G is for Germs
Oh the virus, a personal favourite of mine. The obvious choice is a human virus – either ending in death or mutation (aka zombies!), but there are other choices too – what about a virus that doesn’t affect humans but affects the food supply (plants, animals)?
Scenario: A virus that kills people is a tried and true scenario – you’ve got heart-wrenching illness and death already set up to pull heart-strings, and humanity is going to go to pot quite quickly, with electricity and food production also being affected. Scavenging and gangs all whilst trying to not fall victim to the virus are additional fodder. A virus that effects the food supply has similar consequences but without the whole death of loved ones – or does it? You will need some science here to make your story believable and your virus mutable, curable or just plain viable.
Characters: Families are the best characters for viruses – you have a choice of who to kill off whilst emotionally scarring the others. Friends and lovers work for similar reasons. You’ll need to make the ones that you kill off either lovable or detestable to get the tears flowing or the ‘yeah, you SO deserved that’ feeling. Groups of random survivors make for harder work, as the relationships aren’t fully formed there will be less reader attachment early on.
Location: Viruses travel anywhere and everywhere and so can yours! If set in an isolated location (small town, island) you can set up a quarantine and watch your mini-society fall apart. Like The Sims, with germs.
Series or stand-alone: A series will work for long-term survival and rebuilding, or if your story starts in a quarantined location and leaks out through that idiotic soldier who ventures into town for a look, or the clueless character who decides to escape and find their friend/family/dog. A stand-alone can work for a lower-level outbreak, perhaps one with a lower death ratio.
Recommended by Me
The Way We Fall (Fallen World #1) by Megan Crewe
Published: 24 January 2012 by Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 309 (hardcover)
Read the synopsis and my review HERE
Earth Abides by George R. Stewart
Pages: 345 (paperback)
A disease of unparalleled destructive force has sprung up almost simultaneously in every corner of the globe, all but destroying the human race. One survivor, strangely immune to the effects of the epidemic, ventures forward to experience a world without man. What he ultimately discovers will prove far more astonishing than anything he'd either dreaded or hoped for.