The Best Zombie Books Out There

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So I was checking out the competition the other day,  and I finally started to understand why none of you are reading my books.  Hey,  these other books are really good.  So just, to show I’m not a sore sport about it all, I’ve included some links at the bottom here of some lists of pretty good zombie books.  Here’s to hoping I end up on some of them at some point.  You faithful reader could help in that regard, by checking out my books on the right there.  Yea, they’re a little different then the usual zombie fare, but that’s sort of the fun isn’t it.  Who want’s to just keep reading the same old stuff.

Dead Sea by Brian Keene

Dead Sea
Dead Sea

If you think about zombies anywhere near as much as I do, I’m sure that at some point you think you’ve found a painfully simple solution to the whole zombie apocalypse.  It’s obvious right? Just jump on a boat and head out to some uninhabited tropical island, and live the rest of your life in paradise.  Well, Mr. Keene is about to burst that bubble on you with all the reasons why you’re our brilliant plan just won’t work.  If you haven’t read any of Keene’s works (shame on you),  I should warn you, there’s no shortage of guts and gore to be had.

Book of the Dead edited by John Skipp & Craig Spector

Book of the Dead
Book of the Dead

If your a fan of of the George Romero style of zombie fiction, then this short story anthalogy should be right up your alley with plenty of gore and old style zombie hacking.   With contributions from Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Steve Rasnic, David J. Schow, Nicholas Royle, David J. Schow, Glen Vasey, Les Daniels, Robert R. McCammon and Brian Hodge to name just a few.  The stories here are the cream of the zombie crop from back in the day circa 1989.  So, if you’re interested in delving a little into the history of zombie fiction, this would be the place to start.

Pontypool Changes Everything by Tony Burgess

Pontypool Changes Everything
Pontypool Changes Everything

This one I warn you, is for die hard fans of high falutin zombie infused literature … with a big emphasis on literature.  It’s not mainstream, and it’s not normal, even for a zombie book.  So, what I’m trying to say, is be prepared to do a little heavy lifting with this one.   It’s been described as a book for semiotician zombie fans.  Yes, I had to look up semiotician.  It’s big unique contribution to the zombie world of fiction, is that the infection is spread by language.  Sounds like something a writer should have fun with.  It was made into a movie as well, which most people seem to find a little more digestible.

Generation Dead by Daniel Waters

Generation Dead (Generation Dead Novels)
Generation Dead (Generation Dead Novels)

Yep, it’s zombies in love, and right away some of you will not be thrilled by that.  But, hey I’m an all inclusive zombie fan, so I say, if it stretches the boundaries a little, then I’m all for it.  I like authors stretch a little and bring maybe attract readers from other genres into the zombie camp.  The more readers we get, the more books I get to write.  So maybe the zombies are quite so dead as you may be used to. It still makes for some interesting story telling when the very nice goth girls start falling for not just the bad boys, but the living-impaired bad boys.  What could possibly be wrong with that?

Dead of Night: A Zombie Novel by Jonathan Maberry

Dead of Night: A Zombie Novel (Dead of Night Series Book 1)
Dead of Night: A Zombie Novel (Dead of Night Series Book 1)

“This is the way the world ends … Not with a bang but a whimper.”  If you’re a fan of the genre, and I have to assume you are or you wouldn’t be here, then I’m sure you’ve heard several variations of that quote.  You may have not known the original is from the T.S. Elliot poem The Hollow Men.  What’s up with prisons and zombies by the way?  Maberry is one of the more gifted writers in the supernatural horror genre and has written for Marvel comics on Wolverine, The Punisher, Black Panther and Marvel Zombie Return.

Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection written by Don Roff illustrated by Chris Lane

Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection
Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection

Finally, a picture book for zombie lovers!  But don’t fool yourself, this is not your kids picture book.  This journal styled book contains beautifully rendered illustrations of a dying scientist/artists last memories.  It’s part journal and part research notebook.  Don’t let the shortness of the book dissuade you from purchasing it, especially if you’re one of those fans that don’t think you could possibly handle one more zombie book.  This one is really different from the rest of the herd.

