As a kid, I spent a lot of sleepless nights fretting about the end of the world. Nuclear war would end us all. Or killer bees. Russia, who I had no beef with, or killer bees, who I did, would bring me to my untimely end. Those were some tense nights.
Now that I’m older, my anxious mind adapted and worrying about the end of the world is now what helps me sleep. As long as the end of the world isn’t happening the next day, then I would be a little worried. At 3am, I have survived nuclear war, disease, zombies, and army ants. My biggest worry is what on earth will I do with my cats. I like to believe Rubie and Olive would survive with me. But the logistics of finding them cute little googles, helmets, and scarves, packing up the diabetic cat food and litter, and properly strapping them into the sidecar of my motorcycle—that I don’t have and don’t know how to drive— is problematic.
So, obviously, I am a fan of the dystopian novel and have devoured the recent slew of them that have been published recently. I have picked a few of the ones that I read and decided out how long I would last, and how I meet my untimely end.
SPOILERS, SPOILERS, and SPOILERS.
California by Eden Lepucki
An immature woman, Frida, and her control freak husband, Cal, escape a mid-apocalyptic LA and go in live in the wilderness. Although they have no outdoorsy skills —even though Cal went to an outdoorsy college, they somehow manage to survive for two years eating beets and screwing. Then Frida becomes pregnant, gets really high, and decides they have to leave the woods. They go off to find some people and end up at a cult run by Frida’s supposedly dead brother Micah. There are no children there and they are all inexplicably afraid the colour red. Things go terribly awry.
How Long I Last
One week. Death by suicide.
After 7 days of living with Friday and Cal, I am so friggin’ irritated that I commit hari-kari by pissing off the porcupine that traumatized poor Frida so. A thousand porcupine quills enters my belly and when I fall to the ground, stomach first, the quills punctures my organs, and I bleed out. Just to get away from them. I do contemplate killing them, maybe with the controversial turkey baster, but in the end why bother. Let the baby hating cultist or land bound pirates finish them off.
My rating: 2/5 You can pass on this. Unless you are in the mood to be angry.
The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer
A long neglected area in Florida is taken over by an unknown force and a new eco system is created. Is it aliens, ghosts, David Attenborough? There is only one way in and it is tricky. Many expeditions go in and if anyone comes out they are not the same and then they die. A tunnel—or tower— and lighthouse are not to be trusted. An evil organization tries to control Area X but how can they when Control is a lost soul?
How Long I Last
I do not die. I transcend. So a very long time.
Known only as social worker, I was asked to go into Area X for reasons unknown to me. Four of us go in, and we all go nuts. Two kill themselves and I kill the other one, but she tried to kill me first while possessed, so it’s ok. Eventually, I realize my goal is to understand/counsel who or what is at the bottom —or is it the top of the staircase. But I’m too crazy to realize it. I return home, I am not me, I am a captive, I am raucous raccoon, I go back, I am tornado.
My rating: 4.5/5. So damn good.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
A flu wipes out most of the world. The survivors end up scattered across the northern US even though most are Canadian. Kirsten finds a travelling Shakespeare troupe, Clark a museum airport, Jeevan a family, and The Prophet many scared followers. They all have ties to an actor, Arthur, who dies on stage just before the pandemic hits. You would think that we were thankfully done with that character but unfortunately no. There is a lot of backstory. A graphic novel is very important.
How Long I Last
I last 23 years before death by paper cut.
I would survive the flu by holing up in my apartment after a good pilfering of my corner and liquor store. Because of this, I get to avoid Arthur and his ex, Miranda. I hit the road after everyone is dead but I stay in Canada, with infrequent visits to the US as I am afraid of walking over bridges. I start my own travelling thespian troop where we re-enact episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My travelling graphic novel is Death of Speedy by Los Hernandez Bros; I have never left town without it in 20 years so of course it would be with me in an apocalypse. When my troop ends up at the airport, I do a hand drawing of Death of Speedy to archive it in the airport museum and on my final page I get the mother of all paper cuts that gets infected. I succumb to my wound a week later, the night before we were to perform Once More with Feeling. Fortunately, Death of Speedy lives on forever!
My rating: 3/5 I suggest reading it. Everyone else seemed to like this more than me. I found the backstory really dragged.
The Passage/ The Twelve by Justin Cronin – Third book hopefully coming soon
The US government have more than their hands full when they take death row inmates and a little girl and try to make them into warrior vampire-like creatures. In hindsight the US government really wishes they had researched the project more. Besides being vicious killers, the vampires are also psychic and can control minds. They enlist ex-pedophiles now docile eunuchs to help them escape. Naturally all hell break loose, they go on a rampage, and turn or kill most of the population. Jump one hundred years in the future and a plucky group of young adults go out and try to take them down. Also, the little girl, she’s different.
How Long I Last
3 days as a human. 97 years a vampire.
I stopped by my neighbourhood bar went out after gathering supplies to say goodbye. I only meant to have one. If only I could have just had one. Fortunately, the vampire who turned me is a pretty cool, albeit, simple dude. Even though I am vampire, I have my and my vampire’s moral centre. In a noble act*, I sacrifice myself in the most public of ways, coming to the assistance of the plucky kids and the little girl. I had a good run. Besides, being constantly hungry for 97 years is a pain in the ass.
My rating: 4/5 Easily one of the scariest books I have read recently. Also very addictive.