Amazon

Readers' Favorite

March 15, 2020

Prefer Fiction? 8 Pandemic Novels to Read

by Donna Huber



Do you know that meme that pops up on social media from time to time asking if you could survive the world of your current read? As one who loves reading dystopian/post-apocalyptic fiction, particularly ones featuring a pandemic, I feel a little like I've fallen into the pages of one of those books.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site.

I have seen a lot of people saying they can't wait for things to return to normal. However, I think we will have to get used to a new normal. I'm hoping that from this crisis we will see greater flexibility in the workplace -  more teleworking, paid sick leave for more people, and flexible work hours. I'm also hoping the COVID-19 outbreak will make us a more considerate and compassionate society. The reason I like reading pandemic fiction is to see society maintain hope, rebuild, adjust to a new normal, and become better individuals. Below is a list of pandemic fiction that I have either read, it's been recommended to me, or I've seen it on other lists and I want to read it.

MaddAddam trilogy by Margaret Atwood

The Year of the Flood
My book club last year read Oryx and Crake and since I was listening to it on audio I went ahead and read the full trilogy. While it is a blend of natural disaster and man meddling with genetic engineering that leads to the apocalypse, we still get to see society succeed in surviving.  Book 2 in the series, The Year of Flood, focuses more on the aftermath of the disaster and how people are trying to survive.

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. (Goodreads)

Buy The Year of the Flood at Amazon

Station Eleven by Emily St. John

Station Eleven
A very rich story in which a flu pandemic has wiped out most of the population. I liked how the author intertwined the characters and plot. Past and present are told through a band of traveling performers. To fully appreciate the story you need to devote your undivided attention. I listened to it on audio but I wished I had read it instead.

Set in the days of civilization's collapse, Station Eleven tells the story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time—from the actor's early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains—this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor's first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet. (Goodreads)

Buy Station Eleven at Amazon

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife
A disease has swept through and it disproportionately affected females so that only about 1% survived. Scribes are making copies of the journal from the unnamed midwife, WHile they copy the word, we get to see what life immediately following this outbreak was like. I suggested this book to my book club (another member did as well). This is book 1 of The Road to Nowhere series. I haven't read the other two yet.

In the wake of a fever that decimated the earth’s population—killing women and children and making childbirth deadly for the mother and infant—the midwife must pick her way through the bones of the world she once knew to find her place in this dangerous new one. Gone are the pillars of civilization. All that remains is power—and the strong who possess it.

A few women like her survived, though they are scarce. Even fewer are safe from the clans of men, who, driven by fear, seek to control those remaining. To preserve her freedom, she dons men’s clothing, goes by false names, and avoids as many people as possible. But as the world continues to grapple with its terrible circumstances, she’ll discover a role greater than chasing a pale imitation of independence.

After all, if humanity is to be reborn, someone must be its guide. (Goodreads)

Buy The Book of the Unnamed Midwife at Amazon

The End of All Things by Lissa Bryan

The End of All Things
I loved this series. It really highlights the endurance of the human spirit. It probably mirrors closer to what we are currently experiencing than any of the others I've read. You can read my full review.

After a terrible virus ravages the planet, Carly Daniels, one of the few survivors, hides in her apartment in Juneau trying to survive the best she can with only occasional forays to gather food. With her is Sam, a wolf puppy she found starving on the streets. He becomes her companion and a reason to continue when giving up sometimes seems like the more attractive option. Still dazed with shock and grief, she hopes for the world to go back to normal soon.

She is discovered by Justin, an ex-soldier who is intent on making his way to Florida before the winter sets in. Justin coaxes her out of her hiding place and convinces her to join him on his journey, because a warmer climate will be their best chance against the extremes of Mother Nature.

Together, they begin a perilous journey through a nation laid to waste by the disaster. Challenges abound along the way. The weather, injury, and shortage of supplies all help to slow them down. In time, they discover that they aren’t the only survivors. Some are friendly but some have had their minds destroyed by the high fever. Then there are those who simply take what they want, leaving Carly and Justin with no choice but to defend what is theirs.

But their journey is not without joy and love. Together, they face every struggle, including an unplanned pregnancy. Despite the perils of bringing a child into a world of chaos, their baby is a new beginning for themselves and a symbol of hope for the other survivors they find along the way.

This is the story of their journey to find a place to begin a new life, and a home in each other. (Goodreads)

Buy The End of All Things at Amazon

Severance by Ling Ma

Severance
This book was recommended by the librarian who is in charge of my post-apocalyptic book club.

An offbeat office novel turns apocalyptic satire as a young woman transforms from orphan to worker bee to survivor.

