A list of Great Zombie Novels
I must admit my original obsession with zombies came through film rather than books. As a teenager, my bedroom was the cold, little attic room at the top of the house (poor me!) I loved it with a passion. I could read in peace, listen to music, write crappy poems and best of all watch horror movies on the ancient old telly!
One particular night, channel surfing and unable to sleep, I came across an odd, little black and white movie. “They’re coming to get you Barb-ara,” the creepy man in the graveyard called. Crazy flesh-eating awesomeness ensued. And that was it – I was hooked!
A run-down of the best zombie novels
Over the years I’ve never lost my passion for the horror genre, or zombies, but I’d never read a zombie novel until the mid noughties, when I stumbled across the fab Brain Keene novel, The Rising (which I know is not to everyone’s taste, but I love it, so there!)
I’ve read a lot of zombie novels over the years since then. I’ve even taken the plunge and am writing one myself. I’ve found some corkers, and also frankly some not so great! So if you like, here’s my list of what I consider to be the best Zombie novels out there. Some of them are pretty well known, like World War Z – while others are a little more obscure.
I’ve only included really good zombie books I’ve actually read, so let me know if there are any gems I might have missed.
List of great zombie novels
1The Rising – Brian Keene
The story of Jim Thurmond, a determined father battling his way across a post-apocalyptic zombie landscape, to find his young son. Accompanied by Martin, a preacher still holding to his faith, and Frankie, a recovering heroin addict with an indomitable will to survive, Jim travels from state to state and town to town, facing an endless onslaught of undead hordes, and the evils perpetrated by his fellow man.
2City of the Dead – Brian Keene
In this sequel to THE RISING, cities are overrun with legions of the undead, intent on destroying what’s left of the living. Trapped inside a fortified skyscraper, a handful of survivors prepare to make their last stand against an unstoppable, merciless enemy. With every hour their chances diminish and their numbers dwindle, while the ranks of the dead continue to rise. Because sooner or later, everything dies. And then it comes back, ready to kill.
3Autumn – David Moody
In less than twenty-four hours a vicious and virulent viral epidemic destroys virtually all of the population. Billions are killed, within minutes. There are no symptoms and no warnings; within moments of infection each victim suffers a violent and agonising death.
At the end of ten minutes, only a handful of survivors remain. By the end of the first day those survivors wish they were dead. By the end of the first week, as the dead get up and walk, they know they are in hell.
4World War Z – Max Brooks
It began with rumours from China about another pandemic. Then the cases started to multiply and what had looked like the stirrings of a criminal underclass, even the beginnings of a revolution, soon revealed itself to be much, much worse. Faced with a future of mindless, man-eating horror, humanity was forced to accept the logic of world government and face events that tested our sanity and our sense of reality.
5The Zombie Survival Guide – Max Brooks
Drawing from reams of historical data, laboratory experiments, field research, and eyewitness accounts, this comprehensive and illustrated guide is the only book you’ll need to face the greatest challenge mankind has ever encountered.
6Rot and Ruin – Jonathan Maberry
Nearly fourteen years ago, a freak virus swept across the world – turning those infected into the undead. Benny Imura has grown-up never knowing anything different; his last memory of his parents was of them becoming zombies. Now Benny is fifteen, and joining his brother Tom in the ‘family business’ of zombie killing.
Benny and Tom head into the Rot and Ruin, an area full of the wandering undead, and Benny realises that being a bounty hunter isn’t just about whacking zombies. Benny finds his beliefs challenged – and discovers that sometimes the worst monsters you can imagine aren’t the zombies, after all…
7Patient Zero – Jonathan Maberry
When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week, then there’s either something wrong with your skills or something wrong with your world. And there’s nothing wrong with my skills.’
Police officer Joe Ledger, martial arts expert, ex-army, self-confessed brutal warrior is scared. The man he’s just killed is the same man he killed a week ago. He never expected to see the man again, definitely not alive, and definitely not as part of the recruitment process for the hyper-secret government agency the Department for Military Sciences. But the DMS are scared too: they have word of a terrorist plot straight from a nightmare – a bid to spread a plague through America – a plague that kills its victims and turns them into zombies.
8My Life as a White Trash Zombie – Diana Rowland
Angel Crawford is a loser. Living with her alcoholic deadbeat dad in the swamps of southern Louisiana, she’s a high school dropout with a pill habit and a criminal record who’s been fired from more crap jobs than she can count. Now on probation for a felony, it seems that Angel will never pull herself out of the downward spiral her life has taken.
That is, until the day she wakes up in the ER after overdosing on painkillers. Angel remembers being in an horrible car crash, but she doesn’t have a mark on her. To add to the weirdness, she receives an anonymous letter telling her there’s a job waiting for her at the parish morgue–and that it’s an offer she doesn’t dare refuse. Before she knows it she’s dealing with a huge crush on a certain hunky deputy and a brand new addiction: an overpowering craving for brains. Plus, her morgue is filling up with the victims of a serial killer who decapitates his prey–just when she’s hungriest!
Angel’s going to have to grow up fast if she wants to keep this job and stay in one piece. Because if she doesn’t, she’s dead meat. Literally.
