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Post-Apocalyptic Novels

Set after a world-altering disaster, post-apocalyptic novels offer readers glimpses into how horrible life could be. While that may sound depressing, and it sometimes is, it is a fascinating and entertaining way to play a mental game of "what if".

What if I was the last person left in a world overrun by zombies?

What if a super-virus took out most of the world and I didn't know if I'd survive the night?

What if technology suddenly stopped working - with no cause? What would happen to human society?

If those questions got your imagation running, then you definitely need to explore this science fiction subgenre. Here's a list of my top ten Post-Apocalyptic Novels:


The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Amazon Says: A searing, postapocalyptic novel destined to become Cormac McCarthy’s masterpiece. A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged lan more...
Amazon Says: A searing, postapocalyptic novel destined to become Cormac McCarthy’s masterpiece. A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other. The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, “each the other’s world entire,” are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation. less...
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The Stand by Stephen King
Amazon Says: When a man escapes from a biological testing facility, he sets in motion a deadly domino effect, spreading a mutated strain of the flu that will wipe out 99 percent of humanit more...
Amazon Says: When a man escapes from a biological testing facility, he sets in motion a deadly domino effect, spreading a mutated strain of the flu that will wipe out 99 percent of humanity within a few weeks. The survivors who remain are scared, bewildered, and in need of a leader. Two emerge--Mother Abagail, the benevolent 108-year-old woman who urges them to build a community in Boulder, Colorado; and Randall Flagg, the nefarious "Dark Man," who delights in chaos and violence. (This edition includes all of the new and restored material first published in The Stand: The Complete And Uncut Edition.)  less...
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Amazon Says: Now a major motion picture The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experienc more...
Amazon Says: Now a major motion picture The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years. Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War. Most of all, the book captures with haunting immediacy the human dimension of this epochal event. Facing the often raw and vivid nature of these personal accounts requires a degree of courage on the part of the reader, but the effort is invaluable because, as Mr. Brooks says in his introduction, “By excluding the human factor, aren’t we risking the kind of personal detachment from history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn’t the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as ‘the living dead’?” Note: Some of the numerical and factual material contained in this edition was previously published under the auspices of the United Nations Postwar Commission. Eyewitness reports from the first truly global war “I found ‘Patient Zero’ behind the locked door of an abandoned apartment across town. . . . His wrists and feet were bound with plastic packing twine. Although he’d rubbed off the skin around his bonds, there was no blood. There was also no blood on his other wounds. . . . He was writhing like an animal; a gag muffled his growls. At first the villagers tried to hold me back. They warned me not to touch him, that he was ‘cursed.’ I shrugged them off and reached for my mask and gloves. The boy’s skin was . . . cold and gray . . . I could find neither his heartbeat nor his pulse.” —Dr. Kwang Jingshu, Greater Chongqing, United Federation of China “‘Shock and Awe’? Perfect name. . . . But what if the enemy can’t be shocked and awed? Not just won’t, but biologically can’t! That’s what happened that day outside New York City, that’s the failure that almost lost us the whole damn war. The fact that we couldn’t shock and awe Zack boomeranged right back in our faces and actually allowed Zack to shock and awe us! They’re not afraid! No matter what we do, no matter how many we kill, they will never, ever be afraid!” —Todd Wainio, former U.S. Army infantryman and veteran of the Battle of Yonkers “Two hundred million zombies. Who can even visualize that type of number, let alone combat it? . . . For the first time in history, we faced an enemy that was actively waging total war. They had no limits of endurance. They would never negotiate, never surrender. They would fight until t less...
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Amazon Says: In Mary's world there are simple truths.    The Sisterhood always knows best.    The Guardians will protect and serve.    The Unconsecrated will never relent.    A more...
Amazon Says: In Mary's world there are simple truths.    The Sisterhood always knows best.    The Guardians will protect and serve.    The Unconsecrated will never relent.    And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth.    But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power. And, when the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness.    Now, she must choose between her village and her future, between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death? [STAR] "A bleak but gripping story...Poignant and powerful."-Publishers Weekly, Starred "A postapocalyptic romance of the first order, elegantly written from title to last line."-Scott Westerfeld, author of the Uglies series and Leviathan "Intelligent, dark, and bewitching, The Forest of Hands and Teeth transitions effortlessly between horror and beauty. Mary's world is one that readers will not soon forget."-Cassandra Clare, bestselling author of City of Bones "Opening The Forest of Hands and Teeth is like cracking Pandora's box: a blur of darkness and a precious bit of hope pour out. This is a beautifully crafted, page-turning, powerful novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it."-Melissa Marr, bestselling author of Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange "Dark and sexy and scary. Only one of the Unconsecrated could put this book down."-Justine Larbalestier, author of How to Ditch Your Fairy From the Hardcover edition. less...
