Bird Box (Source: Netflix)
Friday, January 11, 2019 Charleston County Library

Chances are since the Christmas holidays you've seen or heard about Netflix's runaway original film, Bird Box. It's the story of a world in which no one can go outside for fear of some terrifying and unseen monster driving them insane. It's in that world that Malorie, played by Sandra Bullock, and her two children must navigate life and a 20-mile trip down a raging river -- blindfolded -- in search of salvation. 

It's based off Josh Malerman's book of the same name (put a copy on hold here). Since being released on Dec. 21 has been memed on social media and fueled countless discussions about the monsters. There's even a Bird Box Challenge that has people trying to perform everyday actions while blindfolded.

Why is Bird Box so popular? Well, everybody loves a good post-apocalyptic, dystopian story. The genre has been popular for hundreds of years, too. This isn't a new thing. Just look back to "Gulliver's Travels" from the 18th century, H.G. Wells' "The Time Machine" from 1895, Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World," and Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451." Even the wildly popular "Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood has joined this long and rich history. 

If you're looking for something fresh -- and dystopian -- to read or watch, we've put together a list of books in our collection to check out. In some cases, the books have been turned into movies or TV shows, and we've included  those links as well.


THE ROAD 

A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food--and each other.

The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, "each the other's world entire," are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.

Want to see how Hollywood tells the story? Check out "The Road."
Or make your commutes a little more dystopian with the book on CD.

 

THE COUNTRY OF ICE CREAM

In the aftermath of a devastating plague, a fearless young heroine embarks on a dangerous and surprising journey to save her world in this brilliantly inventive dystopian thriller, told in bold and fierce language, from a remarkable literary talent.

"My name be Ice Cream Fifteen Star and this be the tale of how I bring the cure to all the Nighted States . . ."

In the ruins of a future America, fifteen-year-old Ice Cream Star and her nomadic tribe live off of the detritus of a crumbled civilization. Theirs is a world of children; before reaching the age of twenty, they all die of a mysterious disease they call Posies--a plague that has killed for generations. There is no medicine, no treatment; only the mysterious rumor of a cure.

When her brother begins showing signs of the disease, Ice Cream Star sets off on a bold journey to find this cure. Led by a stranger, a captured prisoner named Pasha who becomes her devoted protector and friend, Ice Cream Star plunges into the unknown, risking her freedom and ultimately her life. Traveling hundreds of miles across treacherous, unfamiliar territory, she will experience love, heartbreak, cruelty, terror, and betrayal, fighting with her whole heart and soul to protect the only world she has ever known.

 

UNDER THE DOME

The small town of Chester's Mill, Maine, is faced with a big dilemma when it is mysteriously sealed off by an invisible and completely impenetrable force field. With cars and airplanes exploding on contact, the force field has isolated the townspeople from the outside world. Now, Iraq war vet Dale Barbara and a group of the town's more sensible citizens must overcome the tyrannical rule of Big Jim Rennie, a politician bent on controlling everything within the Dome.

This is yet another great listen on long, gridlocked commutes. While you're watching tail lights, you can imagine the cars in front of you crashing into the dome and exploding. 

This book became a short-lived series on CBS several years ago. Check out each season and see how it compares

 

BLINDNESS

A city is ravaged by an epidemic of 'white blindness.' Those first afflicted are quarantined by the authorities in an abandoned mental hospital where societal norms quickly breaks down. Criminals and the physically powerful prey upon the weak, hording the meager food rations and committing horrific acts. Inside the hospital is one eyewitness to the nightmare. Following her husband into the hospital, a woman whose sight is unaffected by the plague goes into quarantine. There, keeping her sight a secret, she guides seven strangers who have become like a family. She leads them out of quarantine and onto the ravaged streets of the city. Their voyage is fraught with danger, but their survival is a reflection of the depth of the human spirit.

The movie is based off of Jose Saramago's book titled "Ensayo sobre la ceguera."

 

THE BOOK OF M

Set in a dangerous near future world, The Book of M tells the captivating story of a group of ordinary people caught in an extraordinary catastrophe who risk everything to save the ones they love. It is a sweeping debut that illuminates the power that memories have not only on the heart, but on the world itself. One afternoon at an outdoor market in India, a man's shadow disappears--an occurrence science cannot explain. He is only the first. The phenomenon spreads like a plague, and while those afflicted gain a strange new power, it comes at a horrible price: the loss of all their memories. Ory and his wife Max have escaped the Forgetting so far by hiding in an abandoned hotel deep in the woods. Their new life feels almost normal, until one day Max's shadow disappears too. Knowing that the more she forgets, the more dangerous she will become to Ory, Max runs away. But Ory refuses to give up the time they have left together. Desperate to find Max before her memory disappears completely, he follows her trail across a perilous, unrecognizable world, braving the threat of roaming bandits, the call to a new war being waged on the ruins of the capital, and the rise of a sinister cult that worships the shadowless. As they journey, each searches for answers: for Ory, about love, about survival, about hope; and for Max, about a new force growing in the south that may hold the cure. Like The Passage and Station Eleven, this haunting, thought-provoking, and beautiful novel explores fundamental questions of memory, connection, and what it means to be human in a world turned upside down.

