I love me some End of the World stuff, whether it’s Zombie apocalypse, global epidemic, Armageddon, Rapture, Judgement day, Alien invasion or cosmic joke; basically, anything where the majority of the population dies and I’m all over it.
That said things can get a little stale. After all, Resident Evil’s T-Virus is The Walking Dead is Survivors is The Day After tomorrow is Mars Attacks is Armageddon.
Some are done well, some… not so much.
Yeah, 2012 I’m looking at you.
I realise you’ve only got a season, series or 3hrs to get into it but come on, some originality, please. it wouldn’t kill you… or it would and that would be interesting too.
But when it comes to books there is so much more scope for originality. Your narrative can be a day, week, month, year or centuries. You can play with things never seen on screen and go inside people’s heads.
Well, last year I read a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction. Because with Brexit and Trump and all that I felt like Dwight Shrute had the right idea.
Here were 5 that really stood out for me due to the uniqueness of the plot or narrative.
P.S If you have read any stand out post-apocalyptic fiction PLEASE let me know in the comments, DM me on twitter or send me a vial of T-Virus cuz I am never getting over this genre.
The Secret Runners of New York
Author- Matthew Reilly
Pub date: 26 March 2019
Published by Hot Key Books
When Skye Rogers and her twin brother Red move to Manhattan, rumours of a coming global apocalypse are building. But this does not stop the young elite of New York from partying without a care.
And then suddenly Skye is invited to join an exclusive gang known as the Secret Runners of New York. But this is no ordinary clique – they have access to an underground portal that can transport them into the future. And what Skye discovers in the future is horrifying.
Summary and review:
Skye is friends with the popular kids at school. The rich, popular mean kids who have a secret underground portal that connects them to the future. But girls have been going missing from their school and suddenly everyone is worried about the apocalypse. Can the portal shed some light on the situation?
The first half of the book is quite slow going and it does take a while to get the point of the “secret runners club” but once you do, it is engaging and quite fast-paced.
I wouldn’t say that it is for a younger teen audience as there are some quite graphic and horrific parts to the story.
I’ve read some reviews that slate this book for various reasons, but I have to say that I really enjoyed it. Yes, the main character employs the “not like other girls” trope and there is only one character that has special needs and they are used in quite a clumsy way, but there were redeeming aspects to several of the characters which made them multi-dimensional. Skye was an irritating character but the unique plot made up for it.
Why it was so unique:
You got to see cause and effect in detail by their current actions influencing their future and the knock-on effect that had on them. Although there was never really (AFAIR) a solid reason for the apocalypse, the aftermath and the juxtaposition of the wealthy versus the poor was horrific and mesmerising.
A Boy and his Dog at the End of the World.
Author: C.A Fletcher
Pub Date: 22 Aug 2019
Published by Orbit books
My name’s Griz.
I’ve never been to school, I’ve never had friends, in my whole life I’ve not met enough people to play a game of football. My parents told me how crowded the world used to be, before all the people went away, but we were never lonely on our remote island. We had each other, and our dogs.
Then the thief came.
He told stories of the deserted towns and cities beyond our horizons. I liked him – until I woke to find he had stolen my dog. So I chased him out into the ruins of the world.
I just want to get my dog back, but I found more than I ever imagined was possible.
Summary and Review.
Griz lives after the world ends. Not with a bang but slowly as no new children are born and people just grow old with no new generation to replace them. Griz lives on an island with their family and dogs until one day a stranger arrives and steals Griz’s dog.
Not knowing what the world out holds, Griz there takes off after him to retrieve the dog.
I originally didn’t want to read it. Splashed all over the book were rave reviews which I find a little pushy and often written by magazines who want to seem edgy. But I gave it a shot and I am so glad I did.
It was slow but steady going, with a style of writing that just flowed seamlessly; It felt like a “quiet” novel, like one you would read in silence so as not to interrupt that flow.
I loved the description of the ruined world and the people that had been left behind. Those few that had thrived and how nature took back the ruins.
As mentioned in the rave reviews there are a few ‘twists’. I’m usually pretty goods at spotting these coming a mile away but I honestly DID NOT see those coming. (I yelled “Holy Thor’s pants” when the first happened and my husband wouldn’t stop laughing at me.)
A five-star read which was unexpected by really enjoyed.
