The End of the World? New Fiction and Classics for Teens

1989. 2000. 2012. It’s not just lately that certain years and dates have struck fear into the heart of humankind. Pretty much every year in recorded history has been predicted by someone to be the date of the end of the world. The Apocalypse. Armageddon. Our fascination with our own end can be humorous or depressing, but either way, we can’t stop dreaming, writing, and talking about it. And teens, like many of us, love reading about it.

During a recent Lit Bistro meeting at Salem Church Library, we quickly got into a discussion of the New York Times Bestseller (and frankly, a hot book!), The Hunger Games and its sequel, Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins. One recurrent theme of these books and others we chatted about is, not surprisingly, the future of the human race and the planet. Sometimes these authors predict, “The End.” They also envision what our future civilizations might look like if faced with disasters that we survive, whether environmental or human-made. Some, like, The Hunger Games, are more dystopic or post-apocalyptic.
There are a slew of great young adult (a.k.a. teen) fiction books out there to have fun with or to plot your escape if you’re the plan-ahead type. What’s fun about many of these is that teens are often the star players – saving the day or seeing the truth behind criminal mastermind schemes.
Start with Hunger Games, for sure, but as it still has a long waiting list, go for the also popular, Life as We Knew It, by Susan Beth Pfeffer, which is recommended on audio. Some exciting new titles include The Carbon Diaries 2015, by Saci Lloyd, The Comet’s Curse, by Dom Testa, in which teens are sent into space to save humankind from a deadly disease, and, The Tomorrow Code, by Brian Falkner, which has three teens from New Zealand battling an ecological disaster with help from their future selves. In, The Compound, by S.A. Bodeen, a father’s preparations against a nuclear holocaust go horribly awry for twin brothers and their family. Older readers might enjoy The Stand, by Stephen King, The Host, by Stephenie Meyer, or the classic, The War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells. One of our Lit Bistro members recommended, The Girl Who Owned a City, by O.T. Nelson, about a girl who leads children who are left after a plague kills everyone on earth over twelve.
If you’re interested in the fate of humankind (don’t forget the planet and all those animal bystanders), check out these books and others on our booklists, The End is Near? and Dystopian Fiction: Worlds Gone Wrong. Then decide for yourself: hysteria, hype, or hope?