Choose Your Adventure: Dystopian or Escapist?

By Maddy Marshall

Posted on March 30, 2020 in Books, Review, Science Fiction with tags

During the lockdown you may be on the hunt for something new to read. Never fear – the Hodderscape Team have selected some of their favourite post-apocalyptic and escapist reads!

We’ve got something for everyone – whether you’re looking to be whisked away from the confines of your home into space, or to hunker down with an eerily close to reality tale about a deadly, contagious virus . . .


Post-apocalyptic ReadThe Girl with All the Gifts by MR Carey

A completely unique take on a concept that I thought had been done to death – thoughtful, touching, and more than a little bit frightening. And there’s a movie too!


Escapist ReadDaughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

Not only is this one of my favourite books, but it’s also a perfect escapist read for a time like this – travel back to ancient Ireland and immerse yourself in a beautiful fairy-tale retelling about love, family and a wicked curse. Rich, spellbinding and completely immersive.

– Molly, Editorial Team


Post-apocalyptic Read: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

This is one of my favourite series of all time, even though parts of these books physically hurt me to read. On the surface it’s a survival story set on a post-apocalyptic new world, but drill down deeper and the series explores themes of dehumanisation, colonialism, slavery, racism and sexism. We start out by following Todd and his loyal dog Manchee as they escape Prentisstown. Todd is the last boy in Prentisstown, and he is soon to become a man. But in this town everyone is male and can hear each other’s thoughts – including Manchee’s. What happened to the women, and what lies beyond Prentisstown? HIGHLY recommended.


Escapist Read: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

For sheer escapism, fantasy is such a no-brainer for me. During this strange period of isolation and social distancing, I’m planning on turning back to the Caraval series – a world in which I can be completely immersed and hardly notice the time go by. Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation to Caraval – a distant, rare and wonderful game – finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner. Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance, but it soon starts to feel very real indeed. The descriptions in these books are STUNNING and completely immersive. Snuggle in and enjoy!

– Kate, Publicity Team


Post-apocalyptic Read: I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

The post-apocalyptic mother of them all, spawning the conceit of the zombie-vampire genre and endlessly adapted into film. If you feel like a sole survivor right now, read this.


Escapist Read: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

You could choose any of Becky’s books, because they all have positivity, tolerance, wonder and adventure. But why not begin at the beginning?  As our Hodderscape motto says: ‘You’re never alone in outer space’.

– Oliver, Editorial Team


Post-apocalyptic ReadSeveneves – Neal Stephenson

The moon explodes.

With such a simple premise you would expect a simple book, however Neal Stephenson delves into a fantastically imagined future for humanity in this addictive read. Don’t be put off by the 880 pages, this is a story that changes over the huge timescales it covers, leaving you finishing a very different, but just as interesting, book as when you started.


Escapist ReadHyperion Cantos – Dan Simmons

The first book, Hyperion, takes you on an eery journey with a disparate group of travellers, slowly revealing their secrets as they approach the mysterious Time Tombs, all while being hunted by a time travelling monster. It’s hugely entertaining, really well written, and the worlds you discover really in the later books are the perfect place to escape to in these troubling times.

– Morgan, Editorial Team


Post-apocalyptic Read: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I don’t read much post-apocalyptic stuff, but my pick would be The Hunger Games!


Escapist Read: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

I am staying in my childhood bedroom so I’m rediscovering all the classics I loved 10-15 years ago. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke is a great YA read (and part of a trilogy so you’ll have plenty to keep you going!) as it’s all about the blurred lines between real and fictional worlds. There’s drama and action and grey morality, a cast of interesting characters and a pretty adorable horned marten called Gwin. All you need, really.

– Lydia, Design Team


Escapist Read: Arias Archer and the Shadow Cloak by Hamzah Malik

This dark fantasy follows Arias as he tries to save his sister’s soul, stolen by a demonic king in the otherworldly land of Falasia – a vivid and fantastical land where food is music and memories are the currency, with strange creatures that look and act a bit weird but you’ll love them anyway. Arias is also not your typical hero, being a bumbling and awkward teenage boy who doesn’t quite realise the strengths he has and how to use them. I really enjoyed this book because not only is it incredibly inclusive and diverse; it is also unafraid of exploring darker more universal concepts such as mental health and loss. It really valorises the power of platonic love as well, which is a rather beautiful and touching theme throughout.

In short: if you’re looking for something bizarre and escapist and fun with a whole lot of heart, I could not recommend this more.


Escapist Read: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is probably one of the most beautifully written books I’ve read. Karou, the protagonist, has bright blue hair and goes on strange errands collecting teeth for Brimstone – a monstrous creature who is also family. We learn exactly why that is and where Karou is really from in this very lyrically written story that also speaks to wider issues such as war and the profound and often enduring consequences it leaves behind. Also, the author always has the most amazing hair (like Karou!)

– Zainab, Marketing Team


Post-apocalyptic Read: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

I kept thinking about this book long after I finished it. It’s beautifully disturbing and frighteningly real, which makes it my pick for the best post-apocalyptic read. If you’re looking for something eerily close to our current world at the moment, then this is a haunting tale about a deadly virus and the aftershock it has on the world.


Escapist Read: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Dive into this brilliantly bonkers, imaginative and hilarious adventure following a literary detective who can jump into books – this actually would be an ideal power to have right now! Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series is utterly original, ingeniously witty and wonderfully funny. What’s more there is time-travelling and a dodo!

– Maddy, Marketing Team




One comment on “Choose Your Adventure: Dystopian or Escapist?”

  • JonahTheBookWorm says:

    Virus-related reads? No, thank you! I would rather get my head out of that crisis right now. Good suggestions- I think I’ll start with Arias Archer and the Shadow Cloak

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