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20+ Dystopian, Science Fiction, and Fantasy Books To Escape With

I’m back with more book suggestions! You guys loved the historical fiction one, so I hope you enjoy this one, too. I decided to combine so many smaller genres into one post because there are lots of books that kind of cross the line(s). I’ve included ones that I read and loved in addition to those that I’ve heard good things about.

Book descriptions included here are from Amazon unless otherwise stated.

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Looking to escape from the world? Check out these dystopian, science fiction, and fantasy books and travel far away.

Outlander – I’m sure by this point you’re all like, “We get it, Kate, you like Outlander and think everyone should read it.” This is true! But that’s not the reason why I’ve included it here. It’s here because it bends genres, and it’s partially a science fiction/fantasy book as the crux of the plot comes from a WWII nurse accidentally going back in time to the 18th century. If you like science fiction/fantasy, historical fiction, books about war, and, of course, love, you’ll love this book and the series. | All books in the series: Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, An Echo in the Bone, and Written in My Own Heart’s Blood | Why you should check out the Outlander series

The Percy Jackson Series – I read the first book in this series when I took a class on YA books in college, and then I read the rest of the books in this series. They’re that good! “Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school . . . again. And that’s the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy’s Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he’s angered a few of them. Zeus’s master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.” | All books in the series: The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan’s Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, and The Last Olympian

Harry Potter – Have you been living under a rock and are just hearing about this series for the first time? If so here’s the synopsis of the first book: “Harry Potter has never even heard of Hogwarts when the letters start dropping on the doormat at number four, Privet Drive. Addressed in green ink on yellowish parchment with a purple seal, they are swiftly confiscated by his grisly aunt and uncle. Then, on Harry’s eleventh birthday, a great beetle-eyed giant of a man called Rubeus Hagrid bursts in with some astonishing news: Harry Potter is a wizard, and he has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. An incredible adventure is about to begin!” | All books in the series: The Sorcerer’s Stone, The Chamber of Secrets, The Prisoner of Azkaban, The Goblet of Fire, The Order of the Phoenix, The Half-Blood Prince, and The Deathly Hallows

The Golden Compass – This is another YA book, so let me just say this: you don’t have to be in high school or younger to like/read YA. Now that that’s out of the way, here’s what this wonderful book is about: “Lyra is rushing to the cold, far North, where witch clans and armored bears rule. North, where the Gobblers take the children they steal–including her friend Roger. North, where her fearsome uncle Asriel is trying to build a bridge to a parallel world. Can one small girl make a difference in such great and terrible endeavors? This is Lyra: a savage, a schemer, a liar, and as fierce and true a champion as Roger or Asriel could want. But what Lyra doesn’t know is that to help one of them will be to betray the other.” | Sequels: The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass

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The Giver – I think this was the first dystopian book I ever read, and I’m pretty sure it blew my little mind at the time. “The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.” | Sequels: Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son

A Great and Terrible Beauty – This is another one that combines fantasy with historical fiction. It’s so good! “It’s 1895, and after the suicide of her mother, 16-year-old Gemma Doyle is shipped off from the life she knows in India to Spence, a proper boarding school in England. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma’s reception there is a chilly one. To make things worse, she’s been followed by a mysterious young Indian man, a man sent to watch her. But why? What is her destiny? And what will her entanglement with Spence’s most powerful girls—and their foray into the spiritual world—lead to?” | Sequels: Rebel Angels and The Sweet Far Thing

Exit West – I’ve heard some people dislike this, but I really enjoyed it. It takes place in a world similar to ours, facing a similar refugee crisis, with one big difference: doors to other areas of the globe keep appearing, making immigration much easier. “In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through.” | Check out my review

Six of Crows – I adore this book and its sequel. Teenagers completing a heist in a fantasy world! “Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction―if they don’t kill each other first.” | Sequel: Crooked Kingdom | Check out my review of Six of Crows

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Reflections – This was written by my friend Briana Morgan and it’s great. “In the small, rural town of Aldale, West Virginia, Ramachandra “Rama” Ganeshan wants nothing more than to avoid dressing rooms for the rest of her life. After a brutal assault destroys her confidence and self-esteem, she yearns to be someone else . . . someone pretty, popular, and loved—until multiple girls in town are found murdered. After stumbling across her beautiful classmate’s body and a terrifyingly familiar face in the murderer, Rama encounters a group of shapeshifters who know more of the killings than they let on.” | Check out my review

Good Omens – I read this in high school and couldn’t put it down. It’s funny and smart and will soon be a TV show! “According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner. So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture. And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .”

