Countdown to Destruction: Contemporary Adult Dystopia and Apocalypse Stories

Whatever side of the political aisle you might presently occupy, you are likely convinced that if the wrong candidate wins, the world will spiral into dystopia (if it hasn’t already), or bring about the apocalypse outright. Stock your fallout shelters with these dystopic and apocalyptic novels and story collections, linked to their Booklist reviews. (You might notice I didn’t include Atwood, Orwell, Butler, Dick, McCarthy, or Pynchon; there are plenty of other lists that feature those.)

blondesThe Blondes, by Emily Schultz

A virus is turning the world’s blondes into crazed killers! This novel should prove particularly resonant for Miss Universe pageant contestants, judges, and sponsors.

Don’t Kiss Me, by Lindsay Hunter

Most of the discomfiting stories in Hunter’s second collection contain excess bodily effluvia. So does “After,” a story about the apocalypse told from the perspective of a teenage girl, which describes the debasement of a rural family “after it was clear there was wasn’t no help coming, no tanks no army man no superhero no angel no wizard no God.”

Find Me, by Laura van den Berg

A magical-realist tale of a world brought to its knees by a pandemic, told by a teenage girl, mysteriously immune.

The Flame Alphabet, by Ben Marcus

In the dystopic world of this dizzying novel, teens poison adults with every word they speak. LOL teens, amirite? 😉

parasites-like-us-adam-johnsonThe Orphan Master’s Son and Parasites Like Us by Adam Johnson

The former won a bunch of prizes and is set in the real-life dystopia of North Korea. The latter, which I liked a whole lot better, takes place sometime in the future and concerns a group of academics who bring about the end of civilization. Whoops!

Super Flat Times, by Matthew Derby

For some, this wonderful story collection straddles the line between utopia and dystopia, since all food in the awful, post-technological world in which it takes place is made of meat.

The Tenth of December, by George Saunders

I know this book was on every year-end best-of list and was a bestseller and all that, but even if you’ve read it already, you’ll probably want to read  “The Semplica-Girl Diaries” again. I just did. Still great!






About the Author:

Eugenia Williamson is the Associate Editor of Digital Products at Booklist. She worked in bookstores for twelve years, reviews books for The Boston Globe, and writes about books, culture, and politics for several other publications. Follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_Genie.

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