9Coldbrook – Tim Lebbon
The facility lay deep in Appalachian Mountains, a secret laboratory called Coldbrook. Its scientists had achieved the impossible: a gateway to a new world. Theirs was to be the greatest discovery in the history of mankind, but they had no idea what they were unleashing.
With their breakthrough comes disease and now it is out and ravaging the human population. The only hope is a cure and the only cure and the only cure is genetic resistance: an uninfected person amongst the billions dead.
In the chaos of destruction there is only one person that can save the human race. But will they find her in time?
10Carnage Road – Gregory Lamberson
Boone and Walker are the last members of the Floating Dragons motorcycle gang. When the zombie apocalypse turns the world upside down, they hit the open road to discover America. No responsibilities, no rules, no system. Like Frank and Jesse James, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, all they need are steeds and sidearms.
11Zombie Fallout – Mark Tufo
It was a flu season like no other. With the H1N1 virus running rampant throughout the country, people lined up in droves to try and attain one of the coveted vaccines. What was not known was the effect this largely untested, rushed to market, inoculation was to have on the unsuspecting throngs. Within days, feverish folk throughout the country convulsed, collapsed, and died, only to be reborn. With a taste for brains, blood, and bodies, these modern-day zombies scoured the lands for their next meal. Overnight the country became a killing ground for the hordes of zombies that ravaged the land.
12The First Days (As the World Dies) – Rhiannon Frater
The morning that the world ends, Katie is getting ready for court and housewife Jenni is taking care of her family. Less than two hours later, they are fleeing for their lives from a zombie horde.
Thrown together by circumstance, Jenni and Katie become a powerful zombie-killing partnership, mowing down zombies as they rescue Jenni’s stepson, Jason, from an infected campground.
They find sanctuary in a tiny, roughly fortified Texas town. There Jenni and Katie find they are both attracted to Travis, leader of the survivors; and the refugees must slaughter people they know, who have returned in zombie form.
13Dead in the West – Joe R. Lansdale
Mud Creek, Texas is doing alright—a real, thriving little community with a hotel, a café and a church, in addition to the livery and saloon. Seems like just the right sort of place for Reverend Jebidiah Mercer to pitch a tent and hold a revival. They shouldn’t have gotten together and lynched that Indian medicine man, though. They really shouldn’t have done that. It’s a good thing the Reverend can shoot, because in the dark of night, the dead of Mud Creek are rising… and they’re hungry.
14The Last Bastion of the Living – Rhiannon Frater
As long as the undead hordes of the Inferi Scourge howl outside the dying city, the last remaining humans struggle to survive inside The Bastion. Vanguard Maria Martinez has lived her entire life within the towering walls. Her only refuge from the overcrowded streets, rolling blackouts, and food shortages is in the arms of Officer Dwayne Reichardt. Then Maria is summoned to meet with a mysterious representative from the Science Warfare Division and is offered the opportunity to finally destroy the Inferi Scourge and reclaim the land and resources in the valley beyond the wall. If she succeeds, the city may be saved.
15Feed – Mira Grant
The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED.
Now, twenty years after the Rising, bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives – the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will get out, even if it kills them.
16Plague of the Undead – Joe McKinney
A Handful Of Survivors: For thirty years, they have avoided the outbreak of walking death that has consumed America’s heartland. They have secured a small compound near the ruins of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Isolated from the world. Immune to the horror. Blissfully unaware of what lies outside in the region known as the Dead Lands. Until now…A New Generation Of Explorers: Led by a military vet who’s seen better days, the inexperienced offspring of the original survivors form a small expedition to explore the wastelands around them.
17By the Blood of Heroes – Joseph Nassise
When the American ace Major Jack Freeman–poster boy for the war against the Kaiser’s undead army of shamblers–is shot down over enemy lines and taken captive, veteran Captain Michael “Madman” Burke is the only man brave and foolish enough to accept the mission to recover him. Burke assembles a team of disparate members – his right-hand man, Sergeant Moore, big-game-hunter-turned-soldier Clayton Manning, and Professor Dan Graves, one of Tesla’s top men and the resident authority on all things supernatural, among them – to dare the impossible. With the help of a highly advanced British dirigible war machine used to infiltrate enemy territory, the team will face incredible danger as it struggles to reach the prison camp and strike at the heart of the enemy.
18Zombie, Ohio – Scott Kenemore
When rural Ohio college professor Peter Mellor dies in an automobile accident during a zombie outbreak, he is reborn as a highly intelligent (yet somewhat amnesiac) member of the living dead. With society crumbling around him and violence escalating into daily life, Peter quickly learns that being a zombie isn’t all fun and brains.
19Ex-Heroes – Peter Clines
They were superheroes fighting to make Los Angeles a better place.
Then the plague of living death spread. Billions died, civilization fell, and the City of Angels was left a desolate zombie wasteland.
But the ex-humans aren’t the only threats the heroes face. Another group is amassing power . . . led by an enemy with the most terrifying ability of all.
20I am Legend – Richard Matheson
I know, I know – vampires / zombies whatever – (that’s an argument for another day!) It really is an excellent book, one of my favourites. Highly recommended.