Bill Murray cackles like a cartoon villain in this first glimpse of tween post-apocalyptic flick City of Ember, out next fall. He plays the corrupt mayor of an underground city who tries to prevent our two teen heroes from discovering how to get back above ground now that the city's power generator is failing. The young-adult dystopia genre may be new to movies, but it's booming in novels. A rundown of junior end-of-days books after the jump.

Teen (and tween) novels set after a global disaster range from the totally demented to the gritty and semi-realistic:

  • The Hungry City Chronicles by Philip Reeve (also known as the Mortal Engines quartet.) A conflict known as the "Sixty Minute War" has reduced the world to wasteland, except for cities mounted on giant caterpillar treads. The cities roll around devouring each other with huge jaws.
  • Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. A meteor smacks into the moon, knocking it closer to Earth. Tsunamis, earthquakes and sun-blotting volcanic ash make the world almost uninhabitable.
  • Children of the Dust by Louise Lawrence. After a nuclear war, the few survivors try to rebuild, but find that some of their kids are turning into mutants with weird white eyes and psychic abilities.
  • Taronga by Victor Kelleher. A catastrophe destroys the Northern hemisphere, and Australia falls into total anarchy. A kid who can telepathically communicate with animals joins a gang of children hiding out in Sydney's Taronga zoo.
  • A Hole In The Sky by Pete Hautman. A flu epidemic wipes out most of the world's population, and most adults who survive join scary cults. Including one cult that believes it has a duty to infect as many people as possible with the deadly flu strain.
  • The Fire-us trilogy, by Jennifer Armstrong and Nancy Butcher. Another plague, but this one wipes out all adults, and then most kids die of disease or starvation. Seven kids miraculously live on in a Florida house and forge their own society.
  • The Girl Who Owned A City by O.T. Nelson. Another plague wipes out everyone over 12, and vicious gangs roam around killing everybody. But a 10-year-old girl named Lisa comes up with a plan to create a safe place for her friends.
  • The Last Book In The Universe by Rodman Philbrick. A giant earthquake known as "The Big Shake" has left most of the world uninhabitable, but a few genetically enhanced people can go live in the paradise known as Eden.
  • Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O'Brien. A small American town is one of the few places to survive a nuclear war, and the 16-year-old Ann Burden keeps a diary of her life after the end.


So there you go. If this adaptation of the Ember novels does well, there are lots of other properties waiting to be filmed. [Slashfilm]