The best dystopian books to binge read

Brandon Zenner Author Of The After War
By Brandon Zenner

Who am I?

As a teenager, back when I still had some traces of childhood imagination left lurking about, I started envisioning scenarios and events which would later come together as a dystopian novel. Walks in the nearby park became areas of great skirmishes between neighboring militias; road trips out west became routes to safety; the dusty lot of a rundown gas station became the setting for a life-altering showdown. Flashforward twenty years or so, and all these fantasies came together in my first post-apocalyptic tale. Yet, my eagerness to explore other authors’ narratives in the same genre remains unquenched.  

I wrote...

The After War

By Brandon Zenner,

Book cover of The After War

What is my book about?

Two years have passed since humankind faced extinction: Two cousins are leaving the protection of their underground bunker for the first time, after a cataclysmic war and unrelenting disease ravaged the earth. On the other side of North America, a young survivalist is leaving the seclusion of his cabin deep in the woods. For individual reasons, these men are traveling east, where the fragmented lives of a small number of survivors will soon be decided by the choices of a corrupt few. The strength that resides inside them will be tested, and destiny will call for their fates to be forever intertwined.

"A fierce post-apocalyptic story of war and loss, of nature's vengeance, of survival in the face of overwhelming odds." - Manhattan Book Reviews

The books I picked & why

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The Road

By Cormac McCarthy,

Book cover of The Road

Why this book?

Be prepared for the darkest, most depressing, and thoroughly engrossing end of the world novel out there. Follow the footsteps of a father and son as they traverse the wilds of what was once America, evading psychopathic cannibals, desperate wanderers, and a dying landscape. The heartfelt exchanges between the two, in the most desperate of times, are almost too relatable. And terrifying. 


By Hugh Howey,

Book cover of Wool

Why this book?

Wool took the world by storm, as one of the first ultra-successful independently published novels available on Kindle. And for good reason. In the first few chapters, the scene is quickly set for a harrowing tale. Humanity has suffered a terrible blow, and the few survivors left on earth are herded into a massive underground silo-type structure. The air outside has turned poisonous, and right off the bat, we see just how lethal it can be. This entire trilogy is awe-inspiring, and gives credence that Hugh Howey is a master at his craft. Smooth sailings to you, sir.

Red Rising

By Pierce Brown,

Book cover of Red Rising

Why this book?

Red Rising, the first book in the series, sets up monumental scenarios, as large as the universe the story takes place in. This first installment, as futuristic as it is, has a Game of Thrones meets space opera feel, which is entirely unique to the author. The twists and turns kept me guessing and happily surprised. I couldn't put this book down until I got to the last lines... then I ordered the next book in the series, which I'm sure you'll do too.

The Passage

By Justin Cronin,

Book cover of The Passage

Why this book?

It's difficult to place The Passage in a singular genre. Part dystopian, part horror, but far from the typical vampire or monster fare. The timeline spans for generations, and I can't fathom where the other books will lead the story. The author states that the inspiration for this story came from walks with his young daughter, who gave him the basis of the characters and plot. How cool is that?


By José Saramago,

Book cover of Blindness

Why this book?

This book blew me away. As the title indicates, the root cause of society coming to its knees is spontaneous blindness. Spread like a disease, people suddenly lose their vision without indication. To qualm the spread, the first reported cases are placed together in an empty asylum, and kept caged like wild animals. As you might guess, it gets ugly in there quick, as the quarantined are left on their own, blind, as society outside slowly collapses. Jose Saramago's writing style is unmatched and wholly original. A quarter into the novel, I realized none of the main characters have names, but go by monikers like the Doctor, or the girl with glasses. This book is highly recommended.

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