Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is a 1953 Dystopian novel that has captivated readers since its publication. It’s about a future society where books are outlawed and freedom of thought, expression, and information is suppressed.
It has quickly become one of the household names in Dystopian fiction, and occasionally the first book people read in this genre.
Finding other books with similar themes can be difficult.
Although there are lots of dystopian novels out there, many of them vary wildly in terms of their plot and the central issue they’re dealing with.
It is said that ‘one person’s utopia is another’s dystopia,’ and this is one of the most intriguing features of the genre.
So let’s say you’ve read Fahrenheit 451 and you’d like to check out something similar. If this sounds like you, then you’ve arrived at the right place!
If you loved Fahrenheit 451, then you’re going to love our list of the 20 best dystopian novels of all time, including Brave New World, Never Let Me Go, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Battle Royale, and The Handmaid’s Tale.
Themes In Fahrenheit 451
In its very essence, Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel about a future society that has gone terribly wrong.
It explores what might happen to society if we make mistakes as a species, which in turn holds a mirror up to how we live today.
Fahrenheit 451 is all about how excessive government control can cause a decline in the kinds of freedom we value as species.
This is a very common theme within dystopian literature, and Fahrenheit 451 shares a lot in common with its contemporaries.
Apathy & Ignorance
It is revealed late into the book that one of the main reasons that books and knowledge are so restricted in Fahrenheit 451 is because of apathy.
The citizens of this future civilization allowed themselves to become so complacent and short of attention, that anything requiring extensive thought is suppressed by the government.
This leads to all literature being destroyed and human consciousness becoming suppressed.
In the futuristic vision of Fahrenheit 451, humanity has seen great leaps in technology, however, it hasn’t been a benefit to humanity.
Technology becomes a key factor in the state of society. By creating distracting, anesthetizing technology, humans have fallen out of love with reading and knowledge.
Knowledge is a key theme in Fahrenheit 451 and the linchpin that most of the novel’s plot revolves around.
The main symbol for knowledge in the story is the book, which is constantly burned, destroyed, and replaced by technology.
The book represents all human knowledge, as well as individuality and freedom of expression.
Best Books Like Fahrenheit 451
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Firstly, we’re going to take a look at one of the most prolific dystopian novels of all time.
It sees a future civilization where technology has overtaken humanity, and freedom of expression is massively limited.
This limitation, however, is created through the apathy of its citizens, who prefer to be high on a fictional happy pill ‘soma’ and live an otherwise content but fruitless life.
If you’re looking for another novel that explores apathy and knowledge concerning technology and government control, then this would be the perfect book for you to pick up.
It’s another short read, so you won’t have to commit too much time to finish and appreciate it.
- Iconic: One of the most iconic dystopian novels that’s important to read in order to understand the genre.
- Concepts & Exploration: This novel explores ideas of human autonomy and the value of freedom.
- Slow Pacing: Brave New World doesn’t have an awful lot of intense plotting, so it’s a slow burn in terms of storyline.
Themes: Science, Technology, Freedom, Knowledge, Thought
Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
Although the next novel on our list might differ from Fahrenheit 451 in terms of the central message, it similarly explores a totalitarian society.
Battle Royale by Koushun Takami was an extremely controversial novel when it first came out, due to its excessive depictions of violence all involving school children.
The story in this one is simple—forty-two high school students are placed on an island, given weapons, and told to kill one another until there is only one of them left alive.
This novel is a shocking vision of a future dictatorship where the government seeks to strike fear into the hearts of its citizens through gratuitous displays of violence.
If you’re looking for something that has a similar society to that of the one in Fahrenheit 451, then this could be a great book for you to consider.
Unless you read it in its original Japanese then you will have to read a translation, but either way, it is written with very readable modern prose that will have you quickly turning pages.
- Readability: A very fast and thrilling read.
- Dark Dystopia: A very dark dystopia with intense governmental control.
- Content: Very heavy content warning because of its violence and adult themes, which may put off some readers.
Themes: Violence, Power, Society, Friendship, Good vs. Evil
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Never Let Me Go Is a dystopian novel by Kazuo Ishiguro.
It takes place in an alternate, strange version of 1990s England, where humanity has been suddenly imbued with longer life spans because of human cloning.
