Maybe something is seriously wrong with my brain. Ha!! For some reason, I absolutely love to read narratives that are all about disaster. The scene usually goes down like this:…some awful event or sickness wipes out most of the earth’s population…there are two groups of people who are working for survival: a good group and a bad group…there are one or two main heroic characters and the villain…lots of terrible things happen…the hero/heroine accomplishes some great feat and saves the group of good survivors. It might sound a little predictable, but I have read so many wonderful variations of this tale! The suspense and intrigue is always there for me.
Today, I want to share with you a handful of books that fit this genre, that I have not been able to get off my mind. Each one, though apocalyptic dystopian, has its own unique storyline and set of characters. We all know Hunger Games is one of the original dystopian series, so I won’t include it…but read it pronto if you haven’t already!
1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
I’ve never been into video games and the like, so I’m surprised that I love this book so much. I could NOT put it down! It is the story of people living in a post-apocalyptic world in trailer stacks, who spend all their spare time logged into a video game simulation. They live out their lives in this computer-generated world as their individual avatars. Something that makes this story unique is all the references to 1980s pop culture. Steven Spielberg just brought this book to life on the big screen!!
2. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
A devastating flu pandemic sweeps the globe bringing civilization as we know it to a halt. Twenty years later, the story is told from the perspective of a girl who travels around with a group of actors and musicians, called the Traveling Symphony. They are trying to find the Museum of Civilization, which is a former airport. This is where artifacts from the former world, such as cell phones and laptops are on display. There are many dangers they have to avoid along the way, including a mysterious and evil prophet. He has power over his “followers” and uses it for malevolent purposes.
3. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
This story is told in the midst of apocalypse, by an eleven-year-old girl who lives in California. The earth starts to slow its spinning and gradually gets slower and slower until, years later, one day is weeks long. She describes all the consequences of the “slowing”. People suffer from slowing-related illnesses, crops begin to die, and impulsive crimes increase. We walk with her as she enters her teenage years while trying to adjust to this new way of life.
4. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
This one is set in a time that is post governmental collapse. The main character develops a philosophical system that she grows throughout her travel North from Los Angeles to find better living conditions. What is left of civilization is complete chaos. She forms a safe community that is centered around her philosophical system. As you can imagine, she encounters lots of dangers on her journey. She is clever and heroic and builds a better life for her community.
5. The Circle by Dave Eggers
Last but not least and now a major motion picture, a tale of internet apocalypse. This book creeped me out because it is not so far from our current reality. The Circle is the world’s most powerful internet company. Young professionals are all dying for the chance to work there. Employees are defined and rated by how many likes they have received on social media. We follow Mae Holland as she lands the dream job and gradually gets brainwashed into thinking life can only be lived through the social media rating system. The company ultimately wants complete transparency and internet rating for every person in the world and they start to hunt down individuals who choose to be off the grid. Scary!!
I’ve only scratched the surface of each of these stories. If you’re like me and you love apocalyptic dystopian books, you’ll just have to run out and grab these for yourself! It’s the weekend, so hunker down and dive into one of these lovely catastrophes!