It’s The End Of The World As We Know It: Postapocalyptic Romance Novels

Russian artist Andrew Tarusov's apocalyptic pin-up calendar

There’s an elephant in the room, or shall we say, an apocalypse. We’ve managed not mention the (possible) impending doom for the past month, but we just can’t hold off any longer. Whether you believe that the end is coming, compliments of one pesky Mayan calendar prediction, or that we’ll safely skate past this potential catastrophe the same way we did 2011’s two purported doomsday events, there’s no denying that “the end” is a popular topic of conversation these days.

The apocalypse isn’t just something we’re talking about — it’s what we’re reading about. Now we could come up with some deep, quasi-philosophical hypothesis about how we read these stories as a way of rationalizing our fears and looking for hope in an uncertain world. But the truth is, we just love stories about the hero and heroines who triumph in a world gone haywire! So today we are serving up some of our favorite books and series that feature postapocalyptic settings.





Mystical Creatures Mark The End

Jessica Andersen’s Final Prophecy Series: These books explore the Mayan prediction that the end of the world is coming in 2012. In order to ensure the prophecy comes true, Mayan demons are sent to Earth, but Mayan warrior-priests are determined to stop their plans and keep Earth’s inhabitants safe. This series first hit shelves in 2008 with Nightkeepers and was quickly followed by Dawnkeepers (2009), Skykeepers (2009), Demonkeepers (2010), Blood Spells (2011), “Crystal Skull” in the On the Hunt anthology (2011) and Storm Kissed (2011). And before the prophecy can run its course in December, readers can expect two upcoming books, April’s 2012 Magic Unchained and a yet-untitled novel in November 2012.

RT Seal of Excellence-winning novel No Proper Lady by Isabel Cooper starts in a future where demons that were unleashed by magic-working men and women in the Regency era have take over the world. The futuristic heroine Joan takes a one-way trip back in time to try to keep humanity safe. Thankfully, this unique series starter is only the beginning and the second book, Lessons After Dark, will be released on April 3, 2012.

Karina Cooper’s Dark Mission Trilogy: When witches are accused of the destruction of society, they become fugitives, hunted by agents of the Holy Order, which fight to bring justice to humanity. The terrific books in this series include: Blood of the Wicked (2011), Lure of the Wicked (2011) and releasing today, All Things Wicked.

Jory Strong’s Ghostland Series: At the end of the world, paranormal creatures reveal themselves with sometimes positive, and sometimes negative, side effects. We recommend checking out all four stories, which include Ghostland (2009), Spider-Touched (2009), Healer’s Choice (2010) and “Angel-Claimed” in the Primal anthology (2011).

Technology Fails

The Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews: As a result of too much technological progress, Earth experiences a magic apocalypse, cuasing magic to wreck havoc across the world. This is bad news for Kate Daniels, who has magic in her blood and must choose between staying hidden or avenging her guardian's death. While any Ilona Andrews tale is sure to please, there is definitely something special about the books in this series (two of the books have received a rare gold rating), which includes Magic Bites (2007), Magic Burns  (2008), Magic Strikes (2009), Must Love Hellhounds (2009), Magic Bleeds (2010), "Magic Dreams" in the anthology Hexed (2011) and Magic Slays (2011).

Dark Age Dawning series by Ellen Connor: The power grids fail, machines stop working and people start turning into monsters, it will be up to a motley group of survivors to rebuild human society — if they can. This outstanding trilogy includes Nightfall (2011), a 2011 RT Reviewers' Choice Award nominee for Best Futuristic Romance, Midnight (2011) and Daybreak (2011).

Change In Nature

Tsunami Blue by Gayle Ann Williams begins after global warming and a series of deadly tsunamis have combined to wipe out the population, except for the few that listen to the radio warnings of “Tsunami Blue” a lone woman with a mysterious connection to the ocean’s tides. Surviving alone on an island with only a dog for company, Tsunami Blue’s life changes when a strange man washes up on shore. Readers should expect the series second, Riders on the Storm, in the near future.

Joss Ware’s Envy Series: Catastrophe has ended the world as we know it and now Mother Nature is re-claiming Earth. A few select heroes have been in suspended animation for over fifty years but they are now awake and ready to help in the re-building process. Books in the series are Beyond the Night (2010), Embrace the Night Eternal (2010), Abandon the Night (2010), Night Betrayed (2011), an upcoming August 2012 Night Forbidden plus one more ahead.

Plague Kills The Population

Sophie Littlefield’s Aftertime Series: Bioterrorism resulted in a decimation of the population, and the problem was compounded when the plant that was supposed to save the population turned some people into zombie-like cannibals. Amidst this drama a young mother searches for her daughter, and safety for them both. Make sure to check out Aftertime (2011), Rebirth (2011) and the newly released Horizon (2012).

Countdown by Michelle Maddox: After a plague destroys Earth survivors are sent to live in Offworld, a planet which hosts a twisted reality show called “The Countdown” in which contestants must kill or be killed for the amusement of society’s elite. The love story incorporated into this unique vision of the future makes this one jam-packed read.

Reawakening Eden by Vivi Andrews: A major illness has wiped out most of the world’s population, leaving almost no children left on Earth, and the survivors must re-build society amidst the fallout. Reminiscent of one of our favorite movies, Children of Men, Andrews’ tale is full of drama and adventure.

Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel: Global warming pushed the population together and fighting destroyed the population in this YA tale. The surviving human have since rebuilt and are living a Victorian-esque life within society, but there’s civil war with those who don’t like the Victorian ways and … zombies!



Classic (and New Classic) Not-So-Romantic Ends Of The World Tales

In War of the Worlds (1898) by H.G. Wells, Martians invade Earth and attack London and Her Majesty’s Armed Forces must strike back and strive to destroy a more advanced race of aliens. The battle that ensues destroys the city as both sides fight for survival.

On the Beach (1957) by Nevil Shute takes place after World War III and nuclear fallout have destroyed the world in. The few survivors living in Australia are surprised to find Morse code signals coming from Seattle. A submarine captain decides that he must lead his crew across the globe in search of potential survivors.

When a Soviet Russian nuclear strike spares the residents of a small Floridian town in Alas, Babylon (1959) by Pat Frank, the townspeople must adapt and learn to live in the aftermath as familiar resources begin to run out.

Stephen King’s The Stand (1978) has a biological weapon developed by the U.S. Army accidentally leaking which creates an epidemic that kills the majority of the population. The remaining survivors split into three camps, all trying to rebuild society while fighting for control over the other two.

An ambiguous disaster has decimated Earth and destroyed the population, in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006). The story follows a father and his son as they navigate the ash-covered landscape, fighting cannibals and avoiding starvation.

In Max Brooks’ book World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, the aforementioned war has wiped out nearly all of humanity. The story, which is currently being adapted into a movie staring Brad Pitt, is an account of human survivors traveling the planet searching for solace. Stories from survivors all over the world make up this chilling dark satire, essential for any lover of zombie fiction.

What’s your favorite tale about postapocalyptic survival? Let us know in the comments below!