Anyone Read A Good Survival Novel Lately?

I haven’t read a “survival novel” in quite some time.

Though there was a period when I read quite a lot of them. Some were stand-alone novels while others were a series.

Sometimes I would buy the first one in a series and get caught up in it. Eventually purchasing and reading all of them. Others, not so much.

Today’s survival novel genre is often based on the premise of a devastating EMP where the entire power grid goes down. And the book or series itself is that of the struggles of life afterwards.

I suppose it’s a popular basis because power-grid-down is one of the worst-case scenarios a modern civilization could possibly face. And there’s a wide variety of stories that one might write on the potential follow-on effects.

I’ll never forget the first popular novel of its type that I read many years ago shortly after it was introduced in 2011.

“One Second After” by William Forstchen
(view on amzn)

second-after

It still remains the most well reviewed novel of its genre on Amazon. A classic in that regard. A real eye-opener as to how bad it could become following such an event.

“A post-apocalyptic thriller of the after effects in the United States after a terrifying terrorist attack using electromagnetic pulse weapons.”

A few other popular survival novels are listed here (from a poll that we did 5 years ago),

“10 Survival Novels”

But like I said, I haven’t read any in awhile. Probably due to a sort of ‘burn out’ after having read quite a few back then.

I know that there are lots more authors writing survival novel books these days. And many of the established authors continue to write.

So I’m in the mood to pick up another one. But before I do, I’m curious if any of you have read a recent survival novel. And if you did, was it any good?

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94 Comments

    1. Traveler, 👍
      Although Ken has mentioned, Deep Survival in the past, it’s a good reminder.
      I’ve recommend it to rangers in the Rocky Mountains, and Smokey Mountains. Was quite surprised that they had not heard of it.

  1. I have read many survival books and most are very interesting. However, I have stopped reading these books. I just look around me at events (and people) and I can see what it will be like after a SHTF event. It is going to be real ugly beyond belief because people are no longer able to think for themselves.

  2. I avoid contemporary dystopian novels as I avoid fiction in general. But I do enjoy historical accounts involving survival as non-fiction writing is closer to reality than fiction.

    My recent reads has been “Indianapolis” by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic; but be forewarned, this is an account of a horrific event which inspired the Hollywood movie “Jaws.

    Another sea disaster book that really gets into the psychology of survival is “Isaacs Storm” by one of the greatest writers today, Erik Larson.

    There are also a number of movies and books about Escape from Sobibor, the 2019 movie version available on Amazon prime is very intense.

    The Long Walk, Lone Survivor and most books with the word “escape” in them are of interest to me.

      1. The author has rejected that idea, instead claims inspiration was from a 1960’s shark attack and all known attacks in general. But I misspoke, it was in the movie that reference was made to the shark attacks in the sinking of the Indianapolis. Thanks for the correction.

    1. No, unfortunately. I got stuck because there were things that needed to happen that didn’t fit in the timeline. I’m still working on straightening out the kinks.

      1. I agree. It was one of the first survival books. One second after is almost a copy of it bit in a different more modern era. Both fun reads.

  3. One set of books I put in the survival, though not post-apocalyptic, category are Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children series – Clan of the Cave Bear, etc. I like the middle books the best. Particularly enjoy descriptions of day-to-day activities that make up “survival”.

    For the same reason have enjoyed Cheryl Colley’s Survivalist by Circumstance. 13 episodes, first 12 are bound into two “novels.” Unfortunately she passed before she completed her thoughts, but enjoyable none the less.

    Did quite a bit of reading and rereading this year. Forstchen’s One Year After and The Final Day, sequels to One Second After, were good. His 48 Hours seemed a little unrealistic in terms of timeline, but a good read.

    S.M. Sterling’s Dies The Fire, again because of the description of how survival is accomplished.

    Malevil, by Robert Merle, is an out of print 1972 novel much like Alas, Babylon (a favorite), and set in France. Sometimes one can find it in pdf form online.

    Read a bunch of freebies and cheapies on Kindle. Nothing really to write home about. Many seemed formulaic: group pulls together, barely gets by, one or two do stupid stuff and put everyone at risk, group battles local warlord to secure regional peace, life goes on.

  4. Just started re-reading a very old survival book. Original book and sequel. About a group of people who use their faith to survive for millennia. Good read, lots of tips for us to use in today’s world. It’s so good it has been translated into many, many languages. I could read it over and over again.

