seven zombie books you need to be reading right now – and why

 

The horror subgenre of the zombie is well known, loved, and completely crammed with books right now, and not just from self-published authors (though they do constitute a huge percentage of this).

Most zombie fans know their Max Brooks, their Walking Dead, and their… well, the other ones. What this list is going to do, is tell you the ten zombie books that you perhaps haven’t found yet. Maybe the author is a debut, or not well-known. Maybe you thought their fiction – or the book itself – wasn’t for you. All of these books deserve a place on the list for varying reasons – I encourage you to pick some up, support an author, and find this out for yourself.

There is no particular order – I have read – and love – all of these books.

Dead Meat by Patrick Williams and Chris Williams

Dead Meat!

http://hyperurl.co/DeadMeatZH

Dead Meat was a painful story to read, in a very positive way. The zombies are referred to as ‘bees’ (which I like, frequently extending the bees myself on the end of the eponymous phrase). What I liked about Dead Meat, was its setting in small-town rural USA. So many books hit the cities head-on, and reading how smaller communities would deal with things (or not) is reasonably fresh.

The pacing is excellent, and the action good. This is a page turner. It also stands in a very elite group of books, where I actually cried at the end. I had the privilege of interviewing the authors after reading this, and you can find that interview here.

It’s not a short read, though it is by no means The Stand. By the end, you’ll feel you have been put thoroughly through the ringer.

why you need to read this:

So many zombie survival stories are about groups, right decisions, and the humans in the story becoming monsters. Dead Meat does adhere to some genre tropes, but then it twists them around stabs you in the eye with them.

 

 

 

Time of Death: Induction by Shana Festa

http://hyperurl.co/ToDZH

Given Shana’s reputation, and the amount of books she has read and reviewed for the Bookie Monster, it is perhaps not surprising that her debut zombie novel is an absolute blast. We are straight into the action, with likeable, flawed, very human characters juxtaposed against an army of the undead you wouldn’t want to meet in real life. It’s like Game of Thrones for zombies – don’t decide that you have a favourite character, because no one is safe.

You can read the 5* review I wrote on this here.

The book has received wide acclaim, but needs more pushing (I personally think) as it’s a debut novel to love, and Festa is a horror author to watch. The second book of the series, Time of Death: Asylum is also out, and I’ll be ploughing through that this weekend, so keep your eyes out for the horror blog review!

why you need to read this:

No one is safe. Festa is bold and brash, and scythes through action and characters like Death at a harvest.

What our Eyes have Witnessed by Stant Litore

http://hyperurl.co/WitnessedZH

Say goodbye to your soul *and* your heart.

I am perhaps inclined to love Litore’s fiction no matter what he writes. He structures his work with care and infuses it with passion, and no matter what you pick up from his bibliography, you’re sure to enjoy.

That being said, I am going to recommend you ‘What Our Eyes have Witnessed’ from the Zombie Bible series. This is the standout favourite in Litore’s work so far for me. I zoned in for it initially, as I hadn’t seen any zombie titles set in the Roman era, and I felt I *needed* to read the book mainly, I admit, to criticize it for historical flaws (sad, I know). Sadly for me, and gladly for Litore, there were none, and I found a book that perhaps wasn’t full of action, but it was full of what many zombie books lack – humanity.

I fell in love with the characters he crafted, and with Dead Meat, is the only other zombie book that has made me cry at the end. It’s an emotional investment, but rather than the body-blows of Dead Meat, Litore rips out your heart, then pats you on the head afterwards trying to tell you everything will be okay. Well it isn’t, Litore. It will never be okay. You’re heartless, so now I’m going to have to read all of your books ever.

why you need to read this:

Litore’s prose is beautiful. Literally. I haven’t read an author like him in the genre before, and honestly, I doubt I ever will again.

Pulse: Genesis by Eloise Knapp

http://hyperurl.co/PulseGenesisZH

Eloise Knapp is a fantastic representative for the zombie genre, with several outstanding titles already on the market. Pulse is a self-published title. I have reviewed it here, and highly recommend you check out my interview with Eloise after I had finished reading the book.

Pulse made me physically sick at points – I’m not sure if you need much more of a recommendation than that! Suffice to say the action in Pulse is stomach-churning. The premise of the outbreak is different, and credible enough. I suppose the infected aren’t your traditional zombies, so perhaps it’s a little cheeky that I include it in this list, but it’s a title that definitely needs more buying, more reading, and more reviews!

There are multiple POV scenarios in Pulse which keeps you turning the page. I particularly enjoyed the infected POV elements, and look forward to more of that!

Pulse leaves you on a cliffhanger (so much of one in fact that I felt like hurling my Kindle out of the window. Luckily I was in a room without windows at the time) and you’re lucky, because the next book in the series is out now.

why you need to read this:

Read it for the awesome build story and infected POV alone. But also read it for the gross exploding things.

