Book Quibbles: Post Apocalyptic

Not that zombies or aliens or chemical weapons that turn people into a zombie-like creature aren’t interesting, but have we seen them too much?

Walking through the bookstore it’s not uncommon to see a book that features a post-apocalyptic theme and you just think, “Oh another one?” From Stephen King to the recent book-to-movie adaptation The 5th Wave, it’s an interesting concept.

What would the world be like if *this* happened? Then there are characters that have to go through the struggles, deal with whatever is ruining the world, and losing friends and family along the way. Putting yourself in their shoes gives you the feeling of being in an apocalyptic situation without worrying about it happening (well for now.)

Some could argue The Walking Dead kicked off the phenomenon, specifically zombies. Being one of the top shows on TV, inspiration is bound to come from it. I’m even guilty of it myself.

For years I worked on a post-apocalyptic story with an ending I loved, but getting there was the hard part. How do I make this original? That’s the toughest part.

With all the zombie books it’s become difficult to come up with anything new and creative. “Well we’ve seen that, chemical warfare has been used too often, what if aliens were involved? Eh, now that’s being used too much.” What about a plain, disaster type situation? Movies seem to be going that route whether it be earthquakes, volcanoes, or a scenario like 2012.

Then there are the cliches. Characters can be cliches from the leader, comic relief, or the one that is for sure going to die (well you can get those in any book.) A safe-haven type situation that is clearly hiding something. Or a safe haven that our main character has been hiding in because it has solar panels and some fancy water cleaning machine. Cars having gas. The military is the bad guy (Fear the Walking Dead, I’m looking at you.) Cliche zombies, cliche mutants, cliche aliens trying to destroy the earth, but why? What have they got to gain? What’s the point?

Bad humans. Clearly there will be bad guys, but do they always have to be such a cliche bad? Rape. I’m sure it’s going to happen, but does it always have to happen? I get humanity has fallen, but again, what’s there to gain? To prove they are bad? I for one, hate reading/watching anything to do with rape and it just brings the story down for me. Am I supposed to feel even worse for the character it happened to?

But there are good within the bad. I did enjoy reading The 5th Wave. I’ve seen The Stand, but my mom loves the book, and I think it’s interesting enough. Charlie Higson has a series out that involves children surviving that I think is a good read. Then of course, The Walking Dead that sort of kicked off this genre.

For writers it can be hard. It was hard for me and I eventually gave up (only because I couldn’t get over that hurdle of creating a “new” zombie.) But that ending is in my head always and part of me wants to try again.

There’s nothing wrong with loving these books, hell I’ve read plenty and will continue to because it is an interesting concept and you wonder how will humanity survive after it’s all over?

But let’s be honest, people are getting tired of zombies or people turning into something like a zombie. What could be that turning point to get us to love zombies again?



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