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Feminist Dystopia Books Like The Handmaid’s Tale

If you’re looking for more books like The Handmaid’s Tale then these feminist dystopia books are a great place to start!

The Handmaid's Tale Cover - Feminist Dystopia

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is the crème de la crème of modern dystopia and it has given rise to a new genre dubbed “feminist dystopia”.

I’ve been busy binge-reading novels in this genre over the last few weeks so without further ado, here are my top feminist dystopia books similar to The Handmaid’s Tale!

The Power Naomi Alderman, a book like the Handmaid's Tale

The Power by Naomi Alderman

The Power caused a bit of a stir when it was first released and women everywhere were raving about it. It nabbed the Bailey’s Women’s Prize in 2017 and was called “our era’s Handmaid’s Tale” by The Washington Post. Heck, even Barack Obama said this was one of his favourite books of 2017.

It imagines a word in which women have all the power. Literally. Teenage girls discover they have the ability to shoot electricity from their hands and now the female species has a physical advantage over men. Over time the gender balance of the world is reversed and women become the dominant gender.

With power though comes great responsibility and the book explores how a number of different girls choose to use their newfound powers. Some for good, some for bad.

The world she depicts is by no means any sort of utopia however and, as the title indicates, it’s more about power than it is about gender. It’s thought-provoking and compelling and well worth adding to your bookshelf.

Buy The Power: Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones | Blackwells

Vox by Christine Dalcher

Vox by Christina Dalcher

Vox is centred around an interesting, though not entirely original, concept where women can only say 100 words a day.

Each woman is given a fitbit like device, except instead of tracking steps, it tracks words. Once she goes over 100 words, she is shocked for every extra word with increasing intensity.

Vox has provocative theme with a very strong beginning and a thought-provoking scenario. It’s hard to imagine being restricted to a few sentences a day and I know there are plenty of women around the world who are still in scenarios where they are unable to speak freely.

I’m sorry to say this strong start was followed by rather poor development of what, at first, were engaging plot points and ultimately a lacklustre ending.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it overall or that it didn’t make me think – it did both of those things. I just felt a little shortchanged at the end when things were resolved. I’d definitely still recommend Vox but if it came to choosing between this novel and The Power, I’d advise going with the latter.

Buy Vox: Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones | Blackwells

The Bees by Laline Paull

The Bees by Laline Paull

The Bees is the most unique title on this list as the characters are not humans, but bees. It sounds completely ridiculous at first but somehow it just… works.

The similarities between the society of bees and human society surprised me but there is definitely a connection there that is well explored in The Bees.

It’s undoubtedly one of the strangest books I’ve ever read but it was even more compelling that I could ever have imagined.

It’s set inside the hive where hierarchy and structure are of the utmost importance. We follow the remarkable story of a bee who doesn’t quite fit in with the rest in a world where “deformity is not permitted”.

Flora 717 is a sanitation bee, the lowest of the low in their hierarchical society. However, she is not like the other bees of her class and moves up the ranks until she eventually finds herself in the Queen Bee’s inner sanctum.

It’s similar to many other dystopian classics in its exploration of uniform society and striving for the greater good. Flora is faced with some major challenges that cause her to question her duty to the hive and its Queen.

In the end, Flora 717 is a character you can’t help but root for and she’s got both sass and rebellion as well as a tender heart. Highly recommended!

Buy The Bees: Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones | Blackwells

The Farm by Joanne Ramos - similar to the Handmaid's Tale

The Farm by Joanne Ramos

You get the opportunity to live at an exclusive retreat where all expenses are covered and you have access to private trainers, delicious food, massages and more. You’re being paid to boot!

But, for nine months, you belong to The Farm. You’re there to carry a baby for an incredibly wealthy couple that you will never meet. Would you take this opportunity?

The Farm raises some really interesting and controversial questions that force you to really think and question your own sense of integrity. This book will make you question right and wrong and reiterate that things aren’t always so black and white.

It’s easy to judge the characters actions when you first meet them but by the end of the novel you may find that those judgements have been completely turned around.

There are quite a few unexpected plot twists along the way which keep things exciting but don’t get too comfortable when reading this.

