Literature & Words

7 Dystopian Books about Pandemics That Are Scarily Relatable

Published by
Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

If you are looking for books about pandemics, they’re not hard to find. Many of them are dystopian novels digging below the surface of the disease.

Living in times of a major pandemic is overwhelming, to say the least. We spend so many hours inside, and many extra hours reading books. Maybe we read about things that take our minds off what’s going on in society and maybe we read dystopian literature and its relationship to the pandemic.

Top 7 Books about Pandemics

Unlike an epidemic, a pandemic affects the entire globe. It can drive us inside our homes for protection for long periods of time. Some of us want to learn more about pandemics through books, and we’re curious about the truths and lies of society behind these diseases.

Here are a few fictional books related to pandemics. They may leave you with more questions than answers about the state of our world, and the future as well.

1. The Stand, Stephen King

In one of his best selling books of all time, King creates a realistic tale about global pandemics, one in which 94% of all inhabitants die from the disease. The remaining few that seem to be immune create a community and decide to live by former ideals and standards.

Meanwhile, a creature named Flag gathers the underbelly of society-congregating sociopaths, pyromaniacs, and murderers.

In his book, King strives to blend the idea of global disease with its effects on the rules of society. Although there are two distinct groups, there are also differing beliefs and standards among them all. To find out what happens at the end, you’ll have to read it for yourself.

2. The Dog Stars, Peter Heller

In Heller’s novel, the story begins after the flu has killed most people on earth. For the main character, Hig, he’s lost everyone he ever cared for, except a dog. However, he lives in an abandoned airplane hanger with his dog and takes occasional flights to go fishing or hunting nearby. He also has a gun-carrying neighbor close by who provides some occasional company for him.

An unexpected signal comes across his radio coaxing him to travel beyond the point of no return. What he finds is good and bad. Are there more friendly survivors of the flu, or is HIgs being drawn into something else? A society he hopes to find may not be what he expected.

3. Wilder Girls, Rory Power

When the “Tox” strikes a school for teenage girls on an Island, it leaves few alive. For those who survive, some are stricken with mutations such as extra vertebrae and scaley skin. Three friends strive to survive during their plight, as the whole island is mutating and changing each day.

While most apocalyptic stories showcase survivors that fight to become better people, these three girls fight just to survive. Their objective is upheaval and change – independence from authority figures. Not only do they now want to escape the perilous dangers of the “Tox”, but also the community as well.

4. The Way We Fall, Megan Crewe

Crewe tells a story from the perspective of a 16-year-old girl named Kaelyn, trying to survive in the midst of a deadly virus. It’s a strange virus that starts with an itch, then a fever, followed by a sore throat. Suddenly, you can’t stop talking about anything and everything… then you die.

The odd disease spreads rapidly and Kaelyn wonders how many of her friends managed to survive. As the government closes the island she lives on, survivors must fight for the remaining supplies.

Crewe’s book not only tells a story of disease and survival but also reveals the response and plans of the government and society outside the island. Quarantining the island is the first priority, but it doesn’t include extra provisions. It’s terrifying when understanding just how true this story may be to our own predicaments…

5. The Companions, Katie M. Flynn

As far as books about pandemics go, this novel places you in a unique perspective, California is under quarantine from a deadly virus, and the dead are not staying dead. The ‘Companionship project’ can transfer the dead into artificial bodies, some crude and some quite humanoid.

If you have enough money, you can upload your consciousness before you die and return to your family. If not, you can be returned to serve the government, or others, as slaves. Read this one and grasp the full scope of just far humanity is willing to go.

6. Severance, Ling Ma

This story follows the life of Candice Chen, written in flashbacks, as she remembers her life before and after a pandemic strikes the city of New York. As she travels away from the center of the city, she documents the downfall of the city.

Eventually, she meets other survivors and agrees to travel with them. Finally making a home in an abandoned shopping mall, Chen realizes the leader Bob’s tyrannical beliefs and rules. There is much more to the story, detail, and even the mention of Chen’s early pregnancy. Check out this book for yourself.

7. The Road, Cormac McCarthy

One of the best books about pandemics and widespread devastation is this one. A man and his son leave their home to travel to the coast. The boy’s mother died shortly after his birth or suicide, so the pair leaves everything behind. During their travels, they encounter cannibals, rabid animals, and barren land.

The worst part about looking for food is the lack of vegetation. Whatever plague that occurred has wiped out all but human life, which is dwindling. Fighting off many adversaries, and hiding the fact that he is dying, the father finally gets his son to the coast. What happens? Well, read it and find out.

Enjoy these and many more

These books about pandemics with obvious or underlying dystopian themes will keep you thinking long after finishing the story. Some of them pull you into the tale, and you swear you’re actually there. Some make you angry and filled with the desire to fight our injustices. One thing is for certain, you won’t get bored reading these amazing books.

What are some of your favorite dystopian books related to pandemics?



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  • Check out the series Random Skies by Jim Cheshire. The first one was written in 1999 and it starts seven or eight years after 'flu-like' pandemics have ravaged the world in the 2020s. A new tyrannical world order arises to enslave the survivors and replace humanity with machines and transhumans. Some shocking proposals and brilliant explanations for 'conspiracy theories.' Uncomfortably similar to what is happening today.

Published by
Sherrie Hurd, A.A.