From A Quiet Place to HBO’s new release of The Last of Us, the American public is morbidly fascinated by disaster stories. There’s an intimate, almost too-close-to-home sense of horror that comes from seeing the cities, states and country we know on the precipice of collapse. But what if it isn’t some sort of extraterrestrial attack or fungal zombie outbreak that threatens to do the United States in? What if in these stories, it’s the evils of humanity?
These five tales construct terrifying stories of what could be a parallel — or future — reality of the United States. From an authoritarian regime in a post-nuclear America to using the United State’s own governmental body to destroy itself, these thrillers are as darkly imaginative as they are terrifying.
Dark State by Jack Slater
The day to be known as Bloody Monday has struck the US. Thousands lay dead from a series of terrorist strikes spread across the country. It’s a desperate situation, and one the government would turn to Agent Jason Trapp — codename ‘Hangman’ — for. The only problem is that six months ago, Jason Trapp was sold out and got ejected from the Agency.
Ripped from his former life, Trapp no longer has the intel or protection from the CIA to go up against these attackers. But even after the Agency’s betrayal, the Hangman isn’t going to sit back and watch as his country is ripped apart. Described as being for “fans of Ryan, Reacher and Bourne,” Dark State is a twisting, compelling thriller that seems to leap off the page.
Failed States by Justin O’Donnell
After nuclear war pummels the planet, what was once the United States is now unrecognizable. Formerly Albany, the new capital city of New Zion is the stronghold of the theocratic American Union — seemingly the last remnants of civilization on Earth. Protagonist Thomas La Stella serves as an officer in the Deportation Force; he isn’t a zealot for the government, just trying to keep himself and his pregnant wife alive. But when the American Union’s President is ousted and replaced with a near-textbook cult leader, suddenly everyone’s lives are at stake.
A complex and intriguing story of post-apocalyptic government corruption, Failed States bolsters the dangers of nuclear war with the horrors of tyranny. And as this gripping thriller shows, the two working in tandem is a terrible thing to behold.
Read our full review of this exhilarating book here.
Storm Rising by Chris Hauty
Book Three in this bestselling series, Storm Rising sees protagonist Hayley Chill adjusting to her promotion from White House intern to intelligence operative — and still being haunted by the mystery of her father’s disappearance. While searching his old house, she finds a ciphered document that details an epidemic of white supremacy throughout the United States military. With more digging, Hayley soon finds evidence of a conspiracy to mobilize a series of state secessions, setting off another Civil War. As the intelligence operative in charge of the case, it’s Hayley’s job to destroy the rebellion before it tears the country apart. She may be unprepared, however, for the role her father had to play in all this. Storm Rising tells a timely story of how quickly hate can spread, and the importance of uncovering the truth, no matter how terrible.
Executive Force by Gary Grossman
The final book in The Executive Series introduces the United States’ newest danger: the systematic assassination of political figures across the nation. It’s an extremist group’s new ploy to create instability and panic, and it’s working. As the organization’s numbers grow and the death toll rises, Secret Service Agent Scott Roarke is assigned the task of unraveling the sinister plot. His fiancée, an assistant to a U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice, is put on her own investigation as well — to look into the background of the organization itself. The couple’s research uncovers the origins of these attacks, planned decades earlier by two unlikely figures. But even with new discoveries, Scott and his fiancée are running out of time — the extremists are ready to launch their most destructive attack yet. Full of shocking plot twists and compelling characters, readers will be captivated by this heart-pounding thriller.
For more information about Executive Force, read our full review.
Emergency Powers by James McCrone
Inspired by George W. Bush’s “chad-thin” victory over Al Gore in 2000, author James McCrone wrote Emergency Powers as a reimagining of how the electoral process’s fragility could be used to destroy it altogether. This unnerving what-if thriller depicts an oncoming fascist coup of the United States, brought on by multi-pronged attacks on the Electoral College process throughout the nation. Only a few FBI agents, including investigator Imogen Trager, have the knowledge and capabilities to quell the attack before it’s too late. And it’s no easy feat — the plot has sunk its claws into the White House, and even possibly Imogen’s own relationship. Unsure of who to trust, Trager begrudgingly joins forces with an unexpected ally to try and save her own government. A nail-biting tale of corruption and conspiracy, Emergency Powers reminds us just how precarious our government can be when in the wrong hands.
Read our full review of Emergency Powers here.