Ashes of the Sun is the first book in the new Burninglade and Silvereye Series. Gyre seeks revenge on the Twilight Order who took his little sister Maya twelve years ago, but when the siblings meet again they find themselves on opposing sides in a war for survival. When it comes to fantasy novels I am a reading fiend, I find that this particular genre offers some of the very best series going and can already safely say that this will be a series I will be camping outside of bookshops for. Django Wexler has built a post-apocalyptic world that you can immerse yourself in, I didn’t stop, doubt, question, just wholeheartedly believed. I grew in knowledge alongside Gyre and Maya, and absolutely loved the combination of technology and inner power. Not only is this a fast-paced beautifully diverse read, I found the humour perfectly timed. In the acknowledgements Django Wexler says that the novel originated after a series of conversations about Star Wars, and you can definitely see some influences as you read. Ashes of the Sun has it all, and comes with the higher than highly recommended tag from me.

Star Books
Kid A History of The Future

Kid A History of The Future

Author: Sebastian de Souza Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/03/2021

Wow. I actually lost sleep with this one. It’s just brilliant. Lots of pop references which I enjoyed, love the fact that Sir David is viewed as highly as he should be. There are references from most of the past decades. The characters are just wonderful, so full of depth. I adore the way it is written in the past and the present, in letter form, book form and even text format. It will really capture the imagination of anyone who reads it, while also giving a stark warning - be wary of too much tech! Kid, Eliza and Pas are such a tight bunch having been through so much together, to have that kind of friendship is a blessing.  I really hope this is the first of many books by this author, because they clearly have a flair for writing and drawing the reader in.  Absolutely loved it!!  Amanda O'Dwyer, A LoveReading Amabassador

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