Why it was so unique:
Griz was a standout voice and their family life was great but the real stand-out parts for me were the descriptions of how, after people just stopped being born to replace those who grew old, people’s reaction to the quiet end of the world. We are told that some wanted to place to burn but some people tried to tidy up for those left. Piles of tires and cars moved off the motorways, houses set up with supplies and letters of welcome and hospitality. Similar to the world today, some people are selfish and some just want to help. It was a really lovely touch that we don’t see very often.
Author: A. G. Riddle
Published date: 7 Feb 2019
Published by Head Of Zeus
A new ice age. A mysterious object in space.
And a desperate mission to save humanity from extinction.
As a new ice age begins, nations go to war for the world’s last habitable zones and NASA searches for answers why is the world cooling when climate scientists believe it should be getting warmer?
A probe sent into space discovers a mysterious object outside Earth’s orbit. Is it responsible for the current catastrophe? Or is it a relic from a long-extinct civilization?
The object may be humanity’s best hope for survival, so Dr James Sinclair one of the greatest scientists alive joins the first contact mission. But what the crew finds out there is beyond anyone’s imagination and James makes a decision that will change civilization forever.
Summary and Review:
James Sinclair is one of the best minds on the planet. Sadly he is currently incarcerated for a crime his own brother won’t forgive him for. But Earth needs a hero when the temperature drops below freezing and the planet is turned to ice. They’ve spotted an object in space and they need him to go out there and find out what it is and if there is any way of saving the Earth.
James Sinclair is a bit of a Mary Sue character (what even is that when it comes to men?). He knows all, has a tragic back story and manages to run rings around scientists who have been on the project for years. He also manages to bag the girl and gets the answers just in the nick of time. I found him a little condescending and annoying but it didn’t detract from the plot which was entertaining.
Despite being apocalyptic we spend most of our time in space and so miss out on how people adapt and live on Earth which is a shame as there was some real scope for character arcs and amazing descriptions. The brief glimpses of Earth news are fairly bleak and limited to throw away lines and news reports.
The chapters were small so it was a quick read and I did get involved with the plot and the characters but probably not enough to read the second or third in the series. I think it would probably fit better as a space drama with a mix of Day after Tomorrow meets Independence day.
Why it was Unique:
I think because it did spend so much time in space, trying to locate the source of the Winter, you feel the panic that the crew has over the lack of time and information getting through. They know things are bad but they, and we, don’t know how bad. With every success, every failure, every loss of life that the crew has you know that things on Earth are getting worse and worse and there is nothing they can do but try.
The End of the World Survivors Club
Author: Adrian J Walker
Published: 5 Sept 2019
Published by Del Ray
In THE END OF THE WORLD RUNNING CLUB Edgar Hill ran 550 miles after an apocalypse to try and find his family.
He had it easy.
This is his wife’s story.
Beth Hill has survived the apocalypse with a baby and toddler in tow. And what’s more she’s done it alone – without her husband’s help. He’s never been any help. But when disaster strikes and someone steals her kids, she knows what she has to do.
The new world might be very different: no government, no law, no infrastructure and a whole lot more ocean than there used to be. But one thing hasn’t changed – the lengths a mother will go to save her family…
Summary and Description:
I flew through this book like it was on fire.
I’d read the End of the World Runners club and really enjoyed the sense of urgency and world-building that it brought. When I first picked up this one I didn’t realise it was a follow on and was pleasantly surprised that there was a sequel to The End of the World Runners Club.
This one had very much the same feel. Beth has two children and is suddenly all alone at the end of the world. Herded into camps and onto ships to avoid the apocalypse, Beth juggles her guilt over being relieved her husband isn’t there with the need to help her fellow survivors. Then disaster strikes and her children are taken from her. What follows is one woman’s desperate struggle to get her family back together, braving the elements and the dregs of humanity that are left after the world ends.
It’s a fantastic tale of survival, ingenuity and family and everything in the book was brilliant. I loved Beth’s dogged determination to rescue her children against all odds, I loved her relationship with her fellow survivors and those she meets along the way and I adored the descriptions of how different people come together or tear each other part to survive.
Why it was so Unique:
Beth rocks. She is prepared to do whatever it takes, no matter how unsavoury and she knows that the end of the world is no place for morality. I’m used to post-apocalyptic stories focusing on survivors setting out alone but Beth starts out as part of those huddled masses being pushed along by the government. We get to see life in those camps and how they are pushed onto boats to other countries without any knowledge of what’s happening.