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Amazon Says: It all started when an electrical storm over the island of Nantucket produced a blinding white flash, causing all electronic devices to cease to function-computers, telephones more...
Amazon Says: It all started when an electrical storm over the island of Nantucket produced a blinding white flash, causing all electronic devices to cease to function-computers, telephones, engines, radio, television, even firearms-and plunged the world into a darkness humanity was unprepared to face. But even as some people band together to help one another, others are building armies for conquest... less...
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On the Beach by Nevil Shute
Amazon Says: Nevil Shute’s most powerful novel—a bestseller for decades after its 1957 publication—is an unforgettable vision of a post-apocalyptic world. After a nuclear World War more...
Amazon Says: Nevil Shute’s most powerful novel—a bestseller for decades after its 1957 publication—is an unforgettable vision of a post-apocalyptic world. After a nuclear World War III has destroyed most of the globe, the few remaining survivors in southern Australia await the radioactive cloud that is heading their way and bringing certain death to everyone in its path. Among them is an American submarine captain struggling to resist the knowledge that his wife and children in the United States must be dead. Then a faint Morse code signal is picked up, transmitting from somewhere near Seattle, and Captain Towers must lead his submarine crew on a bleak tour of the ruined world in a desperate search for signs of life. Both terrifying and intensely moving, On the Beach is a remarkably convincing portrait of how ordinary people might face the most unimaginable nightmare. less...
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Amazon Says: The long-awaited new novel from Margaret Atwood. The Year of the Flood is a dystopic masterpiece and a testament to her visionary power. The times and species have be more...
Amazon Says: The long-awaited new novel from Margaret Atwood. The Year of the Flood is a dystopic masterpiece and a testament to her visionary power. The times and species have been changing at a rapid rate, and the social compact is wearing as thin as environmental stability. Adam One, the kindly leader of the God's Gardeners—a religion devoted to the melding of science and religion, as well as the preservation of all plant and animal life—has long predicted a natural disaster that will alter Earth as we know it. Now it has occurred, obliterating most human life. Two women have survived: Ren, a young trapeze dancer locked inside the high-end sex club Scales and Tails, and Toby, a God's Gardener barricaded inside a luxurious spa where many of the treatments are edible. Have others survived? Ren's bioartist friend Amanda? Zeb, her eco-fighter stepfather? Her onetime lover, Jimmy? Or the murderous Painballers, survivors of the mutual-elimination Painball prison? Not to mention the shadowy, corrupt policing force of the ruling powers . . . Meanwhile, gene-spliced life forms are proliferating: the lion/lamb blends, the Mo'hair sheep with human hair, the pigs with human brain tissue. As Adam One and his intrepid hemp-clad band make their way through this strange new world, Ren and Toby will have to decide on their next move. They can't stay locked away . . . By turns dark, tender, violent, thoughtful, and uneasily hilarious, The Year of the Flood is Atwood at her most brilliant and inventive. less...
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A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.
Amazon Says: Winner of the 1961 Hugo Award for Best Novel and widely considered one of the most accomplished, powerful, and enduring classics of modern speculative fiction, Walter M. Mille more...
Amazon Says: Winner of the 1961 Hugo Award for Best Novel and widely considered one of the most accomplished, powerful, and enduring classics of modern speculative fiction, Walter M. Miller, Jr.'s A Canticle for Leibowitz is a true landmark of twentieth-century literature -- a chilling and still-provocative look at a post-apocalyptic future.In a nightmarish ruined world slowly awakening to the light after sleeping in darkness, the infant rediscoveries of science are secretly nourished by cloistered monks dedicated to the study and preservation of the relics and writings of the blessed Saint Isaac Leibowitz. From here the story spans centuries of ignorance, violence, and barbarism, viewing through a sharp, satirical eye the relentless progression of a human race damned by its inherent humanness to recelebrate its grand foibles and repeat its grievous mistakes. Seriously funny, stunning, and tragic, eternally fresh, imaginative, and altogether remarkable, A Canticle for Leibowitz retains its ability to enthrall and amaze. It is now, as it always has been, a masterpiece. less...
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The Passage: A Novel by Justin Cronin
Amazon Says: “It happened fast. Thirty-two minutes for one world to die, another to be born.”  First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashe more...
Amazon Says: “It happened fast. Thirty-two minutes for one world to die, another to be born.”  First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse. As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey—spanning miles and decades—towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun. With The Passage, award-winning author Justin Cronin has written both a relentlessly suspenseful adventure and an epic chronicle of human endurance in the face of unprecedented catastrophe and unimaginable danger. Its inventive storytelling, masterful prose, and depth of human insight mark it as a crucial and transcendent work of modern fiction. less...
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I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Amazon Says: Robert Neville may well be the last living man on Earth . . . but he is not alone.  An incurable plague has mutated every other man, woman, and child into bloodthirsty, noctu more...
Amazon Says: Robert Neville may well be the last living man on Earth . . . but he is not alone.  An incurable plague has mutated every other man, woman, and child into bloodthirsty, nocturnal creatures who are determined to destroy him. By day, he is a hunter, stalking the infected monstrosities through the abandoned ruins of civilization. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for dawn....  less...
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