An anti-utopian novel is one that takes place in a society characterized by misery and oppression. The synonym "dystopian" is also commonly used.
Novels that are set in a world marked by undesirable characteristics such as extreme poverty or dictatorship are often referred to as dystopian novels. Before these terms became widely used, the word "cacotopia" was commonly used. The anti-utopian and dystopian genres of fiction typically explore themes related to political structures, depletion of economic and environmental resources, and societal decline. Some of these settings take place in a post-apocalyptic world.
Some well-known examples of anti-utopian or dystopian fiction include George Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four" and Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451." More modern examples include the popular "Hunger Games" trilogy. Dystopian societies are a common theme in the science fiction genre of literature.