      1. Lonely Peanut,
        I’m sure you know it. I am of course talking about the Bible, Old and New testaments. There is a reason folks call it “the Good Book”. It’s about the only thing I read these days that gives me comfort and shows me that we can survive anything with the help of God.

  5. I just started Light’s Out by Ted Koppel. It’s not so much fiction, but more of an investigative book. The print is tiny (in the paperback) but he cites Gov’t sources and documents. It’s just OK so far.

    My favorite fiction has been the Going Home series by A. American. I was able to connect to the characters in the story quite well.

    1. Ted Kopple did a very good job with that book. He awoke many in government. He has facts that not many of us ever hear of.

    2. I like the Going Home series also BUT Chris needs a good proof reader in one of his books he has Sarge going down stream to the guards and a few chapters later Sarge is going upstream to the Guards. There are several of these mistakes in his books.

      1. Thanks Ken! I don’t know how but I must have missed that post! Sorry to recommend a recommendation! LOL

        I even watched the (ugh!) CBS interview. It’s a wonder how human the talking head’s appeared then, as compared to now!

  6. “The Year Long Day” is a fantastic non fiction real life story of survival in a very harsh environment.Ivar Rudd hunts and traps above the Arctic circle on Spitzbergen Island.
    The book is out of print so it will take some effort to find a copy.
    I doubt that many of us could tolerate the hardships and danger that the author endured.

  7. Had started to read the book “Flagged” by Stephen Konkoly, acdh had just finished off the A. American series of Charlie’s Requiem, gave him this book to read. He is really enjoying the story line so far, must be good.

    Konkoly’s “The JAKARTA pandemic” which comes in 3 book series is really good.

      1. Terrorist attacks across the nation that scares everyone from going to work, school, or anything. One thing leads to another and before long civilization falls. It’s based around a group of friends fighting to survive the terrorist and their own government. It’s really a good book.

    1. Just looked for that on Amazon and didn’t find it. Then I tried a Yahoo search. Still didn’t find.

      1. Try searching “normal by Grand58742”. Should be around the first result. I was using bing

  8. You all may think this a joke, but you have to see the parallel between the fight against all odds by the characters in this book and mankind. A good listen on Audible for all that say, “please leave us in peace”. A good read for older kids as well.

    “Watership Down” by Richard Adams

    1. Watership Down is also an animated movie made in the 1970’s, if not mistaken. Took my oldest son to see it when he was small. My thought at the time, it was really about the Jews in Germany during the war and before. As you say that could represent any people being persecuted.

      1. Mrs. U
        No, not about humans at all. But the parallels relate; warnings of trouble as some don’t heed, travels in unknown lands, good leadership, final goals are identified, subservient community pays the price for free stuff, dictatorship leads to unrest and failure of the community, a good defence for the village, force multipliers, …
        BTW, Mrs. U who was the first to shorten your handle?

        1. Me, less redundant. Ken changed the format and now we must enter it each time. Just quicker, as I type SLOW!

      2. Try reading the graphic novel series “Mauze” it was written by the son of a survivor of Auschwitz. Truly a tale of survival.
        .

      3. Seemed to me the rabbits where a symbol of ‘humans’ in distress. Has been along time since I saw the movie.

  9. Survival novels? Set back and reflect on your own lives. Think on all the times you’ve faced adversity, faced seemingly insurmountable problems, had to make decisions when there seemed to be no good answers.

    Your own life is a survival novel. Some of us have faced death…..many times over….and survived. Others have faced situations, while maybe less traumatic or life threatening, that were none the less, extremely difficult and life altering events.

    How we dealt with our travels through life is, in of itself, a story of survival, a novel if you will. Each of us has one. Share that story with your kids, grand kids, and loved ones, so they have a guide to follow avoiding the pitfalls as well as knowing of the safer paths you have found. As each generation passes on, untold treasure troves of knowledge passes with it.

  10. Light’s Out by Ted Koppel is a great book. It lets everyone know how poor prepared our electric companies are in the event of an event that stops the electricity from flowing.

    Franklin Horton has a two good series The Locker Nine and The Borrowed World Series

    Going Home series by A. American ( I really like Chris’s books)

    Dr. William R. Forstchen : One Second After Series is great. ( It truly change the way I see the world)

  11. I have enjoyed the Going Home series by A, American, Patriots by J.W. Rawles , Lights Out by Ted Koppel and Dr. Forstchen’s One Second After. I do like books that impart knowledge that I can use into part of the story line .
    An older novel that I enjoy is Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe , which was apparently modeled after his interview of a real marooned survivor.