City Of The Dead by Brian Keene

City of the Dead: Author's Preferred Edition
City of the Dead: Author’s Preferred Edition

And, why would all the rats and cats and elephants (with apologies to the Irish Rovers) be excluded from the zombie apocalypse fun?  I don’t think it’s fair, and apparently, neither does Brian Keene.  While we’re at it why not throw in a bunch of vengeful zombies that are pissed at out almighty Father into the mix.  Sounds like fun you may think … hell yes!  If you’re going to have an apocalypse, then you may as well tear the hell out of every living thing to make it reasonably authentic.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls

If you enjoyed, or even think you might enjoy Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith, then you should probably visit this one.  It’s a bit different than the Victorian zombie mashup that Grahame-Smith sent our way, but none the less entertaining.  It’s a little less Victorian than it’s predecessor, which in some ways makes it more of a contemporary zombie romp.  Personally, I think curiosity has to be the biggest draw with both of these books, and for me at least it’s still piqued for the prequel.

Dying To Live by Kim Paffenroth

Dying to Live
Dying to Live

It’s not just about the zombies … as any fan of the modern genre will tell you.  It’s about the people … about us … about you and me.  Every good story has an interesting premise (zombies of course), but overriding all that, they have interesting characters that highlight the human condition in all it’s beauty and squalor.  What does it mean to be human?  What does it mean to be a good/evil human?  That’s far more interesting.   Throw in a bit of zombie romping action, and you’ve got my attention.  Did I get yours?

The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone By by Robert Kirkman illustrated by Tony Moore

The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye
The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye

I’m sure many reading this will already be fans of the Walking Dead TV series.  That being said however, it’s no reason not to delve into the original comic book series.  At least, give the first book a try.  One of the most compelling factors of the TV series, is that it’s so character driven.  And when I say characters, I’m talking about the human non-zombie characters.  Well, that all started with the comic books.  What’s cool about Kirkman’s world focusing on the real people, is it makes you wonder how you yourself would survive a zombie apocalypse … for real.  Personally, I don’t think my chances would be that great.  What about yours?

The Living Dead edited by John Joseph Adams

The Living Dead
The Living Dead

So you think maybe you’re missing something by not being a big fan of the Walking Dead?  (you’re right by the way, you are)  You don’t consider yourself a zombie book reader, because horror flicks make you spill your popcorn.  Maybe the end of the world scares the hell out of you, because secretly you really wish it would happen just so you can take over and fix all the mistakes your parents generation made.   So, basically, you’re a zombie fence sitter.  You might just love the stuff, and what better way to find out than with an anthology?  John has picked out all the good stuff here, and you just have to give it a shot.

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

Boneshaker (The Clockwork Century Book 1)
Boneshaker (The Clockwork Century Book 1)

Zombies and steam punk and revisionist history … now, there’s a mashup you don’t see everyday.  Once again, mankind has created a world ending monster by tinkering with things they shouldn’t have.  Now, this one has certainly received it’s fair share of mixed reviews, so I’m a little too chicken to go out on a limb and recommend it to everyone.  That being said, if you have a penchant for genre fusion stories, and and open mind, then it’s likely worth a shot.  On the no-can-lose side of things, just getting your hands on the book for the sake of it’s gorgeous cover almost justifies the cost.  If you happen to fall in love with the story, then hey … bonus for you.

Plague Of The Dead by Z.A. Recht

Plague of the Dead: The Morningstar Saga
Plague of the Dead: The Morningstar Saga

Nothing too spectacularly unique about this zombie military thriller, but one of the better zombie books to hit the shelves in the last few years.  The obligatory  population decimating plaugue is present, that not only kills you horribly, but also brings you back to to life is present here.  Sort of a cradle to grave and back to cradle full-service plague.  It’s the first book in the start of a very well received zombie apocalypse thriller.  Something to keep the whole family happy and fill in those lonely nights between your Sunday evening Walking Dead viewings.

The Enemy by Charlie Higson

The Enemy
The Enemy

It’s just another typical day for your average teenager.  Your parents are blood thirsty  dictators that want nothing more than to spoil all the fun by basically sucking the last bit of life from your body.  They really just don’t understand you, and only ever see things their way.  Of course, now that they’ve all turned into zombies makes things a little different, but not really all that much.  Other than the fact that their fashion choices are even more out of date and they smell incredibly bad, it’s just another crappy day to be a kid.

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

I Am Legend
I Am Legend

Zombies … Vampires … you say tomaTOE I say tomaTOW … it’s all good.  Sure, you could make the argument that the original monsters in Richard Matheson’s  classic apocalyptic are more vampire than zombie, but you’d be missing the point.  It’s really about the struggle that takes place in the mind and spirit of the main human character.  Matheson was pretty prolific in his day, penning some of my favorite movie inspirations including What Dreams May Come starring the late great Robin Williams and Real Steel staring Hugh Jackman.

