The best books set in a post apocalyptic future

Who am I?

I love writing historical fiction. I enjoy the research and creating long-lost worlds filled with little-known historical accuracies that intrigue my readers. It is no surprise then that I enjoy reading about the future - the other side of the coin. I always find it interesting to see how writers create a post-apocalyptic society. What was the catastrophic event? (TCE) What caused it and how do the different characters react to adversity when their old world is taken away from them? Inevitably they have to survive in the new system but will they have learned their lesson or will they return to their old ways?  

I wrote...

The Candlelit Menagerie

By Caraline Brown,

Book cover of The Candlelit Menagerie

What is my book about?

For fans of The Greatest Showman and Water for Elephants, The Candlelit Menagerie grabs hold and pulls readers into the dim halls of the exotic animal emporiums of London, over two centuries ago.  

Set in late eighteenth-century London, this haunting debut novel features Lillian, a freakishly tall woman who struggles to fit into society. Each morning, she wakes in her tiny maid's room in a too-small bed to the sound of a lion roaring nearby on the Strand. When she investigates she discovers an exotic animal emporium. At first, Lillian is repulsed by the stench and squalor, but there, in the menagerie, Lillian finds her natural home befriending wild animals brought from around the world, stolen from their habitats, misfits like her. But when her unborn baby dies in an accident, the solution is set to upend the order of even Lillian's unusual existence.

The books I picked & why

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A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World

By C.A. Fletcher,

Book cover of A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World

Why this book?

A generation or so after The Calamitous Event (TCE), our hero’s dog is stolen by an unexpected visitor to their remote home in the Outer Hebrides. This book is my definition of a cracking good read. It has adventure, surprises, and insights into the human condition that led to TCE in the first place. Above all, it features a boy and his overwhelming mission - to get his dog back. If, like me, you love dogs you are going to love this book.

Last One at the Party

By Bethany Clift,

Book cover of Last One at the Party

Why this book?

TCE here is a virus that leaves just one woman alive. I found this quite irritating at first because the law of averages would say there HAD to be at least a handful of other survivors. The story features a woman who would take to her bed for the day if she broke a fingernail. I enjoyed seeing a female character in this role although she has a tendency to be a bit wet. She spends the first few weeks post-TCE breaking into nightclubs, drug dens, and museums and getting smashed. Set in London, it’s a great travelogue for this brilliant city.  I started to warm towards her when she finally pulls herself together and we watch as she learns the skills needed to survive. 

I Who Have Never Known Men

By Jacqueline Harpman, Ros Schwartz (translator),

Book cover of I Who Have Never Known Men

Why this book?

I cannot get this book out of my head. Published nearly twenty years ago, I’d never heard of it before so was delighted to find it was as good as it is. It’s the story of a young girl trapped in a cage with thirty nine other women. Male guards patrol the cage but never engage with their prisoners who have forgotten why they are there. Our heroine has no memory of her mother and the reader never finds out why, whether a TCE occurred or even if they are on earth. One day an alarm goes off just as a guard is opening their cage and the women escape – but to what? Often a frustrating read without satisfactory answers, the reader is still drawn into the protagonist’s world.

Zone One

By Colson Whitehead,

Book cover of Zone One

Why this book?

A good old straightforward zombie story who are clearly the architects of TCE. It tells the story of a civilian turned conscripted soldier whose task it is to clear the various towers of Manhattan and ready them for the planned return to normality. But can they hold the Wall which keeps out the ever-growing hordes of zombies? Excellent insight into the choices people make to stay alive and reflections on survival and personal loss.


By Christina Dalcher,

Book cover of Q

Why this book?

What happens when you take the meritocracy to extremes and you can only access the best of food and housing etc when your Q is the highest? Dalcher creates an interesting future world, damning of social engineering and genetic manipulation, and reminds us that it was less than a hundred years ago that certain war-hungry fellas (and a few women) salivated over thoughts of a perfect Aryan race. A great page-turner but with a few ‘Deus ex Machina' plot twists with which I’m still struggling. Nevertheless a very worthy read.

5 book lists we think you will like!

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