Category: Post-Apocalyptic Fiction

Oct 19

Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler

Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic Fiction 12

Greetings Bookworms!

I’ve been on an Octavia Butler kick lately. After I read Fledgling (review) wherein Octavia Butler turned vampire lore upside down, I decided it was time to tackle dystopian/post apocalyptic Butler. When an author totally blows your mind in multiple genres (because Kindred too!), it only makes sense to explore their entire backlist of titles, right? Enter Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents.

parable-of-the-sowerParable of the Sower opens with a world rocked by environmental and economic crises. The US has devolved into complete social chaos wherein even gated communities cannot be guaranteed of their safety. Food prices have skyrocketed, crime runs rampant, and emergency services are available only to those who can afford to pay the fees. Lauren Olamina lives in Southern California with her family when their relatively safe existence behind walls goes down in flames. Literally. In an attempt to survive in the aftermath, she flees northward, hoping to find a safe haven in which to explore and establish her newfound faith. Parable of the Talents continues Lauren’s story as she tries to establish a community and eek out an existence in what is left of society. Her efforts at rebuilding some semblance of life are hard won, but making headway. Unfortunately, shparable-of-the-talentse must contend with slavery, human trafficking, religious fundamentalists, and nightmarish political leaders. Suffice it to say that things don’t go particularly smoothly.

I won’t sugar coat it- these books scared the ever-loving crap o
ut of me. I hadn’t had a book related nightmare in ages (and I read Joe Hill this summer!) but these novels were chilling. CHILLING. There were so many terrifying and startling parallels to current political cycle, I can’t even. DOWN TO THE CAMPAIGN SLOGAN, YOU GUYS. I can only hope Butler is simply an insightful genius and not an actual oracle, because I am fifty shades of
freaked out. I’m not saying that a certain candidate’s presidency would bring about an apocalyptic hellscape, but, I HAVE CONCERNS.

Despite the nightmares, these books were phenomenal, insightful, and generally awesome. I would recommend that all of humanity (and probably a few extra terrestrial species) read these books. I apologize in advance for your bad dreams, bookworms, but these books are SO GOOD.

What is the last book that gave YOU bad dreams? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Aug 08

The Fireman by Joe Hill

Plague, Post-Apocalyptic Fiction 12

Hidey Ho Bookworms!

Have you ever thought to yourself, “there really should be more books centered on spontaneous human combustion”? I’m assuming you answered with a resounding “OBVIOUSLY” because why wouldn’t you? Well, you, me, and Joe Hill are totally on the same wavelength. If it weren’t for peer pressure, I probably never would have read The Fireman. Many thanks to Care for organizing the #FiremanAlong AND for sending out fun snail mail along the way. It’s always more fun to read a book with a Twitter squad, you know? And then to get mail that’s not a bill? That Care, I tell you what.

You're MY favorite person, Care!

You’re MY favorite person, Care!

As I mentioned, The Fireman is about a plague wherein those who fall ill also eventually burst into raging infernos with little to no warning. Colloquially known as “Dragonscale” the spore to blame for this ailment is mysterious and super deadly. It’s troubling, to say the least, what with people dying left and right and taking out large swathes of town and country with them. Our protagonist, Harper, is a nurse with a bit of a Mary Poppins obsession. (And believe you me, I understand where Harper is coming from. I’m really excited that discussing this book is giving me an excuse to use Mary Poppins gifs.) After the outbreak, Harper volunteers in a hospital among the infected… Until it burns down. Because SPONTANEOUS HUMAN COMBUSTION.

areyouill

As you might expect, it’s not too long before our do-gooding nurse notices tell-tale signs of Dragonscale on her own skin, shortly after discovering she’s pregnant. Soooo. That makes things a bit complicated. PLUS, her husband goes off the deep end in a BIG WAY and their little New England town devolves into a terror filled hellscape. Your typical plague apocalypse nightmare scenario. Plus fire. The book reaffirmed my general fear of mob mentality. People in groups just get so DUMB sometimes. Quoting “Sister Suffragette” is perfect in such cases, seeing as people are typically lovely on an individual level, but when they congregate in large groups? Watch out.

sistersufragette

This miiiight be my favorite song ever.

If you’re thinking this book sounds a lot like The Stand (review), you’d be right. As it turns out, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Joe Hill is totally Stephen King’s son. BUT! Hill tempered his horror with a good dose of humor and the most delicious pop culture references. For a brick of a book, The Fireman is a quick read. If you’re in the mood for something plague-y and frightening but ALSO happen to love Mary Poppins? THIS IS YOUR BOOK!

