“The Giver” by Lois Lowry
Well, now there’s egg on my face. Unhealthy, dystopian egg. Because while I did indeed read Bradbury’s classic Fahrenheit 451 in school, I somehow managed to dodge this middle-school staple, even though it was published right amidst my school years. Lowry’s tale is set in a seeming utopia that reveals its dark side when a young lad named Jonas begins training to take on the role of the “Receiver of Memory,” a role that reveals the lies stretched over his society as a whole. A movie version of the Newbery Award-winning book is due out this November starring Jeff Bridges, Brenton Thwaites, Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes, Alexander Skarsgard, and Taylor Swift.
“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood
Yet another dystopian tale. Come to think of it, pretty much half the science fiction books on this list are dystopian or post-apocalyptic in nature. No wonder everybody’s so damn depressed these days! Can a brother get an upbeat bedtime story already? (Answer: you can, but it’s actually a downbeat tragedy in disguise.) In The Handmaid’s Tale, the United States is bent beneath the weight of a totalitarian Christian theocracy — somewhere a Fox news anchor just had an orgasm — where women are oppressed, forbidden to read, and essentially used as breeding stock. I’ve never actually gotten around to reading this one, but it’s certainly not helping cheer up this list, is it? Me and my inner feminist are going to go rewatch Buffy the Vampire Slayer to improve my mood. But only the happy episodes. Should be done in around four hours. There was a movie adaptation back in 1990, starring Natasha Richardson and Faye Dunaway, among others.