Novels About Survival

People fight for survival against the elements, other people, animals, and the authorities in these novels.

See also Dystopias

See also Revolution

Survival Novels

White Fang | Jack London

Henry and Bill are traveling in the North, transporting a deceased man in a coffin. They are being stalked by a pack of hungry wolves, and they fear for their dogs and themselves. Among the pack is a semi-tame she-wolf who is able to lure the dogs away from safety. She eventually gives birth to White Fang, a cub that gets taken in by Indians.

Read “White Fang”

Farewell My Concubine | Lillian Lee

Xiao Douzi is taken by his mother to Master Guan, a famous opera teacher. Along with another Guan apprentice, Shitou, he distinguishes himself, and they qualify for leading roles – Xiao as a dan, a female lead; and Shitou as a sheng, a male lead. They become celebrated performers, and are introduced to a glamorous life, along with the sordid interest it attracts.

Robinson Crusoe | Daniel Defoe

Young Robinson Crusoe sneaks away to sea, against the wishes of his parents. On one of his expeditions, a terrible storm shipwrecks him on a deserted island. He tries to ensure he has sufficient food and shelter. He wonders if there is anyone else on the island, and what their reaction to him might be.

Read “Robinson Crusoe”

Kindred | Octavia Butler

Dana, twenty-six, finds herself at a river bank where a boy is drowning. She saves him and then finds herself back in her home. While trying to figure out what’s going on, she appears next to the same boy, Rufus, in a burning room. The year is 1815 (her present is 1976) and she realizes that she is transported when Rufus is in trouble. Rufus is her ancestor. She continues to jump in time to participate in pivotal moments in his life.

The Left Hand of Darkness | Ursula K. Le Guin

Genly Ai is an envoy from EKumen, which includes earth, whose purpose is to open relations with other planets. He is on a mission to Gethen, a planet in an Ice Age and with an androgynous population. They only have sexual feelings a few days per month. They also have a custom of avoiding confrontation called shifgrethor.

Read “The Left Hand of Darkness”

Lord of the Flies | William Golding

A plane crashes on a tropical island, killing all the adults. A group of children survive and have to explore the island and find a way to live. When one boy blows a conch shell, they all gather to figure out what they will do and what roles they will play.

Read “Lord of the Flies”

The Power and the Glory | Graham Greene

In postrevolutionary Mexico, religious freedom is curtailed and priests have been condemned to die. One such man, known as the whiskey priest, is trying to meet up with a man named Lopez who might be able to help him escape. When he finds out Lopez has been shot, he goes with a boy to see his sick mother. Meanwhile, a police squad is searching the area for any remaining priests. The whiskey priest is trying to get out of the country, but his Catholic duty keeps diverting him to people who need his services.

Read “The Power and the Glory”

Alas, Babylon | Pat Frank

Randy Bragg receives a message from his brother, Mark, a colonel in the U.S. Air Force – a nuclear attack is imminent. Mark is sending his wife and children to Florida to stay with Randy. Randy starts making preparations for the disaster, and he tells a few people about it. Randy’s household is awakened in the middle of the night by bomb blasts.

Bambi | Felix Salten

Bambi, a deer, spends his first year learning from his mother about the forest. He meets some relatives and they learn from each other. He eventually encounters humans. One day, a hunting party comes thru the area.

The Black Stallion | Walter Farley

Alec Ramsay, a teenager, is returning home by ship. Also on board is a wild black stallion. When the ship goes down, they are both stranded on a desert island. They work together and form a close bond while trying to survive.


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