Candace Chen, a millennial drone self-sequestered in a Manhattan office tower, is devoted to routine. With the recent passing of her Chinese immigrant parents, she’s had her fill of uncertainty. She’s content just to carry on: She goes to work, troubleshoots the teen-targeted Gemstone Bible, watches movies in a Greenpoint basement with her boyfriend.

So Candace barely notices when a plague of biblical proportions sweeps New York. Then Shen Fever spreads. Families flee. Companies halt operations. The subways squeak to a halt. Her bosses enlist her as part of a dwindling skeleton crew with a big end-date payoff. Soon entirely alone, still unfevered, she photographs the eerie, abandoned city as the anonymous blogger NY Ghost.

Candace won’t be able to make it on her own forever, though. Enter a group of survivors, led by the power-hungry IT tech Bob. They’re traveling to a place called the Facility, where, Bob promises, they will have everything they need to start society anew. But Candace is carrying a secret she knows Bob will exploit. Should she escape from her rescuers?

A send-up and takedown of the rituals, routines, and missed opportunities of contemporary life, Ling Ma’s Severance is a moving family story, a quirky coming-of-adulthood tale, and a hilarious, deadpan satire. Most important, it’s a heartfelt tribute to the connections that drive us to do more than survive. (Goodreads)

Buy Severance at Amazon

The Stand by Stephen King

The Stand
Another book recommended to me. Have you seen the meme on Facebook with this book? I've never read a Stephen King novel because I always equate him with horror.

A patient escapes from a biological testing facility, unknowingly carrying a deadly weapon: a mutated strain of super-flu that will wipe out 99 percent of the world's population within a few weeks. Those 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 peaceful community in Boulder, Colorado; and Randall Flagg, the nefarious "Dark Man," who delights in chaos and violence. As the dark man and the peaceful woman gather power, the survivors will have to choose between them--and ultimately decide the fate of all humanity. (Goodreads)

Buy The Stand at Amazon

The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen

The Last Town on Earth
I saw this book on a list pandemic books and I thought it looked really interesting. I love historical fiction but I haven't read any set during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918.

Set against the backdrop of one of the most virulent epidemics that America ever experienced-the 1918 flu epidemic-Thomas Mullen's powerful, sweeping first novel is a tale of morality in a time of upheaval.
Deep in the mist-shrouded forests of the Pacific Northwest is a small mill town called Commonwealth, conceived as a haven for workers weary of exploitation. For Philip Worthy, the adopted son of the town's founder, it is a haven in another sense-as the first place in his life he's had a loving family to call his own.

And yet, the ideals that define this outpost are being threatened from all sides. A world war is raging, and with the fear of spies rampant, the loyalty of all Americans is coming under scrutiny. Meanwhile, another shadow has fallen across the region in the form of a deadly illness striking down vast swaths of surrounding communities.

When Commonwealth votes to quarantine itself against contagion, guards are posted at the single road leading in and out of town, and Philip Worthy is among them. He will be unlucky enough to be on duty when a cold, hungry, tired-and apparently ill-soldier presents himself at the town's doorstep begging for sanctuary. The encounter that ensues, and the shots that are fired, will have deafening reverberations throughout Commonwealth, escalating until every human value-love, patriotism, community, family, friendship-not to mention the town's very survival, is imperiled.

Inspired by a little-known historical footnote regarding towns that quarantined themselves during the 1918 epidemic, "The Last Town on Earth" is a remarkably moving and accomplished debut. (Goodreads)

Buy The Last Town on Earth at Amazon

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

The Dreamers
This is another book I found on a list that really caught my eye. With the COVID-19 outbreak, I was concerned about what would happen if I student became infected, particularly if that person lived in the dorms. 

In an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a freshman girl stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep—and doesn’t wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics who carry her away, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. Then a second girl falls asleep, and then another, and panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. As the number of cases multiplies, classes are canceled, and stores begin to run out of supplies. A quarantine is established. The National Guard is summoned.

Mei, an outsider in the cliquish hierarchy of dorm life, finds herself thrust together with an eccentric, idealistic classmate. Two visiting professors try to protect their newborn baby as the once-quiet streets descend into chaos. A father succumbs to the illness, leaving his daughters to fend for themselves. And at the hospital, a new life grows within a college girl, unbeknownst to her—even as she sleeps. A psychiatrist, summoned from Los Angeles, attempts to make sense of the illness as it spreads through the town. Those infected are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, more than has ever been recorded. They are dreaming heightened dreams—but of what? (Goodreads)

Buy The Dreamers at Amazon


Have you read any of these? Are there other pandemic novels that you would recommend? Are you reading pandemic fiction right now or are you looking more for "feel good" stories?

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

Get even more book news in your inbox, sign up today! Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

1 comments:

  1. Two books by Christina Dalcher that felt like they could happen here:
    VOX and Master Class.

    ReplyDelete

Shareahollic

Amazon Studio

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...