Best Dystopian Audiobooks

The best dystopian audiobooks to plug and play.

The best dystopian audiobooks reveal worlds replete with hardship and injustice. Some are seeming utopias or look much like our own society, their rotten core revealed as the story progresses. Others are in ruins, under the thrall of dictatorship or unrecognisably futuristic. 

Hold on, I hear you cry. You’re just describing the genre. What makes some dystopian audiobooks rise above the rest? 

Building an authentic reality is vital. It could be based in space, in Siberia or in the author’s bedroom, but it has to feel real. As do the characters, whose plight or journey must grab readers faster than Orwell’s Thought Police. Finally, there is the performance, which must fit the tone of the book as well as the characters. 

Best Dystopian Audiobooks 2020


In reality, 2020 was more apocalyptic than dystopian, but people still wanted their fill of bleak fiction, to escape to any worlds different from their own. Perhaps that’s why dystopian sci fi audiobooks hit so big in lockdown. 
 

I could wax dystopian all day, but it’s time to get to the good stuff. The top ten. Hallowed be the fruit, may the odds be ever in your favour and have your Soma at the ready. We're going in.

Best Dystopian Audiobooks 2021


Feminism took centre stage in 2021, with top dystopian audio books such as The End of Men and The Grace Year capturing imaginations and best seller rankings. Who run dystopian worlds? Girls.

Best Dystopian Audiobooks 2022

Dystopias are ruling the roost in 2022. Leading the charge is The School for Mothers. 

Top 10 Dystopian Audiobooks

1

1984

By

George Orwell

Read By

Andrew Wincott

Having a top ten of dystopian audiobooks without Orwell’s 1984 would be like not inviting Alice to the tea party. Incredibly prescient and chillingly bleak, this was well ahead of its time.

2

The Handmaid's Tale

By

Margaret Atwood

Read By

Joanna David

Margaret Atwood takes us to Gilead, a theocracy where Offred is a handmaid, enslaved to breed children for her master.

Atwood doesn’t do things by halves. She builds her creepy world down to the tiniest details, making it easy to see how this has become a modern classic. I originally listened to Joanna David narrate this. Nowadays, it’s read by an entire cast led by the TV show’s star, Elisabeth Moss.

3

Never Let Me Go

By

Kazuo Ishiguro

Read By

Kerry Fox

This is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. It’s a mystery and a dystopia and a heartbreaking story of friendship. I daren’t say more except that if you haven’t read it, do.

4

The Trial

By

Franz Kafka

Read By

Dick Hill

Kafka explores authoritarian rule from a satirical angle in The Trial. In the story, Joseph K is an upstanding member of society. Why then has he been arrested? They won’t tell him. But everything he says or does only further confirms his guilt. Funny, dark and chilling, this is dystopia distilled into one of its most sinister facets.

5

The Hunger Games

By

Suzanne Collins

Read By

Carolyn McCormick

Panem rose out of the ruins of North America. Depending on where you’re born, life can be harsh and unforgiving or glittering and opulent. And in this polarised society ruled by the most brutal of regimes, children are forced to fight for their lives in The Hunger Games. The original narrator, Carolyn McCormick, gives a sinister performance I quite enjoyed, since replaced by Tatiana Maslany, who is excellent as the voice of Katniss.

6

Ready Player One

By

Ernest Cline

Read By

Wil Wheaton

Sci-Fi royalty Wil Wheaton reads this upbeat, entertaining take on the dystopian genre. And, while Ready Player One is very much set in a miserable authoritarian regime, it is one where virtual reality offers an exciting escape. Chock full of 80s pop culture references, this action packed tale is just plain fun.

7

Lord of the Flies

By

William Golding

Read By

Martin Jarvis

Ian Flemming’s classic tale of a group of boys stranded on a desert island is a fascinating interpretation of the nature of children. This micro-dystopia is a must-read. Read it at school? Give it a reread.

8

Vox

By

Christina Dalcher

Read By

Julia Whelan/Laurence Bouvard

Julia Whelan, one of the best voices in the audiobooks game,reads this chilling tale of an America in which women are silenced.

9

Fatherland

By

Robert Harris

Read By

Michael Jayston

It’s the 1960s. We’re in Berlin. And Hitler has won the War. Initially, this chilling setting seems almost incidental. Robert Harris begins in what’s seemingly a detective mystery, but which develops into an action thriller, uncovering a mass conspiracy. It’s the allusions to small details that make this such a potent picture of this terrifying alternate history, whether it is casually referring to The Fuhrer or SS ranks.

10

Fahrenheit 451

By

Ray Bradbury

Read By

Tim Robbins

Ray Bradbury’s poetic telling of a vapid world in which books are burned is hypnotic and creepy in its empty portrayal of humanity. It's read by none other than Tim Robbins.

Best of the Rest Dystopian Books

Phew. That was difficult. Selecting just ten best dystopian audio novels was a wrench. So here are yet more brilliant examples of this dark genre, listed A-Z.

