Top 10 End of the World Novels

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Top 10 End of the World Novels

Hi guys. My sequel to The Gates will be out very shortly and as a way of getting you in the mood for some good apocalyptic fun, I wanted to give you my Top 10 End of the World Novels.

Here we go. In no particular order:


Let’s begin with the book that everyone will demand I include. Stephen King’s The Stand is a classic, and for good reason. Few books are as epic, and the amount of characters to connect with is astonishing. Everyone has their favourites like Stu or Nick, but the bad guys are equally as appealing and in many ways are grey of morality than outright black. What I love is that nearly everyone gets a character arc. No one is static and they all change (for better or worse). The book begins with a devastating plague, but the true theme of the book is simple: Human Conflict. Goddamn you, Harold.

“First came the days of the plague…
After the days of the plague came the dreams.
Dark dreams that warned of the coming of the dark man. The apostate of death, his worn-down boot heels tramping the night roads. The warlord of the charnel house and Prince of Evil.
His time is at hand. His empire grows in the west and the Apocalypse looms…”



This great book by William R. Forstchen is like a smaller scale version of The Stand. It follows survivors as they survive and fortify a single town after an EMP wipes out all electronics. The characters are interesting and the pace moves nicely towards an exciting conclusion. This isn’t as bleak as other novels, because the people in the story keep their souls intact. In a lot of ways it reminds me of the TV show, Jericho, which I loved (what ever happened to Skeet Ulrich?). One Second After is an interesting look at how America could devolve without its gadgets and toys.

“John Masterson, a college professor in a small North Carolina town, works with the local police to organize his neighbors, ration available food and other supplies, and create a local army to guard the town’s borders against the increasingly violence of roving, desperate bands. Terrible decisions involving life and death come in to play as the country falls into chaos. Masterson and town leaders struggle to keep their own people alive in the midst of this escalating nightmare.”



Here’s a zombie novel for you–one of the good ones. J.L. Bourne’s book takes form as a survivor’s diary as he experiences the end of the world. During his lonely trek through America, he gradually finds people to trust. But of course, not everyone left alive is friendly, and the walking dead are not the only threat. I love the claustrophobic conclusion of this novel as the protagonist ends up in an abandoned missile solo. First book in a trilogy.

“May 16th. 1201 hrs. We are now under siege. Beyond the silo access doors, we have a small army of beaten and battered undead to contend with. They only want one thing…

Day by Day Armageddon is the handwritten journal of one man and his struggle for survival. Trapped in the midst of global disaster, he must make decisions that could mean life, or which could condemn him eternally to walk as one of them. Enter, if you dare, into his world. The world of the undead.”



Edward G. Robison is a poet. The metaphors within his writing create images that will stick with you forever, yet beyond that he tells a mean story. The Breakers collection is an epic series spanning multiple books concerning the end of the world via Alien Invasion. It’s totally unique and each book introduces new themes and characters, which serves to keep the saga fresh and exciting. The people in these stories take centre stage, and it is for that reason that I adore the Breakers series.

“In New York, Walt Lawson is about to lose his girlfriend Vanessa. When Vanessa dies of the flu, Walt is devastated. But she isn’t the last. The virus quickly kills billions, reducing New York to an open grave and LA to a chaotic wilderness of violence and fires. Walt begins an existential walk to LA, where Vanessa had planned to move when she left him. He expects to die along the way.

Months later, a massive vessel appears above Santa Monica Bay. Walt is attacked by a crablike monstrosity in a mountain stream. The virus that ended humanity wasn’t created by humans. It was inflicted from outside. The colonists who sent it are ready to finish the job–and Earth’s survivors may be too few and too weak to resist.”



I always go on about this book and it might just be my favourite read ever. If you like zombie books then this is the pinnacle. It is realistic, plotted and imagined to mirror how the world would truly react to the end of the world. Epic is an understatement as, while not lengthy, it spans the entire globe and dozens of different characters. Written in the style of a journalist’s interviews with survivors of a great war after the fact, it has a wonderful timeline that spans from day 1 to the moment that humanity fights back. Just forget the awful Brad Pitt movie going into this. They are nothing alike.

“It began with rumours from China about another pandemic. Then the cases started to multiply and what had looked like the stirrings of a criminal underclass, even the beginnings of a revolution, soon revealed itself to be much, much worse. Faced with a future of mindless, man-eating horror, humanity was forced to accept the logic of world government and face events that tested our sanity and our sense of reality.”



I love Brian Keene’s apocalypse books so much so that they inspired my own. His zombie books are great, but it’s when he tries something a little bit out of the box that he truly shines. Darkness on the Edge of Town is different! It concerns a deadly shadow falling upon the earth, where simply stepping out of the light will see you torn apart. One single town on earth is safe, for reasons not known to start with, and following the terrified populace will keep you on the edge of your seat from page 1. A great, unique twist on the end of the world. You really should check this book out.

