Entering another lockdown means I’m pretty exhausted with the way the world seems to be going right now. It’s hard to imagine that just 11 months ago we had no idea 2020 would go this way. But if anything can help, it just might be stories of other worlds gone wrong and characters fighting through. Who knows – end-of-the-world post-apocalyptic literature may be just what you need to escape what feels like an impending apocalypse. Which is why I put together this list of 15 of the best post-apocalyptic books 2020 has to offer.
Tender Is The Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica
‘In the end, meat is meat. It doesn’t matter where it came from.’ That quote is enough to leave any reader hooked on what Bazterrica’s post-apocalyptic future holds, and it is so much more than you can imagine.
In a world where human meat is now legal, Tender Is The Flesh provides a terrible and horrific insight into what happens when social norms go wrong and the consequences the desire for food can have. All in the most brilliant way that leaves you hooked, makes you lose your appetite, and makes it one of the best post-apocalyptic books 2020.
Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam
Written before the pandemic, Leave The World Behind still manages to capture every emotion of the panic and uncertainty the world seems gripped in today. A tale of slow trust and isolation in a world where communication and technology is breaking down. Alam weaves a complex narrative around issues of race, parenthood, and an overreliance on technology that switches between the narratives of its characters and allows us to really see where they stand in the story, from their own perspectives.
The Memory Police by Yogo Ogawa
Memory serves as our most important tool for keeping in touch with our past. But what happens when you can’t trust that memory anymore? Yogo Ogawa spins an unexpected tale in this post-apocalyptic fiction that seems far slower than others in the genre but has an impact that leaves you speechless.
When the Memory Police threaten to take away a young novelist’s editor because of his memory of forgotten things, she begins to question what it means to forget and why remembering is so dangerous. Eerily similar to the rise of authoritarianism our world is all too familiar with, Ogawa’s imagined future may not be all that far off.
When The Rain Stops by J.S. Sutton
Sutton’s new novel takes on a question few can debate and even fewer target head on: climate change. In a futuristic world destroyed by climate change and nuclear war, humanity lives in a world in the clouds. Acid rain is common, as are ocular Fitbits instead of eyeballs, and only criminals live on the wasteland that is now Earth. But David’s commitment to his job takes him undercover to the world where no human being would willingly go.
2028 The Awakening by Carrie Russell
2028 may not be that far off (if we ever make it out of this pandemic), but Russell’s new world of surveillance and secret rebellion easily makes it one of the best post apocalyptic books of 2020. Perfect for fans of The Hunger Games or WE, Russell’s post-apocalyptic Seattle is full of secrets and tangled webs as the government seeks to destroy dissent, and in the process creates a new kind of Resistance.
Edge Of Collapse by Kyla Stone
Edge of Collapse is Kyla Stone’s first novella in a four-part post-apocalyptic book series and it starts with a bang, quite literally. When an EMP destroys all power in the country, it becomes the greatest day of Hannah Sheridan’s life: her escape.
But as her captor ruthlessly pursues her and all modern technology is lost to the power outage, Hannah and ex-soldier Liam have to navigate an unknown world to get back to the one they knew. The first book of the series merely introduces us to the characters and Stone’s unputdownable writing, and the other three only get more and more exciting.
The Species Imperative by Nick Storming
Nick Storming may not have named the disease in his post-apocalyptic world COVID-19, but the fear of the world ending due to a deadly disease is one that readers this year can definitely relate to.
The only difference: the Man-Slayer Flu has killed off 99.99% of all men, and the few that remain are gripped with a desire to repopulate the world. Adam is the only man left on the west coast, and when he wakes up in a research hospital one day, he finds himself in a world with no governments, no order, and surrounded by a primal need he doesn’t quite understand.
Skyhunter by Marie Lu
Skyhunter is post-apocalyptic fantasy in every way, from the creation of mutant creatures as a military force to the rise of a dystopian government hellbent on controlling every nation in the world – with only Mara left to conquer. But it’s also a book that touches the heart of today’s reader. The protagonist is a young female refugee whose struggles with acceptance, identity, and home speak volumes about the impact of global wars on countless lives today.
Amidst the meaningful impact of the story is a fast-paced dystopian world descending into a war that will not end until one side breaks. Yet Lu still manages to provide complexity to even her villainous characters.
Each Of Us A Desert by Mark Oshiro
Oshiro’s post-apocalyptic world doesn’t come in the form of a technology-ruled regime that seeks to control everything under its rule. Rather, he builds his readers a magical desert world burnt by the sun god Solis in an event called “La Quema”. Each Of Us A Desert is as much about an internal battle as it is about an external one.
In a blend of Spanish and English, Oshiro weaves a tale of young Xochitl, who is burdened with the gift of taking in stories from her village members and absolving their sins. When the burden gets too much for her to bear, she embarks on a journey to give it back to the desert, finding a love that develops ever so gradually with a young woman who becomes an unexpected companion on her travels.
The Silence by Don Delillo
The Silence stays true to its name in its exploration of yet another society where technology fails. Yet where other books paint a picture of utter chaos, Delillo’s story is one of introspection and slowly falling apart as his characters struggle to cope without their dependence on technology.
The Raven by Jonathan Janz
How long can humanity survive when surrounded by monsters? That’s what Janz’s new novel will have readers wondering. With Dez one of the few human beings left whose DNA has not been unlocked to unleash the monsters that once were, The Raven doesn’t hold back on the violence and bloodshed as it brings together vampires, werewolves, cannibals, and everything that goes bump in the night.
As Our World Ends by Jack Hunt
2020 is clearly the year for post-apocalyptic books that target technology and power, and Hunt adds to the mix with the start of his series. As Our World Ends is a mix of apocalypse and romance as Alex and his wife find the world plunged into panic and chaos the day she arrives with their divorce papers.
Lockdown by Peter May
May wrote Lockdown over 15 years ago but the implausibility of the plot meant it was never published – until now. Despite mainly being a crime story, the plot is placed in a new world London that is the epicenter of a pandemic that will leave millions dead. As if that wasn’t enough, D.I. Jack McNeil comes across a horrific crime that forces him to choose who to fight – the pandemic or the killers that need to silence him forever.
The New Wilderness by Diane Cook
Nature and mankind stand at two opposite ends in this book where human beings live in an overpopulated city and nature is left to its own devices. Bea and her 5-year-old daughter Agnes become part of an experiment to unite the two, only for the group to find a connection with nature unlike what they had expected and become willing to stand against their own to protect it.
Amid the battle, Bea and Agnes also need to fight the tide to maintain the relationship between mother and daughter as they continue to drift apart.
Junkyard Cats by Faith Hunter
Robotics, spaceships, aliens, and cats! Junkyard Cats is the perfect recipe for a post-apocalyptic story. So far it’s only been released as an audiobook, but at five hours long it manages to capture all the details without rambling on. This one’s for all you tech lovers that would love the way the story explores AI and secret robots in a post apocalyptic junkyard where Shining is hiding a secret.
If that’s not enough for you, check out our lists on post-apocalyptic books from previous years. Who knows, maybe you’ll find something that is eerily predicative of the world we live in today.