Back in early 2019, I found myself in an interesting situation. I had written a book, and I was super proud of myself. I also knew the book was terrible (as all first drafts are) and I needed help making it less terrible.
I found a resource where I could meet with a bookish-type person who could review the manuscript, give me feedback on marketability, and advise me on how I might go about getting my book baby out into the world. I chose someone from the list who looked kind and gentle, and I sent her an email.
We didn't end up working together (I ended up getting into the Ultimate Novel Writing Course, in which my tutor, Amanda, gave me exactly what I needed), but I did get a few useful nuggets out of our brief correspondence. Two words that stood out most strongly were feminist dystopia. I hadn't yet gotten to the point where I'd considered the genre into which my book would fit, but here it was, wrapped up in a neat little bow by someone who had only read a one-page synopsis of the 85,000-word book.
It's possible you haven't heard of feminist dystopia before. I hadn't either, but once the words were spoken it became pretty easy to backward-map them onto something with which I was already familiar: The Handmaid's Tale. I hadn't yet read this book, released in 1985 by Margaret Atwood, but I certainly had binged the series. Try as I might, though, I couldn't think of any more books in the genre.
After many searches, I've compiled a list of such books. I've read them all, for enjoyment as well as to educate myself in the feminist dystopia genre so I can know what makes my own novel stand out. It will be a bit still before The Other Women is on shelves, and so in the meantime I wanted to pass the list along to you. If you enjoyed The Handmaid's Tale, or if you’re one of my lucky beta readers* who read and enjoyed your advance copy of The Other Women, you will likely enjoy these as well. Just a note that these are affiliate links, so if you happen to click and buy one of these books, it won’t cost you any more but I may earn a small portion of the sale.
There it is! These are the books I've been able to find in the feminist dystopia genre. Something I've noticed in my reading is that many of these books are written in the first person and are journal-like, if not written as actual journals or diaries. Often the name characters are nameless. This mechanic helps tell the story, particularly in The Handmaid's Tale, where women are stripped of their names and become property of their Commander, and in Book of the Unnamed Midwife, in which the main character takes on whatever name is suitable for the situation in which she finds herself.
I'm going to keep searching high and low for more feminist dystopian fiction, but it's hard to find these books out there - which is good news! This means there are plenty of stories left to tell.
Have you read any of these books? Do you know of any other feminist dystopia books that should be on the list? Let me know in the comments.
*VIPs get cool stuff like deleted scenes and the opportunity to beta-read my books, along with a wheelbarrow full of other cool stuff. If you're not a VIP yet, don't forget to snag your first deleted scene from The Other Women, my upcoming contribution to the feminist dystopia genre.