Talk to me, Bookworms! What’s your favorite plague-apocalypse scenario? My plague book list is looking a little light these days. 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

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Aug 25

Apocalyptic Fiction 101

Post-Apocalyptic Fiction, Top Ten Tuesday 31

Greetings Bookworms!

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.

apocalyptic fiction

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.

apocalypse1

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.

8. The Girl With All the Gifts by MR Carey (review): Yes, more supernatural stuff. But only because it’s AMAZING. Zombies and evolution and science and disease and WHOA.

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.

apocalypse2Tell me, dear Bookworms, did I leave anything excellent and apocalyptic out of my syllabus? Also, what haven’t I read in this genre that I should? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Jul 20

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

Coming of Age, Post-Apocalyptic Fiction 12

Happy Monday Bookworms!

I know Mondays are a total bummer, but they’re only 24 hours. Every day is, in fact, a gloriously predictable 24 hours. Unless, of course, you live in the world of my latest read, The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. Ever wished there were more hours in a day? Better be careful what you wish for, Bookworms, because in this book, the Earth, for reasons unknown, decides to slow down. An extra hour in the day, then more and more until the days stretch out so long that everyone’s sleep schedule is completely wacky, animals start going extinct, and food ceases to grow reliably. If you ever run across a Monkey’s Paw, you now know exactly what will happen if you wish for more hours in the day. DON’T DO IT!

theageofmiraclesJulia is eleven years old when the Earth’s rotation begins to slow. She tells the story of worldwide catastrophe through the eyes of a middle school girl. Because sixth grade isn’t hard enough, let’s throw an apocalypse in there, right?! I really dug this book, you guys. One of the biggest criticisms I’ve come across while scoping out this book is the fact that despite global calamity, Julia spent lot of time and energy worrying about middle school drama. To the critics, I say, FIE! (I’ve always wanted to say “fie.” I’m going to do it again. FIE!)

Julia is ELEVEN. And her middle school experience, though in the midst of extraordinary circumstances, is spot on. It hit me in the feels, you guys. The friendships and cliques and crushes and pressures and awkwardness took me back in a big way. Sure, I didn’t spend my sixth grade year watching the world slowly deconstruct, but kids are kids. Eleven is awfully young to grasp the hugeness of a worldwide event. How can you concentrate on the end of the world when that cute boy on the skateboard wants to hold your hand? Your eleven year old self knows it’s true.

Other than the fact that I now have an irrational fear of the Earth spontaneously slowing its rotation, The Age of Miracles was full of win for me. If apocalypse novels are your jam and you’ve ever been through middle school, this book is for you.

Let’s chat, Bookworms. I’m kind of fixated on this Monkey’s Paw thing now, which if you’re not familiar with it, is a short story involving wish granting that always turns out hideously. Have you ever wished there were more hours in the day? Do you now feel like you’re tempting fate because of it? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Jun 18

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

Post-Apocalyptic Fiction 8

Hello Bookworms,

You know how sometimes you start a book only to put it down for like a month? Normally when I do that I never pick it up again and it lands on the stack of good intentions otherwise known as the DNF pile. Every once in a while, though, the big break in reading is a result of my schedule and not a waning interest in the book. It was thus that I finally finished reading The Dog Stars by Peter Heller.

thedogstarsThis book had been on my radar for quite some time, so when I was out shopping and saw a copy in the bargain bin, I picked it up. The apocalypse is my jam, but you already knew that. This time, the apocalypse is due to a super flu (the common and plausible nightmare scenario of germ-o-phobes everywhere.) It’s been 9 years or so since the world ended. Hig lives in an abandoned airport with his dog Jasper and his survivalist weapons expert roommate, Bangley. Hig and Jasper make regular scouting runs in Hig’s old 1950s airplane while Bangley spends his time MacGuyver-ing weapons and figuring out new ways to blow shiznit up. After a series of traumatic events, Hig decides to strike out beyond his normal range to follow a signal that may be nothing but a pipe dream.

The story is told by Hig in a rather unusual first person narrative. At the outset, Hig tells the reader that he was one of the few people who contracted the flu and recovered. He claims that the fever cooked a lot of brain cells, hence his choppy narration. I get that this was a stylistic choice, but I found it rather distracting. After reading books with similar plots and stunning prose (Station Eleven, I’m looking at you!) this was a little disappointing. Still. I found the story engaging and interesting, as I always do when the end is nigh. If you’re in the mood for a little post apocalyptic fiction, The Dog Stars might be the book for you.

Talk to me, Bookworms! Do you ever get frustrated by a narrator’s diction? Does heavily accented prose put you off? Am I the only one who finds choppy narration distracting?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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May 26

The Girl With All the Gifts by MR Carey

Post-Apocalyptic Fiction, Psychological, Zombies 12

Holy Macaroni, Bookworms.

