In fiction, the end of the world can be an exciting place. Not exciting like, Oh wow, a new pony!, but exciting in that terrifying, on the edge of your seat, what’s going to happen next kind of way.
I have to admit that if the Apocalypse really does come, I want to be smack dab in the epicenter of the destruction. I don’t want to survive. I, for one, cannot imagine living in a world where my iPhone is a dim distant memory, my laptop becomes a serving dish, tampons are worth their weight in gold, and where I might have to actually kill someone for the last scrap of food on the table. Or, even worse, have to kill the food. If the end of the world as we know it were to become a reality, it would not be a pretty place.
Given my luck, my fellow survivors would not be movie star Brad Pitt (sans Angelina), or the smartest man in America, Christopher Langan, or even TV Survivalist Bear Grylls. They, at least, would be a help in traversing a post apocalyptic world.
I think the end of the world would be less frightening if I had someone special to share the burden with, someone to lean on and who would want to lean on me, someone to love, helping make the unbearable destruction around me slightly more tolerable. And that is where fiction makes the post apocalyptic world a world that still contains a little bit of hope.
There are several post-apocalyptic paranormal/urban fantasy romances that scare the bejezeus out of me because of the hardness and unforgiving landscape that is created. Yet at the same time they fill me with hope and joy because of the hero and heroine that occupy these worlds and give the promise of keeping love alive.
Aisling and Zurael in Jory Strong’s book Ghostland took my breath away. Living in a police state where supernatural beings, decadence, destruction and fear are the norm, they find each other and defy the powers that be to stay together. It’s a compelling and well-written paranormal romance that offers a unique and fascinating tale of a post-apocalyptic world filled with other worldly creatures and danger around every corner. Despite the danger and mandates they live with, they fight for each other, because in the end, when life has turned to s*it, having someone to hold your hand, look into your eyes and say “I love you” makes life worth living.
Joss Ware’s Envy Chronicles really had me reeling and my imagination going from zero to one sixty, particularly with the first book in the series, Beyond the Night. Wow, it’s not often a book can fire my imagination scattering it to the four winds in turn creating imaginary scenarios and what if situations, but this book did that for me. Of course the premise immediately grabbed my attention; five men who fall asleep in the year 2010 wake up fifty years later to a post-apocalyptic world? Yeah, you’ve definitely got my attention. One day they’re out taking a hike in the wilderness thinking they’re coming home to friends and family and popping a cold one, and the next, they wake up to a world gone mad where nothing is the same, zombies roam the earth and civilization is at the dawn of reinventing itself. With each book in the series we’re introduced to a hero and heroine that have paranormal powers—and each pair is part of larger whole trying to help the new world survive and find out what was behind the apocalypse. Their daring, strength and courage are immediate. Their love lends an air of faith to an otherwise desperate situation and credence to the hope that one can live in the world, not just survive.
Just this past week I found a new book to love, Nightfall by Ellen Connor. This one starts with a bang and the nightmare never lets up. From the seven strangers who try to survive man eating creatures who were once human, to the strange inklings of the supernatural/spiritual world that may yet arise out of the chaos, and no clear answers as to why the apocalypse occurred, this book had me at page one. I think I fell in love with this one precisely because there were no clear answers. This felt real to me. When you’re abruptly cut off from civilization you’re not going to know the why of it. And when you’re stranded with strangers in a world gone crazy your communication skills are not necessarily going to be at their best. I mean when you’re running from creatures that will eat you, you’re definitely not going to be having a getting-to-know-you moment. Throughout much of Nightfall the protagonists, Jenna and Mason, stay true to the anxiety and fear of trying to survive against all odds. They also adapt to their new world in small and big ways and hold on to the promise of making it through the destruction and finding a new way to live. What was particularly credible about this couple is that that Mason found love for the first time in his life and this precious and hard won gift only became possible for him with the destruction of the world. What really impressed me was the reality of it all. Mason’s life has always been about survival, his primary focus is keeping them all alive, and falling in love is a new an alien experience. His inability to express his feeling to Jenna is real; he doesn’t know the words because he’s never used them before. His frustration at having to deal with survival, wild monsters and feeling love for the first time keeps his emotions high and the tension higher. His realization that life in a world gone mad could not be borne without Jenna makes him a man worthy of her love and their love becomes a testament to the possibility of the dawning of a new age.
So for me, when it comes to The. End. Of. The. World. I’m all for it, as long as it stays on the pages of the books I read. And as long as the books I read give me the hope of life continuing with love at the very core.
Marisa is a television producer by day and at night she loves to read. She reviews for the Heart 2 Heart blog.