Rising by Brian Keene

The Rising: Author's Preferred Edition
The Rising: Author’s Preferred Edition

While the moniker of classic is often overused and overrated, it truly does apply in this case.  Rising is  often compared with the original Walking Dead comics and the film 28 Days Later as the unholy trinity that brought zombies back into the spotlight they currently enjoy today.  For that reason alone, it’s worth checking out.  Yes, these aren’t all your typical stereotypical shuffling zombies, but I’m OK with that.  Actually, I’m way more than OK with that.  In fact I strongly encourage that.  If human characters can be diverse and unpredictable, than why shouldn’t the zombies?

Monster Island by David Wellington

Monster Island (The Monster Island Book 1)
Monster Island (The Monster Island Book 1)

I really like the premise of this one, and not just because it’s a lot like my own books … OK, maybe it is because it’s like my own books.  Whatever.  Yes, it has your usual denizen of undead wandering a bleak and deserted city scape, but it also has a few undead that while dead, aren’t exactly stupid.  Well, maybe stupid enough to kill himself, but smart enough to stay a zombie. And of course, you have one brave human soul with his band of ass kicking teenage girls  bound and determined to set things right in the world.  Needless to say, there will be some conflict between those in the story that don’t share the same agenda.

Breathers: A Zombies Lament by S.G. Browne

Breathers: A Zombie's Lament
Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament

According to the book description, this is a rom-zom-com … that’s romantic zombie comedy for those who are alliteration-challenged.   And that for all concerned is what I like most about zombie books movies and television.  Zombies have to be one of the most versatile and genre stretching monsters/creatures/undead out there.  They can be horrific, funny, sad, romantic, stupid, and just plain silly.  How many other mystical/supernatural beings can pull that off as well as zombies?  I know, some of tried,  but we all know how badly that ended.  She can call them vampires all she wants, but they just aren’t!

Zone One by Colson Whitehead

Zone One: A Novel
Zone One: A Novel

The author Colson Whitehead cites a whole cornucopia of influential moves for his apocalyptic novel.   Movies like Night of the Living Dead, Escape from New York, Planet of the Apes, Omega Man, Soylent Green, The Road Warrior, Alien, Taxi Driver and Dog Day Afternoon.  And that’s just a sampling of his list.  I salivate like Pavlov’s favourite pet, just writing those movie titles here.  The thought of one novel referencing so many great movies is mind blowing.  I feel a Netflix marathon coming up in my very near future.  Cue the popcorn and pyjama pants.

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Warm Bodies: A Novel
Warm Bodies: A Novel

What does it mean to be human?  It’s a compelling theme, that runs through not only Warm Bodies, but a whole genre of science fiction and horror stories that precede it.  It’s a zombie story with a twist, and in the most genuine way.  The zombie genre is so full, that everyone is looking for their own twist.  But Isaac Marion has managed to find his.  Certainly, it’s been told before and only the most clueless of us will miss the Romeo and Juliet characters and plot lines running through the book.  But, that still doesn’t detract from a fresh look of a popular story with a  contemporary viewpoint.

Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry

Patient Zero: A Joe Ledger Novel
Patient Zero: A Joe Ledger Novel

It’s the trifecta.  We’ve got zombies, we’ve got biological weapons raining down on us, and we get the stereotypical seen it all hard-boiled detective trying to save his own little piece of the world.  It’s a genre mashup, that I wish I would’ve thought of myself.  While the rest of us are out there racking our brains for the most ridiculous imaginative zombie mashup stories, like zombies and piñatas for instance, we sometimes forget that the simplest tried and true formulas work the best.  Not to suggest that patient zero is formulaic or unimaginative, it’s anything but.  What it is, is the start of a great zombie series with plenty of action and lots of kung fu grip to hold you enthralled for the whole bumpy ride.

Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

Rot & Ruin
Rot & Ruin

While you could say there is a  glut of zombie books on the market these days, I don’t think you’d ever hear someone say there’s a glut of amazing zombie books on the market these days.  Someone told me, that if you’re only going to read one new zombie book this year, this is the one to read.  All I can say, is who ever  made that lame suggestion doesn’t know a fan of the zombie genre very well.  Who reads only one zombie book a year?  That would be kind of like only watching one episode of the Walking Dead per year.  This book borrows a bit from Supernatural, and a bit from The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  But, that’s not to suggest lack of uniqueness on its own part.

