Books To Read After Watching “The Last Of Us”

The world of The Last of Us is as enthralling as it is haunting, offering a rich narrative that explores the depths of human resilience in a post-apocalyptic landscape. This blog post aims to extend your journey through similar captivating worlds by suggesting books that echo the game’s powerful themes.

We’ve curated a diverse reading list that resonates with The Last of Us‘ unique blend of survival, complex relationships, and the exploration of the human condition under extreme circumstances. Whether you’re craving the raw survivalist intensity, the emotionally charged character dynamics, or the profound philosophical undertones, there’s a book here for you.

Embark on this literary journey and deepen your understanding and connection to the themes that made The Last of Us such an unforgettable experience.

We invite you to explore these narratives, lose yourself in their pages, and let them open new windows onto the resilience and fragility of the human spirit.

Understanding The Last of Us: Key Themes

Survival in a Post-Apocalyptic World

The Last of Us plunges its audience into a world ravaged by a deadly fungus, where humanity hangs by a thread, and survival becomes the only law. The exploration of this theme manifests in the characters’ struggles to find resources, fend off infected individuals, and navigate hostile human groups, emphasizing the brutality and desperation inherent in such a world.

Relationship Dynamics and Emotional Growth

At its core, The Last of Us is a poignant narrative about relationships and emotional growth. The developing bond between Joel and Ellie, the central characters, serves as the emotional compass of the story. As they navigate their post-apocalyptic reality together, we witness shifts from initial distrust to mutual reliance, offering a deeply human portrayal of love, loss, and redemption in the face of survival.

The Human Condition Under Extreme Conditions

The Last of Us also delves deeply into the human condition, pushing its characters to their limits and examining their actions under extreme circumstances. It raises existential questions on what it means to be human, the nature of morality when society’s constructs crumble, and how far individuals would go to survive or protect their loved ones.

Books Similar to The Last of Us’ World Setting

“The Road” by Cormac McCarthy

The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy is a compelling read for fans of The Last of Us. The book explores the post-apocalyptic journey of a father and son as they traverse a bleak, devastated world. With its somber narrative and exploration of the survival theme, this novel captures the essence of the desperate struggle for existence seen in The Last of Us.

“Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel

“Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel offers a unique spin on post-apocalyptic literature. It follows a troupe of Shakespearean actors navigating through a world decimated by a pandemic. Although different in its approach, it shares with The Last of Us the theme of finding humanity, art, and culture amidst ruin and devastation.

“The Passage” by Justin Cronin

Justin Cronin’s “The Passage” offers another perspective on the post-apocalyptic genre, combining elements of horror and dystopian fiction. It presents a world overrun by vampire-like beings after a failed government experiment. With its atmospheric dread and the survival of small groups against formidable odds, it will resonate with fans of The Last of Us‘ grim setting.

Books Emphasizing Complex Relationship Dynamics

“A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman

In “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman, we encounter a curmudgeonly protagonist who, like Joel from The Last of Us, has a hard exterior that gradually softens. The development of relationships and the exploration of grief and loss in this novel mirror the emotional journey seen in The Last of Us, offering a similar path to understanding and empathy.

“Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro

“Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro is a deeply touching novel that delves into the bonds of friendship and love in a dystopian world. While it isn’t post-apocalyptic, the story’s exploration of the strong relationships and emotional growth between the characters echo the deep bonds formed in The Last of Us.

“The Light Between Oceans” by M.L. Stedman

“The Light Between Oceans” by M.L. Stedman is a profoundly moving novel about a couple living on an isolated lighthouse island who find a baby washed ashore in a boat. The moral dilemmas, the exploration of love and loss, and the emotional complexities presented in this book bear a resonance to the intense relationships and ethical challenges in The Last of Us.

Books Reflecting The Human Condition in Extreme Situations

“Blindness” by Jose Saramago

Nobel Laureate Jose Saramago’s “Blindness” is a powerful exploration of the human condition in extreme circumstances. The novel details the collapse of society after a sudden epidemic of blindness, bringing to light the potential for both depravity and compassion within humanity, reminiscent of the moral quandaries in The Last of Us.

“Life of Pi” by Yann Martel

Yann Martel’s “Life of Pi” is a fantastical tale of a young Indian boy’s survival on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger. Despite its fantastical premise, the book examines resilience, faith, and the boundaries of reality under dire circumstances, thematically mirroring the survival aspect and introspection found in The Last of Us.

“The Stand” by Stephen King

Stephen King’s epic “The Stand” portrays the aftermath of a deadly plague that wipes out most of the world’s population. The survivors’ struggle to rebuild society and their confrontation with darkness within themselves echoes The Last of Us‘ exploration of the human condition in a post-apocalyptic world.

