In case you’re new to the Pond’s book recommendation posts, the recommendation posts are brought to you by Varian, the Pond’s very own Toadshifter who is knowledgeable in all kinds of magic! One of Varian’s ambitions is to get better at sewing, hence why whenever Varian has come up with their latest costume, they will always recommend a few books that inspired them!
I love post-apocalyptic and dystopian stories. I love post-apocalyptic stories because they explore human nature in extreme circumstances – where society’s rules no longer apply and survival is everything. On the other hand, I love dystopian stories because the imagined society where injustice and oppression reign supreme draw attention to a truth in our very own societies.
Though very different and definitely not two genres that can be used interchangeably, I love that these two genres reveal something true and real about us. However, one of the issues I had, growing up, was that all the dystopia and post-apocalypic stories that I read had stories where only white Americans survived, that their stories were the only ones that mattered. Where were the non-white and queer people who didn’t die for trauma or shock value?
Today, I am recommending some of my favourite dystopian and post-apocalyptic books where the survivors and the heroes and the people that matter don’t all look the same and are the only ones who live, where the worlds imagined are diverse and interesting and different. Today, I’m recommending some of my favourite diverse post-apocalyptic and dystopian books.
The Last 8 by Laura Pohl
A high-stakes survival story about eight teenagers who outlive an alien attack—perfect for fans of The 5th Wave
Clover Martinez has always been a survivor, which is the only reason she isn’t among the dead when aliens invade and destroy Earth as she knows it.
When Clover hears an inexplicable radio message, she’s shocked to learn there are other survivors—and that they’re all at the former Area 51. When she arrives, she’s greeted by a band of misfits who call themselves The Last Teenagers on Earth.
Only they aren’t the ragtag group of heroes Clover was expecting. The group seems more interested in hiding than fighting back, and Clover starts to wonder if she was better off alone. But then she finds a hidden spaceship, and she doesn’t know what to believe…or who to trust.
- I didn’t know what to expect, going into this book, but what I didn’t expect was to be absolutely glued to this book, unable to put it down, and then becoming one of the enjoyable and compelling books of last year.
- You’ll love this post-alien invasion story if you like the idea of:
- all the humans lost (miserably)
- an aromantic Mexican-American teenager survives and finds other teenage survivors in Area 51
- it follows how they fight back, filled with twists, surprises, and unexpected delights
- Also, the cast is delightfully queer and characters of colour too. And you’ll love them.
Caster by Elsie Chapman
If the magic doesn’t kill her, the truth just might.
Aza Wu knows that real magic is dangerous and illegal. After all, casting killed her sister, Shire. As with all magic, everything comes at a price. For Aza, it feels like everything in her life has some kind of cost attached to it. Her sister had been casting for money to pay off Saint Willow, the gang leader that oversees her sector of Lotusland. If you want to operate a business there, you have to pay your tribute. And now with Shire dead, Aza must step in to save the legacy of Wu Teas, the teahouse that has been in her family for centuries.
When Aza comes across a secret invitation, she decides she doesn’t have much else to lose. She quickly realizes that she’s entered herself into an underground casting tournament, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. Real magic, real consequences. As she competes, Aza fights for her life against some very strong and devious competitors.
When the facts about Shire’s death don’t add up, the police start to investigate. When the tributes to Saint Willow aren’t paid, the gang comes to collect. When Aza is caught sneaking around with fresh casting wounds, her parents are alarmed. As Aza’s dangerous web of lies continues to grow, she is caught between trying to find a way out and trapping herself permanently.
- Perfect if you love the idea of a post-apocalyptic fantasy that’s Fullmetal Alchemist (think magic that requires equivalent exchange!) meets Infernal Affairs.
- An action-packed story about a girl who enters an underground magic tournament to investigate her sister’s death and to save her family’s legendary tea shop.
- The story takes place in a Chinese-influenced setting, in a world ravaged by environmental destruction and pollution, where magic is powerful but comes at the cost of the earth and the caster’s body.
The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah
In the last days of the twenty-first century, sea creatures swim through the ruins of London. Trapped in the abyss, humankind wavers between fear and hope–fear of what lurks in the depths around them, and hope that they might one day find a way back to the surface.
When sixteen-year-old submersible racer Leyla McQueen is chosen to participate in the prestigious annual marathon, she sees an opportunity to save her father, who has been arrested on false charges. The Prime Minister promises the champion whatever their heart desires. But the race takes an unexpected turn, forcing Leyla to make an impossible choice.
Now she must brave unfathomable waters and defy a corrupt government determined to keep its secrets, all the while dealing with a guarded, hotheaded companion she never asked for in the first place. If Leyla fails to discover the truths at the heart of her world, or falls prey to her own fears, she risks capture–or worse. And her father will be lost to her forever.
- The Light at the Bottom of the World is a fascinating imagining of our world is underwater – and humanity is clinging onto the hope that we may see the surface again.
- Taking place in London, this story falls a Muslim Afghani-British teen who searches for her father who was arrested under mysterious circumstances.
- The worldbuilding is phenomenal and vivid, and the story also explores the impact of revisionist history and how the media plays a role in how history is remembered.
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters.
Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last—and best—hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much larger and more terrifying than anything she could imagine.
Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel to the rez to unravel clues from ancient legends, trade favors with tricksters, and battle dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology.
As Maggie discovers the truth behind the disappearances, she will have to confront her past—if she wants to survive.
Welcome to the Sixth World.
- I’ve probably recommended this book ad nauseam but I genuinely love this book and want everyone to read it. It’s that good.
- Set in a post-climate apocalypse world and at a Navajo reservation, this story is complete with terrifying monsters, gods and heroes of legends that walk the land, and humans imbued with clan powers – some of whom are monster slayers.
- This story is violent, thrilling, mysterious, and utterly delightful. You’ll love the array of characters that you meet on the rez, the terrifying and vividly realised world, and a story that never breaks momentum and is exciting from start to finish.
Want by Cindy Pon
Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits that protect them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother, who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.
With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.
Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is or destroying his own heart?
- Follows five teens who work together to infiltrate and bring down a rich and powerful corporation who manufacture powerful suits that protect the rich from the world’s pollution.
- This isn’t post-apocalyptic, but I’d call this on the brink of an apocalypse – one that feels very real and topical today. The story criticises industrialisation, explores the effects of the climate on rich versus the poor, and corporate greed.
- Not only is there found family, but there’s also a forbidden romance as well! There’s also a very sweet f/f relationship, and the friendships in this will remind you of why we fight for good.
- Want’s cast is one of my favourites; I loved them all. Zhou and Daiyu were Taiwanese, Lingyi is bi or pan and Chinese, Iris is non-specific Asian, Arun is Indian, and Victor is Filipino!
My next post-apocalyptic read will be Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, and I’m really looking forward to reading such an incisive classic. But I hope today’s book recommendation post helped you find your next read!
- Have you read any of the books that we recommended? What did you think of them?
- Do you have any books that you could recommend to us?