The story follows Ruth, Kathy, and Tommy who spend their childhood at a strange boarding school, and as the story unfolds you find out that nothing is as it seems.
Soon enough, you’ll begin to understand the underlying horrors of the dystopia they live in and the social control that causes pain and strife.
This is a great novel to read if you’re interested in a slightly different dystopia from what you’ll find in Fahrenheit 451, with more of a focus on human relationships and science, and how these two concepts interact throughout the story.
- Length: A Short novel that moves very quickly, with a satisfying ending.
- Characters: Very deep characters that you’ll connect and relate to.
- Scope: Never zooms out to show you the full scope of the dystopian society in the same way some of the other novels on this list do.
Themes: Friendship, Science, Humanity, Control, Suppression.
1984 by George Orwell
We couldn’t have finished this list without including the other behemoth of dystopian literature that is George Orwell.
1984 is often touted as his most accomplished novel (alongside Animal Farm) and it is a shocking look into a totalitarian society.
The story follows Winston Smith who struggles in his job as a worker at the ‘ministry of truth’ and is eventually taken through a government control program to change his psychology.
1984 explores big ideas to do with human freedom, and how governmental control changes humanity.
If you’re looking for a society similar to Fahrenheit 451, this is one of the best choices for a book you can pick up today!
- Iconic: Like Brave New World, this is one of the most iconic dystopian novels ever written.
- Terrifying Society: The society in 1984 is one of the most shocking dystopian futures.
- Age: Although Orwell is a fantastic writer, his prose is older and a little slower than more contemporary voices.
Themes: Control, Freedom, Expression, Mass Surveillance.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Next up we have what is perhaps the most different novel from Fahrenheit 451, but one of the most intriguing and shocking dystopian novels out there.
The Handmaid’s Tale takes place in a far-future version of the United States where reproductive rights have been massively restricted and are almost entirely controlled by a patriarchal government.
‘Handmaids’ are women who are forced to create children for the ruling class of society.
Although there’s nothing in Fahrenheit 451 about reproductive freedom, there are a lot of similarities in how dystopian societies function.
Control, freedom of expression, and knowledge are all massively repressed to maintain the ruling regime.
If you want to read a feminist dystopian story, this one is going to be perfect for you.
- Feminist Literature: With a strong message that differs from other dystopian novels.
- Modern Prose: That will have you flying through the pages.
- Differences To 451: A little different in terms of themes from Fahrenheit 451.
Themes: Reproductive Rights, Control, Agency, Patriarchy.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
After a catastrophic event that left America scorched and in darkness, The Road follows the journey of a man and his son as they search for answers, signs of life, and a new civilization.
This is an epic story of survival that has decorated McCarthy with several awards and has been developed into a film adaptation with the same name.
The Power by Naomi Alderman
The Power is a science-fiction dystopian story following the social differences that would occur if women were the dominant sex.
With new technological powers making them physically stronger and more developed than men, women rule society, leaving men the oppressed sex.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
This novel explores the events following a deadly pandemic that wipes out the majority of civilization. With millions dead and even more grieving, society is on the brink of collapse and the arts are dying out.
Station Eleven follows a small group of actors and musicians who are keen to keep the arts alive, even despite the social turmoil.
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore
V for Vendetta is a graphic novel that follows a mysterious man in a haunting white mask who will stop at nothing to free the English people from the grasp of totalitarianism.
This man commits horrific crimes and extreme acts of terrorism in order to highlight the absurdity of total control.
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
In a futuristic world, Alex is imprisoned for rape and murder. He undergoes a series of experimental medical treatments in an attempt to reduce his sentence, but in a catastrophic turn of events, everything goes wrong and threatens the stability and safety of society.
A Clockwork Orange is one of the most famous dystopian novels out there and for good reason! It is excellently written and holds an important message for all readers.
Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
With the recent effects of climate change posing catastrophic threats to communities across the world, this book is scarily accurate.
Parable of the Sower is set in a post-apocalyptic world in which the effects of climate change and economic crises have caused major disruption. It is set in California in the early 2020s and follows a group of people fighting for survival.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Set in a futuristic, dystopian Capitol of Panem, the occupants are divided into districts, and each year, two young members of each district will fight to the death in a twisted game.
