We all have our preferred reading topics and post-apocalyptic is definitely not one that I gravitate towards. Except surprisingly almost a quarter of the books I’ve read this year are set after an apocalypse. What strikes me about all of these books, is how different they are from one another (The Fireman and I Am Legend are two no included in this post). They’ve also all been optioned for movies, so I guess post-apocalyptic books are here to stay. Well, I Am Legend was published in 1954 so it was ahead of the game.
Even if you’re not a fan of post-apocalyptic books, the three below are ones that I think would be widely enjoyed. Especially Station Eleven, though your next best bet is The Girl With All the Gifts. Annihilation is a thrill-ride and a lot of fun.
Title: The Girl With All the Gifts | Author: M.R. Carey
Published: 2014 | Pages: 460 | Genre: Science Fiction
In Short: Melanie goes to school like many other children her age, but they probably don’t enter the classroom the way that she does–strapped to a wheelchair with a gun pointed at the back of her head. She doesn’t realize exactly what makes her different from normal children, but little does she know that outside of the confines of her boarding school, the world has been ravaged by Hungries.
Bottom Line and Recommendation: You know how much I hate spoilers, but we all know what makes Melanie different, right? Do NOT let this put you off from the book. Melanie is a character you will want to root for every step of the suspenseful journey through this post-apocalyptic story. I was constantly amazed by how I was drawn into the narrative and enjoyed the writing. I was sad when the book was over. Read it! Even if you think it’s not up your alley.
“Because the air is warm, and it’s breathing; moving against Melanie’s skin like something that’s alive. And the light is so intense it’s like someone dipped the world into a barrel of oil and set it alight.”
In Short: Area X is a mostly uncharted but bounded territory that has been overtaken by the wild. Several expeditions have gone and failed to map the area, and in Annihilation we follow Expedition Twelve through the narration of the biologist. The biologist is accompanied by three other women (the psychologist, the surveyor, and the anthropologist), and it’s clear from the beginning that their expedition will likely not end any more successfully than those before it.
Bottom Line and Recommendation: Annihilation is an incredible mind trip–my brain was spinning from the first page (in fact I had to start and stop it a few times until I was ready to concentrate) and the whirlwind continued until the end. Of course this is the first in a trilogy so many more questions are raised throughout the book than answers are provided for. It was a fast-paced read and I enjoyed every moment of it–even if my dreams were a bit vivid. However, I tried to continue with the trilogy and the book couldn’t hold my interest. At 40% I gave it up. This seems to be a pretty common sentiment with other readers. So, pick up at your own risk! Annihilation will not leave you with any satisfying answers.
“Area X broke minds, I felt, even though it hadn’t yet broken mine. A line from a song kept coming back to me: All this useless knowledge.”
In Short: Civilization as we know it has ended but a troupe of actors and musicians travels from village to village bringing a bit of humanity with them. The current storyline alternates with the apocalypse as it happens and the reader follows a variety of characters throughout the book–their relationships are sometimes tenuous but one of the strengths of Station Eleven is watching the puzzle pieces fit together.
Bottom Line and Recommendation: Station Eleven is a book that I pleasure delayed reading for a long time. Everyone loves the book and I knew that I would likely love it too but then it would be over and I wouldn’t have the anticipation of reading it anymore. I know you understand. I so enjoyed this book and while it was a bit tough for me to get into, I quickly became intrigued by the characters and the storyline. What I loved most about Station Eleven is that it shows the apocalypse happening. Most times the reader only sees the aftermath and is left to wonder just how the world crumbled. I loved actually seeing some of the more logistical pieces among the human stories.
“No more Internet. No more social media, no more scrolling through litanies of dreams and nervous hopes and photographs of lunches, cries for help and expressions of contentment and relationship-status updates with heart icons whole or broken, plans to meet up later, pleas, complaints, desires, pictures of babies dressed as bears or peppers for Halloween. No more reading and commenting on the lives of others, and in so doing, feeling slightly less alone in the room. No more avatars.”
Are you a fan of post-apocalyptic books? I’d love to hear what your favorites are!