The best post-apocalyptic books featuring a variety of 'apocalypses'

Who am I?

Survivors was actually inspired by a video game, The Last of Us, but after discovering my love of post-apocalyptic stories via games I quickly moved on to books. There’s something freeing about these kinds of stories, to people who feel society can often be suffocating, it’s nice to imagine it burning down and something new and better rising from the ashes. My Survivors duology is the first of many books I hope. I’m a biomedical scientist in microbiology, and while these types of stories always require a certain suspension of disbelief, I’ve used some of my knowledge to create the world of Survivors. I hope you enjoy it! 

I wrote...


By Amy Marsden,

Book cover of Survivors

What is my book about?

Survivors throws you in at the deep end as we follow a group of strangers struggling to survive in a world gone mad. A horrifying disease is made all the worse by the government’s lies, and people are wholly unprepared for the chaos that ensues when the virus breaks free of the quarantine zones. With points of view from the immune university student, the hardened solider, and the ex-teacher with a deadly secret, Survivors will keep you on the edge of your seat as the group of strangers fight for safety and their lives in a world bent on taking away both.

Read for found family, terrifying infected, and characters you can’t help but root for.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is readers supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

By Max Brooks,

Book cover of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

Why this book?

This was the first post-apocalyptic book about zombies I can remember reading. It is unique in that the story happens in the past and is told via a series of interviews, which, while some may find that weird, I really liked. While the infected in my book aren’t quite zombies, I did take inspiration from World War Z in that they chase the characters, which I think adds to the experience. The zombies in this book scared me!


By Mira Grant,

Book cover of Parasite

Why this book?

Yes, I know this is a trilogy, but you can’t read one and not the others. In Parasite, scientists have created a, you guessed it, parasite that can cure most diseases. As a result, the majority of the world gets one implanted. This all goes terribly wrong when said parasites gain sentience and take over their host. This is more ‘during-apocalypse’ than ‘post-apocalypse,’ but it is a brilliant trilogy. My wife kept telling me to read it, and I’m so glad I listened to her.

Mistborn: The Final Empire

By Brandon Sanderson,

Book cover of Mistborn: The Final Empire

Why this book?

Another trilogy? And a fantasy one at that? Well, while this is a fantasy series, it’s also post-apocalyptic. Sanderson said the idea ‘what if the bad guy won’ came to him, and this was the result. Set centuries after said bad guy won, we follow Vin and a team of thieves as they attempt to kill the supposedly immortal Lord Ruler. This was a great trilogy, and it introduced me to Sanderson’s other works. Be careful though! All his books are set in the same universe, just on different planets, and as such an overarching plot is simmering in the background. You might find yourself lost down a rabbit hole of easter eggs and character spotting!

Survival Instincts

By May Dawney,

Book cover of Survival Instincts

Why this book?

This is a post-apocalyptic book set well after a war decimated civilisation. We follow two main characters, and it was lovely to see their relationship unfold and grow. Survival and trust are two big themes in this book, as they are in my own, and it was nice to read a similar book. This is for those who are more romantic at heart, as romance is a major part of the book. I really liked the characters. Plus, there’s a dog!

Bird Box

By Josh Malerman,

Book cover of Bird Box

Why this book?

This was recommended to me by a friend after I’d already watched the movie. It took me ages to read it, despite being a firm believer in ‘the book is always better than the film.’ I’m glad I did though! This had one of the scariest ‘monsters’ ever I think, purely because it’s never defined. Reader’s imaginations are forces to be reckoned with, and this book did an excellent job of harnessing that. Check it out!

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the apocalypse, dystopia, and genetic engineering?

5,309 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the apocalypse, dystopia, and genetic engineering.

The Apocalypse Explore 50 books about the apocalypse
Dystopia Explore 221 books about dystopia
Genetic Engineering Explore 24 books about genetic engineering

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Autumn, and Enclave if you like this list.