Sometimes, fiction can inspire us in a way that a dry, how-to or non-fiction book cannot. Many preppers remember the book that woke them up and made them say, “Wow – that could really happen. I need to change the way I’m doing things and get prepared.” Reading post-apocalyptic fiction can help us to “war game” and figure out “what would I do if….”
Following is a list of our favorite preparedness fiction novels. Read these books if you haven’t, or gift wrap them and put them under the Christmas tree for those whom you hope to move to action.
This stark look at the world after an EMP has been responsible for the conversion of many to preparedness.
New York Times best selling author William R. Forstchen now brings us a story which can be all too terrifyingly real…a story in which one man struggles to save his family and his small North Carolina town after America loses a war, in one second, a war that will send America back to the Dark Ages…A war based upon a weapon, an Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP). A weapon that may already be in the hands of our enemies.
If you haven’t yet read One Second After, this needs to go to the top of your list. If you’re a fan of William Forstchen, be sure to check out his newest book about the ISIS terror threat, Day of Wrath.
Max Velocity is one of the few people who actually has the real life experience to write about things like this. He owns a tactical training facility where he uses his real world experience to teach others how to fight back should the worst happen on our own soil.
“The United States has descended into Civil War. The storm was rising for some time, a Resistance in the hearts of American Patriots to the strangulation of liberty by creeping authoritarianism. The scene was set. It just took a little push. A terrorist attack on the United States leads to war with Iran, followed by collapse, as the economy goes over the cliff. The final blow is a widespread opportunistic Chinese cyber attack, taking down the North American Power Grid. From the ashes, the Regime emerges. Liberty is dead. What remains of the United States of America is polarized. The Resistance Rises. Jack Berenger is a former Army Ranger Captain, living in northern Virginia with his family. Following the collapse, they fall foul of Regime violence and evacuate to the farm of an old Army friend. Jack is recruited into the resistance, to train the fledgling forces in the Shenandoah Valley. The fight begins. Live Hard, Die Free. Resist.”
Hopefully, we’ll get a sequel to Patriot Dawn one day soon! (Please, Max?)
If society completely collapsed in our country, would you be able to survive? Do you have the skills to make your way home and to keep your loved ones safe? These are just a few of the questions you’ll consider when you read this book about a post-EMP America.
When Morgan Carter’s car breaks down 250 miles from his home, he figures his weekend plans are ruined. But things are about to get much, much worse: the country’s power grid has collapsed. There is no electricity, no running water, no Internet, and no way to know when normalcy will be restored—if it ever will be. An avid survivalist, Morgan takes to the road with his prepper pack on his back.
During the grueling trek from Tallahassee to his home in Lake County, chaos threatens his every step but Morgan is hell-bent on getting home to his wife and daughters—and he’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen.
Just to make a good thing even better, Going Home is the first of a series. Be the best Santa ever by giving your favorite prepper the entire set:
This book by Stephen King is now a television series, but we all know that the TV version is never as good as the book. The residents of a small town fight for survival when they are suddenly completely cut off from the outside world. It’s interesting to watch the power struggles, particularly the efforts by the town’s “elite” to disarm the people and leave them at the mercy of the authorities.
On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester’s Mill, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Planes crash into it and fall from the sky in flaming wreckage, a gardener’s hand is severed as “the dome” comes down on it, people running errands in the neighboring town are divided from their families, and cars explode on impact. No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when—or if—it will go away.
Dale Barbara, Iraq vet and now a short-order cook, finds himself teamed with a few intrepid citizens—town newspaper owner Julia Shumway, a physician’s assistant at the hospital, a select-woman, and three brave kids. Against them stands Big Jim Rennie, a politician who will stop at nothing—even murder—to hold the reins of power, and his son, who is keeping a horrible secret in a dark pantry. But their main adversary is the Dome itself. Because time isn’t just short. It’s running out.
Under the Dome provides a stark look at human behavior in the controlled microcosm of an average rural town in America. (There’s some gore, some supernatural events, and harsh language.)
“The Beginning of the End is a mystery/thriller set in the United States in the near future. It is a time of unprecedented economic collapse, deep political corruption, accelerating social decay, out of control rioting in the cities and great natural disasters. In the midst of all of this chaos, a former CIA agent, a respected financial reporter and a blogger that takes his prepping to extremes all find themselves dropped into the middle of an ancient conflict between two shadowy international organizations. The three of them are absolutely horrified to discover that one of those shadowy international organizations is planning to hit New York City with the largest terror attack in U.S. history. The goal is to throw the entire country into chaos, but who will get the blame? A series of incredibly shocking twists and turns ultimately culminates in a wild cross country chase that leads up to a surprising ending that most readers will not see coming.”
This is an older book, published in 1959, but it’s still relevant with regard to an event that could take down the power grid. It was written when fear of nuclear war gripped the nation but consistently ranks in Amazon’s top Sci-Fi books 60 years after the original publication.
“”Alas, Babylon.” Those fateful words heralded the end. When a nuclear holocaust ravages the United States, a thousand years of civilization are stripped away overnight, and tens of millions of people are killed instantly. But for one small town in Florida, miraculously spared, the struggle is just beginning, as men and women of all backgrounds join together to confront the darkness.”
Any prepper will enjoy following along as the characters in Alas, Babylon work together to rebuild a sustainable way of life after the balloon goes up.
Admittedly, this book isn’t about preppers. But it’s a hardcore story about survival in the wilderness using skills and knowledge, with only limited supplies, and as such, it earned a place on our list. (For once, the movie was almost as good as the book!)