Armada

By

Read By

Ernest Cline

Wil Wheaton

Not Quite RP1, But Still Great

average rating is 3 out of 5
As Our World Ends

By

Read By

Jack Hunt

Kevin Pierce

Enjoyable

average rating is 4 out of 5
Brave New World

By

Read By

Aldous Huxley

Michael York

A timeless piece about human nature versus nurture.

average rating is 4 out of 5
Cage of Souls

By

Read By

Adrian Tchaikovsky

David Thorpe

Imagine Mark and Jez of Peep Show living their best/worst lives in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic hellscape with monsters and mutants. That just about covers it...

average rating is 5 out of 5
Christian Nation

By

Read By

Frederic C. Rich

Oliver Wyman

Chillingly Real. Detailed Beyond Belief.

average rating is 5 out of 5
Dead Moon

By

Read By

Peter Clines

Ray Porter

Treat This as a Stand Alone Story

average rating is 4 out of 5
Femlandia

By

Read By

Christina Dalcher

Brittany Pressley, Cassandra Morris

Very Close To Living Up To Expectations

average rating is 3 out of 5
Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits

By

Read By

David Wong

Christy Romano

Grisly violence, sarcasm and maniacal supervillains have never been so hilariously lovable.

average rating is 4 out of 5
How High We Go in the Dark

By

Read By

Sequoia Nagamatsu

Jason Culp, Stephanie Komure, Micky Shiloah, Joe Knezevich, Brianna Ishibashi, Kotaro Watanabe, Matthew Bridges, Kurt Kanazawa, Greg Watanabe, Jeanne Sakata, MacLeod Andrews, Keisuke Hoashi, Brian Nishii, Julia Whelan

High Praise for this Darkest of Tales

average rating is 5 out of 5
Kings of a Dead World

By

Read By

Jamie Mollart

Mike Rogers

Half Stargate Universe with its bleak futility and half Man in the High Castle with its rumbling underbelly.

average rating is 3 out of 5
Lock In

By

Read By

John Scalzi

Amber Benson, Wil Wheaton

A Fascinating Futuristic Reality Sets This Apart. Reminds me of iRobot.

average rating is 4 out of 5
Mindwalker

By

Read By

Kate Dylan

Stephanie Cannon

Mind-Blowingly Good

average rating is 5 out of 5
Mockingjay

By

Read By

Suzanne Collins

Carolyn McCormick

The darkest of the trilogy

average rating is 5 out of 5
Positive

By

Read By

David Wellington

Nick Podehl

If the TV show Prison Break was set twenty years after a zombie apocalypse.

average rating is 3 out of 5
Rainwalkers

By

Read By

Matt Ritter

Matt Ritter

Like Post Apocalyptic Adventure? Sinister Dystopias? A G Riddle? This is for you.

average rating is 4 out of 5
Shift

By

Read By

Hugh Howey

Tim Gerard Reynolds

Another great instalment.

average rating is 4 out of 5
The Age of Miracles

By

Read By

Karen Thompson Walker

Laurence Bouvard

The Wonder Years: Post Apocalypse.

average rating is 4 out of 5
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

By

Read By

Suzanne Collins

Santino Fontana

Guess Who's Back?

average rating is 3 out of 5
The Book of the Unnamed Midwife

By

Read By

Meg Elison

Angela Dawe

As powerful and Inspiring As The Handmaid's Tale

average rating is 5 out of 5
The Boy on the Bridge

By

Read By

M.R. Carey

Finty Williams

Excellent writing and well woven.

average rating is 3 out of 5
The Children of Men

By

Read By

P.D. James

Daniel Weyman

An Understated Yet Well Crafted Dystopia

average rating is 4 out of 5
The Darkest Minds

By

Read By

Alexandra Bracken

Amy McFadden

Great Beginning, Great End

average rating is 3 out of 5
The Girl with All the Gifts

By

Read By

M.R. Carey

Finty Williams

Unforgettably brilliant.

average rating is 5 out of 5
The Grace Year

By

Read By

Kim Liggett

Emily Shaffer

Creepy and evocative.

average rating is 5 out of 5
The Heart Goes Last

By

Read By

Margaret Atwood

Cassandra Campbell, Mark Deakins

Outrageously funny, dark absurdism

average rating is 5 out of 5
The Institute

By

Read By

Stephen King

Santino Fontana

Peak Sci-Fi Escapism Albeit Too Long

average rating is 4 out of 5
The Last Day

By

Read By

Andrew Hunter Murray

Gemma Whelan

A Lee Child style thriller set in a Day After Tomorrow World.

average rating is 4 out of 5
The Memory Chamber

By

Read By

Holly Cave

Imogen Church

I’m In Limbo On This One

average rating is 3 out of 5
The School for Good Mothers

By

Read By

Jessamine Chan

Catherine Ho

Incredibly Tough Book

average rating is 3 out of 5
The World Gives Way: A Novel

By

Read By

Marissa Levien

Christine Lakin

If Margaret Atwood and George Lucas had directed The Day After Tomorrow.

average rating is 5 out of 5
Ubik

By

Read By

Philip K. Dick

Luke Daniels

Quirky Time Travelling Madness. Kept me on my toes.

average rating is 5 out of 5
Utopia PR

By

Read By

Adam Bender

Tristan Wright

A Hint of The Thick of It Plus Killer Hounds

average rating is 3 out of 5
We Are Satellites

By

Read By

Sarah Pinsker

Lyssa Browne

Gattaca Meets Age of Miracles

average rating is 5 out of 5
Wool

By

Read By

Hugh Howey

Susannah Harker

Bleak and Dark and Powerful.

average rating is 4 out of 5