A Beginning at the End
Author: Mike Chen
Publish date: 14 Jan 2020
Published by Mira Books.
Six years after a global pandemic wiped out most of the planet’s population, the survivors are rebuilding the country, split between self-governing cities, hippie communes and wasteland gangs.
In post-apocalyptic San Francisco, former pop star Moira has created a new identity to finally escape her past–until her domineering father launches a sweeping public search to track her down. Desperate for a fresh start herself, jaded event planner Krista navigates the world on behalf of those too traumatized to go outside, determined to help everyone move on–even if they don’t want to. Rob survived the catastrophe with his daughter, Sunny, but lost his wife. When strict government rules threaten to separate parent and child, Rob needs to prove himself worthy in the city’s eyes by connecting with people again.Krista, Moira, Rob and Sunny are brought together by circumstance, and their lives begin to twine together. But when reports of another outbreak throw the fragile society into panic, the friends are forced to finally face everything that came before–and everything they still stand to lose. Because sometimes having one person is enough to keep the world going.
Summary and Review:
Most of the planet’s population is dead, killed by a strain of the flu. Those left are slowly rebuilding the world and trying to put their lives back together. But bureaucracy and the need for normality come together to target those who just want to be left alone. Rob wants to heal from the death of his wife but every time his daughter acts out, he is at risk of losing her to the government. Krista’s business is close to falling apart and she is forced to find and reunite those who, for whatever reason, have disappeared, and Moira isn’t even sure who she is anymore, let alone how to hide herself. But reports of another outbreak and Sunny’s sudden disappearance throw these three together.
Rather than a novel about the end of the world, this is more about the aftermath of lives once people start to rebuild. There were some interesting developments such as the PTSD groups and the balance of social life verses work that people are now obligated to fulfil to prove that they are ‘healthy’ functioning members of society.
The original aspects of this broken society were what kept me reading because, honestly, I didn’t find the characters and their problems all that engaging. I found Krista to be little naive and superficial and Moira and Rob were both quite selfish, ignoring what was actually going on around them in the world. Rob especially with his insider information who actually does very little to disseminate that information and protect others.
It didn’t feel much like a sci-fi novel or dystopia more like a human drama piece. I think it would do well in book groups but I was slightly disappointed in it.
What was unique:
The uniqueness was solely in the world-building aftermath. Groups set up to monitor each other for PTSD and having to log a certain amount of social interactions to be considered healthy. There was talk of gangs and things but it was really the way that the government was attempting to control the limited population that I really found fascinating.
Let me know if you agreed or disagreed and if there are any post-apocalyptic books, series or movies you think I should watch.
Hi Fayth…. I have a ton of recommendations for you, because I can’t get enough of the genre either! I can send you a link to the post apocalyptic/dystopian section on my book review blog if you like? But in the meantime, I love Kate L Mary, Keith C Blackmore, and there are various other single ones.
I’m also a writer of the two associated genres – I wondered if you might like to read any of my books, for which I am happy to send mobi copies for a review, or just to read, anyway!! They’ve all got plenty of reviews to look at. Here is my Amazon page:
Hope (dystopian rather than post apocalyptic) and Blackthorn are stand-alones, but I thought you might like to read Tipping Point, which is Book 1 of my series, and or Patient Zero, the short stories that are connected to it.
Thanks for your time, and a great article 🙂
Here is the link to my Amazon page 🙂
Awesome post with some great recommendations that have me wanting to pick this boo up ASAP–especially The Secret Runners of New York and A Beginning at the End! I do enjoy stories around the apocalypse but haven’t read many that aren’t the mainstream, so thanks for the recs 🙂
You’re welcome. I have loads of reccs that aren’t mainstream reads. There is a hilarious one called “An old man at the end of the world” which is a disgruntled OAP who doesn’t want to deal with Zombies messing up his garden allotment. Very different to anything I’d read before.
Great post! I love this genre – added a few more to my wish list now. I love how there are so many different aspects that writers explore, too, and it’s always great to see different types of stories coming out from the end of the world.
I know, I get so fed up of the same old so when they go from a different angle then I’m hooked.
Thank you so much. I have subbed to your website, love your cover reveal posts. I have no cats myself but my husband cannot walk past a cat without making friends.