Posted by Amanda E.
When our blog mistress, Alana, circulated the latest suggestion request list for the blog, I nearly ripped it out of her hands. The title was Post-Apocalyptic fiction. This is a subject I am passionate about as it is one of my very favorite genres of fiction.
Apocalyptic fiction and Post-Apocalyptic fiction are subgenres of Science Fiction. Apocalyptic fiction is a story set during an apocalypse (an apocalypse being an event that includes massive destruction, in these instances usually relevant to human civilization) and post-apocalyptic is set after the destructive event sometimes immediately and sometimes in the distant future. There are numerous sub-genres generally defined by the type of apocalypse, most notably: warfare, disease, zombies, aliens and natural disasters. These subgenre lines are often blurry and that’s where the real creativity happens!
As with all matters of taste, people enjoy apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic fiction for many different reasons. I love reading the authors take on how society would be rebuilt and I enjoy reading and thinking about how individuals react in times of crisis and when the rules of society are lax. (For these same reasons, I enjoy reading stories about people in survival situations)
So, let me tell you about a few of my favorite books in this genre!
Dies the Fire follows several groups of people trying to survive after an event called “The Change” alters the laws of physics so that electricity and combustion no longer function causing the breakdown of society as we know it.
Things I like about this story: The setting, the Willamette Valley region of Oregon, is described beautifully. There are great descriptions of tactics/strategy as each of the groups that form tries to carve out new territories. I also really appreciate the explanation of pre-electricity survival techniques. The supporting characters are interesting with fully formed back stories.
Things I like less about this story: There is a level of mysticality that is jarring. (This is the first of numerous books that comprise the Emberverse series; I haven’t read most of them because there is more of an emphasis on this mysticality as the series progresses) The characters are definitely HEROES! They have very few flaws and are almost unbelievable as people in their ability to make things turn out the way they need them to turn out. It can jar you out of the story sometimes.
In The Stand, the apocalypse is brought on by an accidentally released, government engineered disease that comes to be called Captain Trips. A handful of the population is immune to the disease and it is up to them to create a new society. This book is very unsubtle about the battle between good and evil. The “good” group is brought together by visions from an old woman named Mother Abigail and the “evil” group is led by a darkly magical being named Flagg. The two groups ultimately end up having an epic battle in Las Vegas (at one point the Hand of God makes an appearance).
Things I like about this story: Everything. The Stand was the first apocalyptic book and the first Stephen King book I ever read. It made me fall in love with both the author and the genre. The characters are flawed and real and the story is epic. I know I said I don’t like mystical business in my science fiction but for some reason I give King a pass. Probably because he’s so good at creating a story that could not exist as wholly without these elements. The way good and evil are addressed in this story almost requires them to be represented as things beyond human control or understanding. This book is one I will reread occasionally every few years and each time I’ll ferry out some new nugget of understanding of the story.
This is one of my favorite young adult novels. It is set many generations after a zombie apocalypse. The main character, Mary, lives in a town that she believes is the last human settlement on earth. The town is surrounded by a fence that separates it from the forest, where the zombies live. Mary ends up leaving the town through a fenced and gated path through the forest.
In typical young adult fiction fashion, there is a tortured romance that drives much of the story. However, that doesn’t distract from the fantastic world the author creates. The ambiance and atmosphere in this story are really intense.
The Forest of Hands and Teeth is the first book in a trilogy. The second two books are not as amazing as the first, but definitely worth reading.
There are so many more titles in this genre.
If you want more information or recommendations, there are quite a few staff members who really enjoy reading them. Just ask at the Circulation desk.