The Greatest "Fiction, Post Apocalyptic" Books Since 1980

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 280 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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Fiction

Post Apocalyptic

Post Apocalyptic is a genre of literature that explores the aftermath of a catastrophic event that has destroyed civilization as we know it. These stories typically take place in a world where resources are scarce, society has collapsed, and survivors must navigate a dangerous and unpredictable landscape. Themes of survival, morality, and human nature are often explored in Post Apocalyptic books, as characters struggle to rebuild their lives and make sense of a world that has been forever changed.

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  1. 1. The Road by Cormac McCarthy

    In a post-apocalyptic world, a father and his young son journey through a desolate landscape, struggling to survive. They face numerous threats including starvation, extreme weather, and dangerous encounters with other survivors. The father, who is terminally ill, is driven by his love and concern for his son, and is determined to protect him at all costs. The story is a haunting exploration of the depths of human resilience, the power of love, and the instinct to survive against all odds.

  2. 2. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

    This novel is a unique blend of six different stories, each set in a different time and place, spanning from the 19th century South Pacific to a post-apocalyptic future. Each tale is written in a different style, reflecting the time and setting it represents, and they are all connected through shared themes and recurring motifs. The stories are nested within each other, with each interrupted by the next, only to be concluded in the second half of the book. The novel explores themes of predacity, civilization, reincarnation and the eternal recurrence of the same behaviors throughout history.

  3. 3. The Children of Men by P. D. James

    Set in a dystopian future where mankind has become infertile, the novel centers on a history professor who becomes involved with a group of revolutionaries seeking to overthrow the oppressive government. As the world descends into chaos due to the impending extinction of the human race, a miraculous pregnancy offers a glimmer of hope. The professor must protect the pregnant woman and navigate the dangerous political landscape, while grappling with the implications of a world without children.

  4. 4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

    Set in a dystopian future, the novel revolves around a teenager named Katniss Everdeen, who lives in a post-apocalyptic nation where the government, in order to maintain control, forces each of its twelve districts to send a boy and girl to participate in a televised annual event. This event, known as the Hunger Games, is a fight to the death. When Katniss's younger sister is selected to participate, Katniss volunteers to take her place. The book follows her struggle for survival in the cruel game, against the backdrop of a brewing rebellion against the oppressive regime.

  5. 5. Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban

    Set in a post-apocalyptic England, the novel follows the journey of a young boy named Riddley Walker, who becomes the leader of his small community after his father's death. The world is a primitive, violent place where remnants of technology and culture are barely understood. Riddley's quest for knowledge and understanding leads him to discover the terrifying truth about humanity's downfall, involving nuclear warfare and the destructive power of knowledge. The story is told in a unique, fractured English, reflecting the decayed state of civilization.

  6. 6. The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin

    A woman searches for her kidnapped daughter in a world ravaged by a catastrophic climate change event known as the Fifth Season. Simultaneously, the narrative follows a young girl with destructive powers and a man struggling to control his own similar abilities. The story explores themes of oppression, survival, and the destructive power of nature, all set in a dystopian world where the earth is constantly in flux, and society is strictly divided and controlled.

  7. 7. Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon

    In the aftermath of a nuclear war that devastates the United States, a group of survivors, including a professional wrestler, a young girl with mystical powers, and a bag lady, embark on a journey across a ravaged America. They must navigate the horrors of a post-apocalyptic world and battle a malevolent force known as the Man with the Scarlet Eye, who seeks to claim the wasteland as his own. Throughout their journey, they discover the power of hope, community, and resilience in the face of unimaginable hardship.

  8. 8. The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

    "The Book of the New Sun" is a four-volume science fiction series set in a far future, post-apocalyptic Earth, known as Urth. The story follows a journeyman torturer named Severian who is exiled for showing mercy to one of his victims. As he navigates through a world filled with strange and mythical creatures, political intrigue, and ancient technology often perceived as magic, Severian discovers his destiny is far greater than he could have ever imagined. The narrative is dense and complex, filled with allegory and symbolism, making it a challenging yet rewarding read.