I’m not sure how coherent this post is going to be, because I’m still trying to figure out how to get my jaw off the floor. I recently decided to put my Audible subscription on hold because Scribd is a better deal for my voracious audio book appetite at this time. However, before pulling the proverbial plug, I needed to use up one last credit. I checked my “I Want To Read This” list and hunted for something I could get on Audible that I couldn’t get on Scribd and VOILA! The Girl With All the Gifts by MR Carey seemed like a fabulous option.

thegirlwithallthegiftsRemember a while back when I was talking about Zone One (review) and praising the fact that Colson Whitehead took a different approach to the zombie genre? The Girl With All the Gifts did that. Times a zillion.

Melanie is a little girl. She lives in a cell and each day she’s brought to school after being thoroughly strapped into a wheelchair while being held at gunpoint. All the other children in her class are given subject to the same living conditions and restraints. Despite the odd treatment, Melanie is at the top of her class and adores one of her teachers, Miss Justineau. Miss Justineau treats the children kindly, despite the fact that they’re restrained. I don’t know how to discuss this book without getting spoilery, though I don’t suppose it’s much of a leap to guess why the military personnel don’t laugh when Melanie jokes that she “won’t bite.”

This book was SO GOOD, you guys. I was expecting to enjoy it, but egads it was amazing. Elements of the book reminded me at times of The Passage by Justin Cronin (review) and I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (review) but it still maintained a level of originality that blew me away. Just pick up the book, dagnabit, words are failing me.

Talk to me Bookworms! What was the last book you read that left you awestruck? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

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May 04

Zone One by Colson Whitehead

Post-Apocalyptic Fiction, Psychological, Zombies 20

Happy Monday, Bookworms!

Got a case of the Mondays? Perhaps you’re feeling a bit… zombie-like? You’re in luck, because today we’re going to talk about Colson Whitehead’s novel Zone One (yes, there are zombies!) As with any number of the books I read, I was recommended this book by the brilliant Sarah Says Read. That girl never steers me wrong.

zoneoneZone One is set in the post zombie-apocalyptic world. The US government is a bit rag tag at this point, but the remaining population is pulling themselves up by the bootstraps and trying to take back some of their cities. Mark Spitz is on a team of sweepers tasked with clearing the zombiefied remnants out of Manhattan.

In a rather novel approach to zombie trope, Whitehead focuses on the aftermath of the event rather than the gory horror of the apocalypse itself. (There still is some gore, though, so it will satisfy your blood lust.) What is more interesting to me is the psychological cost of survival. A MASSIVE portion of the remaining population suffers from a condition known as PASD (Post Apocalyptic Stress Disorder, natch.) How can your brain possibly reconcile having watched your zombified mother feast upon your father’s entrails? That’ll leave a scar, yo!

I’ll admit that Whitehead’s prose was a little stodgy for my taste. It felt a little like he was trying to overcompensate for the subject matter of the novel by burying it in elaborate turns of phrase. Of course, I’m desperately plebeian when it comes to language, so take the criticism for what it’s worth. All in all, though, Zone One is definitely a book zombie fans should check out.

Talk to me, Bookworms! When reading genre fiction, do you prefer authors stick to an established mythology or do you like it when they step outside the box (or coffin, or re-animated corpse. Whatever.)

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Mar 16

The Leftovers by Tom Perotta

Contemporary Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic Fiction 23

Howdy Bookworms!

It’s Monday again, and it seems like the best possible day of the week to discuss The Leftovers by Tom Perotta. It’s not exactly a happy-go-lucky book and Monday is basically the opposite of a happy-go-lucky day, so it makes sense. What makes less sense is taking The Leftovers on vacation as a poolside read, but I’ve never been one to make perfect decisions.

theleftoversThe Leftovers takes place 3 years after the Rapture. Or what some people assume to have been the Rapture. Basically, millions of people just vanished into thin air with absolutely no scientific explanation. Friends, family members, neighbors, strangers, enemies, your weird checkout clerk from the supermarket just POOF. Gone. Because humanity is extraordinarily bad at dealing with this sort of uncertainty, a lot of weird reactionary crap starts to happen. The people who disappeared seemingly had no connection. They were just PEOPLE- good, bad, religious, atheist, kind, rude- whatever. The fact that it was clearly not *just* the righteous and that so many apparently God-fearing folk were left behind threw a major wrench into the traditional religious communities. A whole new crop of religions cropped up, mostly of the cult-ish variety. The Garvey family of Mapleton has imploded in the aftermath of the Sudden Departure despite all members remaining on their current astral plane, and through them we’re able to view all sorts of aspects of this strange new world.

