5 Novels That Prove Our Dystopian Future Is Closer Than You Think

Are you scared? I’m f*cking terrified. Now that Alabama has passed the unfathomable near-total abortion ban, it’s hard not to feel like a sitting duck if you have a vagina.

As a woman, sifting through the headlines lately just kind of feels like waiting for Trump to institute a female name change where we all take our boyfriend’s — or Master’s — names. “Of Insert Partner’s Name Here” — you know, a la Margaret Atwood.

Please take note: This byline is by Steph. Not by “Ofpeter.” (I can’t believe I’m actually writing this.)

The sad reality is, we may not be there yet but we’re pretty damn close. In fact, we’re closer than we ever should have gotten. This legislation, House Bill 314 — signed into being by resident asshole Alabama Governor Kay Ivey — is being called the most restrictive anti-abortion legislation since Roe v. Wade ruled women deserve the right to choose.

ICYMI, House Bill 314, also known as the Human Life Protection Act, bans all abortions in Alabama unless the abortion is deemed “necessary… to prevent a serious health risk” to the mother.

It also makes abortion in the State of Alabama a Class A felony, publishable by up to 99 years’ incarceration. Attempted abortions are classified as a Class C penalty.

So without any further adieu, read on to realize just how f*cked we all are.

The Handmaid’s Tale

handmaids tale book

In case you missed the memo, The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu is based on the book of the same name by Margaret Atwood. Originally published back in 1985 — you know, back when women had the right to choose in Alabama — the story follows a handmaid named Offred. As in “Of Fred,” her master’s name. Handmaids are not allowed to go by their birth names in this patriarchal society.

In this world, which is a totalitarian, futuristic, dystopian version of Cambridge, Massachusetts known as Gilead, women are property. Women cannot vote, have money, or read. Women are recognized as nothing but servants and baby-makers, as pregnancies are few and far between.

Women are assigned specific functions or jobs and must dress in the specific color that denotes that function. The handmaids wear red. But the most highly-coveted function a woman can aspire to is the role of “Wife”.

In a universe where pregnancies are revered because of their declining rate, you can bet there are no abortions in Gilead. Sounds like Alabama.

Red Clocks

red clocks book

Perhaps Red Clocks by Leni Zumas is most like where our society currently stands. Abortion is outlawed and a Pink Wall stands between the United States and a woman’s ability to flee to Canada.

A wall and anti-abortion law… Sound familiar?

Future Home of the Living God

dystopian books

In Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich, global warming plays a significant role in the fall of women. (Another thing our current President refuses to take seriously.)

Some mostly unexplained adverse effect of global warming causes a reproductive crisis in Future Home and pregnant women are “protected” in detention centers. Similarly, fertile women are forced to carry embryos.

The narrator, Cedar, flees from authorities who attempt to police her body and finds her way into an underground railroad of marginalized women. In the end — SPOILER ALERT! — Cedar’s baby is taken from her and she’s captured.

People stealing your baby? Pregnant women forced into detention centers? It might seem unfathomable because it is — but as The Guardian points out, this plot line is, sadly, not a far cry from the forced sterilization and kidnapping that Native American women have suffered historically.

Climate change, removal of children, the policing of fertile women’s bodies — it all hits too close to home.

Gather the Daughters

best dystopian ya novels

It’s hard to measure grossly sexist narratives against one another but Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed’s might just be the most horrifying. In the world of Gather the Daughters, population control is a huge issue. In order to monitor the population and ensure it grows at a steady rate, fathers are encouraged to rape their prepubescent daughters in order to avoid sex that results in reproduction.


dystopian young adult novels

Unwind by Neal Shusterman is a young adult novel that examines a dystopian war between pro-lifers and pro-choicers. No, really, an actual war.

Known as the Civil War, the reader gets all of the info of the pro-life vs. pro-choice Civil War in the past tense, as something that happened long ago. Alternatively, in the present, a narrative about the current state, post-war unfolds and it’s a narrative where babies are granted “sanctity of life” but if they become problematic as teenagers, their parents have the right and option to send them away. For organ harvesting.

In Alabama, embryos have now been granted the sanctity of life. Will we send them away for organ harvesting later? TBD.

In short, our President is Voldemort and all his followers perpetuating dangerous anti-abortion agendas are Death Eaters.


How ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Can Redeem Itself In Season 3

Steph Osmanski
Steph Osmanski is a freelance writer and social media consultant who specializes in health and wellness content. Her words have appeared in Seventeen, Life & Style, Darling Magazine, and more. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Stony Brook Southampton and writing a memoir.