John Ottway has found the job at the end of the world, working as a hunter for an oil-camp on the North Slope of Alaska. It’s brutal, cold, and isolated, and there’s little he needs to do but wait for the day when he has the courage to end his life, as he plans to, some day, “at a time to be determined.” But the plane that ferries him and the other camp workers between the Slope and civilization crashes in the tundra, leaving Ottway alone with a handful of terrified survivors to face a punishing landscape, wolves who see them as an invading pack, and, ultimately, the prospect of a death he didn’t choose in its most insistent, inexorable form. As he battles to save the lives of those with him, he looks into the darkness of an unforgiving nature and must weigh the abysses in himself and the wrongs he carries against what he leaves behind, and choose whether his own life is worth saving, or not.
Unlike most survival fiction, this book is very accurate regarding the environment and animal behavior. Make sure you start reading it when you have a couple of days to dedicate to it, because once you start reading The Grey, you won’t want to stop until you’ve finished the last page.
This book was originally available only in e-book form. It was downloaded millions of times and now, is finally available in a hard copy format. This is another story about survival in the aftermath of an EMP strike.
“Lights Out chronicles the challenges of Mark “Karate Man” Turner when the lights go out over most of the free world. He must find in himself the ability to unite his family, friends, and neighbors if any of them are to survive the harsh reality that everyday life becomes when the veneer of civilization is stripped away.”
Lights Out is a thought-provoking look at the rebuilding of civilization.
James Wesley Rawles is the founder of one of the biggest prepper sites on the planet, Survival Blog. His first novel, Patriots, focuses on a complete socioeconomic collapse of the United States.
America faces a full-scale socioeconomic collapse—the stock market plummets, hyperinflation cripples commerce and the mounting crisis passes the tipping point. Practically overnight, the fragile chains of supply and high-technology infrastructure fall, and wholesale rioting and looting grip every major city.
As hordes of refugees and looters pour out of the cities, a small group of friends living in the Midwest desperately tries to make their way to a safe-haven ranch in northern Idaho. The journey requires all their skill and training since communication, commerce, transportation and law enforcement have all disappeared. Once at the ranch, the group fends off vicious attacks from outsiders and then looks to join other groups that are trying to restore true Constitutional law to the country.
Rawles has written some follow-up novels to Patriots. While they can be enjoyed in order, they’re also standalone stories. Look for the following titles:
New on the scene is author Annie Berdel with her “Prepper Chicks” series. The only post-apocalyptic novel on the list written from a woman’s point of view, it focuses on old-fashioned skills in a new and dangerous world.
From the beginning, Emma was always looking for modern ways to becoming self-sufficient. Following the signs of a faltering economy and a nagging in her Spirit to return to her family farm, Emma begins rebuilding a life independent from The Grid and away from her high stress corporate job. Is it any wonder that when a localized Electromagnetic Pulse is detonated over the New Madrid Fault Line and The Grid is taken down, that Emma immediately goes into action? Well, at least until Senator Varga and her personal Army shows up at Emma’s door. That is one curve ball that Emma was not expecting. Calling her fellow Prepper Chicks into action, follow along as a Modern Day Underground Railroad is formed, a long forgotten way of life is pulled back into action and they all adjust to A World without Rule of Law.
It’s a first novel and a bit different from many of the other selections on the list. There is some harsh language, as well as some graphic rape scenes, but if you aren’t bothered by that, grab Alpha Farm for your own favorite “Prepper Chick.”
Another older book on the list, Lucifer’s Hammer was originally published in 1977. It’s a good read with a different, incredibly terrifying apocalyptical scenario than the other books.
The gigantic comet had slammed into Earth, forging earthquakes a thousand times too powerful to measure on the Richter scale, tidal waves thousands of feet high. Cities were turned into oceans; oceans turned into steam. It was the beginning of a new Ice Age and the end of civilization. But for the terrified men and women chance had saved, it was also the dawn of a new struggle for survival–a struggle more dangerous and challenging than any they had ever known….
Some reviews suggest that the book starts out slowly, but it has consistently been highly ranked on science fiction lists over the past 50 years. Set in the rugged Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, Lucifer’s Hammer is a must-read for survival fiction fans.
Particularly relevant these days due to the Ebola crisis, Stephen King’s longest book is The Stand. A mysterious virus is accidentally released from a government facility, and it wipes out nearly all of the world’s population, aside from a small percentage of people who were mysteriously immune to the disease.
A patient escapes from a biological testing facility, unknowingly carrying a deadly weapon: a mutated strain of super-flu that will wipe out 99 percent of the world’s population within a few weeks. Those who remain are scared, bewildered, and in need of a leader. Two emerge—Mother Abagail, the benevolent 108-year-old woman who urges them to build a peaceful community in Boulder, Colorado; and Randall Flagg, the nefarious “Dark Man,” who delights in chaos and violence. As the dark man and the peaceful woman gather power, the survivors will have to choose between them—and ultimately decide the fate of all humanity.
Towards the end, the book does get rather strangely supernatural, but…it’s by Stephen King. ‘Nuff said. The Stand is a great read for anyone interested in post-apocalyptical fiction.
This is definitely the most “literary” book on the list. Cormac McCarthy received a Pulitzer Prize in 2006 for his grim story about a father and son who survived a nuclear war. And by grim, we mean unforgettably horrifying in many places.
A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.
The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, “each the other’s world entire,” are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.
The Road is riveting. We can’t say that you’ll be left with a warm fuzzy glow after reading it, but you’ll definitely never forget it.
The recent movie starring Brad Pitt was loosely based on this novel, in which a “survivor” records the end of the world events during a zombie apocalypse.
The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.
Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War.
What are your favorite prepper and survival novels?
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