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July 10, 2021

Books for a Post-Apocalyptic Book Club

by Donna Huber

My post-apocalyptic book club met this week to decide on the books we would read over the next 11 months. We usually only meet 10 times in a year, but we had so many (more than 40) books suggested that we decided we would meet in January. Below are the books we will be reading. We are meeting in a hybrid format (both in-person and Zoom), so if you want to join us for one or all the discussions, you can get the details on the After the End Book Club page at the library.

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The Rule of One by Ashley Saunders & Leslie Saunders

This book makes me think of China's policy of only one child per couple, though they have changed that policy in face of a crashing population. It sounds like an exciting read.

The Rule of One

In their world, telling the truth has become the most dangerous crime of all.

In the near-future United States, a one-child policy is ruthlessly enforced. Everyone follows the Rule of One. But Ava Goodwin, daughter of the head of the Texas Family Planning Division, has a secret—one her mother died to keep and her father has helped to hide for her entire life.

She has an identical twin sister, Mira.

For eighteen years Ava and Mira have lived as one, trading places day after day, maintaining an interchangeable existence down to the most telling detail. But when their charade is exposed, their worst nightmare begins. Now they must leave behind the father they love and fight for their lives.

Branded as traitors, hunted as fugitives, and pushed to discover just how far they’ll go in order to stay alive, Ava and Mira rush headlong into a terrifying unknown. (Goodreads

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World War Z by Max Brooks

I don't typically choose to read Zombie books but many people in my book club love them. This book was read several years ago by the book club but only a few of the current members were there then.

World War Z

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. (Goodreads)
Buy World War Z at Amazon

The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa

This one definitely sounds different than what we normally read. I'm really into translated fiction lately so I'm looking forward to read it.

The Memory Police

On an unnamed island off an unnamed coast, objects are disappearing: first hats, then ribbons, birds, roses—until things become much more serious. Most of the island's inhabitants are oblivious to these changes, while those few imbued with the power to recall the lost objects live in fear of the draconian Memory Police, who are committed to ensuring that what has disappeared remains forgotten.

When a young woman who is struggling to maintain her career as a novelist discovers that her editor is in danger from the Memory Police, she concocts a plan to hide him beneath her floorboards. As fear and loss close in around them, they cling to her writing as the last way of preserving the past.

A surreal, provocative fable about the power of memory and the trauma of loss, The Memory Police is a stunning new work from one of the most exciting contemporary authors writing in any language. (Goodreads

Buy The Memory Police at Amazon

The Apocalypse Seven by Gene Doucette

So this was one of the books I suggested. I just read it a couple of weeks ago and reviewed it earlier this week. Since I know the author, we are inviting him to do a Zoom call with us. We invited an author last year and it was a lot of fun. I think they will enjoy chatting with him and I hope they enjoy the book too.

The Apocalypse Seven

This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but a whatever.
The whateverpocalypse. That’s what Touré, a twenty-something Cambridge coder, calls it after waking up one morning to find himself seemingly the only person left in the city. Once he finds Robbie and Carol, two equally disoriented Harvard freshmen, he realizes he isn’t alone, but the name sticks: Whateverpocalypse. But it doesn’t explain where everyone went. It doesn’t explain how the city became overgrown with vegetation in the space of a night. Or how wild animals with no fear of humans came to roam the streets.
Add freakish weather to the mix, swings of temperature that spawn tornadoes one minute and snowstorms the next, and it seems things can’t get much weirder. Yet even as a handful of new survivors appear—Paul, a preacher as quick with a gun as a Bible verse; Win, a young professional with a horse; Bethany, a thirteen-year-old juvenile delinquent; and Ananda, an MIT astrophysics adjunct—life in Cambridge, Massachusetts gets stranger and stranger.
The self-styled Apocalypse Seven are tired of questions with no answers. Tired of being hunted by things seen and unseen. Now, armed with curiosity, desperation, a shotgun, and a bow, they become the hunters. And that’s when things truly get weird. (Goodreads)

Buy The Apocalypse Seven at Amazon

Spin by Robert Charles Wilson

The description reminds me of a tv show about teens making a movie when they see something strange (I can't really remember much and I'm not sure I watched the whole season). This one might be more sci-fi than the rest of the books we are reading.


One night in October when he was ten years old, Tyler Dupree stood in his back yard and watched the stars go out. They all flared into brilliance at once, then disappeared, replaced by a flat, empty black barrier. He and his best friends, Jason and Diane Lawton, had seen what became known as the Big Blackout. It would shape their lives.

Life on Earth is about to get much, much stranger. (Goodreads

Buy Spin at Amazon

A Children's Bible by Lydia Millet

I'm not sure about this book. It doesn't sound like a book I would pick up myself but that's why I'm part of this book club - to read outside my comfort zone. It's one of the few books we are reading that is available as an audiobook through the digital library so I know I will at least get this one read (I struggle some months to balance my ARCs with the book club books).

