5 Great Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction Novels

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There are many theories about what lies ahead and what mankind and the Earth will look like in the not to distant future. The post-apocalyptic science fiction book allows people to gaze past the horizon of their reality and catch a glimpse of a frightening future of mankind’s making. For those who love post-apocalyptic thrillers, the following 10 books will be a feast for your mind and fuel your dreams and imaginings.

Mockingjay (Hunger Games)

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In this the third installment of the Hunger Games series, Suzanne Collins takes readers in a totally unexpected direction. Through the eyes of Katniss Everdeen, we see what happens to love, life, and hope in this dystopian future. Everyone must make difficult decisions and live with them while straining to maintain their sanity and their humanity amidst gut-wrenching destruction. Can love and life exist in a horrifyingly hellish reality? In Mockingjay we get the answer.

The Stand

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In The Stand by Stephen King, a human-engineered super-flu kills most of humanity and leaves the few survivors living in a desert-like world. King’s superb writing makes this an engrossing novel. It has richly drawn, unforgettable characters that confront the meaning of good and evil. The survivors embrace dreams and visions, seek solace where they can, and must confront and defeat Randall Flag and his evil minions through brave and extraordinary actions in the face of betrayal to find personal redemption.

The 5th Wave: The First Book of the 5th Wave Series

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Rick Yancey’s 5th Wave is a wildly entertaining novel. It starts with a gigantic alien ship coming into Earth’s orbit and raining down attacks in a series of waves. An electromagnetic pulse knocks out all power and is followed by tsunamis, disease, and body snatching. The action is fast and furious as humanity, led by a group of youngsters, fights to survive. Yancy’s engrossing, well-crafted tale grabs your imagination and never lets go.

Angelfall: Penryn & the End of Days, Book 1

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Set in L.A. after an apocalyptic earthquake, Susan Ee’s Angelfall is an intense, end-of-the-world fantasy adventure. The storytelling is gripping and the action often horrifying as angels and tiny demons sting, suck the life force out, and devour their human victims. Penryn, an engaging and resourceful 17 year old girl, is narrator, protagonist, and leader of a band of youth fighting to save mankind.

Wool

WoolCover-790x459This Hugh Howey novel is about humans living deep underground because earth’s surface is toxic. When Juliette, a beloved mechanic, is chosen for a suicide mission to the surface to clean the sensors that let light in, the workers rebel. Howey’s richly textured novel builds as the story swiftly moves along. His chilling words create the terrifying and claustrophobic underground world in which these earthlings live.

Fahrenheit 451 By Ray Bradbury – Dystopian Science Fiction Novel

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fahrenheit-451Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is more than worth reading for fans of any genre, because it defies it’s genre by redefining it. In this masterful piece of storytelling is the kind of thought provoking commentary on the state of humans and their affairs that people don’t usually look to Science Fiction to provide. Thats the unique magic of Farenheit 451 – it’s ability to grab the reader’s imagination while chilling them with the fear of what is all too possible. The book was scary. The book was exciting. It was unpredictable and imaginative. It was surreal and yet it seemed even then to parallel so many of the things happening around me. It was fantastical yet sobering in how very possible it seemed. It was sad. But above all else the book was a thrill.

In Fahrenheit 451 it isn’t aliens that the people need to fear nor is it necessarily technology but rather the agendas of governments and the brutal nature of humans to let fear of the unknown and misunderstood guide them to extreme acts of violence. The plot centers around a fireman named Guy Montag, who is no firefighter but rather a fire starter. Guy lives in a dystopia of the highest order though there are no food shortages or factions to speak of here – the thing the people here are deprived of is far worse. In Guy’s world the firemen burn books in an effort to keep the society vacant, unimaginative and completely non-inquisitive. Free thought is stamped out and replaced with a fear of reading and a love of constant media stimuli. Guy goes about his work dutifully and doesn’t question the way things are until his outlook is changed by a series of disturbing events. The horrors he witnesses alert him to the despondency that surrounds him. He finds hope in one encounter only to have it ripped away in a tragic and entirely unnecessary way. He sees those closest to him for who they truly are and how vapid their lives are and he becomes disillusioned with his life and angry at his circumstances. His quest to understand books and the society that has taken them away drives him throughout the rest of the book to powerful and resounding results.

Fahrenheit 451 is told in a third person narrative and follows Guy’s story without going into anyone else’s. The voice is reliable and trustworthy, telling Guy’s story without bias or any attempt to glorify him or his actions. None of the other characters seem like just words on a page; the reader feels with them because they’re written so vividly that they come alive in the imagination. The narrative is that of a man becoming aware of his surroundings and the result is a dystopian science fiction book that stands out in people’s minds as a modern classic. Unlike 1984, Farenheit 451 isn’t about a government overtly trying to control the people it rather how they manipulate the people into becoming mindless sheep and then control them subconsciously.

The book is set at some point in the distant future, no year or location is directly specified but rather implied by the surroundings and gadgets described. Its setting is essential to it’s theme of the dangers of giving in to special interests at the expense of the people and it’s warning against allowing ourselves to be consumed by media that doesn’t foster intelligence or social interaction and the exchange of ideas is eerily troubling and especially so given the state of our society today. It’s hard not to read of the nonsensical shows constantly playing on the giant screens and the audio of the shells and think of how strikingly similar they are to our gigantic tv’s and portable touch screen devices.

This book grabbed me from the very first page and didn’t let go even after I’d finished. The scenes of suspense – whether from glimpses of people living with the secret of hiding books or from the firemen themselves preparing to go on a raid – had me on the edge of my seat eagerly devouring the words until I reached the end. I never knew what to expect from Guy or any of the other characters and everytime I had a theory of what would happen nex I was surprised yet again by the unfailingly unpredictable manuscript.
My favorite character is a girl named Clarisse who befriends Guy and sets him on the path that changes how he sees everything. She is sweet and innocent, brilliant and inquisitive and her presence provides a happy moment and a breath of fresh air in an otherwise uninteresting world. Her kind nature and youth are presented as hope and she is a great influence on Guy.

I also love that the warning in Fahrenheit 451 hasn’t aged and it’s imaginative ideas of the future don’t seem simplistic or farfetched in our modern society.Unlike other sci-fi works that rely on technology to tell the story of the future this book uses it as a way to get us to appreciate the past. The takeover of the society described by the mindlessness of technology driven lives is contrasted by the peace and determination that the few people who decide to defy the laws of the time poses. They’ve kept their individuality by holding on to the past which is interesting to me because usually in these kinds of books clinging to the past isn’t helpful to characters or a noble thing to do.

Still the real thrill of the book is how timeless it is and how possible it all seems. Its author, Ray Bradbury, wrote books of science fiction and fantasy but did not see himself as limited by either genre. Bradbury simply wanted his books to be remembered as remarkably ‘fantastical and unreal’. It seems ironic that an author who was so imaginative and who so clearly thought outside of any box could write such an eerily prophetic work as Fahrenheit 451, but the Pulitzer Prize winner’s books are often haunting in their ability to come alive in the minds of readers, capturing their imaginations with their creativity and their suspense and the fact that they seem just well written and thought out enough to be completely possible.