Day by Day Armageddon by J.  L.  Bourne

Day by Day Armageddon
Day by Day Armageddon

Zombies, politics, big guns, death and destruction.  If that’s your idea of the book you want to read while curled up next to the fireplace with a hot tottie and a blanket over your knees, then congratulations… your home.  I ain’t judging.  Just keeping it real.  This book is written for the kick ass survivalists in the crowd.  Or at least the ones that dream about being a kick ass survivalist.  The original version of this book, was meant to have a handwritten scrawled in your own blood kind of feel to it.  Now just because it’s been translated into digital form minus the bloody handwriting, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s something prettier than it is.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The Forest of Hands and Teeth
The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Just the title of this one gives me the willies.  And while that’s a warranted emotion, given the nature of the story, it’s not just about horror and terror.  It’s really more a combination of romance and horror, but done exceedingly well.  Unlike many of the teenage angst ridden novels cluttering up your must read newsfeed, and you know which ones I’m talking about, this one is the polar opposite of that.  It’s intelligent, but well-developed and believable teenage characters, trying to deal with life, relationships, love, hate, and most importantly zombies.  It’s even got an ocean and a beach and it, which makes it good enough for me.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith & Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Could it be possible to make this much beloved classical work of literature any better than it already is?  I think the question that really needs to be asked, is could it possibly be made any worse?  With apologies to all the English professors in the family, and there are a few, everything is better with zombies.  Let me put it to you this way.  If your definition of the ultimate zombie story is Walking Dead, then you may want to take a pass on this one.  On the other hand, if Shaun of the Dead is your idea of the pinnacle of the zombie genre, then you owe it to yourself to give this one a once over.

The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks

The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead
The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead

And now for something completely different.  Don’t laugh.  These are survivable, practical, and logical steps you can take to make sure you survive the next zombie apocalypse.  On the other hand, go ahead and laugh… That’s what this book is all about.  Zombies don’t have to be about blood and gore and terror all the time.  They can be fun, and that’s what this book tries to do, quite successfully I might add.  It may not be the only zombie survival guide out there, just check out your favorite government website for their take on it, but at least this one is far more entertaining.

Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates

Zombie  by Joyce Carol Oates
Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates

Granted, this is not a zombie book by the literal definition of the term zombie.  It’s not an easy read, but with a little persistence I think you’ll see where the author is coming from.  It’s actually about a serial killer, which by definition is someone dead on the inside.  So, sort of a zombie.  It’s definitely an acquired taste, and what zombie books would be if written as pure literature.  If you don’t mind venturing into the dark recesses of the despicable human mind, then you may have what it takes to enjoy this book.  Certainly not for the faint of heart.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

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World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

This one’s an easy home run, and a pretty obvious pick for a collection of the biggest, baddest ass zombie books of all time. Certainly one of the most popular of our generation. Yes, they’ve made it into a movie, and yes, the book is far better than the movie. It’s just so much broader in scope, and tells a grander tale than a movie ever could.  If you’re really looking for a history lesson on how zombies have affected civilization over the millennia, you’ll love this one.  Like any popular book out there, this one has it’s detractors, but by and large, I feel pretty comfortable recommending this one.

Reign of the Dead by Len Barnhart

Reign of the Dead: Reloaded (Zombie Survival Series Book 1)
Reign of the Dead: Reloaded (Zombie Survival Series Book 1)

Here’s a little something that you may not have hear of.    A fun little series of the usual flesh crazed zombies.  There are currently three books in the series.  It’s got the usual cast of nasties including the zombie horde, as well as a bunch of humans that simply don’t know how to behave during a zombie apocalypse, and end up being more trouble than their worth.  High brow literature this isn’t, but if you’re looking for some mindless entertaining zombie fun and have managed to get through everything else in the list, then this might be a good time.

 

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/8997.Best_Zombie_Books

http://litreactor.com/columns/the-10-books-every-zombie-fan-must-read

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_zombie_novels

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/the-top-20-zombie-novels-of-the-last-decade/

http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/11/15-essential-zombie-reads

http://zombiepop.net/best-post-apocalyptic-books-youve-probably-never-heard/

http://www.bestzombiebooks.com/ten_best_zombie_books_list.htm

http://theguildedearlobe.wordpress.com/2012/05/25/my-top-10-zombie-novels-and-series/

All righty then.  I’ve showed you mine, how about you show me yours in the comments below.  What are you’re favorite zombie books of all times?  Let’s make this the biggest, baddest list of zombie books on the net 😉


29 thoughts on “The Best Zombie Books Out There”

  1. Adrian’s Undead Diary by Chris Phillbrook, is hands down the best series of the genre I have read, and I have read most…

  2. You have a couple of old books I haven’t read yet, thanks. There’s been a flood of zombie books this year. Some are honestly horrible! I’m always looking for a good new zombie book/series. I’m surprised that a few books didn’t make your list …

    The Zombie Fallout series by Mark Tufo, Z-Burbia series by Jake Bible, Apocalypse-Z trilogy by Manel Loureiro, The Remaining series by DJ Molles, a few stand alone books … The Girl with all the Gifts by MR Carey, Tankbread by Paul Mannering and Positive by David Wellington.

