The best books that predicted the pandemic

Nicole Mabry Author Of Past This Point
By Nicole Mabry

The Books I Picked & Why

The Dog Stars

By Peter Heller

Book cover of The Dog Stars

Why this book?

The Dog Stars is eye-opening not only in style but also in concept. The book starts after a deadly virus has wiped out most of humanity, following widower, Hig, and his dog as they make a home in an abandoned airport hangar. One day a transmission comes through the radio on Hig’s Cessna, giving him hope for a better life with people. The most intriguing aspect about this book is Heller’s writing style. It took me a beat to get into the odd formatting and cadence of his story, but once I did, I was completely immersed. His characters are engaging, and the story is executed so expertly that it catapults you into Heller’s post-apocalyptic world, one we could all imagine if COVID was allowed to run rampant. This book has heart and will give you shivers as you read about our potential future if COVID is not contained.

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The End of Men

By Christina Sweeney-Baird

Book cover of The End of Men

Why this book?

The End of Men was written in 2019 and was in the process of editing when COVID first hit, making it an obvious choice in predicting the pandemic. In the year 2025 in Scotland, Dr. Amanda McLean reports a deadly virus that only affects men. But of course, she is not taken seriously because…you guessed it! She’s a woman. What follows is a global pandemic leaving primarily women behind to pick up the pieces as 9 out of 10 males die from the virus, including babies. The first moral: Do not discount the female voice! This incredible story is told through the eyes of the women leading the way back to normalcy. But without men, the ideas of family change drastically as the world becomes run by women. The first-person narration is perfect, bringing these women and their journeys into sharp focus. While some may read this as a feminist battle cry, it actually presents two sides of the same coin. The second moral: What would our world be like without men? This paradox kept me turning the pages to see what happened next. 

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Earth Abides

By George R. Stewart

Book cover of Earth Abides

Why this book?

While this novel was written in 1949, its subject matter is shockingly close to our current circumstances. Scientist Isherwood Williams is on a research trip in a remote area when he is bit by a snake and spends several days in his cabin in a feverish state. When he recovers, he emerges to a world that has been devastated by a plague, leaving few survivors behind. What follows is a story of finding others and building community, but also how the earth and all its creatures react when humanity falls, which for me, is one of the coolest things about this book. When COVID was well underway, there were reports of various animals making their way back into populated areas because of human desertion. This is one area Stewart expertly addresses. As the plague in Stewart’s novel progresses, we see the earth overrun by various animals and insects, like ants for instance. The novel spans the entire life of our protagonist, which creates waves of living and dying amongst this new world. This book is so unlike every other pandemic book, almost like a textbook with engaging characters, making it in a class all its own. Earth Abides is a must-read for the genre, predicting the pandemic that was heading straight for us over 70 years ago.

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Wilder Girls

By Rory Power

Book cover of Wilder Girls

Why this book?

The main reason I recommend this book is because, for me, it was like a modern-day version of The Boxcar Children but set in the time of quarantine. In Wilder Girls, when a virus called Tox begins to spread, The Raxter School for Girls located on an island is put under lockdown. But then all the teachers and staff, and yes, even students, begin catching Tox and dying. The ones who survive have gone through crazy body transformations like new spines sprouting from their backs and newly formed claws. Cut off from the rest of the world, the students must create a new society and fend for themselves until help comes. The girls struggle through tough life and death decisions. But that’s not all, there are beasts in the woods and a mystery to solve. Wilder Girls is a queer, feminist body pandemic novel with a touch of mystery and romance, making it an interesting, and at times, poetic and chilling read. 

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By Ling Ma

Book cover of Severance

Why this book?

When I first read the synopsis for Severance, the concept seemed similar to my book, Past This Point and I got a little nervous since it was released several months before mine. A self-sequestered NYC woman, Candace, who’s dealing with the grief of her parent's recent passing, ends up one of the only survivors of a deadly virus. Sounds like my main character. So, of course, I had to read it. But I shouldn’t have worried because the rest of the novel is very different. Candace goes on to create a blog called NY Ghost where she photographs the abandoned city. When a group of survivors comes onto the scene promising to create a new society, Candace joins them. But are their intentions pure? I love this take on a similar situation to my book, going back and forth in time and satirically spouting commentary on consumerism and workplace culture. Severance is an amazing look at what the apocalypse could look like in our present-day world consumed by likes and the social gaze. I was not surprised to hear that Severance has won many awards.

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