Survive Monday with My All-time Favorite Apocalyptic Novels

Sometimes, a day just turns out bad.

Sometimes, there’s nothing a person can do to stop breakfast from burning, being late for work, dealing with horrible clients, fighting with a friend, getting in a fender bender, finding your dog ate a new pair of $50 shoes.

Invariably this will all happen on a Monday.

Mondays are awful, awful days.

I could whip out a top ten favorites list for almost any genre of fiction, but my most effective remedy to combat the end of the weekend is to search for an apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic gem where the world ends, or is ending, and the-fate-of-human-existence hangs-in-the-balance… It puts my life in perspective.

I decide my day wasn’t too bad after all: I do not have thousands of flesh-eating zombies surrounding my house, I am not the last woman on earth, I do not have a brain cloud.

This all serves to remind me that I have a pretty good life. A damn good life.

So here is my current list of all-time favorite apocalyptic novels (all titles subject to change as soon as I read something better):

Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood

Blindness by Jose Saramago

1984 by George Orwell

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

The Stand by Stephen King

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut

Have you read any of these?
These novels are exceptional on three levels: strength of ideas, strength of story, and strength of language. The only possible exception on this list is Stephen King’s The Stand: the Expanded Edition, because it did read a little loose to me, but the scope of the story more than made up for a few sloppy paragraphs.

Do you disagree with any of my choices? Do you have any favorites you’re surprised didn’t make my list?

Kindred Apocalypticists
Many apocalyptic novels follow the survival of a small group of people who would never have spent time together in normal life.

These characters often form a new eclectic family to better survive – and make the reader nervous about who the author might kill off by the end.

I believe a special relationship exists among people who both read and love the same books. I could get all Jungian and discuss subconscious archetypes and the like, but basically, I figure if you love one or more of these books as much I do, we probably have other things in common.

While there are lots of good people I know who have not read the same books as me, I hold a special place in my heart for those people who know exactly what I’m talking about when I say the world Jose Saramago creates in Blindness just plain scared the shit out of me.

So if one or more of these books has been on your ‘to buy’ list for awhile, don’t hesitate any longer.

Feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you think.

If I can help you better survive the end of the world, err … weekend … I’ve done my job.

One caveat regarding Blindness – it was a hard book to sink into. Jose Saramago writes with only periods and commas. No quotes surround dialogue. I almost always hate books where the author experiments with language to the detriment of everything else. Not the case with Blindness.

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About Jamie Thornton

I am a voracious reader in many genres. I do sometimes judge a book by its cover art. Life is too short to spend time reading or reviewing bad books. My own published novels are full of adventure, danger, and complicated characters. I call Northern California home. I graduated from UCLA with a degree in Anthropology and belong to the Wordforge writing group. I live, rather happily, with my husband, dog, a garden, a viola and a bicycle. Check out my short stories and novels at jamiethornton.com

6 responses to “Survive Monday with My All-time Favorite Apocalyptic Novels

  1. All great choices if I do say so myself. Just thought you might be interested in this:

    http://www.johnjosephadams.com/wastelands/

    It just came out and is essentially the only anthology of PA fiction out there, which is surprising.

    I’ve got a review of it and an interview with the editor coming up on Quiet Earth imminently.

    Later,

    Agent Orange

  2. Great post and suggestions. I have had a hankering to reread 1984 and Brave New World for months and plan to buy them.

    Think I’ll addBlindness to my next book buy run based on that recommendation! 🙂

  3. agentorange
    Yes! I pre-ordered Wastelands from Amazon as soon as I heard the anthology included Octavia Butler. I’m making my way through it now. So far so good.

    RMSolberg
    Happy Reading!

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