The story of Robinson Crusoe turns 300 years old on April 25, 2019. This fascinating tale chronicles one man’s life as a castaway, stranded on a remote desert island near Trinidad, as he struggles to survive.
Even more interesting than the novel itself is the mythos around it. The first edition credited the protagonist, Robinson Crusoe, as the author, rather than Daniel Defoe. This lead many to believe that it was, in fact, a travelogue of a real person. It was a pioneer of realistic fiction as a genre.
Robinson Crusoe was so well-received that by the end of the year, they had run through four editions. To this day is one of the most widely published books in history. There’s even a subgenre named after it: Robinsonade.
If you love Robinson Crusoe, here are some recent Robinsonades you may enjoy.
Echoes of War by Cheryl Campbell*
Sci-fi has a surprisingly large presence in the Robinsonade genre. In this first installment of the Echoes trilogy, Dani is just trying to survive on a war-ravaged planet. When she discovers that she’s part of an alien race called Echoes, she puts her already-tenuous existence on the line to save a boy from becoming a slave—paralleling Crusoe’s saving a boy from cannibalism. She then resolves to foil the plans of the tyrant determined to wipe out all humans and aliens who oppose their rule.
Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
When Zorie gets into a fight with Reagan during a glamping trip, she finds herself stranded at the resort with Lennon, her ex-best friend. They decide to hike to the meteor shower party—and get horribly lost. With only each other for company, they will have to rely on one another to survive and find their way out of the woods—if they don’t kill each other first. This modern Robinsonade has a romantic twist with a compelling will-they-won’t-they dynamic between the teen protagonists.
Tree Dreams by Kristin Kaye
What better twist on a classic Man vs. Nature story could there be than one where the protagonist is fighting for nature? In this eco-literary coming of age novel, Jade witnesses a violent clash between a local logger and a peaceful tree sitter that causes her to run. She hides out in Portland, surrounding herself with radical slackers, environmentalists, and anarchists. These people are as foreign to her as the people of the island were to Crusoe. With these new friends, she must not only survive nature, but learn to protect it.
The Martian by Andy Weir
This New York Times bestseller is one of the truest (and most famous) Robinsonades of the last decade. Astronaut Mark Watney finds himself abandoned on Mars after his crew evacuates, thinking him dead. He’s without a way to signal for rescue, and even if he could, his supplies wouldn’t last that long. But between his damaged machinery and the unforgiving environment he probably won’t make it long enough to run out of suppIies. In this shining example of the human spirit and refusal to give up, he confronts obstacle after obstacle, determined to survive.
Above the Star by Alexis Marie Chute
In this first installment in The 8th Island Trilogy, a family—Archie, his granddaughter Ella, and her mother Tessa—find themselves on Jarr-Way, a magnificent yet terrifying island. The idea of a family of castaways was introduced in one of the first Robinsonades after Robinson Crusoe, The Swiss Family Robinson. On this war-torn island, Ella, already suffering from a mysterious illness, is captured. Tessa, Archie, and their peculiar allies must band together to save her and find a cure. Already read this one? The sequel comes out in October 2019.
*not out yet, but available for preorder now