Post-Apocalypse Anonymous

Hi, my name is Roxanne G., and I am addicted to post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction.

It has been 10 hours since my last read. I am not looking to recover. I am looking for recommendations.

20th Century Fox
(20th Century Fox)

I’m not sure when it started. I guess you could say I was exposed to the genre from an early age. I watched The Matrix with my dad back in middle school. In high school I read 1984, which is around the time I also started experimenting with sci-fi, but I don’t think it became a real issue until college.

While I’ve maintained a respectable front in my studies, concentrating my research on 19th century fiction, I am afraid that I am living a double life. I don’t want to hide anymore.

Maybe it started one semester during college when we read Y: The Last Man in my American literature class because the summer after that was the first time I sought out post-apocalyptic novels of my own accord. I started with Alan DeNiro’s Total Oblivion, More or Less, the story of a girl who, after the invasion of Earth by ancient warriors, she makes her way down the Mississippi River in an effort to survive in a completely surreal new world.

After that I read Good Omens (which I suppose is more almost-apocalyptic than post-apocalyptic) by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Then I read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. And then Oryx and Crake. Then, admittedly, I kind of just went on an Atwood bender—lots of addicts dabble in other drugs—but make no mistake, my fall into post-apocalyptic and dystopian oblivion was far from over.

Eventually I read The Hunger Games trilogy, and I think that’s what sealed the deal. I went from recreational user to full-blown addict. I read them all in less than five days. I became the equivalent of the dude hanging outside a methadone clinic, waiting for recovering junkies to filter out back into the world.

“Hey, you. Yeah, you,” I could say. “You read The Hunger Games? You should. I got a copy in my trunk. You can borrow it if you want. If you read that, you might also like—”

“No! I deactivated my Goodreads account weeks ago! Leave me alone!” they’d reply, eyes glassy from their replacement high, probably Jodi Picoult or Nicholas Sparks. They scamper back to their cars, heads cloudy with romance.

But you see, the world of post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction is not one with consistent product quality. Bad formulas get copied over and over until you are practically reading the same mediocre book every time. Take a wrong turn, and your apocalypses will be infested with the same zombie lore, identical heroines, brooding heroes, or less-and-less surprising decimating plagues that continually leave top scientists nonplussed.

But there’s good stuff out there. I’ve tasted it. Small-batch stuff that submerges you into the uncanny valley of human society. Go to the library. Ask for Hugh Howey, Jeff Vandermeer, or Mira Grant: they can hook you up. Tell ‘em L’il G sent you.

I’ve come here today to share my glorious fall, and also because I’m looking for the blue meth of PA/D fiction. Hit me up.


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