    1. Bluesman

      Your mention of Robinson Cruso reminded me of The Swiss Family Robinson, which it inspired. Also of another young person survival book The Ark by Margot Benary-Isbert about a family surviving hardships in Germany after the war.

      1. I still read Swiss Family Robinson from time to time. I could almost recite the book from memory at this point, but it’s a story I just love!

  12. I always enjoyed The Long Winter when I was a little girl. But did you know that they edited the original book for consumption by children?

    Recently they published the original Wilder books. In the actual event, the Wilders had two adults living with them who did NOTHING and provided NOTHING for their own support. They sat back and watched Laura and her family do all the work while the Wilders fed their “guests.” At least that is what Laura originally wrote.

    1. Bu the way, if you liked Wilder’s Long Winter, you might also read “The Children’s Blizzard” by
      David Laskin. This is a book about short term survival, but very interesting — and sad!

  13. Aesop’s Fables and Grimm’s Fairy Tales can be looked at as survival stories for children, even adults.

  14. Just another plug for the Going Home series by A. American. Very well done and hard to put down.

  15. Not exactly survival books but my two favorite books on real life survival and never say quit is The Last Ivory Hunter: The Saga of Wally Johnson
    and : Stuka Pilot by Hans Ulrich Rudel

    These are two of the most incredible real life stories that are impossible to put down.

  16. A bit off subject but a good read,
    The Plot Against the President by Lee Smith
    It’s the story of Congressman Devin Nunes fighting to save America.
    The same tactics by the adversaries are being used today today.

  17. Not a book, but rather a new movie: Radioflash – coming to a theater near you (maybe). The trailer looks good and the reviews aren’t bad. Unfortunately, it probably won’t make it to a theater near me. Maybe I can catch it on dvd or some streaming service eventually.

  18. Franklin Horton:
    The Borrowed World was a good read. Especially if you are familiar with Virginia/WV.
    Main character is not an elite super warrior, but a “normal” prepper guy trying to get home to his family with some coworkers. The series made me buy more. I’m a paperback fan, old school.

    1. That was a good series. I’m glad you mentioned it because wanted to suggest it but I was having a hard time remembering the name. I still need to read the last couple of them but I liked the world he built and can admire an author that isn’t afraid to kill people off (no spoilers).

    1. Oh yeah! Forgot all about this one. Written by Larry Niven (usually a sci fi author) and a coauthor I believe. Such a good read. Comet strike was the inciting event, but outcomes could occur in many other other cataclysms (insert your favorite). Well written and believable. Except maybe the tsunami surfer. Can’t recommend highly enough.

  19. I liked

    Go-Go girls of the Apocalypse: A Novel by Victor Gischler

    and

    The Mandibles: A Family 2029-2047 by Lionel Shriver

    1. I forgot about “The Mandibles”, I had the audible and all I can remember is how hard it was to listen to it and never finished. But seeing a recommendation perhaps I shall give it another try. Did you hear about this from a podcast by the name of “Shrugging out”?

  20. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, 20th edition.

    Poop’s real in it.

    It’s amazing what can kill you after you spend time perusing it. And it doesn’t involve an EMP.

  21. I wrote a book called “NOMADS” by Charles Brobst a very different twist on survival series in that retired and not retired RVer’s are involved along with Mexican gangs and Muslims. It is out now and if well received book 2 and three soon after.

  22. Agree on the Going Home series by A. American. Just ordered lights out based on the feedback. I’m not a huge fiction person but moving into the colder months a do a little more reading than I do throughout the rest of the year.

  23. Tomahawk Scout Field Manual by Thomas D. Moore. Not a novel but a description of living out doors from a camper – world traveler who spends a lot of time in the field. I learned some things, tried them and found them to be accurate.

    its not very expensive on amazon. less than $10 plus s&h. I consider it well worth it.

  24. Gabriel
    Thank you for the recommendation on this book series. Looks good put it into my favorites list.

  25. – “Down the Long Hills”, by Louis L’Amour is a good survival short novel. A bit dated in the setting, but so was “Robinson Crusoe”, and “Swiss Family Robinson”. Read them and pay attention, you might learn something from all of them.

    – Read ”Malevil”, found it interesting, but jarring in that the author didn’t really do his homework. I would only recommend it if you were snowed in for the winter.