“One morning the residents of Walden, Virginia, woke up to find the rest of the world gone. Just . . . gone. Surrounding their town was a wall of inky darkness, plummeting Walden into permanent night. Nothing can get in – not light, not people, not even electricity, radio, TV, internet, food, or water. And nothing can get out. No one who dared to penetrate the mysterious barrier has ever been seen again. Only their screams were heard. But for some, the darkness is not the worst of their fears. Driven mad by thirst, hunger, and perpetual night, the residents of Walden are ready to explode. The last few sane prisoners of this small town must prepare a final stand against their neighbors, themselves, and something even worse . . . something out there . . . in the darkness.”



I freaking love The Strain, the television show and the book. It’s the only vampire apocalypse that I have ever read besides I Am Legend and I love that the co-writers use science to ground the horror in reality. The trilogy moves along awesomely, starting small with book 1 and escalating to the very end of the world. The villains in this book are not mindless monsters–they have agency–and that makes them so much more terrifying. A great, interesting, and scary book that all horror fans should enjoy.

“A plane lands at JFK and mysteriously ‘goes dark’, stopping in the middle of the runway for no apparent reason, all lights off, all doors sealed. The pilots cannot be raised.

When the hatch above the wing finally clicks open, it soon becomes clear that everyone on board is dead – although there is no sign of any trauma or struggle. Ephraim Goodweather and his team from the Center for Disease Control must work quickly to establish the cause of this strange occurrence before panic spreads.

The first thing they discover is that four of the victims are actually still alive. But that’s the only good news. And when all two hundred corpses disappear from various morgues around the city on the same night, things very rapidly get worse. Soon Eph and a small band of helpers will find themselves battling to protect not only their own loved ones, but the whole city, against an ancient threat to humanity.”



The first Simon Clark book I ever read was a big surprise. I never thought I would be so hooked, and the dynamic between the protagonist and his longtime enemy during the end of the world is massively intriguing. The book is about a world where everyone older than 17 turns into a psychopath. The plot follows a community of kids as they try to survive whilst growing up quickly at the same time. Has a bit of a Lord of the Flies vibe to it.

“It is a quiet, uneventful Saturday in Doncaster. Nick Aten, and his best friend Steve Price – troubled seventeen year olds – spend it as usual hanging around the sleepy town, eating fast food and planning their revenge on Tug Slatter, a local bully and their arch-enemy.

But by Sunday, Tug Slatter becomes the last of their worries because somehow overnight civilization is in ruins. Adults have become murderously insane – literally. They’re infected with an uncontrollable urge to kill the young. Including their own children. As Nick and Steve try to escape the deadly town covered with the mutilated bodies of kids, a group of blood-thirsty adults ambushes them. Just a day before they were caring parents and concerned teachers, today they are savages destroying the future generation. Will Nick and Steve manage to escape? Is their hope that outside the Doncaster borders the world is ‘normal’ just a childish dream?”



This first book of 3, by Jeff Carlson, is very much set in the sphere of realism. It concerns a ‘nano-virus’ that dissects all DNA beneath 10,000 feet, which means the only chance of living is high up in the mountains. This makes the amount of liveable land very narrow, which of course leads to humanity fighting over it. What I love about this plague is that a person can survive below 10,000 feet for a short time, but run the risk of losing parts of themselves. It leads to a lot of risk taking in order to survive as characters are forced to duck below the safety line in order to travel. The trilogy becomes more epic as it goes on, but this first book is the most terrifying. I love Cam.

“It is a quiet, uneventful Saturday in Doncaster. Nick Aten, and his best friend Steve Price – troubled seventeen year olds – spend it as usual hanging around the sleepy town, eating fast food and planning their revenge on Tug Slatter, a local bully and their arch-enemy.



A book I often recommend, and another entry into a trilogy, is Infected by Scott Sigler. It’s body horror first and foremost, but the reader will go through the pain first hand as Perry Dawsey is infected by alien parasites. Slowly they start taking over his body, but Perry is not going to let them. The man mountain fights back against the creatures inside of him and goes to extreme lengths. It’s a very visceral and claustrophobic novel and one that you will never forget. Wholeheartedly recommended.

“They dropped from the atmosphere like microscopic snow. Billions of seeds, smaller than specks of dust, spiraling down from the heavens. Most didn’t survive the journey. Some did.

Now three people face a race against time. Dew Phillips, an agent with a classified unit of the CIA, and Margaret Montoya, a government biologist, must try to stop a modern plague that drives its victims to insanity, murder and suicide.

