If there’s one thing we love, it’s survival stories—whether that be surviving post-apocalyptic zombies or surviving the elements on a wilderness adventure gone awry. There’s something really compelling about the human will to survive against insane obstacles. It’s especially nice to experience this ultimate sense of danger from the safety of my couch where we can confidently say “Oh, we’d definitely survive this!” (editor’s note: we would definitely not survive. We would die immediately.) If you’re in the mood for some human vs. nature/supernature/twisted science, check out a few of our favs!

15 Powerful and Compelling Survival Novels

1. Trigger by N. Griffin

The Queen’s Gambit meets The Hunger Games in this harrowing novel about a teen girl whose abusive father teaches her the finer points of chess and hunting, all for his own sinister ends…drawn from the author’s own experiences. This one will keep you on the edge of your seat, page after page!

2. Gone Dark by Amanda Panitch

This thrilling survival tale follows a teen girl who must lead her friends across the country to the safety of her estranged father’s survivalist compound after a mass power failure leaves the country in chaos.

3. Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Zorie’s way-too-ordinary life is driven off the beaten path when she’s abandoned in the wilderness with her worst adversary—the boy who broke her heart.

4. This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada

This Mortal Coil

Genetic hacking, badass heroine, compelling love triangle, and a touch of the zombie? *chef’s kiss* PERFECTION.

5. Sanctuary by Caryn Lix

Kenzie, who is taken hostage by the superpowered criminal teens of the Sanctuary space station—only to have to band together with them when the station is attacked by mysterious creatures. Make sure you add this action-packed novel to your TBR!

6. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Tally has to survive in the wilderness with a group of outlaws in order to avoid getting a surgery to turn “pretty” by the government. Make sure you read the rest of this iconic series once you’ve finished this must-read book!

7. Zero Repeat Forever by G.S. Prendergast


This book is beauty and the beast but if the beast were a blindly obedient alien (think the Borg). It starts at a summer camp and the action explodes from there. Throw in a little Edgar Allan Poe and a little star-crossed romance, and you’ve got an amazing read!

8. Feral Youth by Shaun David Hutchinson


A group of teens head to an outdoor-program where they’re dropped into the wilderness, miles away from anywhere and they have to survive by their own wits. The cool part about this is that the teens’ stories are told by different authors (like our fav Shaun David Hutchinson and Marieke Nijkamp!) in the spirit of The Canterbury Tales.

9. Avalanche by Melinda Braun

great books for teens

Avalanche is everything you want in a good man-vs-Mother-Nature tale. A group of teens is trapped in an isolated cabin and another group sets off to find them. Both experience twists enough to stress you out of your mind in the best way.

10. Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick


This twisty, icy thriller also involves a remote cabin, but this time the protagonist, Britt, gets taken prisoner by the cabin’s occupants. It’s a race against time as Britt tries to stay alive long enough to be found, which seems more and more impossible as she uncovers evidence of murders.

11. Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson


If you haven’t read this yet, get the heck to it! We might be stretching it a bit with the survival category, but Isobel and Rook are certainly battling to survive against the ancient power of the faerie courts who won’t allow them to be together.

12. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen


This is THE classic wilderness survival story. Brian is traveling in a single-engine airplane to visit his father and the plane crashes. The pilot dies and Brian is alone for months, figuring out how to survive and how to deal with the trauma and anger of his past.

13. Savage by Thomas E. Sniegoski


A storm comes to Sidney’s small island and suddenly all the animals turn violent. What’s the origin of the storm? And how can they stop whatever is twisting the animals before it’s too late?

14. Hellworld by Tom Leveen


Abby’s mother and Charlie’s father disappeared 4 years ago while filming their ghost-hunting show in a New Mexico cave. Now the two join forces to figure out what none of the rescue teams, news channels, or scientist could: what’s in the cave and where did their parents go?

15. Strange Fire by Tommy Wallach

What if, after thousands of years, two civilizations rose from the ashes? What if those cities found out about each other? Through the viewpoints of multiple characters, Strange Fire describes the beginnings of an inevitable war between these two civilizations, a war that will pit faith against science, zealotry against technology…and brother against brother.

Ready for another book rec? Let your favorite reality TV show pick your next read!