National Reading Movement

5 Sci-Fi Horror Books to Keep You Up At Night

Did you know that Frankenstein was the result of some friends challenging themselves to come up with scary stories? 😱Although the first science fiction horror book was published over 200 years ago, we have never stopped wanting more.

Here are five sci-fi horror books that will give you sleepless nights!

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Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

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Never Let Me Go deals with the philosophical debate about the rights of clones are they humans?

The book is told from the perspective of a clone, and set in a dystopian future where clones are born solely for organ donation. Throughout the book, the clones are treated as less-than-humans even though they think and feel the same way we do.

You’ll be left with a sense of unease when you realise how easily people can dissociate from humanity. Oh, and did we mention the inevitable grim fate of the characters whom you would come to love?

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Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

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The book is a collection of short stories by Nebula award winner Ted Chiang. In Story of Your Life, humans wake up one day to find foreign devices appearing across the globe acting as audiovisual links to aliens.

It may seem normal enough for a sci-fi story, except that our protagonist does not know the aliens’ purpose. Linguist Dr. Louise Banks is assigned to make contact with them and learn their language. She discovers that the aliens do not experience time sequentially, but all at once, meaning that they know the future before it happens! 😱

Louise becomes increasingly proficient in their language, and soon begins to see time as the aliens do she begins seeing flashes of her future. The novella deals with the philosophical concept of language and determinism, and the manipulation of time — if you knew your future, would you act contrary to it?

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The suspense of the situation, coupled with the unknown intention of the aliens, make it a nerve-wrecking read. Borrow it here.

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”

— Author H.P. Lovecraft

 

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

Speaking of unknown intentions, here’s another book that exploits that fear.

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An invisible alien border appears at an area — Area X — cutting off all communication with inhabitants behind the border. Although several military groups have gone inside to investigate, none have made it out. The book chronicles the perilous journey of a team of women as they form the 12th expedition into Area X.

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There is a constant threat to the characters’ fate, but also to the fate of humanity. The alien entity’s intentions are a mystery, which makes it harder for our protagonists to find a way to eradicate it. To make matters worse, they also have to encounter other-worldly monsters!

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Borrow this heart-thumping thriller here. And if you’re a sadist, give yourself some nightmares and catch the movie adaptation on Netflix. The journeys of the characters happen quite differently in the book and movie, so don’t forget to catch both!  

 

The Girl With All The Gifts by Mike Carey

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Zombie stories are often cliche, but not this book. In a future where most of humanity is wiped out by a fungal brain infection, the few who are left have to find a cure quickly… by using children.

That’s right — children who are infected but still possess “normal” mental capabilities are subject to various experiments. They are often vivisected by doctors and scientists.

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How far are the characters willing to go to find a cure? This suspenseful thriller with the gravitas of dealing with children will definitely keep you up at night!

Read it here. Don’t forget to catch the movie too! One of the protagonists meet a different, darker end in one of the versions. Which one is it? 😏

If you’re torn about which version to start with, we recommend the book (not because we want you to read), because the novel gets more in depth with the science behind the infection. This makes the whole apocalypse more alarmingly plausible and will give you the chills.

 

The Passage by Justin Cronin

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It may be hard to find a good vampire book, but this one hits all the right notes. The first book of a trilogy, The Passage revolves around how a chilling military scientific experiment ultimately becomes the virus that changes the course of human history.

A security breach at a secret US government facility creating super soldiers unleashes the virus, causing a disease that turns people into vampire-like beings.

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The book spans over 90 years, as populations of humans attempt to survive in a world where they are hunted by vampires, with a future filled with fear — of darkness, of death and of a fate far worse.

Will humans triumph over monsters? Read the book to find out! Here’s a sombre excerpt about the child protagonist, Amy, who was abandoned and taken as a test subject for the secret government programme:

“She remembered no one at all. She remembered one day thinking: I am alone. There is no I but I. She lived in the dark. She taught herself to walk in the light, though it was not easy. For a time it pained her, made her sick.”

 

Will you be sleeping tonight? 👻