    Have also read most of the others, did come across a couple of names I will have to find sooner or later.

    Right now, the 11-year-old is finishing, “Hatchet”, by Paulsen and loving it. He has told me all about it, LOL. One of these days I will tell him there are four more books in the series.

    – Papa S.

  26. Lot’s of good recommendations, thanks all. A few of mine that I’ve enjoyed over the years are (in no particular order):

    The Borrowed World Series – Franklin Horton
    Lights Out – David Crawford
    One Second After – William Fortschen
    Going Home Series – A. American
    Anything by Steven Konkoly or Nicolas Sansbury Smith
    The Wasteland Saga – Nick Cole
    Mountain Man Series – Keith Blackmore
    The Survivalist Series – Arthur Bradley
    World Made by Hand Series – James Howard Kuntsler
    The Postman – David Brin
    Ashfall Series – Mike Mullin
    77 Days in September – Ray Gorham
    Oil Dusk: A Peak Oil Story – John Cape, Laura Buckner
    A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World – C.A. Fletcher
    Cyberstorm – Matthew Mather

  27. Oh, and I forgot four other ones – some of them older – but great (in my opinion) nontheless:

    Earth Abides – George Stewart
    Alas Bablyon – Pat Frank
    A Canticle for Leibowitz – Walter Miller
    The Road – Cormac McCarthy

    1. Thanks, Gunnar,
      I was wondering why nobody had mentioned Alas Babylon. Yes it is dated, but there is still good tidbits of information in the story. My interest in this book is because it was the book that inspired my dad to start prepping. Dad didn’t get far with the prepping, but his original purchase of a Coleman 2 burner camp stove and a Coleman lantern are in my preps to this day.

      About the time he was reading that the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred and the neighbor behind us was frantically building a bomb shelter in the backyard. The guy would work all day at his job at Sandia National Laboratories and come home and work several hours on the shelter. Dad also worked at Sandia National Laboratories, he was a veteran who loved America, hated the Communists, and provided for his family. Boy do I miss him every day.

      1. Alas Babylon was mentioned a couple hours ago. That and Louis L’Amour’s Last of the Breed are my favorite “survival” stories. If you like Sci-fi, Emergence is another good one. About a 13 year old girl on her own after a manmade disease wipes out most of the human race.

      2. Forgot to mention a series like Going Home is my preferred fictional prepper reading. I enjoy reading how an individual is away from home when calamity strikes and then following how they get home. I can usually pick up a few tips as I read that may help me get home some day.
        Surviving the Fall series by Jeff Motes, particularly the revised edition of Book 1, and book 3 is ok, I do not care for book 2 in the series. Dark Titan series, 3 books, by Thomas A Watson. It does have a lot of profanity but I still learned some things.
        Don’t take my word for these books, read the reviews before you buy.

  28. Read the 1st couple of All that Survives by Jack Hunt this past summer. Not as good as Going home but along those lines.

  29. The “Grid Down” series is a great read with lots of helpful info. The “Silo” trilogy by Hugh Howey is a bit of a mind bender.

  30. The Final Dawn series by Darrell Maloney is pretty good.

    I also like the Wool series by Hugh Howey. And, there are fanfics in Kindle Worlds on this series that he wholeheartedly approves of…and he has even recommended a few of those.

  31. Lots of good suggestions here. I loved the Going home and Borrowed world series. I first read Alas Babylon and Earth Abides as a teenager and they helped shape my mind. I guess I got twisted at an early age! XD Stephen King’s The Stand painted an interesting narrative of the world falling apart around that same time. There’s some good stuff if you get into the Zombie genre like JL Bourne’s Day by Day series and the offerings by Max Brooks (WWZ, Zombie survival guide). That’s all I can think of for now.

  32. WOW! I didn’t think I would get so many comments on this one. Thanks for all the many suggestions.

    I have read lots of what is listed above, but there’s also lots of new ideas. I’ve put links in many of the titles for your convenience. Thanks again.

    1. Stories of the Great Depression by Rita Van Amber is a series of cookbooks with extensive true life stories from people who lived through those hard times. Lots of good recipes and tips but the stories provide such a reset of perspective.

  33. The “Dies the Fire” series by SM Stirling; the early ones are great. I think the series has gone on for too long and the later ones are too woo-woo and tedious.

    Anything by Bobby Akart

    Most of Mathew Mathers books- read the description to see if it’s germane

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