And Perry Dawsey, a former athlete in a dead-end job, must race to find a cure for the rash that has appeared on his arm. And his back. And his neck. It’s growing every day.
And then the voices start.”


So those are my picks for today. You might agree or disagree, so let me know your favourites in the comments! Also, if you could share this article on Social Media, it will really help me find new readers 🙂


patreon_logo Iain Rob Wright


  1. Joanne Giovenco
    • 15th April 2016
    • 3:41 pm
    • Reply

    Thanks for the list. I now have some new books to put on my reading list. The one book I would add is, “Swan Song”, by Robert McCammon. It is a long book (not as long as The Stand), but I literally could not put it down. It is the horrific story of survivors of nuclear war. As in The Stand, it’s an ultimate battle between good and evil. It is a brilliant story.

    • Dave the Cineman
      • 15th April 2016
      • 11:54 pm
      • Reply

      Could not agree more with Joanne. One of McCammon’s best works.

  2. Donna Fredette
    • 15th April 2016
    • 10:58 pm
    • Reply

    Yes, I agree with Swan Song. Right up there with the best of them. Robert McCammon’s “They Thirst” is good vs evil and one of the scariest books I have ever read.

  3. Wayne Lemmons
    • 16th April 2016
    • 1:06 am
    • Reply

    I can’t believe The Dark Roads wasn’t up there. Shameless plugs are my thing. Couldn’t help myself.
    Great list! Blood Crazy is one of the best written as far as I’m concerned.

  4. Sharon Hornes
    • 16th April 2016
    • 2:57 am
    • Reply

    I have read and loved them all, except for the ones from Jeff Carlson, but I did buy them so they are on my reading list. One of my all time favorites is Swam Song.

    • [email protected]
      • 16th April 2016
      • 5:08 pm
      • Reply

      Jeff’s books are usually sci fi, but Plague Year is horrific also

  5. Jennifer Hammond
    • 16th April 2016
    • 5:09 am
    • Reply

    Thanks for the list. I am looking forward to checking out the ones I haven’t read. You must read Swan Song! It is the one book I place above The Stand on my list.

  6. Jim O’D
    • 16th April 2016
    • 5:35 am
    • Reply

    Wow. The entire list is on my kindle already, including the rest of the trilogies.
    Must agree on McCammon’ s Swan Song and reccomend these as well
    G. Michael Hoph’s series The End
    Hugh Howey’s Wool series
    Peter clines’ Ex-Heroes snd Ex-Patriots
    F. Paul Wilson’s Nightworld( and the many associsted stories leading up to it)
    And….of course…
    Final Winter ?

  7. Brian Surge
    • 18th April 2016
    • 9:32 pm
    • Reply

    Downloaded for lack of “I Am Legend”

    • [email protected]
      • 19th April 2016
      • 7:28 am
      • Reply

      I was going to include it bit it’s a novella and I wanted to post some lesser mentioned novels.

  8. Robert Mammone
    • 21st April 2016
    • 1:53 pm
    • Reply

    Tim Lebbon’s Coldbrook and The Silence are very good reading. Though he does tend to recycle his cosy nuclear family in apocalyptic peril…

  9. Kevin Lowe
    • 17th May 2017
    • 2:04 pm
    • Reply

    Great list! Got some on there, but a few to look into too!
    If I could, I’d like to offer up some recommendations of my own. Please feel free to comment on them.
    In no particular order I give you;
    Charles Eric Maine – Thirst! (Aka The Tide Went Out) & The Big Death (aka The Darkest Of Nights)
    Arthur Herzog – Heat
    Graham Masterton – Famine
    Thom Racina – Blizzard (Aka The Great Los Angeles Blizzard)
    Richard Doyle – Flood (A total reworking of his older novel Deluge)
    John Christopher – A Wrinkle In The Skin, The World In Winter, The Death Of Grass

    My personal favourites are the 2 by Charles Eric Maine and Doyle’s Flood (the latter because it’s set where I lived!)

  10. Stacy
    • 23rd May 2017
    • 3:16 pm
    • Reply

    I love Scott Sigler and Infected starts an excellent trilogy! Brian Keene is fantastic too. I’ll have to check out your other suggestions as well. Thanks!

  11. skipjacktunafish
    • 5th June 2017
    • 8:47 pm
    • Reply

    Thanks for sharing your recommendations. I will be adding these to my (ever growing) to read list 🙂

  12. Barbara Haynes, aka In Honor Of Books on Amazon
    • 6th June 2017
    • 3:55 am
    • Reply

    The Stand was my first horror/ apocalyptic read. I bought it used for my brother, but couldn’t resist reading it, myself. Guess I started with a real winner! I’ve been hooked ever since.

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