The Last of Us premiered on HBO Max earlier this year, and to the great relief of fans of the 2013 video game of the same name, it received mostly favorable reviews — 96% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes:
“Retaining the most addictive aspects of its beloved source material while digging deeper into the story, The Last of Us is bingeworthy TV that ranks among the all-time greatest video game adaptations” (Critics Consensus, Rotten Tomatoes).
If you’ve worked through the whole series — or the game, for that matter — here are some great reads to fill the long hours before we get a second season…
Blood Red Road by Moira Young — In a distant future, eighteen-year-old Lugh is kidnapped, and while his twin sister Saba and nine-year-old Emmi are trailing him across bleak Sandsea they are captured, too, and taken to brutal Hopetown, where Saba is forced to be a cage fighter until new friends help plan an escape. “Saba has just the right combination of warrior rage and tender heart to survive and thrive in her chaotic world. The ending leaves several threads hanging, and readers will be eager for more” (School Library Journal). Get the Audiobook
Contaminated by Em Garner — After the Contamination — an epidemic caused by the super-trendy diet drink SlimPro that turned ordinary citizens into shambling creatures unable to control their violent impulses — the government rounded up the “Connies” to protect the remaining population. But now, two years later, the government’s started sending the rehabilitated back home. “While there are intermittent moments of suspense, the horror elements take a backseat to Velvet’s plight as she strives to provide for and protect her family” (School Library Journal).
End Games by T. Michael Martin — In the rural mountains of West Virginia, seventeen-year-old Michael Faris tries to protect his fragile younger brother from the horrors of the zombie apocalypse. “Martin’s debut is the best of the undead bunch, meshing relentless action, intelligence, and emotion in a way that recalls Patrick Ness’ The Knife of Never Letting Go (2008)” (Booklist).
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan — Through twists and turns of fate, orphaned Mary seeks knowledge of life, love, and especially what lies beyond her walled village and the surrounding forest, where dwell the Unconsecrated, aggressive flesh-eating people who were once dead. “Ryan’s vision is bleak but not overly gory; her entry in the zombie canon stands out for how well she integrates romance with flesh-eating” (Booklist). Get the eBook | Get the Audiobook
The Girl With All The Gifts by Mike Carey — A little girl who is detained by the military, restrained in a wheelchair and goes to school while heavily guarded doesn’t truly understand why she is special until it is up to her to save the world. “While the setting is a stark dystopian future teeming with undead, this moving story’s real focus is the relationships and growth of the characters, not who or what they are” (Library Journal). Get the Audiobook
The Infects by Sean Beaudoin — Sixteen-year-old Nick “Nero” Sole is stuck in the woods with the other kids who have survived when zombies attack and their horror-movie nightmares come to life. “Offbeat characters and a high body count combine with an evocative narrative style… to create a cinematic atmosphere” (Publishers Weekly).
A Matter Of Days by Amber Kizer — In the not-too-distant future when a global pandemic kills most of humanity, a teenaged girl and her younger brother struggle to survive. “This post-apocalyptic tale is particularly frightening as it doesn’t take place in some distant, imagined future. A solid, realistically imagined survival tale with a strong female protagonist” (Kirkus Reviews). Get the Audiobook
Nightmare City by Andrew Klavan — As a reporter for his high school newspaper, Tom is always on the lookout for an offbeat story. But from the moment he woke up this morning, his own life has been more bizarre than any headline could ever tell. The streets of his town are suddenly empty and silent. A strange fog has drifted in from the sea and hangs over everything. And something is moving in that fog. “A fast-paced and eerie tale that shows an awareness of the genre’s conventions and a willingness to play with readers’ expectations” (Publishers Weekly). Get the Audiobook
Positive by David Wellington — Finn, tattooed with a plus sign on his hand that marks him as a positive to turn into a zombie, learns to survive on his cross-country journey when his escort is killed after he is exiled from barricaded New York City. “Finn’s journey has an epic scale that seems destined for movie screens. In this postapocalyptic world the horror arises mostly from the violent remnants of humanity” (Library Journal). Get the Audiobook
The Rains by Gregg Hurwitz — In one terrifying night, the peaceful community of Creek’s Cause turns into a war zone. No one under the age of eighteen is safe. Chance Rain and his older brother, Patrick, have already fended off multiple attacks from infected adults by the time they arrive at the school where other young survivors are hiding. The parasite that transformed them takes hold after people turn eighteen — and Patrick’s birthday is only a few days away. “The alien-zombie mashup that science-fiction fans won’t want to miss” (Kirkus Reviews).
Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry — In a post-apocalyptic world where fences and border patrols guard the few people left from the zombies that have overtaken civilization, fifteen-year-old Benny Imura is finally convinced that he must follow in his older brother’s footsteps and become a bounty hunter. “An action-packed, thought-provoking look at life-and death-as readers determine the true enemy” (Kirkus Reviews). Get the Audiobook