Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. ★★★★
I’ve heard a lot about Parable of the Sower. I only narrowly missed out on reading it in high school — the freshmen English teachers began teaching it when I was a sophomore. I’ve also heard people say that it’s eerily accurate to the United States after November 2016. I’ll come straight out and say it: I was scared to read Parable of the Sower. Octavia Butler’s books are always intense, and I didn’t know if I had the emotional fortitude to deal with Parable of the Sower.
Lauren’s gated community is an island of safety in a sea of chaos. Her father is a minister and college professor who mostly works from home — venturing out beyond the gated walls is dangerous. A wrecked economy and exorbitant prices for food and water have left many people poor and desperate. To make matters worse, a new drug that compels its users to start fires is gaining in popularity. Lauren’s community may have walls, but they are far from wealthy. They are the remnants of the middle class, and they are struggling to get by. And Lauren knows that it can only get worse. Eventually, their walls will fail and the hoards of impoverished thieves and drug addicts will descend on them.
The Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Carey. ★★★★
I’m not a huge fan of zombies, but when I heard M.R. Carey was writing a prequel to The Girl with All the Gifts, I knew I had to get my hands on it as soon as possible.
Years before the start of The Girl with All the Gifts, the last human city of Beacon sends out an expedition to try and find a cure. The Rosalind Franklin is part tank, part laboratory. The crew consists of soldiers (including an infamous military officer), scientists (including Dr. Khan, who realizes she’s pregnant not long into the mission), and a teenaged autistic genius (Stephan), who created the e-blocker that prevents the Hungries from being able to smell humans. As the mission wears on, it looks like the Rosie will be as unsuccessful as all previous missions, but then Stephan finds something new: children who are not quite Hungries and not quite human.
The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin. ★★★★
The Obelisk Gate directly continues where The Fifth Season left off and must be read in order. If you haven’t read The Fifth Season, go read it. Now. Seriously, it’s one of the best fantasy books I’ve ever read.
When I say The Obelisk Gate directly continues The Fifth Season, I mean it starts in the very same scene where the last book ended, with Alabaster declaring that they had to get a moon. I ended up wishing that I’d reread The Fifth Season directly before hand, since I’d forgotten a lot of details and spent a while confused. I feel like I would have gotten a lot more out of The Obelisk Gate if I’d read it directly after The Fifth Season. As is, I plan on rereading the series at some point after its completion so I can more fully parse the various complexities.
The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor. ★★★
The Book of Phoenix is the prequel to Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death, which I haven’t read. It’s possible that this was a mistake, but there were enough oddities regarding the ending that I think it may be more to do with the book itself. It’s science fiction with a very low emphasis on the word “science.” Are you familiar with some of the bizarre, loosely science based speculations of comic books? Well, The Book of Phoenix is most closely related to that comic book science fiction. The X-Men movies are the best comparison I can think of.
The Book of Phoenix starts at some unspecified time in the future, after the fall of the apocalypse. An old man finds a cave of digital technology which contains a data file – The Book of Phoenix. He begins to listen.
And All the Stars by Andrea K. Höst. ★★★1/2
And All the Stars is one of the better YA apocalyptic novels I’ve read. Towers have sprouted from cities around the world, spreading a strange dust. Those who encounter the dust either die or transform… Madeleine Cost is a fifteen year old artist who’s skipping school to go paint a portrait of her cousin. She winds up right next to Sydney’s tower and gets absolutely coated in the dust. She teams up with some other teenage survivors to face the new world and what they’ve become.
On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis. ★★★1/2
On the Edge of Gone is a stand alone YA science fiction novel about the end of the world. A comet is about to hit Earth, and Denise’s family does not have a place in either the permanent shelters beneath the ground or the generation ships heading off planet. Denise and her drug addicted mother are heading to a temporary shelter (her sister Iris is nowhere to be found). By chance as the comet hits, they find a generation ship that has not yet left Earth. However, all the spots on the ship have already been filled, and Denise fears that she cannot justify her own usefulness since she’s autistic. And even if she does gain a place, what about her mother and sister? What about everyone else who will be left behind?
Angelfall by Susan Ee. ★★★
Angelfall is a YA novel that takes place six weeks after the beginning of the apocalypse, when angels began attacking the world. I don’t regret listening to it, but it did fall into many pitfalls of the YA genre.
Penryn is out on the streets with her wheel chair bound sister and schizophrenic mother when they see an angel getting attacked by some other angels. Penryn’s sister accidentally draws their attention, and they take her before leaving. Desperate to get her sister back, Penryn carts off the now wingless angel who was the victim of the attack to convince him to help her.