Buy The Farm: Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones | Blackwells

Facial Justice by L.P. Hartley

Facial Justice by L P Hartley

Facial Justice is a dystopian novel written in the 1960s and is one for fans of classic dystopian novels such as 1984 and Brave New World.

It’s set in the aftermath of World War III when every effort is made to stamp out individuality and everyone is forced to wear sackcloth and ashes. Envy is the enemy and anything that may incite it is to be eradicated.

We meet Jael 97, a good looking woman, at the Facial Equalisation Centre. She’s there to be “beta-fied” and downgrade her alpha good looks which have been causing discontentment amongst other women.

Jael is a proud woman however and doesn’t want to let go of her good looks. She rebels against society and the men who try to oppress her by trying to reassert the right to be individual.

A fascinating book with a dark premise that is (worryingly) still as relevant today as it was in the 1960s. One of my favourites on this list!

Buy Facial Justice: Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones | Blackwells

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

In Red Clocks, abortion is illegal once again. The story is told from the alternating perspectives of five different women in different situations.

There’s a pregnant teenager, a single woman desperately trying for a baby and the female polar explorer she is writing about, a mother trapped in a loveless marriage and a mender who is put on trial in a modern day witch hunt.

The premise of this book is very interesting and worryingly relevant today. What’s disturbing is that when I picked up this, it seemed like it was based on a time gone by, one that most wouldn’t ever have to experience.

It was to my great shock that in May 2019, abortion was made illegal in Alabama. When dystopia becomes a reality you know the world really is in trouble.

As such, Red Clocks isn’t really much of a dystopia, but a tale set in a the world we already live in. It was inspired by changes in legislation so the lifestyle portrayed is that of the every day American.

The jumping perspectives make it quite a choppy read so I didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d hoped but I do think it’s an important read.

Buy Red Clocks: Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones | Blackwells

An Excess Male by Maggie Shen King

An Excess Male by Maggie Shen King

An Excess Male is one that really piqued my interest since I am half Chinese and the majority of my family were subject to the one-child policy.

An Excess Male imagines China in the not-so-distant future when the one child policy has resulted in an inordinate number of single men, 40 million to be precise.

Wives are highly sought after but only the best of men, usually those with large dowries, are able to tie the knot. What’s more, women are allowed up to a maximum of three husbands and can have one child with each.

When Wei Guo and his two fathers save up enough money to enter into matchmaking talks with another family, something seems off. The family dynamics between this wife and her existing two husbands are strange and Wei Guo’s fathers are hesitant about the match.

However, Wei Guo is drawn to this family of three and desperately wishes to become a part of it. He becomes fiercely protective of it but his patriotism is tested as he must choose either to follow either his country’s ideals or his own heart.

There’s lots to unpack in this novel as it explores politics, gender, societal pressure and LGBTQ issues. If you’re at all interested in Chinese politics and society this will definitely be an interesting read for you.

Buy An Excess Male: Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones | Blackwells

Gather the Daughters by Jennier Melamed

Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed

In Gather the Daughters, a colony of humans live on an isolated island, away from the incinerated wastelands. Their society strictly controls breeding, restricts knowledge and worships the “ancestors” of old.

The only people allowed to roam the wasteland and freely leave the colony are the Wanderers, male descendants of the original inhabitants.

All daughters of the island are wives-in-training. When they hit puberty, they undergo the Summer of Fruition, one last hurrah before they are forced to marry, have babies and continue the cycle.

However, the latest band of teenagers to go through this aren’t quite so obedient. They’ve seen things, they’ve got questions. And so begins their revolt.

This is possibly one of the darkest titles on this list, which is saying something given that this is a list of dystopian books. It’s thrilling, it’s eerie, it’s compelling. I’ve added Jennie Melamed to my list of authors to watch and urge you all to read Gather the Daughters.

Buy Gather the Daughters: Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones | Blackwells

Dystopian book, The Children of Men by P.D. James

The Children of Men by P D James

No children have been born for two decades and there will be no more in the future. Society is breaking down as people find they have nothing to live for and no future to build. Life is largely the same as it once was but there is an increase in violence, depression and ennui.

This story is told through Theodore Faron’s eyes. He was once an academic at Oxford University but now there are no more young adults to teach.