 

BLACK MOON

Insomnia has claimed everyone Biggs knows.  Even his beloved wife, Carolyn, has succumbed to the telltale red-rimmed eyes, slurred speech and cloudy mind before disappearing into the quickly collapsing world.  Yet Biggs can still sleep, and dream, so he sets out to find her.

He ventures out into a world ransacked by mass confusion and desperation, where he meets others struggling against the tide of sleeplessness.  Chase and his buddy Jordan are devising a scheme to live off their drug-store lootings; Lila is a high school student wandering the streets in an owl mask, no longer safe with her insomniac parents; Felicia abandons the sanctuary of a sleep research center to try to protect her family and perhaps reunite with Chase, an ex-boyfriend.  

All around, sleep has become an infinitely precious commodity. Money can't buy it, no drug can touch it, and there are those who would kill to have it. However, Biggs persists in his quest for Carolyn, finding a resolve and inner strength that he never knew he had.
 

THE LEFTOVERS

What if--whoosh, right now, with no explanation--a number of us simply vanished?  Would some of us collapse? Would others of us go on, one foot in front of the other, as we did before the world turned upside down?

That's what the bewildered citizens of Mapleton, who lost many of their neighbors, friends and lovers in the event known as the Sudden Departure, have to figure out. Because nothing has been the same since it happened--not marriages, not friendships, not even the relationships between parents and children. 

Kevin Garvey, Mapleton's new mayor, wants to speed up the healing process, to bring a sense of renewed hope and purpose to his traumatized community. Kevin's own family has fallen apart in the wake of the disaster: his wife, Laurie, has left to join the Guilty Remnant, a homegrown cult whose members take a vow of silence; his son, Tom, is gone, too, dropping out of college to follow a sketchy prophet named Holy Wayne.  Only Kevin's teenaged daughter, Jill, remains, and she's definitely not the sweet "A" student she used to be.  Kevin wants to help her, but he's distracted by his growing relationship with Nora Durst, a woman who lost her entire family on October 14th and is still reeling from the tragedy, even as she struggles to move beyond it and make a new start.

This book was made into a great HBO series with the same name, and it's definitely worth a watch. We have the complete collection, but get started with season one. 

We also have the book on CD for those who enjoy showing up late to appointments because you won't turn off the car until you've heard another chapter.

 

STATION ELEVEN

One snowy night a famous actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time-from the actor's early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains-this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor's first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.

Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

If you've managed to defeat the winter cold everyone has and your sinuses and ears are clear, grab the book on CD here

 

THE RENDING AND THE NEST

When 95 percent of the earth's population disappears for no apparent reason, Mira does what she can to create some semblance of a life: She cobbles together a haphazard community named Zion, scavenges the Piles for supplies they might need, and avoids loving anyone she can't afford to lose. She has everything under control. Almost.

Four years after the Rending, Mira's best friend, Lana, announces her pregnancy, the first since everything changed and a new source of hope for Mira. But when Lana gives birth to an inanimate object--and other women of Zion follow suit--the thin veil of normalcy Mira has thrown over her new life begins to fray. As the Zionites wrestle with the presence of these Babies, a confident outsider named Michael appears, proselytizing about the world beyond Zion. He lures Lana away and when she doesn't return, Mira must decide how much she's willing to let go in order to save her friend, her home, and her own fraught pregnancy.

Like California by Edan Lepucki and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, The Rending and the Nest uses a fantastical, post-apocalyptic landscape to ask decidedly human questions: How well do we know the people we love? What sustains us in the midst of suffering? How do we forgive the brokenness we find within others--and within ourselves?

 

THE DOG STARS

Hig survived the flu that killed everyone he knows. His wife is gone, his friends are dead, he lives in the hangar of a small abandoned airport with his dog, his only neighbor a gun-toting misanthrope. In his 1956 Cessna, Hig flies the perimeter of the airfield or sneaks off to the mountains to fish and to pretend that things are the way they used to be. But when a random transmission somehow beams through his radio, the voice ignites a hope deep inside him that a better life--something like his old life--exists beyond the airport. Risking everything, he flies past his point of no return--not enough fuel to get him home--following the trail of the static-broken voice on the radio. But what he encounters and what he must face--in the people he meets, and in himself--is both better and worse than anything he could have hoped for.

Narrated by a man who is part warrior and part dreamer, a hunter with a great shot and a heart that refuses to harden, The Dog Stars is both savagely funny and achingly sad, a breathtaking story about what it means to be human.

 

THE AGE OF MIRACLES

"It still amazes me how little we really knew. . . . Maybe everything that happened to me and my family had nothing at all to do with the slowing. It's possible, I guess. But I doubt it. I doubt it very much." 

On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life--the fissures in her parents' marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.