Books Like Chernobyl
The accident that occurred in 1986 propelled the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and the nearby town of Pripyat to the forefront of public consciousness. It remains one of the worst nuclear energy accidents of all time and has inspired a range of books, movies, as well as television shows. One of the earliest novels written about the events was Chernobyl by one of the most well-known authors in science fiction, Frederik Pohl. He opted for a riveting and realistic account of the events at the power plant based on first-person accounts. However, the sense of mystery and danger surrounding Chernobyl has inspired many other authors to put their spin on the events too. For more stories across different genres, here are more books like Chernobyl that deal with the aftermath of the nuclear disaster.
by Andrea White
Radiant Girl by Andrea White is the coming-of-age story of Katya Dubko. Katya celebrates her 11th birthday one day before the accident at Chernobyl, where her father works as a security guard. As her family prepares her birthday dinner, they send Katya into the forest to play, where she meets a strange boy. This boy warns her of the upcoming disaster, but nothing could prepare her for the following day’s events. Finally, Katya and her family are evacuated from the area, and she is forced to leave everything she has ever known behind before trying to come to terms with what happened. In Radiant Girl, the author combines actual historical facts with old-world Ukrainian folklore for a unique and compelling tale about Chernobyl.
by Irene Zabytko
The Sky Unwashed by Irene Zabytko opens on the day of the Chernobyl Nuclear disaster as the people of a small farm village in Ukraine go about their daily business. One of them is Marusia Petrenko, a widow whose son works at the nuclear power plant. After a day of traditional wedding celebrations, the village wakes up to a strange metallic taste in the air. Unfortunately, Marusia’s son also doesn’t return home from work, and it is not until a few days later, the people from the village discover what really happened. The village is deeply contaminated, and everyone is ordered to evacuate permanently, but Marusia defies the government and returns to the only home that she has ever known. Eventually, more of the older women return to the village, where they band together for survival.
by Alina Bronsky
Baba Dunja’s Last Love by Alina Bronsky is the story of the titular character, an older woman forced to evacuate her hometown of Tschernowo after the nuclear disaster. Despite suffering burns and radiation poisoning Baba Dunja yearns for her former life in the village and, in the end, decides to return. Of course, the authorities are not pleased by this and even less so when other former inhabitants follow in her footsteps. Baba Dunja’s Last Love chronicles the events of these villagers as they attempt to continue living a normal life despite the frequent appearance of officials in protective clothing arriving to monitor their health. Unfortunately, the idyllic existence of everyone in the village is disturbed once more when a man and his young daughter arrive out of nowhere.
by Mike Kraus
Author Mike Kraus opted for a horror/adventure story with his 2012 novel, Prip’Yat: The Beast of Chernobyl. When mysterious disturbances are reported near the Chernobyl power plant, two Spetsnaz officers are dropped into the ghost city of Prip’Yat. They are tasked with investigating the area and finding out what is causing the disturbances. At the same time, two cousins from Kiev sneak into Prip’Yat under cover of night. The two are entirely unaware of the special forces operation and simply want to explore the forbidden place and experience the area for themselves. However, the four humans making their way through the dark soon discover something deadly stalking around in the night.
by Philip Hemplow
Philip Hemplow uses the Chernobyl exclusion zone as the backdrop for a Lovecraftian-style story in Sarcophagus. Science and the occult clash in this tale as Dr. Victoria Cox travel to Pripyat in an effort to find out why the project for containing the crumbling Chernobyl Sarcophagus is stalling. However, not only does she face corporate responsibility and greed, but also danger from a very unexpected avenue. Something appears to be interfering with the software needed for the project while workers are disappearing, and all the clues point towards something supernatural. It is up to Victoria to discover the true nature of the danger that everyone in the zone is facing before it is too late.
by J. M. Hewitt
Exclusion Zone is the first book in the Detective Alex Harvey series by J. M. Hewitt. It is set in the summer of 2015 and sees Detective Alex Harvey hired to investigate disappearances that have been happening within the Chernobyl exclusion zone. For assistance, Alex hires a Ukrainian national named Elian Gould, who eagerly accepts the job for her own reasons. She is searching for a family history that has always been a mystery to her, but along with Alex, discovers that the citizens remaining in Chernobyl are not eager to share their secrets. Part of the story is also set shortly after the explosion of Reactor No. 4, as two sisters attempt to deal with the aftermath. The disappearance of one of the sisters is integral to the story of the rest of the novel. Switching between the two timelines keeps the story suspenseful, and the setting is a perfect match for the dark secrets Alex and Elian uncover.