While dystopian novels are all the rage, I’ve always preferred apocalyptic and post apocalyptic novels. There is something about seeing ordinary people face extraordinary circumstances that draws me into the book. I recently read a post that offers a definition of post-apocalyptic versus dystopian novels, that clarifies to some extent the two. Their definition is correct, dystopian refers to a planned society, where in the attempt to achieve some goal people are deprived of certain liberties, or the dark side of a utopia. Post-apocalyptic stories take place after some destruction has taken place. As they point out there is substantial overlap in genres, Hunger Games is a dystopian society within a post apocalyptic world, as is Ship Breaker. My one criticism is that they leave out a distinct genre, apocalyptic fiction–not after the destruction, but during the cataclysm. I would say that Ashes and Ashfall are both apocalyptic as they take place during a destructive event. Here are three books that represent these three forms:
Apocalyptic: Life as We Knew It, Susan Beth Pfeffer Miranda is an ordinary 16 yr old, dealing with school, boys, and homework–lots of homework about the moon of all things. See it turns out an asteroid is heading to the moon, and all the teachers figure it is a good reason to write more papers! But when the asteroid actually hits the moon, things start to change–the tides are higher, there are unexpected storms, satellites are interrupted and things start to fall apart. Can Miranda and her family stay together, and alive, as everything around them falls apart?
Post-Apocalyptic: Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O’Brien Z for Zachariah After nuclear war has broken out, it appears that humanity has been destroyed, all that is except Ann. She’s left on the farm, seemingly alone in the whole world. Her parents left to find help, and never returned. In order to survive, she has to keep the farm running all by herself. One day, however, she sees a man approaching her valley. What does he want? Can she trust him? Are they alone in the world?
Dystopian: The Sky Inside, Clare B. Dunkle. Martin lives in a world where it is all about the latest and greatest product, from food to genetically modified children. Each day they watch the TV to find out what’s next, to enjoy the endless gameshows, and to vote nightly on matters important to society, such as the colors of the president’s drapes. Everything seems fine, until Martin discovers there is going to be a recall, but not of the latest toy, rather they are going to recall his sister and her generation. No one will say what a recall means, by Martin is suspicious and sets out to discover where they are taking his sister and what is really outside of their “perfect” suburb. Can he figure out what is going on in time to save his sister?