  9. 9. Parable Of The Sower by Octavia E. Butler

    In a dystopian future where society has collapsed due to environmental and economic crises, a young woman named Lauren Olamina possesses a unique ability to feel the pain and pleasure of others. As she witnesses her community being torn apart by violence and religious fanaticism, Lauren embarks on a perilous journey to find a new safe haven and establish her own religion based on empathy and survival. Through her thought-provoking narrative, the book explores themes of resilience, spirituality, and the power of human connection in the face of adversity.

  10. 10. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

    Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the novel follows the life of Snowman, who believes he may be the last human on earth, as he struggles to survive in a new, harsh environment. He is surrounded by genetically modified creatures, and his only companions are the Crakers, human-like beings created by his brilliant but disturbed friend Crake. Through Snowman's memories, the story of how the world came to be this way is revealed, involving a love triangle with the mysterious Oryx and the catastrophic consequences of Crake's scientific experiments.

  11. 11. Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo

    Set in a post-apocalyptic Neo-Tokyo, this graphic novel follows the lives of two teenage friends, Tetsuo and Kaneda, who are members of a biker gang. After a motorcycle accident, Tetsuo develops telekinetic abilities and is taken by the military, which fears his growing powers might unleash another cataclysmic event similar to the one that destroyed Tokyo years earlier. As Tetsuo's powers spiral out of control, Kaneda, along with a group of rebels and psychics, must try to stop him and uncover the secrets of a mysterious entity known as "Akira," which is at the heart of the government's experiments and the city's destruction. The narrative explores themes of power, corruption, and the quest for identity against a backdrop of cyberpunk visuals and intense action.

  12. 12. Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel

    "Station Eleven" is a post-apocalyptic novel that revolves around the lives of several characters before and after a devastating flu pandemic wipes out most of the world's population. The narrative jumps back and forth in time, exploring the interconnectedness of the characters' lives through their shared memories and experiences. The story also follows a traveling Shakespearean theatre company as they navigate the dangers of a collapsed civilization, emphasizing the importance of art and human connection in times of crisis.

  13. 13. In The Country Of Last Things by Paul Auster

    In this dystopian novel, the protagonist navigates a decaying, unnamed city where society has collapsed, and survival hinges on scavenging through the ruins. The narrative unfolds through a series of letters she writes, detailing her desperate search for her missing brother amidst the chaos. As she encounters other inhabitants struggling to maintain a semblance of life, the city's pervasive sense of despair and the constant fight for existence challenge her resolve. The story is a poignant exploration of hope, resilience, and the human spirit in the face of overwhelming adversity.

  14. 14. Left Behind by Tim LaHaye, Jerry B. Jenkins

    "Left Behind" is a gripping story set in the aftermath of the Rapture, when millions of people around the world suddenly disappear, leaving behind everything but their clothes and personal belongings. The novel follows a group of survivors, including a commercial airline pilot, a journalist, and a college student, as they navigate the chaos and confusion of a world in crisis. As they search for answers and try to understand what has happened, they are drawn to the words of the Bible, which seem to predict the events unfolding around them. Together, they form the Tribulation Force, a group dedicated to fighting the forces of evil and spreading the word of God in a world on the brink of the Apocalypse.

  15. 15. Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler

    Set in a dystopian future America ravaged by climate change and societal collapse, the novel follows the journey of a young woman who, despite facing slavery, violence, and the rise of a dangerous religious zealot, strives to build a community based on her own new belief system, Earthseed. Her vision is to create a society that can adapt and thrive amidst chaos, with the ultimate goal of taking humanity to the stars. Throughout her struggle, she documents her experiences and philosophies in the hope that they will guide future generations towards a more hopeful, resilient future.

  16. 16. The Sea And Summer by George Turner

    "The Sea and Summer" by George Turner is a dystopian novel set in a future Australia where climate change and economic disparity have created a stark divide between the rich and the poor. The story follows the lives of two families, the Kents and the Coulters, as they struggle to survive in a decaying city plagued by extreme weather conditions and social unrest. As tensions rise and the gap between social classes widens, the characters must confront the harsh realities of their world and make difficult choices to ensure their survival.

  17. 17. Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

    This novel is a coming-of-age narrative set in a post-apocalyptic Africa. It follows the journey of a young woman born from a violent act, who is prophesied to bring an end to a brutal regime. As she grows, she discovers her magical abilities and must learn to control them in order to fulfill her destiny. The narrative explores themes of race, gender, and power, while incorporating elements of African mythology and culture.