Stardust – This is another one by Neil Gaiman, and it’s already a beautiful movie. Imagine if your town was a normal town and there was a forest nearby with a wall between the town and it and when you went over the wall, magic was real. “Tristran Thorn promised to bring back a fallen star. So he sets out on a journey to fulfill the request of his beloved, the hauntingly beautiful Victoria Forester—and stumbles into the enchanted realm that lies beyond the wall of his English country town. Rich with adventure and magic, Stardust is one of master storyteller Neil Gaiman’s most beloved tales, and the inspiration for the hit movie.”

The Handmaid’s Tale – Given the TV show, you’re probably already familiar with this book if you weren’t already. I read it for the first time in February and was astounded by how wonderful it is! “Set in the near future, it describes life in what was once the United States and is now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining birthrate by reverting to, and going beyond, the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans. The regime takes the Book of Genesis absolutely at its word, with bizarre consequences for the women and men in its population. The story is told through the eyes of Offred, one of the unfortunate Handmaids under the new social order.” | Check out my review

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The A Song of Fire and Ice Series – You’re probably aware of the TV show named after the first book in the series: Game of Thrones. If you’re unfamiliar, the description of the first book says, “Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. To the south, the king’s powers are failing—his most trusted adviser dead under mysterious circumstances and his enemies emerging from the shadows of the throne. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the frozen land they were born to. Now Lord Eddard Stark is reluctantly summoned to serve as the king’s new Hand, an appointment that threatens to sunder not only his family but the kingdom itself.” Also, be aware that the series isn’t finished and the TV show is now ahead of the books! | All books in the series: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crowds, and A Dance with Dragons

The Lord of the Rings series – This is one series that I personally couldn’t get into. I don’t know why! But that doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t like it; I know many people who love these books. “Through the urgings of the enigmatic wizard Gandalf, young hobbit Frodo Baggins embarks on an urgent, incredibly treacherous journey to destroy the One Ring. This ring – created and then lost by the Dark Lord, Sauron, centuries earlier – is a weapon of evil, one that Sauron desperately wants returned to him. With the power of the ring once again his own, the Dark Lord will unleash his wrath upon all of Middle-earth. The only way to prevent this horrible fate from becoming reality is to return the Ring to Mordor, the only place it can be destroyed” (x). | All books in the series: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King

Animal Farm – This modern classic is a staple of high school English classes. If you somehow missed it then or don’t remember it, definitely check it out! “Animal Farm is Orwell’s classic satire of the Russian Revolution — an account of the bold struggle, initiated by the animals, that transforms Mr. Jones’s Manor Farm into Animal Farm–a wholly democratic society built on the credo that All Animals Are Created Equal. But are they?”

1984 – Comparisons to this novel have been tossed around since 2017, and it’s not hard to see why. “In 1984, London is a grim city where Big Brother is always watching you and the Thought Police can practically read your mind. Winston Smith joins a secret revolutionary organization called The Brotherhood, dedicated to the destruction of the Party. Together with his beloved Julia, he hazards his life in a deadly match against the powers that be.”

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11/22/63 – This is another genre-crossing novel that focuses on the quest to prevent JFK’s assassination by someone from the present. “Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in a Maine town. While grading essays by his GED students, Jake reads a gruesome, enthralling piece penned by janitor Harry Dunning: fifty years ago, Harry somehow survived his father’s sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family. Jake is blown away…but an even more bizarre secret comes to light when Jake’s friend Al, owner of the local diner, enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination. How? By stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom, and into the era of Ike and Elvis, of big American cars, sock hops, and cigarette smoke… Finding himself in warmhearted Jodie, Texas, Jake begins a new life. But all turns in the road lead to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. The course of history is about to be rewritten…and become heart-stoppingly suspenseful.”

The Princess Bride – I love this book! “Rich in character and satire, the novel is set in 1941 and framed cleverly as an “abridged” retelling of a centuries-old tale set in the fabled country of Florin that’s home to “Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passions.””

Children of Blood and Bone – I’m dying to read this, as it’s being compared to Harry Potter and had a movie deal before it was even published. “Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for an enemy.”

American Gods – This is another one that I really want to read. Neil Gaiman and mythology? What could be better? “Just days before his release [from prison], Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and a rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself. Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined. Soon Shadow learns that the past never dies . . . and that beneath the placid surface of everyday life a storm is brewing—an epic war for the very soul of America—and that he is standing squarely in its path.”

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What dystopian, science fiction, or fantasy books do you love?

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