Tag: 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 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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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 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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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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Oct 02

The Ark by Annabel Smith

Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic Fiction 15

It’s The End of the World As We Know It, Bookworms!

I feel fine. How about you? It’s no secret that post-apocalyptic fiction is my jam, so I was pretty excited when Annabel Smith contacted me about checking out her new book The Ark. You might recognize Annabel’s name as one of the founders of the Six Degrees of Separation meme. Annabel and I bonded over the fact that her meme was fun and it allowed me to connect books using yogurt (it really happened). *In the interest of full disclosure, Annabel Smith is my blog friend. I was offered a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration. That said, I’m honest to a fault, so y’all can still trust me.*

theark-annabelsmithThe Ark is one part e-book, one part app, and one part high tech epistolary novel. It’s 2041 and the future is UGLY. Hidden in the Australian wilderness lies a secret bunker of sorts. It’s a seed bank, you know, where seeds are stored so humans have a backup plan when they destroy the planet. (Seed banks are a real thing, and totally legit. Swearsies.) An exclusive group of scientists and their families are invited to ride out The Chaos (peak oil, civil unrest, food shortages, general anarchy) in the seed bunker known as The Ark. It sounds like a great plan, except whenever you confine people into an underground bunker and lock them in, things get weird. Charismatic leaders always have hidden agendas, and the folks in The Ark are left wondering who they can trust.

The Ark was published as an e-book with a cool collaborative app experience. Or so I heard. The book is best experienced on an iPad, and relative luddite that I am, I’ve only got a Kindle Paperwhite. (Which I love the way humans are never meant to love electronic devices.) Luckily, I was able to poke around the novel’s corresponding website after I’d finished reading and came to appreciate it even more. If you’re going to read this one, don’t skip the website. Or, you could just read on an iPad and be one of the cool kids and not have to take the extra step. Whatever.

The story itself is laid out in a series of e-mail communications, text messages, and blog posts. There are also several segments presented as transriptions of conversations and it was exceptionally cool to get to listen to those through the website/app. Heaven help me, I LOVE Australian accents. Certainly an innovative idea for a disturbing story.

Of course, I wouldn’t be me without a minor gripe, would I? There’s a section of the book written in the form of a teenage boy’s blog posts. I know teenagers are all about the text-speak and the new-fangled lingo, but I struggled to read portions of it. That’s really more on me than the author, my inner old lady is spoiled by correct grammar and conventional spelling (they don’t call me Ethel for nothing!) Still, if you’ve got the itch to read some delicious post-apocalyptic fiction, I recommend you get your paws on a copy of The Ark post haste!

Alright Bookworms, let’s get real. If you were locked in an underground bunker, how long do you think you’d make it before losing your ever loving mind? I think I could hack it a week. Maybe. What about you?

 

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Sep 08

California by Edan Lepucki

Post-Apocalyptic Fiction 27

Salutations, Bookworms!

I’ve been doing a little self-psychoanalysis and I think part of the reason that I like dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction so much is because it makes all my first world problems seem super petty. I mean, I might be worried about dieting or something, but that seems less critical when you read about people who are legit starving, you know? The latest venture into  post-apocalyptic fiction is California by Edan Lepucki. I saw a review of it over at The Gilmore Guide to Books and skedaddled to NetGalley to see if it was still available. Fortune smiled. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley for review consideration. May I be abandoned in the post-apocalyptic California wilderness if I am untruthful in my review.*

california California takes place in (would you have guessed?) California. After a peak oil crisis and increasing civil unrest rip through Los Angeles, Cal and Frida pull up stakes and head out into the wilderness. They plan to live off the land by utilizing Cal’s farming skills and live a peaceful life. Peaceful, if not comfortable. Comfort comes at a premium these days.

The wealthy have all retreated into closed “Communities.”  They maintain reliable electricity, indoor plumbing, and your major creature comforts. People live and work inside these settlements to escape the lawless streets, patchy utility coverage, and food shortages. Those without the means are left to fend for themselves in the ruins of major cities, hence Cal and Frida’s decision to get out of Dodge. All was going well, or at least they weren’t on the verge of starvation, when Frida discovers that she’s pregnant.

A lack of prenatal care wasn’t a problem the pair had anticipated when they were planning their homestead, so they decide to set off and try to find the nearest settlement. What they find is a dark and guarded camp of settlers with a whole lot of secrets… And weird taste in art.

Y’all I really dug this book. It certainly fulfilled my post-apocalyptic fiction craving. There were a few things I would have liked explained a little more fully, but I rather liked the semi-ambiguous ending. Me liking an ambiguous ending? Who’d have thunk?! If post-apocalyptic fiction is your thing, I recommend you take a trip to California

Talk to me Bookworms. Does anybody else like dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction because it reminds you that your lot in life could always be worse? Just me? 

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

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