The Mayans predicted that the world will end on December 21st. There have been several events leading up to that date that have quite a few people wondering if the Mayans are right. Hurricane Sandy and the havoc she wreaked, from the gas shortage to the water shortage to the lack of electricity, and the shared panic, gave us a glimpse. But this week, we’re featuring books that will show you what an end-of-the-world might really look like. In Life As We Knew It, the earth is devastated when the moon is knocked off its axis, falls toward earth, destroying the climate. If severe weather is not what you see in the stars, how about a deadly virus that turns the population into nocturnal blood suckers, found in The Fall. And for the more adventurous end-times reading, we have World War Z, which features a fight to the end against the undead. Our No. 1 book this week is Blindness. It shows the chilling reality of how human beings respond in a crisis.
Author Susan Pfeffer has written more than 60 novels for the young adult crowd. This is Book 1 of her extremely popular Life As We Knew It apocalyptic trilogy. It is an enormous emotional ride. The story is told through the eyes of 16-year-old Miranda and spans a period of one year as she writes in her diary as the world around her dramatically changes. Reading each entry of her diary is like a major archeological find. We watch her concerns move away from the superficial wants of a teen, like whose going to ask her to the prom or how her hair looks, to worrying about if she can live if her weight drops below 98 pounds.
6. The Fall
By Chuck Hogan and Guillermo Del Toro (Harper Collins)
While governments continue to think up new ways to kill and cull populations for power and money, it is only a matter of time before our germ warfare gets the best of us. Already, our antibiotics are near their breaking point and healthcare in general is roundly criticized for causing more sickness than cures. In book two of The Strain trilogy, the world in the midst of this viral outbreak, which is now spreading rapidly. There is a doctor and a handful of others who both know what is happening and who know how to stop it. But will they do it in time to save the world?
American author and novelist Cormac McCarthy’s last two books have been turned into films. His most celebrated work, No Country For Old Men won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The Road, an apocalyptic thriller, is a mental pressure cooker. At every turn it seems that the characters are caught between a rock and a hard place for survival. The story follows a father and son during what is essentially the end of the world. We follow them across the country as they head west in search of what they believe will be fresh water and perhaps salvation. On this trip their lives are constantly threatened by everything from disease to a gang of cannibals. There is much despair and cruelty witnessed as the father attempts to protect his little boy from a world that has gone very wrong.
Named one of the 10 best books of the year by Time, Washington Post and U.S News and World Report, this books starts at the early days of a man-made virus that is given to a group of death-row inmates and somehow manages to get out. There is another infected by the virus, a little girl. But it doesn’t have the same affect on her. This 6-year-old and the blood in her body becomes the only hope for humanity. As we follow her story, we are also taken into a place that has managed to escape the outbreak through isolation. We get to see how a new society is created and how well it works as it attempts to shield itself from the craziness outside its walls. The Passage is book one of of an epic trilogy that is certain to be a classic.
Max Brooks, son of Hollywood royalty Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft, is back with his second book. Fans may remember his first book, The Zombie Survival Guide, which was more of a what-to-do in case World War Z ever happened. In World War Z, an apocalyptic horror novel, we get the testimony of men, women and children that have survived so far in a world of zombies, which have pushed the human race to the brink of extinction. The interview format makes all too real. So, if you don’t mind double and triple checking that the door is locked while you read this, then this is the book for you. And once you’ve recovered from your post-book fears, you can go and see the movie scheduled for release in June 2013, starring Brad Pitt.
Born in 1926, Richard Matheson, 86, is responsible for some of today’s most popular horror and suspense novels. In this great work, Dr. Neville is the only human being left in all of New York City. He works everyday from sun-up to sundown not just for the things that he needs, but also on finding a cure for whatever has transformed society into nocturnal, clear-skinned monsters with no recollection of who they once were. Before sundown each night, Dr. Neville bleaches the steps of his brownstone and closes the metal gates he has erected around every opening of his house, and lays in the bath tub with his dog, equipped with heavy firearms, praying for daylight. He has lived this way for five years but his routine comes to an end when he realizes the monsters are beginning to learn and become resistant to the sun. Will he find a cure in time to save himself and perhaps the world, or will he join them? The movie by the same name, starring Will Smith, was a great ride. But it’s nothing compared to the details in this book.
By Jose Saramago (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
The city is hit by something that is causing instant and total blindness. Fear causes the government to round up those afflicted and confine them to a mental institution. But the tide turns quickly when the rate of the newly blinded increases exponentially, leading to mass overcrowding at this and other facilities, and complete chaos. There are food shortages, power struggles, and of course, violence. More than a book about an illness that strikes humanity, what Jose Saramago has accomplished here is a stunning look at man’s inhumanity to man and how quickly human beings can devolve into cruelty when faced with a crisis. Blindness is not so much about what people can’t see, but rather what each of us may see in ourselves when reading it.