Today I’m putting on the professor hat I will likely never wear otherwise and curating a list of books for my pretend syllabus. This is all the fault of The Broke and the Bookish who prompted the book blogosphere to create a syllabus for their imaginary master class in a certain genre. Or something like that. Let’s go back to school with some apocalyptic fiction, y’all. It’s Top Ten Tuesday!
Now, before I get to the listing, I would like to point out that this list of books has to do with apocalypse scenarios and the immediate aftermath. This DOES NOT include dystopian societies. All the scary government rules, policed reproduction, oppression, and death sports will be covered next semester.
1. Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank (review): This book is the perfect primer. It was written during the Cold War and deals (unsurprisingly) with the aftermath of a nuclear war. A poignant view of the human condition, Frank’s classic totally holds up. A lack of electricity is truly the great equalizer.
2. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (review): I’m toting out the big guns early in the semester because this level of bleakness explored after daylight savings time ends is a recipe for severe Seasonal Affective Disorder. We never really learn what disaster befell humanity, but McCarthy’s stark portrayal of the aftermath is haunting.
3. The Stand by Stephen King (review): Any list of apocalyptic novels that doesn’t include The Stand will get the side eye from me, I’ll tell you what. Far and away my favorite King novel, the story of Captain Tripps and what lies beyond is masterful. Even if it does stray a little into the supernatural. A lot of apocalypse tales do. Stay tuned, folks.
4. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (review): This book was the darling of the literary world for good reason. In case you needed more of a reason to stock up on hand sanitizer, another flu pandemic decimates the world’s population. Mandel’s novel takes a fascinating look at the role of art in rebuilding society.
5. California by Eden Lepucki (review): Just when you think it’s a good idea to go completely off the grid and fend for yourself in the woods, California offers a troubling portrayal of societal breakdown and the fact that it’s nearly impossible to escape.
6. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (review): I know it’s fully supernatural. Vampires happen and ONE DUDE is left. There’s a reason this book has been around for as long as it has, you guys! And seriously, don’t judge the book based on the movie in this case. I mean, I love Will Smith as an action hero as much as the next gal, but it wasn’t a great adaptation.
7. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker (review): It’s not the flu and it’s not a monster that takes aim at humanity this time. It’s Earth. The rotation of the planet decides to slow the heck down which wreaks utter havoc on the fabric of society. Told from the perspective of a 12 year old girl, this novel will hit you in the feels.
9. MaddAddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood (review): You didn’t think this list would be without Atwood, did you?! This trilogy is insanely good what with the human foibles ultimately leading to their own destruction. This is a wee bit of a hybrid because the society pre-breakdown was traipsing into dystopia territory, but the aftermath was pure apocalypse. Seriously, check it out.
10. World War Z by Max Brooks (review): I know I talk about zombies and this book in particular a lot, but it’s simply one of the best of its kind. When your friends and neighbors suddenly think it’s a good idea to feast upon your flesh, crazy shiznit is bound to go down.
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