If Cormac McCarthy’s book The Road – or the movie adaptation hitting theaters October 16 – piques your interest in fictional visions of a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world, here are some other books to check out.
There’s been a massive flood and only one family, on an ark, has been saved. Sound familiar? The Island at the End of the World by Sam Taylor isn’t Noah’s story, but instead that of Pa and his three children. When a stranger washes up on their island, the kids begin wondering how alone they actually are, and exactly what happened before the flood.
Into the Forest centers on two teenage sisters living in the woods of California. Unlike some other books, Jean Hegland shows us the before, during, and after of the surprisingly calm end of civilization, while asking the question – how long do you wait for things to return to normal?
In The Pesthouse by Jim Crace, an unexplained environmental disaster has dismantled society and sent Franklin trekking towards the east coast and the promise of ships headed to a more bountiful Europe. Along the way, he meets Margaret. Part love story, part end-of-the-world road trip, this book vividly portrays the societal relationships that spring up to fill the void.
I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson, was also recently made into a movie. Robert Neville may be the only human left alive, but that’s not to say he’s all alone – the virus that obliterated mankind didn’t kill people straight out, it turned them into legions of vampires. Written in 1954, this is still a great read and has influenced a ton of modern horror novelists.
If you were the last living thing on Earth, would you go insane? Is that what has happened to the woman in David Markson’s Wittgenstein’s Mistress? Try to piece it together as you read her stream-of-conscious recollections and commentaries.
For a modern classic, you can’t go wrong with Stephen King’s epic The Stand. The apocalypse is brought about by a strain of super flu accidentally released from a military base, which wipes out nearly the entire population. Those that are left divide up into two factions – Good and Evil – and battle it out.
Still looking for more suggestions? Try A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins; or do a subject search for dystopia in the library catalog.