Earth Abides is an essential book for readers of post-apocalyptic fiction, as it tells a story simultaneously wound with hope and grief after a virus wipes out most of humanity. An incredible timeless tale.
The book follows the character Isherwood Williams, a man who survives the virus while stationed alone at a geology work site. Being an educated man, he spends a large portion of his time with a focus on retaining scientific knowledge in order to rebuild society. It turns into a hopeless endeavor, due to the other survivors favoring simple survival and entertainment over education. The offspring of the survivors fall further into barbaric lifestyles as the community adapts to the amenities of the past falling into disrepair, with no one to fix them.
Where this book excels is in showcasing the effects of an abandoned and deteriorating infrastructure, and the effects of those on the survivor’s lives. While Earth Abides is told from the perspective of one group of survivors, Earth is depicted nearly as it’s own character in the book. While Earth undergoes the slow return to nature the survivors are either helpless or uncaring enough to stop it, existing as observers to the fallout caused by a lack of society.
How long will water and electricity remain without maintenance? How many pests are culled by the fact we exist, and what will control the pests when we aren’t occupying the landscape? Have you considered the stress you would endure should you have to deliver a baby without a hospital? Earth Abides asks and answers so many questions in a thorough yet entertaining way. The occurrences in the book also feel like realistic possibilities and really helps to immerse you in the story.
If you find yourself looking for a new book within the post-apocalypse genre and you have yet to read Earth Abides then look no further. This book needs to be at the top of your list!
Sidenote, I personally have a preference to read books in paperback due to their compact nature. I don’t have to care if a second hand store sticker has left residue on the cover, if a page has been dog-eared instead of bookmarked, I can toss it in my bag, and take it out to read a few pages while waiting in lines conspicuously. Sometimes, a book is so good I want a hardback copy to put on my shelf so that I can revisit it time after time and also satisfy the sick part of myself that’s a collector of all things impractical. Earth Abides is on that list.