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The Broke-Ass List of Best Post-Apocalyptic Reads

Updated: Oct 04, 2011 09:59
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Guys, Post-apocalyptic fiction is really hot right now. Post-apoc is the new vampires. What do you mean you haven’t read The Hunger Games yet?

I will watch/read anything about the impending destruction of civilzation. Probably because I’m generally cynical and dark, but it is so fascinating to me, because it provides a setting in which none of the bullshit materialism, societal expectations of attractiveness, and ideas of success don’t matter anymore. Class division is irrelevant, and all characters are boiled down to the essential elements: doing the best with what you have. Which is a major tenant of the Broke-Ass philosophy. Post-aqpoc  stories and fiction will appeal to Broke-Asses, because, like the Broke-Ass philosophy, it involves s making like interesting not with the things you own, but the shit you do.

But seriously you guys, if you haven’t read The Hunger Games trilogy, what are you waiting for? It’s an amazing series. Well, maybe you are one of those people who abhor anything that is mainstream or popular. I understand. Here are some of my favorite lesser-known post-apoc reads:

The Passage by Justin Cronin

I’ll let you know right away that this books is about 900 pages. And there are time jumps of over a century. But I promise, you will not want it to end. In fact, I delayed reading the last 50 pages because then it would mean I would have no more to read. Good thing it is the first of a trilogy.

The basic premise is that in a not-so distant future, a “vampire bat” virus is found deep in  the jungle which appears to cure all diseases. At a top-secret government compound, the virus is tested on death-row inmates, and- you don’t need to be a scientist to figure this out- it turns them into actual vampires. And not the sexy, smoldering, sparkling kind: the animalistic, bat-like, wipe-out-humanity kind. Which they almost do- save for a few isolated communities struggling to survive.

The thing about The Passage is that sure, it has a plot that sounds like the next Michael Bay movie, but throughout the worldwide catastrophe, it focuses more on the characters and their struggles, conflicts, and relationships, and you grow to really know them (well, after 900 pages, you don’t have a choice, do you?)

Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland

An oldie-but-goodie. Douglas Coupland, fresh off his sudden popularity for writing and coining “Generation X” released this novel to mixed acclaim. It’s got all the hallmarks of a great Coupland novel (disaffected youth, strained family relations, navel-gazing characters) but throw in a mysterious virus that wipes out everyone except for a hipster clique of friends. Think How I Met Your Mother meets Waterworld. But without drinking your own urine.

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Forget the Will Smith movie. The movie took a lot of creative license from the original novella;  namely, changing almost everything. This novella is short, suspenseful,creepy, and to the point. What would you do if you were literally the last man alive? Would you have the determination to try to keep on living? Would there be a point? You know, typical first-date type of conversation starters.

Gone by Michael Grant

Firstly, don’t let the fact that this is a young adult novel or the pretty teen models on the cover deter you. Michael Grant does not screw around with the harsh realities of what happens when everyone over the age of 14 disappears and a small beach town is trapped in a dome. In a very short time, the town’s children descends into Lord of the Flies-like tendencies, with political struggles, warfare and murder. Doesn’t help that some of the kids start developing weird superpowers. Forget those cheesy X-men powers, these kids discover that they can spit flames from their hands and burn their former classmates to a crisp. Which happens. More than once.

This is the first of a series, and although at times is over the top, the development of the town’s children into a (dys)functional society is very nuanced and well-thought out.

The Walking Dead  by Robert Kirkman

Of course, any list about post-apoc stories would not be complete without zombies. You probably know that the television’s The Walking Dead is pretty bad-ass, so why not try the source material? Graphic novels are not everyone’s cup of tea, but as far as graphic novels go, the series is pretty accessible and well-thought out.

Don’t worry too much about me, I do read more uplifting stuff (Devil Wears Prada, anyone?) but I can’t resist spending a rainy day reading a good story about the near-destruction of humanity.


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Robin Hardwick - Cost-Conscious Connoisseur

Robin Hardwick - Cost-Conscious Connoisseur

Robin was raised in the shopping malls of suburban Long Island, New York. As a teenager, her life goals were to become a writer and marry Bret Michaels. After attending college at the University of Delaware (yes, in the state of Delaware) and earning a graduate degree educationl at NYU, she's achieved only one of those goals. Along with writing, Robin enjoys performing improv comedy, internet memes, cross-stitch, and showing off her alarmingly extensive knowledge of obscure pop culture trivia. Currently, Robin resides in Oakland, CA and is writing a book about the 1980s teen book series, Sweet Valley High.


  1. Alan Scott
    October 4, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    Nice! Matheson is a personal favorite and The Walking Dead is just badass. I’ve been reading that since it first printed. I may have to consider finding the other three.

    You might also want to consider Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road,” though I don’t think you’d want to read it if you’re having a bummer of a day.

  2. Lalalala
    October 4, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    The Passage was so good! Can’t wait for the rest of the trilogy.

  3. Robin Hardwick - Cost-Conscious Connoisseur
    October 4, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    Thanks! I have read The Road, and I have to admit I didn’t love it. I think I wanted a little more out of it.

    After I wrote this I probably should have included Blindness, by Jose Saramango.

  4. October 12, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    LOVED The Passage as well, and did the same thing – raced through it, but tried desperately to slow down as I approached the end! Can’t wait for the next installment.

    Gonna try Girlfriend In A Coma next – thanks!

  5. […] Previously:  Best Post-Apocalyptic Reads […]

  6. December 27, 2011 at 10:06 am

    […] already mentioned The Passage on this site, but it is worth repeating. 900 pages seemed short when getting absorbed into the post-apocalyptic […]

  7. […] already mentioned The Passage on this site, but it is worth repeating. 900 pages seemed short when getting absorbed into the post-apocalyptic […]

  8. […] already mentioned The Passage on this site, but it is worth repeating. 900 pages seemed short when getting absorbed into the post-apocalyptic […]