He’s also the cousin of the Warden of England, which is why he is approached by a young woman who wishes to gain an audience with him. It turns out this woman may very well be mankind’s only hope of survival and so Theo joins her and her band of fugitives.

The Children of Men is a slow burner so expect to take your time with this one. The first half details Theo’s childhood and his relationship with his cousin, the Warden. It helps to set the scene and the Warden’s characterisation is a great piece of writing.

A lot of this novel is concerned with how one rises to a position of power and then abuses it, which is why there is this focus on their past. If you’re interested in politics then you will no doubt enjoy the political intrigue in this world without children.

In the second half, the pace picks up considerably as Theo goes on the run with a new group of revolutionaries. I found this part to be much more engaging and this part is the real “dystopia”.

The group are desperately trying to protect what they believe to be the future of the human race and one of their only chances for survival.

I’d say this book is a little like marmite as many love it and others find it quite bleak and bland. I found it quite slow in parts and overall quite depressing but the premise of a world without children and how that would impact the last generations of humankind is fascinating.

It’s also worth noting that the film is very different from the book, indeed, it’s almost a different story.

Buy The Children of Men: Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones | Blackwells

The Testaments by Margret Atwood, sequel to the Handmaid's Tale

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

The Testaments is the long-awaited sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale. The first book shrouded readers in mystery with everyone wondering – what happened to Offred? Was she recaptured, released or even killed?

Before release, Atwood published a short message for fans:

Dear Readers: Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.

It’s quite worrying how close to dystopian novels the world we’re living in is!

The Testaments is told from the alternating perspectives of Aunt Lydia, still in Gilead; Agnes, a Handmaid’s daughter; and Daisy, a girl smuggled out of Gilead when she was a baby.

Aunt Lydia’s narrative is by far the most compelling and the most in line with this book’s predecessor. Agnes’ story is also fascinating as you see through the eyes of a healthy child born through Gilead’s process. However, Daisy was a much less convincing character and quite annoying in places.

It’s worth noting that the tone of The Testaments departs quite a lot from that of the Handmaid’s Tale. It’s much more hopeful than the first book and ties up all the loose ends that made the ending of The Handmaid’s Tale so bleak.

It’s certainly entertaining and a must-read for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale but I must admit that I’m not convinced it was quite good enough to win the Booker prize.

Buy The Testaments: Amazon | Book Depository| Waterstones | Blackwells

Want even more feminist dystopia or books like The Handmaid’s Tale? Here are some others I’ve been recommended that I haven’t had a chance to read yet:
Who Runs the World? by Virginia Bergin
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill
The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

Pin now, read again later!

Love this post? Here are even more book lists to check out:
Books Like Lolita
Books Like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Books Like Normal People by Sally Rooney
Books Like Little Fires Everywhere
Books Like Where the Crawdads Sing
Books Like Crazy Rich Asians
Books Like milk & honey
Best YA Dystopian Books

Jean D'Eau

Monday 7th of June 2021

I am glad that you mentioned "Who Runs the World?" by Virginia Bergin. In the USA, it's titled "The X-Y". Interesting book.

Vipula

Wednesday 11th of September 2019

Thanks for sharing this list. I had no idea so many dystopian novels existed. I would also recommend Brave New World - coz a large portion of it does deal with how that dystopian world perceives femininity, sexuality and motherhood.

Carol Guttery

Wednesday 4th of September 2019

I would also recommend "When She Woke" by Hillary Jordan. It takes on some of the same territory as A Handmaid's Tale and A Scarlet Letter in a chilling dystopic future wherein women who have abortions are convicted of murder and stained red upon their release from prison.

Eva

Tuesday 3rd of September 2019

I might try to read some of them even if I did not enjoy "The Handmaid's tale" for some reason. Well, I guess I don't particularly enjoy dystopia books in general. I find them too oppressing and scary (it's kind of the point of it, but I don't like to feel like my mind is being trapped if that makes sense). But I did enjoy "The Power" though so I need to read more to really have an opinion on them. Anyway, I like this post! I don't see this kind of recommendation quite often and it's always nice to have new options when it comes to books to read :)