12 Spellbinding Books for Station Eleven Fans

Eager for more stirring speculative tales? We’ve got you covered.

If you loved Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, you’re in luck — the acclaimed post-apocalyptic novel is hitting the small screen this holiday season as an HBO miniseries. To keep you enthralled between episodes (and beyond), here are 12 must-read books like Station Eleven that find hope and humanity in their worlds.

Kaitlyn Johnston
Image for Alexis Schaitkin's book Elsewhere, featuring a fire in the foreground rising up to the Elsewhere text

Elsewhere

By Alexis Schaitkin

Coming in June 2022, Elsewhere is the mesmerizing new novel by Alexis Schaitkin, author of the critically acclaimed Saint X. The narrative follows Vera, a young woman whose remote mountain village is plagued by a mystifying affliction — sometimes the mothers of the community simply vanish into the clouds. Vera is all too familiar with this haunting occurrence; her own mother disappeared when she was just a girl. Now Vera and her friends are approaching motherhood, and they wonder who among them will see their children grow up and who will join the ranks of the lost. Emotive and richly atmospheric, Elsewhere is perfect for fans of Margaret Atwood or Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and is available now for preorder.

Oryx and Crake

By Margaret Atwood

From award-winning author Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake is a “towering and intrepid” (The New Yorker) speculative tale set in a post-plague world. The story follows Snowman, who may be the last living human on Earth. Snowman struggles to survive in this desolate new reality, ruminating on the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the enchanting Oryx, whom they both loved. And yet, Snowman isn’t entirely alone. Shadowing him are the green-eyed Children of Crake, genetically engineered creatures that now populate Earth. With help from the Crakers, Snowman journeys into the wild ruins of a once-bustling compound in search of provisions and the truth about his past.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Road

By Cormac McCarthy

Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Road delivers a searing meditation on survival and the fight to endure in a ruined world. The narrative follows a father and his son as they traverse a post-apocalyptic landscape. The pair have next to nothing in terms of supplies, relying on just each other’s support to keep them going. As the pair travel south to the coast in search of sanctuary, they must combat hunger, illness, and the darkest incarnations of humanity.

Severance

By Ling Ma

In Ling Ma’s award-winning Severance, the world might be ending, but millennial office-drone Cadence Chen is so stuck in her routine that it takes her a minute to notice. When a plague sweeps through New York City, families flee and businesses crash. Left on her own, Cadence begins anonymously posting photographs of the abandoned metropolis. She soon crosses paths with a group of survivors, led by a power-hungry IT guy named Bob, who claims he’s leading his followers to safety to start a new society. Cadence possesses a secret that she knows could be exploited, and she questions whether she should trust her rescuers — or flee from them. Ling Ma delivers “a fresh take on both office politics and what the apocalypse might bring” (Michael Schaub, NPR) in this deadpan doomsday narrative.

The Parable of the Sower

By Octavia E. Butler

From award-winning author Octavia E. Butler, The Parable of the Sower depicts a world destroyed by climate change and economic inequality. Fifteen-year-old Lauren Olamina lives with her family in one of L.A.’s last remaining fortified enclaves. Outside the walls, drugs, disease, and water shortages lay waste to the less fortunate. But when a fire destroys the compound, Lauren, a hyper-empath, must leave behind her home with her fellow refugees and embark on a journey that ultimately leads humanity to salvation. A novel that “pairs well with 1984 or The Handmaid’s Tale” (John Green, The New York Times), The Parable of the Sower offers a striking vision of the future that is both full of hope and fraught with peril.

Blindness

By José Saramago

Nobel Prize winner José Saramago’s Blindness imagines a city in the throes of a vision-destroying epidemic. A contagious disorder known as “white blindness” sweeps through the city, seemingly sparing no one. Authorities struggle to maintain order, confining the newly blind in an empty mental hospital. Meanwhile, crime spreads and society slips into chaos. Amid the panic and violence, one woman is immune to the blindness. With a steady hand, she guides seven strangers through the bedlam of the city in an attempt to start a new life. Beautifully told, Blindness captures humanity’s will to survive and the human instinct to foster relationships, even in the face of depravity and disaster.

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Leave the World Behind

By Rumaan Alam

Rumaan Alam’s bestselling novel Leave the World Behind follows Amanda and Clay as they set out with their children on what’s supposed to be a relaxing getaway at a luxury vacation rental. Their retreat is interrupted, however, by the late-night arrival of the property owners. Ruth and G.H. are in a panic: They speak of a citywide blackout and quickly spreading disorder. But with the TV out and cell reception down, Amanda and Clay have no way of validating Ruth and G.H.’s claims. Are they truly safe in this home, with these people? A “brilliant distillation of our anxious age…that deserves a place among the classics of dystopian literature” (Washington Post), Leave the World Behind expertly surveys the depths of trust, isolation, and human dynamics in moments of crisis.

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

The Dreamers

By Karen Thompson Walker

Karen Thompson Walker’s The Dreamers tracks a mysterious illness as it sweeps through a small college town. Those struck by the malady are falling asleep and simply not waking up, suspended in a heightened dream state. As the sleeping sickness spreads, college student Mei seeks shelter with a classmate, a young couple fight to protect their newborn, and two sisters comfort each other while their survivalist father prepares for the end times. Emily St. John Mandel hails The Dreamers as “harrowing, riveting, profoundly moving, and beautifully written.”

The Stand

By Stephen King

Horror maestro Stephen King’s dark fantasy epic The Stand features a planet emptied of human life after a bioengineered virus lays waste to 99 percent of the world’s population. Those who survive struggle to comprehend the devastation that stretches before them. Soon, they must make a choice: Set out on the road to goodness and renewal with a 108-year-old woman named Mother Abigail, or follow a sinister figure known as Randall Flagg on a path to pure evil.

Wilder Girls

By Rory Power

In her celebrated debut, Rory Power delivers an electrifying narrative that’s “part survival thriller, part post-apocalyptic romance, and part ecocritical feminist manifesto” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review). It’s been 18 months since the Tox first hit, and the Raxter School for Girls is still under lockdown with no sign of salvation. They were once promised a cure; instead, Hetty and her classmates stay locked within the school, watching as their teachers die off and fellow students transform into strange new beings. But when Byatt disappears, Hetty is spurred into action. She’ll stop at nothing to find her companion, even if it means breaching the school fence, plunging into the surrounding woods, and uncovering the nightmarish truth about life at Raxter.

The Passage by Justin Cronin

The Passage

By Justin Cronin

The first installment in Justin Cronin’s acclaimed apocalypse trilogy, The Passage envisions a near-future world beset by a monstrous viral outbreak. Amy, a young girl abandoned by her mother at the age of six, is subjected to a covert biomedical experiment conducted by the U.S. government. Special Agent Brad Wolgast is determined to rescue Amy, but though he saves the child, he cannot save humanity. The experiment soon spirals out of control, unleashing a contagion that devours civilization. Amy alone holds the key to salvation, but she’ll have to cross the wasteland for decades before she fulfills her destiny.

The Children of Men by PD James

The Children of Men

By P.D. James

Originally published in 1992, P.D. James’s The Children of Men takes place in what was then the not-too-distant future: the year 2021. In this dystopian version of 2021, however, humanity is on the brink of extinction due to mass infertility. Civil society has collapsed; the United Kingdom is under the control of a self-appointed Warden, democracy has been abolished, and the last human born on Earth was just killed in a pub brawl. The novel follows Dr. Theodore Faron as he joins a band of revolutionaries and is swept up in a quest for survival and rebirth.

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