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Five Books About Contagions with Hopeful Endings

It might seem a bit on the nose to read books about contagions right now, but what better than a book to give you hope that we’ll make it to the other side? Here are five books about contagions that plague worlds from our near past to our distant future, and the indomitability of humanity in building relationships of love and joy despite them.

 By Yvonne Ye


Immunity Index by Sue Burke

Orphan Black meets Contagion in Burke’s novel as three perfectly normal young women in Wisconsin, discover that they are all clones of each other. Meanwhile, the gifted scientist who made them races to find a cure for a rapidly-spreading virus while battling the cover-up that would conceal the virus’s sinister origins. Around them, the nation destabilizes in the face of disaster, food shortage, and a burgeoning fascist regime.

Sun-Daughters, Sea-Daughters by Aimee Ogden 

What happens to the Little Mermaid after the fairytale ends? When a devastating plague strikes her husband and her adopted people, Atuale takes to the stars seeking a cure. In order to do so, however, she’ll need the help of Yanja, the powerful World-Witch, but it’s been twenty years and a vicious war since these childhood friends have seen each other last, and Yanja is no longer the person that Atuale once knew.

The Endless Skies by Shannon Price

Rowan has been training for her entire life to become one of the Leonodai, one of the famed winged-lion warriors who guard the floating city of the Heliana from the evils of the world of humans. But just before Rowan can take the oath and assume the mantle, a disease strikes the city’s children, forcing the Leonodai to depart for a dangerous mission seeking a cure in enemy lands. Meanwhile in Heliana, Rowan learns of a terrible secret—one that would force her to choose between becoming what she’d always dreamed of, and saving everyone she loves.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

In Mandel’s intricate and lyrical novel, the world is ending, has already ended, or will end very soon as the Georgia Flu sweeps through the world, halting human civilization in its tracks. Twenty years after the epidemic, Kirsten Raymonde travels what was formerly known as the Midwest with the Travelling Symphony, performing Shakespeare after the apocalypse. When the members of the troupe begin to go missing, one by one, the Travelling Symphony strikes out for the “Museum of Civilization” on a journey that explores faith, family, and the importance of storytelling in a world recovering from disaster.

I Am Legend by Richard Maltheson 

No list about apocalyptic contagions would be complete without this title, which already has at least three film adaptations. After a viral plague causes all of humanity, both living and dead, to turn into vampiric creatures, former factory worker Robert Neville spends his days fending off vampires, scavenging to survive, and teaching himself virology to figure out exactly what caused the plague. The arrival of Ruth, the first human survivor he’s seen in three years, might change everything for the better—or bring it all crashing down.

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