How to Survive the Apocalypse… According to YA Fiction

The USA is in the grip of ice and snow storms. The UK has been lashed by hurricane force winds and is gradually sinking under floodwater. Surely the apocalypse is nigh? Well, maybe not, but in case you’re secretly worrying about how to avoid your brain becoming fodder for zombies by teatime, help is at hand!

“Urban Fragment” by Erich Ferdinand. Shared under Creative Commons License

The current crop of teen and YA fiction is bursting at the seams with novels such as Divergent, The Maze Runner and Angelfall, all telling their readers how to stay one step ahead of the angry post-civilisation mob. Here are 6 tips I’ve picked up along the way:

1: Get protection

No matter how desperate a situation you might find yourself in, things are sure to look up if you can ally yourself with an unfeasibly tall and brooding male protector with inevitable emotional issues. Whether you actually want them to protect you or not, once you get over the initial argument about whether to team up, they’ll just end up trying to save you in every conflict anyway. So you might as well get used to it, while enjoying the view and mentally speculating on the cause of the deep secret that’s clearly marring their soul and preventing them from just telling you what they’re thinking and darkly hinting at it instead.

2: Ignore advice

If everyone else is heading uphill away from the rising floodwaters, you should dash towards them. If a kind passer by offers to take you to safety, you must refuse, muttering soberly about your mission in the most obscure terms possible. And most important of all, if anybody who appears to be in any way an expert advises you to be careful, you should roll your eyes, grit your teeth and then rush onwards blindly to show them that you’re not cowed by their stupid overprotectiveness. Yes you’ll probably get captured, and possibly tortured. But at least you made your point.

3: Misdirect your enemies

At all times, emphasise how small, weak and helpless you are. Display your pale features and the dark circles round your eyes with pride. Feel free to tremble as you walk, bite your lips to shreds with nerves and trip over your own feet from clumsiness. Your enemies will never suspect that you have hidden magic/ninja skills/superhero daring and will rue their stupidity as you casually disembowel them with that huge bowie knife you keep strapped to your leg and never mentioned to anybody before.

4: Don’t make friends and influence people

Once you get the hang of ignoring advice, this part should be easy as by now, people are probably already beginning to think you’re a bit crazy. But this isn’t enough. You must isolate yourself further; from school, friends and neighbours. You may keep two family members or one friend to accompany you through your struggles, but not both. Decide on your companions quickly and be sure to nurture a sense of bitterness at the community who abandoned you. You’ll soon have the last laugh when they’ve turned into a mindless mob, or flesh eating zombies. Bet they’ll feel stupid then when they’re hunting you down, huh?

5: Cultivate unusual food preferences

Ever heard of a post-apocalytic banquet? Me neither. Let’s face facts, the food is going to run out sooner or letter and you can bet that the conventionally palatable types will be the first to run short. Get ahead of the competition for full nutrition by learning to love energy bars, peas, spam or other overlooked foodstuffs now so you can stockpile them before it’s too late.

6: Never give up

Actually, this is a serious and good message in many YA dystopian novels; no matter how bad things look, don’t give up. Keep trying to do your best. If something doesn’t work, try another way. If something goes wrong, try again. Persistence will get you everywhere.


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