I want to evaluate these books that are considered “Post Apocalyptic” literature… from more than one angle. From one angle as a book… good read, etc… From the other angle, as a guidebook for being prepared for catastrophe in our society. I have found over the years that fiction and narrative can be great trainers for us! Sometimes, fiction can offer more insight into human psychology than non-fiction can, and I think this topic is largely a psychological one. These are in no particular order.
The Stand – Stephen King.
Great examination of the effect on mankind when a military grade disease is released, killing 98% of the world’s population. The first 1/3 of the book is great… as the disease spreads and people have to deal with that. As with most of his books, though, the Deus Ex Machina is pretty rampant by the end. Not much of a guidebook.
Book: B+, Handbook: B
The Postman – David Brin
In a post-government world, what happens when someone finds a postman’s uniform? (the movie is a poor replacement for the book, even though the book has an ending that stretches any sense of believability.) With the exception of that ending, I really liked this book. Had some guidebook value, but not tons.
Book: B, Handbook: B+
The World without Us – Alan Weisman
What would the process of nature reclaiming the world of man look like? This is a great book about biology and fascinating about engineering, but not really about a post apocalyptic situation… but would be a vital read for anyone writing one! Only guidebook value is as prep for what is going to happen in cities if electricity and intervention cease.
Book: B+, Handbook A-
World War Z – Max Brooks
The best Zombie war book I have ever read. This is overall, an amazing read. Told from the perspective of an investigative reporter. Some great stuff in this one. Some rough language… not for kids. A fast read too.
Book A, Handbook C+
Lucifer’s Hammer – Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven
This book examines the West coast after a comet has struck. I think this, among most of the rest, offers one of the best insights in preparing for this kind of disaster. I felt like it was of the most realistic and painful to read. It is odd to think we are so close, always, to essentially living in a medieval world again.
Book: B+, Handbook: A+
The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
Fast paced, urgent, and addictive. Interesting commentary on society’s addiction to entertainment, as well. Nothing redemptive in this book, though, and you have to be ready for a brutally violent book. It isn’t the typical post-A book either – more of a commentary on what society could become someday, but no help as a prep book.
Book: A-, Handbook: D
77 Days – Ray Gorham
A man must walk from Houston to Montana to be reunited with his family after a sudden EMP attack. Great stuff in this book. The protagonist seems to be a little hesitant to defend himself to me, but otherwise this books feels believable… a decent guide book too. High scores.
Book: B+, Handbook: A
I am Legend – Richard Matheson
A novelette that takes a new look at vampirism. It has a creative ending and a realistic look at the psychology of being alone in the world… but it skips past the process of an epidemic taking over. The movie bears little resemblance to the book, but I think is good in its own right.
Book: B+, Handbook: C-
The Strain Trilogy – Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
Vampire books. The first one is fascinating from both a vampire and post-apocalyptic disease perspective… I liked it a lot. However, after book one, book two is weaker from both perspectives. Book three is a waste. I was pretty disappointed.
Book (Book 1: A, Book 3: F), Handbook: C
The Walk – Lee Goldberg
A man must walk across LA after the big one, to reach his underappreciated family… I feel like this is more of a coming-of-age book for a middle aged male to become a man than a true post-A book. The language is really rough – way over-done… I don’t really recommend it.
Book: F, Handbook: D
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
This book is badly out of date about a lot of things, but at the same time that is one of the more shocking aspects of it – seeing how things have changed. Though I think a full blown nuclear war btw the US and Russia are unlikely at this point (that is the plot in this one). However, some great survival ideas and concepts are found here.. and it is well written – I recommend. It makes you want to stock up on salt, that is for sure!
Book: A-, Handbook: A
Survivors – James Wesley Rawles
This book is written by an overtly Christian author setting a scenario of total financial collapse in the USA. The author is also the host of the survivalblog.com website that offers what the media calls “preppers” all kinds of information and ideas for how to survive similar circumstances. As an advice book, this is one of the best. I learned about the silver in pre-1965 quarters from this book, for example.
Book: B, Handbook: A+
One Second After – William R Forstchen
This is another book that examines the results of an EMP burst. In many ways, this one is almost a “preppers” handbook. However, I enjoyed the character development as well… and found it believable. Read it… High marks for this one.
Book: B+, Handbook: A+
The Day After Tomorrow – Allan Folsom
This is one of the more frightening books in that it feels real and like a potential. It is based on a theory that weather systems stretch like a rubber band and then suddenly snap back… warmer and warmer, then snap into an ice age. Not much prep advice beyond don’t live in the north. It is more of a scientific treatise.
Book: A, Handbook: (for this specific event) B
Andromeda Strain – Michael Crichton
This is a great conversation about the effect of a military virus run loose. It is a great book – Crichton’s best, in my opinion… but the societal impact is less the focus of the book than the scientific response.
Book: A, Handbook: C
The Restoration Novels – Terri Blackstock
I didn’t get to read these, but my wife did, and she loved them… and started her thinking of the possibility of needing to be prepared in case of a cataclysm of some kind, when something like an EMP pulse happens. It certainly has some good guidebook ideas as well.
Book: ? Handbook: A-
The Jakarta Pandemic – Steven Konkoly
This one is scary bc it feels so real. The language is pretty rough, but otherwise, this is a great book. Oddly, like so many post-Apoc books, it ends with a kind of mano-y- mano scenario, but until then, the narrative creates a realistic sense of what might happen in a deadly flu pandemic. Good ideas.
Book: B+, Handbook: A