I found the premise of The Leftovers utterly fascinating. I’ve often wondered about how thin the fabric of society is and just what it would take for things to unravel. I mean, say aliens landed tomorrow just to say “hey.” How would the world’s major religions handle the certain knowledge that humanity was not alone in the universe? Talk about your major upheaval, right? The concept of the book was so appealing that I think I expected too much out of it. I was frustrated at what I felt was a lack of resolution and complete lack of explanation as to what actually happened. I’m sure those were intentional artistic choices, but dangit, I like having answers and it drove me a little batty! Still, I think The Leftovers is definitely worth a read.

Talk to me Bookworms! What do YOU think would happen if millions of people suddenly and mysteriously disappeared? (I’d blame the aliens, but that’s just me…)

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I’m going to invest in aluminum foil to make myself a jaunty anti-alien hat.*

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Jan 12

Raaw-Oooh-Ugh-Blurgh (That’s Zombie for THE WALKING DEAD!)

comics, Post-Apocalyptic Fiction, Zombies 23

Raaw-Oooh-Ugh-Blurgh Bookworms!

Y’all know I love me some zombie lit. You may not know that AMC’s The Walking Dead was my gateway drug into zombie lore. Thus, it might come as a surprise that until recently I’d never read the comics. I KNOW! Thankfully, I remedied the situation (with the help of my indulgent Mother-in-Law who didn’t blink when I put The Walking Dead: Compendium One on my Christmas list.)

twdcomponeI’ve never read any comics or graphic novels prior to this book. They’re all the rage these days, and I knew that I was missing out. I figured the best place to start was with a story I already loved, and I was RIGHT. I chewed through all 1100 some pages of this bad boy in record time. Granted, most of those pages were pictures with minimal text, but it makes me feel accomplished nonetheless.

If you’ve been living under a rock, The Walking Dead takes place in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. Where did it come from? Nobody knows. All anybody knows is that zombies want to eat people, and that they can only be killed by destruction of the brain. Seriously. Dismembered heads are still pretty chompy, you’ve got to make sure you do damage to the gray matter. You’ve got the monster element plus the “holy crap there’s no electricity” element which all adds up to awesomeness.

I’m typically a “the book is better than the movie/tv show” sort of gal, but I am seriously digging what they did with The Walking DeadThe show and the comics diverge significantly, which means that just when I think I know what’s about to happen, I’m surprised! Sometimes I liked a character on the show much better than in the comics (Carol, anyone?) or liked a character better in the comic than in the show (Comic Lori was way less obnoxious.) There are characters in the show that aren’t in the comics and vice versa. All in all, it’s just a good crazy zombie-tastic time. I know Compendium Two is going on my birthday list!

Talk to me, Bookworms! Do you prefer book to screen adaptations to be perfectly faithful or are you okay with a a good amount of divergence? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this website, I will receive a small commission.*

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Dec 11

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Dystopian, Plague, Post-Apocalyptic Fiction 16

Good Morrow, Bookworms!

I’m feeling rather Shakespearean today, and it’s the fault of Emily St. John Mandel’s new (and awesome) novel, Station ElevenThere’s been a lot of buzz floating around about this book, but don’t believe the hype. Well, no. DO believe the hype. But believe it because I said so. (Shhhh, it makes me feel important.)

stationeleven Station Eleven explores a world twenty years after a flu pandemic knocks out 99% of the population of earth. It’s a little bit like The Stand (review), minus any supernatural elements or government conspiracies. It’s just good old fashioned viral mutation that wreaks havoc. It should freak you out a little, because it’s a totally plausible thing that could happen. (Shivers.)

When the proverbial shiznit hits the fan, it’s fascinating to see how the survivors react. Dude, 99% of the population is GONE. That’s EVERYONE you know, except maybe that weird cashier from the grocery store. So you go wandering. You’re searching for meaning, and probably company other than that weird cashier.

In Station Elevenone of the primary groups that forms is the Traveling Symphony. They wander through towns performing Shakespeare and classical music, because “survival is not enough.” Cool, right? An attempt to preserve art in the face of mass extinction? Heck yes.

Of course, not everybody goes around getting their Bard on. And some of the groups that have survived post apocalypse are less than savory. I don’t want to reveal too much because spoilers! But I will say that this book is an excellent, thought provoking read that will leave you pondering civilization, spirituality, and hand sanitizer. Go check it out!

I’m feeling deep, Bookworms. Do you feel that art helps keep civilization from self-destructing? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

 

 

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