    Happy reading.

    1. Thanks Nancy, glad the list was helpful. I’ll be updating the list eventually, and your suggestions look great.

    2. Love the Zombie Fallout series by Mark Tufo!! I listened to the audiobooks and the narrator does a fabulous job!!

  3. There mere fact that you not only included The Rising, but also City of the Dead AND Dead Sea (and a few other favourites of mine) has given me great hope for this list.

    Other lists I have found of a similar nature will often give The Rising an honorable mention, but no further. And interestingly enough, very few books on those lists tend to make it to my personal list of favourites.

    Thank you for giving me a new list of summer reading 😉

  4. Great site, and its an excellent spot to peruse over my competition. As a new author, I am struggling with marketing and in general just making a name for myself.
    If you could add my novel to your list, that would be really awesome.
    “Death Row Apocalypse” is the title, and is available for Kindle and well as Paperback . This is a tale of Zombie vs Serial Killer, and answers the final question, “which monster is most feared?”
    #deathrowapocalypse @darrickmackey

    1. Best of luck with the novel Darrick. I can sympathize with your marketing comment. It’s a bit of a bear, and not nearly as much fun as writing.

  5. Great list. I agree with others about The Zombie Fall Out series. Also Dead South has become one of my favourite newer books too

  6. The Reaper’s Are The Angels is simply amazing too. Fantastic. Written by: Alden Bell

    Sometimes called TEEN literature….it isn’t. Trust me. I’m 45.

    1. Love love love this book. Gripping and powerful and intense and moving. Oh yeah, and plenty disturbing. Proves that the genre doesn’t have to be cheesy. Wish I could find a list with more like it!

  7. The john O’Brien series is great and it’s ten books. Tom Calen has a three book series called the tilian virus that was real good. The arisen series by glynn james that is on book 10….another great series……

  8. Here are my suggestions: Mark Tufo Zombie Fallout series, Shawn Chesser Surviving the Zombie series, Jake Bible Z-Burbia, Dead Team Alpha series’and Apex Trilogy, Eric Shelman Dead Hunger series, DJ Molles The Remaining series, WJ Lundy Whiskey Tango Foxtrot series, Armand Rosamilia Dying Days series, Bobby Adair Slow Burn series…. that should keep you busy for awhile 🙂

  9. The Arisen Series by Michael Stephen Fuchs is my favorite at the moment. Its a military zombie series where tier 1 operatives meet zombie apocalypse.

  10. Loved Adrian’s Undead series as well as Zombie Fallout and many of the others mentioned. I did not see Life Among The Dead Series by Daniel Cotton, The Apocalypse series by Peter Meredith, As The World Dies series by Rhiannon Frater…all really great! Oh and the podcast series We’re Alive…it’s awesome! I have to mention too that I only listen to Audible books and could not find any of your books there. Perhaps something to consider in the future….

  11. List looks good. Im new to the Zombie novels. I have read D.J. Molles Remaining series and was hooked. Mountain Man by Kieth Blackmore is also a fun read. Im currently reading, The Return Man by V.M. Zito, and it also has been a fun read so far. Will be checking out your books next Chris!

  12. Brian Keene, Jonathan Mayberry, and Joe McKinney have good books out there, I have added Rhiannon Frater to my collection. She has written a few books that I have enjoyed reading more than once particularly the “As the World Dies” series and the “Untold Stories”

  13. Woah, awesome roundup Chris!

    I just bought John Joseph Adam’s Living Dead compilation off the back of your post – I’d read his Wastelands/The End Is Near collection but I’d never come across his zombie-specific feature until now, so thanks 🙂

    You even inspired me to tackle my own roundup (albeit of general post apocalyptic fiction) – it’d be great to get your thoughts on my selection: http://ashtales.com/best-post-apocalyptic-books/

    Thanks again Chris!

  14. At the age of 54, I started reading Zombie novels. I’ve always considered myself to be a “serious” reader by reading only seriously acclaimed books. They all started feeling kind of formulaic to me, so I picked up World War Z on a whim and was hooked. Loved Adrian’s Undead Diaries, Zombie Fallout, and the Broken World series. Thanks for other zombie novels to look for. I haven’t quite given up on the “serious” books, but sometimes I just need a survival guidance from zombie experts!

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