A Children's Bible

A Children’s Bible follows a group of twelve eerily mature children on a forced vacation with their families at a sprawling lakeside mansion. Contemptuous of their parents, the children decide to run away when a destructive storm descends on the summer estate, embarking on a dangerous foray into the apocalyptic chaos outside. Lydia Millet’s prophetic and heartbreaking story of generational divide offers a haunting vision of what awaits us on the far side of Revelation. (Goodreads)

Buy  A Children's Bible at Amazon

Eternity Road by Jack McDevitt

Mark Twain is one of my favorite authors and I loved A Connecticut Yankee in King Arther's Court. I'm interested to see how that inspired Chaka.

Eternity Road

The Roadmakers left only ruins behind—but what magnificent ruins! Their concrete highways still cross the continent. Their cups, combs and jewelry are found in every Illyrian home. They left behind a legend, too—a hidden sanctuary called Haven, where even now the secrets of their civilization might still be found.
Chaka's brother was one of those who sought to find Haven and never returned. But now Chaka has inherited a rare Roadmaker artifact—a book called A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court—which has inspired her to follow in his footsteps. Gathering an unlikely band of companions around her, Chaka embarks upon a journey where she will encounter bloodthirsty rirver pirates, electronic ghosts who mourn their lost civilization and machines that skim over the ground and air. Ultimately, the group will learn the truth about their own mysterious past. (Goodreads

Buy Eternity Road at Amazon

Dead Astronauts by Jeff VanderMeer 

I think this was the most popular book and I think just about everyone wanted to read it. We read Bourne a few years ago and this is in the same universe.

Dead Astronauts

Under the watchful eye of The Company, three characters — Grayson, Moss and Chen — shapeshifters, amorphous, part human, part extensions of the landscape, make their way through forces that would consume them. A blue fox, a giant fish and language stretched to the limit.

A messianic blue fox who slips through warrens of time and space on a mysterious mission. A homeless woman haunted by a demon who finds the key to all things in a strange journal. A giant leviathan of a fish, centuries old, who hides a secret, remembering a past that may not be its own. Three ragtag rebels waging an endless war for the fate of the world against an all-powerful corporation. A raving madman who wanders the desert lost in the past, haunted by his own creation: an invisible monster whose name he has forgotten and whose purpose remains hidden.

Jeff VanderMeer's Dead Astronauts presents a City with no name of its own where, in the shadow of the all-powerful Company, lives human and otherwise converge in terrifying and miraculous ways. At stake: the fate of the future, the fate of Earth – all the Earths. (Goodreads

Buy Dead Astronauts at Amazon

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

This is probably the book that I'm least excited about. We read Never Let Me Go by this author a couple of years ago and I didn't really care for it. At least the digital library has it as an audiobook so I can listen to it.

Klara and the Sun

Klara and the Sun, the first novel by Kazuo Ishiguro since he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, tells the story of Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, who, from her place in the store, watches carefully the behavior of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass on the street outside. She remains hopeful that a customer will soon choose her.

Klara and the Sun is a thrilling book that offers a look at our changing world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator, and one that explores the fundamental question: What does it mean to love? (Goodreads

Buy Klara and the Sun at Amazon

Malorie by Josh Malerman

I think I skipped the meeting when we read Bird Box. I'm undecided if I will read this book. I'm a big wuss and don't like horror so I'm afraid that this book will scare me too much. 


Now from the mind of a true master of suspense comes the next chapter in Bird Box. This time, Malorie is front and center, and she will confront the dangers of her world head-on.

Twelve years after Malorie and her children rowed up the river to safety, a blindfold is still the only thing that stands between sanity and madness. One glimpse of the creatures that stalk the world will drive a person to unspeakable violence. There remains no explanation. No solution.

All Malorie can do is survive.
But then comes what feels like impossible news. And with it, the first time Malorie has allowed herself to hope. Someone very dear to her, someone she believed dead, may be alive.

Malorie has a harrowing choice to make: to live by the rules of survival that have served her so well, or to venture into the darkness and reach for hope once more. (Goodreads

Buy Malorie at Amazon

The Last Man by Mary Shelley

This is another one of the books I recommended. We have read a few older titles and I find it interesting how different time periods have depicted the future and the apocalpyse. This book is considered one of the oldest "post-apocalyptic" stories. I'm looking forward to doing a deep dive into this book for the discussion.

The Last Man

A futuristic story of tragic love and of the gradual extermination of the human race by plague, The Last Man is Mary Shelley's most important novel after Frankenstein. With intriguing portraits of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron, the novel offers a vision of the future that expresses a reaction against Romanticism, and demonstrates the failure of the imagination and of art to redeem the doomed characters. (Goodreads)

Buy The Last Man at Amazon

Have you read any of these books? Are you adding any to your reading list? I would love to know your thoughts on what my book club plans to read this year.

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.

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  1. I think post apocalyptic is one of my favorite genres. I've read world war Z, but not the others. Definitely going to pick up Malorie.