Great Bitten: Outbreak by Warren Fielding

http://hyperurl.co/GreatBittenZH

UK zombies! Yay! Wait? What do you mean you’ve never heard of Warren Fielding? Well, find out. This book isn’t 28 Days Later, and it’s not Sean of the Dead. What it is, is the first-person experience of a narcissistic (and mildly hapless) journalist as he stumbles his way through the early days of a zombie apocalypse. It’s all based in England, though there are so few geographical references that you only really feel this from the way the book is written. It’s fast-paced and darkly funny, with at least one twist on the standard “genre” zombie. It’s another cliffhanger book which will leave you wanting to hurl some things at other things, but that’s okay. The next book is out in June, and Warren is building a massive zombie world, releasing short stories for you to enjoy whilst you wait for the next instalment.

Great Bitten is gaining quite the plaudits on Amazon UK, but readers in the USA (and abroad) appear more hesitant. Give it a try, you may just like it!

why you need to read this:

Silent zombies. And the most sarcastically deadpan apocalypse I’ve seen.

 

 

 

Tankbread by Paul Mannering

http://hyperurl.co/TankbreadZH

From the UK to Australia – Tankbread has a reasonable following but, like Great Bitten, I think it could do with more international acknowledgement. Some people on this list craft their stories, and some people kill indiscriminately. Mannering has somehow contrived to do both with some admirable aplomb.

This is another book that I have reviewed, here, and books two and three of the series are now out to complete it.

Tankbread is not for the faint-hearted, nor for the squeamish. It’s full of gore, terror, more gore, extra gore, and layers of thick, creamy action. Again, I felt nauseous in parts, but the first book made me fall in love with the series as a whole. Think Mad Max meets The Fifth Element meets Resident Evil, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be there. The book takes place a decade after an outbreak has already decimated the world, so the ‘Evols’ (that’s zombies to me and you) are running the show, so it’s a different take on a genre that is often struggling for new ideas.

why you need to read this:

This is the zombie book Eli Roth wished he’d written (probably, I haven’t actually asked him).

 

The Valley of the Dead by Kim Paffenroth

http://hyperurl.co/ValleyZH

DO NOT go that way

We’ve had a journey across the ages, and we come now to a zombie book based on a piece of classical work. It would have been so easy to include Pride and Prejudice and Zombies here, but everyone knows that one, and it’s hardly original (and actually, I didn’t like it so much). Paffenroth’s Valley of the Dead however, was quite riveting. If you’ve read Dante’s Inferno already then you will appreciate the play between the two. I love fictional adaptations and Paffenroth’s an author of already-acknowledged talent. The reason Valley makes this list, is because his adaptation… well… it isn’t cheesy like so many others. There is still suspense, there is still tension, and there are very obvious moments of sheer horror.

I’d also recommend the audio version – I actually picked the Audible version up first before I read the book and the narration is second to none, really suiting the style of the story.

why you need to read this:

Classical fiction meets visceral horror in an excellent rendering of a well-known tale.

 

honourable mentions:

  • AR Wise’s Deadlocked series
  • Joshua Guess’ Living With the Dead series
  • the Darlings of Decay short story collection

 

what did I miss?

No list is perfect and these are just my opinion. Feel free to add your own suggestions below!

11 thoughts on “seven zombie books you need to be reading right now – and why

  1. I found Rotten Legend by Sylvan Kills to have a fresh take on zombies. And there is a bit more to the book than just the average zompoc. The Gameland Series by Saul Tanpepper really uses the zombies as supporting characters. It isn’t about a zombie apocalypse but a dystopian society and may be considered by some as a YA series. Nevertheless, I really like it. I have recently discovered female zombie authors & now seek out their work. Some are mentioned above and others to read are Julie Rudolph, Claire Riley, Rachel Aukes, Tracey Ward. To close out the list I have to say The Mountain Man Series by Keith Blackmore and all books by DJ Molles.

    1. Zombie Fallout is an excellent series – but everyone knows that :) this is more to give readers an opportunity to find some books they might have otherwise overlooked. I’m going through the whole of Zombie Fallout and will be dedicating a whole blog post to it, hopefully at some point soon!

  2. “March the Damned” by Jeremiah Israel. It’s Book One in the “Flying Zombies” trilogy. A bizarro book that combines celebrity culture, zombie apocalypse, alien invasion, and Illuminati conspiracy into one over-the-top grindhouse-style gore-filled, humor tinged monstrosity. Easily one of the most unique zombie novels you will ever read.

  3. any of the Mark Tufo books (Zombie Fallout and Book of Riley for starters), James Cook, and John O’brien are all series I highly recommend

  4. I agree with most of your list. The zombie bible is informative. I like to read pet cemetery and tha shining this time of the year!

  5. The first zombie book I ever read was Ground Zero by Nicholas Ryan. It’s the book that got me hooked on zombies. He has since written Die Trying, Dead Rage and Zombie War. I highly recommend all of these to anyone who loves the genre.

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