10 prescient new feminist dystopias to read after The Handmaid's Tale
In the not-to-distant future...
The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood's seminal feminist fiction and now a blockbuster Hulu series, paints a grim picture of the future while at the same time highlighting the feminist struggle for reproductive (and other) rights. These novels, recently released or on the way, present fictional tales with a feminist bent of worlds not too different from ours — and ones that are worlds away.
The Power by Naomi Alderman
The Power imagines a world in which young women suddenly develop an extraordinary physical ability that allows them to hurt, or even kill with a touch. Almost overnight, dynamics of gender and power are flipped on their head – and the opportunity to create a feminist utopia is threatened by the corruption that power brings. Buy it here.
Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
In a slightly altered United States, the Personhood Amendment grants citizenship rights to embryos, leading to a ban on abortion and in vitro fertilization. In one small town, three women with varying perspectives are brought together by the arrest of Gin, a homeopath who’s secretly helped women end their pregnancies. Buy it here.
Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich
The world begins to unravel and the future of the human race is threatened when pregnant women everywhere begin giving birth to what appears to be a primitive species of humans. Cedar Hawk Songmaker, adopted at birth and now pregnant herself, goes on a journey to understand her own and her baby’s origins, all while protecting herself from the government’s unwieldy and totalitarian efforts to quell the crisis. Buy it here.
An Excess Male by Maggie Shen King
China’s “One Child” policy – a policy which put preference on a male child – has led to a future where the excessive male population has far outnumbered marriageable women. One such “Excess Male,” Wei-guo, dreams of finding love and family; but even if he succeeds, the extremism of the government will threaten any happiness he finds. Buy it here.
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
The first in a series, Dread Nation sees a world in which the Civil War was interrupted when the dead began to rise. In response, the Native and Negro Reeducation Act passed, requiring certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. On the cusp of graduating one such school herself, Jane McKeene becomes entangled in a political conspiracy that will threaten her life and the future she’d planned. Buy it here.
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
Camellia Beauregard lives in Orléans, one of the lucky Belles that controls Beauty, a scarce commodity in their society. Camellia’s ambition to rise above all the other Belles brings her to the royal palace, where she learns the beautiful façade isn’t all it seems from the outside. Buy it here.
Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne
This hot YA debut is described as a reimagining of Jane Eyre, only set among the stars of outer space. Donne's dystopian vision isn't typical: There's no water ration, plenty of books to read, and AI which hasn't turned on humanity yet. But a conspiracy is underway that could upend everything. Pre-order it ahead of its May 1 release here.
The Completionist by Siobhan Adcock
Marine Carter Quinn returns from the war to his life in a not-too-distant future, with artificially engineered water, advanced technology, and a fertility crisis that touches the lives of Carter’s sisters, Fred and Gardner. While Fred experiences a rare natural pregnancy that changes her life, Carter tries to hunt down Nurse Completionist Gardner, who has mysteriously vanished. Pre-order it ahead of its June 19 release here.
Vox by Christina Dalcher
Women’s rights and livelihoods begin to fall apart in an America where the government decrees the female population is only allowed to speak 100 words a day. Despite her denial that such a thing could occur in her country, Dr. Jean McClellan must struggle to reclaim her own voice for herself, her daughter, and her countrywomen. Pre-order it ahead of its Aug. 20 release here.
An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim
When a deadly flu outbreak threatens the life of her boyfriend, Frank, Polly agrees to travel to the future where she’ll become a bonded laborer in exchange for life-saving treatment for Frank. Although the couple plans to meet in the future, Polly is re-routed in time and left adrift in a changed world. Pre-order it ahead of its July 10 release here.