Cover From Never Let Me Go (2010)

You may be feeling a bit stir-crazy with all the news online and having to stay at home for so long. Here are some interesting dystopian stories to read to pass the time:

The global scale in which this pandemic is unfolding feels surreal at times. It is history in the making and we are witness to a shared international experience that will surely mark our generation for years to come. Health and utility workers stand on the frontlines and every single day is a new reality created through the push and pull of tragedy and resilience.

For those in isolation or quarantine, time has become a resource previously thought scarce. If you're looking to get away from screens or are tired of binge-watching your selection of TV shows, revert to simpler hobbies like reading a book. We bring you a few dystopian novels to read during quarantine that will introduce you to new worlds and eccentric realities:

1 / 5

Brave New World (1932) by Aldous Huxley

Huxley's Brave New World may have been written 89 years ago, but its story still proves fascinating to this day. Set in a world where humans are bio-engineered for high productivity, Huxley explores the balance between order and free will. In this novel, protagonist Bernard Marx is an outcast in an otherwise organised world. Coming from the context of a world war and the Great Depression, Huxley's masterpiece was highly criticised when it was first published. Political yet understated, this book will have you wondering about the struggle between capitalism and humanity — can they really co-exist?

2 / 5

Never Let Me Go (2005) by Kazuo Ishiguro

You might know this novel through its 2010 movie adaptation starring Keira Knightley, Carrey Mulligan, and Andrew Garfield. The book however brings a unique colour to the emotional drama explored by its three central characters. Author Kazuo Ishiguro problematises themes of love, the presence of one's soul, and the value of life in this melancholic story. Unbeknownst to the protagonists, they are actually bred as clones for real-life counterparts to serve as organ donors when the time comes. A coming of age tale at its core, this novel is not for the faint of heart. 

3 / 5

Ready Player One (2011) by Ernest Cline

Dystopian stories don't always have to be bleak! This novel explores life in virtual reality and the tension between imagined joy versus real-life struggle. Author Arundhati Roy once explored this idea in her book The God of Small Things, "if you are happy in a dream... does that count?". Cline challenges this idea through the background of a virtual game in a downtrodden society — everyone is plugged in to win. A story filled with fun, humour and philosophy, this book will prove to be a timely read during this quarantine. Is the online world our new reality? 

4 / 5

The Hunger Games (2008) by Suzanne Collins

If you've enjoyed the movie franchise, maybe it's time to explore the novel series itself. With greater detail and narrative colour than the movies can provide, get to know beloved characters Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark in this suspenseful novel. A tale about love, war, and depravity — Suzzane Collins combines political satire with adventure that will have you at the edge of your seat.

5 / 5

The Plague (1947) by Albert Camus

Although not entirely a dystopian novel per se... this book may prove to be a relatable one during this crisis we are facing across the globe. French philosopher Albert Camus explores the difficulty of facing an epidemic and what good and bad is revealed in people during such a debacle. Camus explores humanity and death in a way only he can do. A classic from the Nobel Laureate's oeuvre, The Plague brings to light many themes of pain and anger, alongside kindness and trust.