  18. 18. World War Z by Max Brooks

    The book is an apocalyptic horror novel presented as a collection of individual accounts in the aftermath of a global pandemic that leads to a catastrophic zombie outbreak. Through interviews with survivors from various countries and walks of life, the narrative unfolds the social, political, cultural, and environmental implications of the zombie crisis, known as World War Z. The personal stories explore the widespread panic, the collapse and resurgence of governments, military strategies employed to combat the undead, and the human resilience in the face of a decimated world. The novel serves as a critique of societal responses to disasters and a commentary on the human condition.

  19. 19. The Sword of the Lictor by Gene Wolfe

    The third book in a science fiction series, "The Sword of the Lictor" follows the journey of a professional torturer who, after questioning the morality of his profession, flees his post in the city of Thrax with a mysterious and magical woman. The pair face various challenges and encounter a range of creatures and characters in their quest for freedom and answers. The book combines elements of fantasy, philosophy, and dystopian fiction to explore themes of power, morality, and the nature of reality.

  20. 20. The Broken Earth Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin

    The Broken Earth Trilogy is a captivating science fiction series set in a post-apocalyptic world where a woman with the power to control seismic activity is on a quest to rescue her kidnapped daughter. This world, called the Stillness, regularly experiences catastrophic climate change events known as Seasons, which its inhabitants constantly prepare for. The series explores themes of oppression, survival, and the human capacity for adaptation, all while providing a thrilling and poignant narrative that keeps readers engaged from start to finish.

  21. 21. City of Bohane by Kevin Barry

    Set in the year 2053, the book is a dystopian tale about the city of Bohane, a place filled with vice, violence, and tribal warfare. The city is controlled by a gangster named Logan Hartnett, who is challenged by his estranged wife Macu and her lover, a rival gang leader. The narrative is filled with colorful characters, rich language, and a unique blend of futuristic and archaic elements, creating a vivid, darkly comic vision of a future Ireland.

  22. 22. The Citadel of the Autarch by Gene Wolfe

    The Citadel of the Autarch is the final book in a four-part series set in a far future post-apocalyptic Earth. The protagonist, a man named Severian, is an exiled executioner who has been travelling through a world where society has regressed to a technology level similar to the Middle Ages. Severian becomes embroiled in a war against alien invaders, and his journey ultimately leads him to the titular Citadel where he must confront the Autarch, the ruler of the Commonwealth. The book combines elements of science fiction and fantasy, exploring themes of memory, truth, and the nature of power.

  23. 23. Always Coming Home by Ursula K. Le Guin

    This novel is a combination of fiction, folklore, poetry, and anthropology set in a post-apocalyptic future in Northern California. It revolves around a tribal society known as the Kesh, who have developed a sustainable lifestyle and a rich cultural heritage after the fall of our current civilization. The narrative is interspersed with the Kesh's myths, poems, and rituals, and is primarily seen through the eyes of a woman named Stone Telling, who recounts her journey from her tribal home to a patriarchal dystopian city and back.

  24. 24. Zone One by Colson Whitehead

    The novel takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where a pandemic has turned many people into zombies, or "skels." The protagonist is a survivor who is part of a team tasked with clearing out the remaining skels in Zone One, the area in and around lower Manhattan. The story alternates between the present and the past, revealing the protagonist's experiences during the initial outbreak and his struggle to hold onto his humanity in the face of such devastation.

  25. 25. Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

    In the novel, a team of four women—an anthropologist, a surveyor, a psychologist, and a biologist—embark on an expedition into Area X, a mysterious and remote region cut off from civilization. The area is known for its strange occurrences and the disappearance of previous expedition members. As the team delves deeper into the wild and enigmatic landscape, they encounter bizarre creatures, cryptic signs, and the remnants of a lost civilization. The biologist, serving as the narrator, documents their discoveries and her own personal transformations, driven by the unseen forces of Area X. The novel explores themes of nature, mutation, and the unknown, as the expedition's members confront the limits of knowledge and the consequences of seeking to uncover the inexplicable.

Reading Statistics

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If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.

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