The Hunger Games is one of the most famous trilogies out there, made even more popular by the film series starring Jennifer Lawrence.
The Stand by Stephen King
This scientific take on the apocalypse follows a small group of survivors that must now live in a barren world torn apart by evil forces.
The Stand is brilliantly written and uncovers the blurred line between good and evil and tells a heart-wrenching story of those who are manipulated by this new society and its regulations.
The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
You’ve probably heard of this novel and possibly been put off by its appearance on your school curriculum, but The Lord of the Flies is a classic for good reason.
It is a fantastic novel that delves into the consequences of wrongdoing, following the survival stories of a group of British boys who get deserted on an island. They create their own social structure, rules, and laws, and exploit the fact that no adults are around.
Golding brilliantly intertwines a utopian premise with a dystopian reality, as the innocent beliefs and actions of these boys develop into something much more sinister.
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
This innovative novel follows the life of a young girl who lives in a society that claims love to be a disease.
Struggling with the normal adolescent problems any girl faces, she must battle with her own emotional desires and the regulations of society. Will she obey or will she rebel?
Delirium is one in a series of dystopian novels by Oliver, all of which have been best-sellers and have captivated readers from the first chapter.
Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
Red Clocks is a brilliantly authentic novel that discusses the new law banning abortion across America. This dystopian novel flirts with reality, especially with the Roe vs Wade case recently sparking new debates.
The novel follows five completely different women, each with different beliefs, ages, and personalities. It covers themes of motherhood, fertility, pregnancy, crime, and even witchcraft.
Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica
As a virus sweeps across the world, making all meat inedible, humans succumb to cannibalism. Tender is the Flesh explores the social and psychological elements behind desperation and uncovers what life would be like if cannibalism was normalized.
Marcos works in the slaughtering business and this story tells of his experience working hands-on in the slaughterhouses. Torturing, eye-opening, and harrowing – this novel is a must-read for all dystopian fans.
Borne by Jeff Vandermeer
Borne tells the story of a post-apocalyptic city. After conflict and drought have destroyed the city she lives in, Rachel is one of the few survivors who must navigate this new society.
Riddled with scientific danger and new creatures, biotechnology has made this world impossible to live in. But will Rachel manage it?
Red Rising by Pierce Brown
This dystopian society is run through a caste system, determined by color. Darrow is a ‘Red’ and, like all Reds, has been ordered to make Mars inhabitable for human survival.
He knows that this may better the lives of his children and their descendants but his current life is plagued by inequality and he works as a slave.
Red Rising is a brilliant novel inspired by many real stories of racial inequality and slavery, but Brown puts a science-fiction spin on these classic stories and creates a dystopian masterpiece, suitable for any reader.
The Giver by Lois Lowry
This story is set in a society dominated by censorship, conformity, and regulation. The Giver focuses on 12-year-old Jonas, who is given the responsibility of memory.
He is challenged with the memory of his people’s history and uncovers the dark truth behind the society he knows so well.
So that was our list of 5 books like Fahrenheit 451.
We hope that our guide has helped you to select your next book through the dense and thrilling genre of dystopian literature.
If you still have some questions, keep reading for our short Frequently Asked Questions section below.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is A Dystopian Novel?
A dystopian novel is usually a novel that takes place in the future in a ‘utopia’ that has gone wrong.
Dystopian novels often explore the worst of humanity and act as cautionary tales.
What Was The First Dystopian Novel?
The first dystopian novel is often debated, but some people believe it to be either Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift or The Last Man by Mary Shelley.
What Is Dystopian Fiction?
Dystopian stories often describe extreme situations in which characters are severely oppressed or repressed. They typically have a strong message and can be difficult and triggering to read.
What Is The Opposite Of Dystopian Fiction?
Utopian fiction – it explores characters living in ‘perfect’ circumstances.
What Are Some Of The Main Themes Explored In Dystopian Fiction?
Dystopian themes are broad-ranging, but typically include oppression, restricted freedom, limited identification options, poverty, fertility, and anarchism.
Why Was Fahrenheit 451 Controversial?
The novel was deemed anti-Christian and was graphic about drug use.
Is Fahrenheit 451 Hard To Read?
The language in Fahrenheit 451 is not difficult to understand, but the themes can be triggering.