Lesser-Known but Relevant Reads

Introduction to Hidden Gems in Literature

While mainstream titles often dominate the limelight, there is a wealth of lesser-known literature that dives into similar themes as The Last of Us. These hidden gems offer a fresh perspective on familiar topics, enriching your understanding of the themes that make the game’s narrative so compelling.

Detailed Insights into Each Book

In this section, we will uncover several underrated books, each bringing something unique to the table. They might not be as widely recognized, but they capture the essence of survival, relationship dynamics, and the human condition, much like The Last of Us. The beauty of these narratives lies in their ability to surprise you, to show you a new angle on the themes you thought you knew well.

Why These Books are Relevant to The Last of Us Fans

These lesser-known books, despite not having the widespread fame of some of the previous titles, offer compelling narratives that resonate with the themes in The Last of Us. Their exploration of familiar themes from new perspectives can offer fans of the game a fresh and engaging literary experience. From survival stories set in dystopian worlds to intimate tales of human relationships, these books are guaranteed to provide thought-provoking and emotionally resonant narratives.

Additional Recommendations

“World War Z” by Max Brooks

An oral history of a fictional zombie apocalypse, “World War Z” delivers a global perspective of survival in extreme circumstances. Its inclusion here relates to The Last of Us‘ themes of a world irrevocably altered by an outbreak and how humanity adapts to survive.

“Bird Box” by Josh Malerman

“Bird Box” is a post-apocalyptic novel where unseen creatures drive people to madness. Its tense atmosphere and exploration of survival under unique constraints offer an experience comparable to the suspense and danger in The Last of Us.

“The Girl With All the Gifts” by M.R. Carey

A novel that puts a unique spin on the classic zombie apocalypse, “The Girl With All the Gifts” explores themes of survival, humanity, and morality in a world overrun by “hungries.” The novel’s parallel to The Last of Us comes from its combination of post-apocalyptic survival with emotional depth.

“Swan Song” by Robert McCammon

“Swan Song” is a gripping tale of post-nuclear America, focusing on disparate groups of survivors. The characters’ struggles to maintain their humanity in the face of horror echo the themes of resilience and morality found in The Last of Us.

“I Am Legend” by Richard Matheson

Richard Matheson’s “I Am Legend” combines elements of horror and science fiction to present a chilling tale of the last man standing in a world overrun by vampiric creatures. Its exploration of isolation, survival, and the toll of being the last of your kind ties well with The Last of Us‘ themes.

“The Boy on the Bridge” by M.R. Carey

Set in the same universe as “The Girl With All the Gifts”, “The Boy on the Bridge” provides another perspective on Carey’s dystopian world. The exploration of hope amidst despair, and the human capacity for both self-destruction and salvation, resonates with The Last of Us‘ emotional journey.

“Children of Men” by P.D. James

“Children of Men” presents a dystopian world where humanity is on the brink of extinction due to universal infertility. It deals with the struggle to retain hope and humanity in a dying world, a theme that fans of The Last of Us would find familiar.

“The Dog Stars” by Peter Heller

“The Dog Stars” is a post-apocalyptic novel that focuses on a man and his dog struggling to survive in a world devastated by a flu pandemic. The strong bond between the man and his dog, along with their struggle to survive, echo the deep relationships and survival themes in The Last of Us.

“The Reapers are the Angels” by Alden Bell

This book offers a philosophical take on the zombie apocalypse genre, with a young girl, Temple, as its protagonist. Temple’s journey, her encounters, and her struggle with isolation and survival will appeal to fans of The Last of Us.

“Parable of the Sower” by Octavia Butler

“Parable of the Sower” takes place in a dystopian future where society has collapsed due to climate change and wealth inequality. Its exploration of survival, community-building, and hope in the face of despair makes it a suitable recommendation for fans of The Last of Us.


Recap of Books Suggested

We’ve traversed a diverse literary landscape, from post-apocalyptic worlds reminiscent of The Last of Us to narratives exploring complex relationship dynamics and the human condition under extreme conditions. These books—whether widely recognized like “The Road” and “Never Let Me Go”, or lesser-known titles we’ve explored—each offer unique reflections of the themes we love in The Last of Us.

The Joy of Finding Themes from The Last of Us in Literature

Finding echoes of The Last of Us in these books adds another layer of depth to our appreciation of the game. It allows us to extend our exploration of the powerful themes the game presents, and gain new insights and perspectives. The joy of this journey lies not only in revisiting the themes but also in experiencing how different authors handle these topics.

Encouragement for Readers to Explore These Books

We hope this list encourages you to delve into these narratives, to see for yourself how they resonate with the world of The Last of Us. As you turn the pages, may they immerse you in their worlds, engage you with their characters, and inspire you with their exploration of survival, relationships, and the human condition.

rj adams books

R.J. Adams

My first job was at Barnes & Noble, so books and reading have been a big part of my life for as long as I could remember. My Kindle is jam-packed with books I likely will never get around to reading and my To Be Read pile is even longer!

Leave a Comment