With just one episode left in Westworld’s first season, the show has finally begun to untangle its mysteries. The penultimate episode, “Well-Tempered Clavier,” revealed several plot-twist doozies — most notably, that Bernard began his life as a host-version of Arnold and Dolores was responsible for his death.
Although we enter the finale with questions remaining about the maze and the disparate timelines, the show’s ultimate path is clearer than ever. Each character must face a reckoning with their preconceived notions of their identities, whether it involves a deep-dive into their memories or surface level soul-searching. Although Westworld remains unique in its combination of sci-fi, Old West, and general mindfuckery, there are plenty of novels that evoke the same feelings.
1. The Keep by Jennifer Egan
Like Westworld, The Keep tells a byzantine story in which nothing is as it seems to the reader or the main character. Like a park visitor, protagonist Danny travels to a seemingly whimsical location in order to get away from his life, only to discover that the nature of his reality is far more complicated. The novel captures Westworld’s atmosphere of technology and paranoia overlapping with an old, dusty setting, and Jennifer Egan’s sharp writing and keen eye for neurotic male characters is always a delight.
2. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
If the Man in Black and Teddy’s saga continues to be your favorite part of the show, or even Logan and William’s journey, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is the original parable of masculinity and survival and stark countryside. Although there are no hosts to be found, it’s atmospheric and eerie if the Old West aspect of the show speak to you more than the mysteries.
3. Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare
Westworld loves its Shakespeare references. Romeo and Juliet and The Tempest have featured, but it’s a damn shame Measure for Measure hasn’t. As one of Shakespeare’s “problem plays” with a devious head-scratcher of an ending, it’s more conducive to Westworld’s tone than any of his other works.
4. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
This story-within-a-story has it all. Like Westworld, it’s got a twist ending with murders galore along the way, and it also mixes pulpy sci-fi genre fare with a sedate period setting. It also happens to be Atwood’s best novel. If you haven’t read it, it’s never been a better time.
5. City of Thieves by David Benioff
Yes, this is the David Benioff, the Game of Thrones showrunner whom Westworld might have slyly acknowledged earlier in the season. Aside from GoT, Benioff has also written a few books. Because his show loves its buddy-cop pairings, it’s unsurprising that City of Thieves revolves around a madcap journey with an unlikely pairing. But Westworld favors the trope too. If you enjoy Maeve and Hector’s adventures or even William and Logan, you’ll like this unlikely World War II era odyssey.