So You’ve Played…The Last of Us

The Last of Us': The Zombie Drama That Became a Decade-Defining Landmark for  Video Games - Bloody Disgusting

Welcome to the tenth and final entry in the ‘So You’ve Played’ series. I’ve really enjoyed creating this series as it’s allowed me to safely tap back into games (without getting addicted to them again) while finding new science fiction and fantasy stories to enjoy.

The Last of Us is a fantastic game (that I never actually finished!) on the Playstation game consoles. It involves a dystopian setting with what I would call zombies. The first game focuses on characters Joel, a smuggler tasked with escorting a teenage girl, Ellie, across a post-apocalyptic United States. It’s a tense and brilliantly designed game and so I will be recommending dystopian and zombie books as I close off this article!

The Girl with all the Gifts

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Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

This story focuses on Melanie. Melanie is a zombie but she is also potentially the key to saving humanity from an outbreak of a mutated virus that turns people into husks, that sometimes change into walls of mushrooms and fungus. This sounds like a brilliant story that focuses on things that The Last of Us also puts at the heart of its story.

You can add this book to your Goodreads TBR here.

The Road

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A searing, postapocalyptic novel destined to become Cormac McCarthy’s masterpiece.

A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.

The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, “each the other’s world entire,” are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.

So The Road is a story that has a lot of similarities from the blurb to TLOU. It’s about an adult and child, they are armed but only with one weapon to defend themselves against bandits and a future in which hope has disappeared. This isn’t a huge book (241 pages) and should provide a good break between your bigger books that can a) cleanse your palette and b) give you a definite taste of TLOU in paper format. Just be warned that this book is a lot more bleak than TLOU.

You can add this book to your Goodreads TBR here.

The Warded Man

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As darkness falls after sunset, the corelings rise—demons who possess supernatural powers and burn with a consuming hatred of humanity. For hundreds of years the demons have terrorized the night, slowly culling the human herd that shelters behind magical wards—symbols of power whose origins are lost in myth and whose protection is terrifyingly fragile. It was not always this way. Once, men and women battled the corelings on equal terms, but those days are gone. Night by night the demons grow stronger, while human numbers dwindle under their relentless assault. Now, with hope for the future fading, three young survivors of vicious demon attacks will dare the impossible, stepping beyond the crumbling safety of the wards to risk everything in a desperate quest to regain the secrets of the past. Together, they will stand against the night.

The Warded Man is a stretch to get into a recommendation article for TLOU, however, I think that it can work. It has an eerie dystopian setting and focuses on a handful of young survivors. They’ve also got to leave the safety of their warded area to risk everything in a desperate quest to save the world. I’ve not read this series yet but know that Brett has written some good books so this is going straight on my TBR. It’s part of a series called The Demon Cycle and you can the first book to your Goodreads TBR here.

This Savage Song

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There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwaba young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

I have read some Schwab before and while it is normally YA, it’s good storytelling and so when I came across this and read the blurb, I immediately added this to my Goodreads TBR.

So this is about a city with monsters that focuses on two people who have to decide if they want to be good or bad. This is actually really close to how TLOU plays out if you change some small parts (ie the age of protagonists). It sounds like it has a lot going on because on top of the dystopian city you have characters who have their own troubles and then on top of that they have to escape for their lives. A lot going on with a really cool setting!

If you want to add this to your Goodreads TBR you can do so here. This is a duology too so if you like this you’ve got another one to get into.

A Red Sun Rises

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A Red Sun Rises is the story of two characters living in different worlds within the same world. An unknown poison called the Red saturated the atmosphere of the entire planet, killing off everyone except a remnant of immune survivors. Jake is a survivor, but the Red has left its mark on him, changing him in strange ways he does not understand. Seventeen-year-old Paige grew up in the Hole. Its concrete hallways and chambers are all she knows. Trained as a medic, she works with her father to find a way to cleanse the atmosphere and restore the balance of nature. Jake and Paige have a chance meeting and knowing that each other has the answers they both seek, have to work together before time runs out.

This story has many similarities to The Last of Us. Two people having to trust each other in a dystopian world where people are dying and not much can be done to save them. It’s the first book in a YA Sci-FI trilogy and was published only last year so you’ve got time to read this before the next one is published. This currently sits on Goodreads with an overall rating of 4.12 after 25 ratings.

You can add this book to your Goodreads TBR here.

Metro 2033

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Metro 2033 is the novel that inspired the hit game of the same name. The year is 2033 and humanity’s last refuge is located in the Moscow Metro. An air hangar holds what’s left of humanity since most of the world has now been contaminated with radiation. A new life form has taken over earth and man is no longer top dog.

Artyom, a young man living in VDNKh, the northernmost inhabited station on its line, is given the task of penetrating to the heart of the Metro, to the legendary Polis, to alert everyone to the awful danger and to get help. He holds the future of his native station in his hands, the whole Metro – and maybe the whole of humanity.

This is really a great story about despair, dystopia, death and danger. It tells a story of what would happen if the world turned on itself and the aftermath it might leave behind. The darkened tunnels of the Metro, the scavengers out for themselves and the mutated monsters will test Artyom’s nerve and courage. He will have to be smart, careful and stealthy to survive the dangers laying in his path.

You can add this book to your Goodreads TBR here.

Edge of Collapse

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Edge of Collapse by Kyla Stone is a story about the world changing in the same time it takes to click your fingers.

In the dead of winter, an EMP attack destroys the U.S. power grid. No electricity. No cars or phones. The country is plunged into instant chaos. But for Hannah Sheridan, it’s the best day of her life. For the last five years, she’s been the captive of a sadistic psychopath–until the EMP releases the lock of her prison. Battered but not broken, she emerges from her underground cell into a hostile winter wilderness with nothing but her determination to survive.

Reclusive ex-soldier Liam Coleman is headed nowhere fast. He believed he was prepared for any disaster, until the EMP took everything he’d ever cared about in a matter of seconds. Two hundred frozen, perilous miles stand between them and their destination in rural Michigan. But the killing cold isn’t the only threat, for Hannah’s captor isn’t about to let her go…

This isn’t fantasy or scifi but does come under dystopia (like some of the others) and thriller. The story sounds really cool and I like the fact that it has a man and woman combo because that’s what The Last of Us has. I love the idea that an EMP has wiped everything out because we are so dependent on electricity so when you take away that plus vehicles, throw in a crazy captor and darkness in the once-lit streets, I think you will find a pacey, exciting, tense and gripping story.

If you want to add this book to your Goodreads TBR, like I have, you can do that here. There are 5 books in this series with the last one released September 22nd 2021.

Master 'The Last of Us' with these 8 developer tips

Well that is So You’ve Played… The Last of Us and is actually the final installment (#10) in this series. It’s been a complete blast finding books to compare to games but there are only so many games I can do before I am either grasping at straws or recommending the same books from a previous entry. There are a lot of games I cannot recommend sci-fi and fantasy books for – think Mario Kart but I think of the ten I have covered, I’ve done a good job and hopefully given you some new books to enjoy.

If you like science fiction and fantasy books then consider joining The Oasis Discord here – it’s free and has a great community, buddy reads, community reads and much more!

Stay tuned to the blog for book reviews and potentially another feature in the future.

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