Wed
Nov 7 2012 1:00pm

15 Essential Zombie Reads

15 Essential Zombie Reads

Between last Sunday’s game-changing episode of The Walking Dead and our first glimpse of the (extremely) long-awaited film adaptation of World War Z, it seems that shambling, undead hordes are once again haunting the collective unconscious...Whether they’re mindless, brain-eating fiends, or self-aware, or just dancing or falling in love, zombies are here to stay. Below are 15 essential reads to satisfy even the most brain-hungry zombie fans.

Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry

When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week, there’s either something wrong with your world or something wrong with your skills... and there’s nothing wrong with Joe Ledger’s skills. He’s a Baltimore detective that has just been secretly recruited by the government for a new taskforce created to deal with the problems that Homeland Security can’t handle...including a hideous new bioweapon capable of turning ordinary people into zombies.

 

My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland

Self-aware zombies are a great twist on the classic formula. It’s so hard to have a zombie as a protagonist, but Diana Rowland pulls it off excellently with her White Trash Zombie series. Will Angela Crawford be able to resist her newfound desire to eat brains? Will she find love? This urban fantasy adds southern charm and humor to an unorthodox zombie story.

 

 

Feed (Newsflesh Trilogy #1) by Mira Grant

What would a zombie invasion look like from the perspective of a blogger? Mira Grant’s Feed answers that question as well as mixing political intrigue into an already action-packed plot. The first books was once described  by The A.V. Club as “The West Wing by way of George Romero.” If you want politics with your zombies, The Newsflesh Trilogy is for you.

 

 

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Probably the most unique take on zombies on this list, this one is an honest-to-goodness sexy zombie romance. Don’t think zombies can be sexy or romantic? Well, check out the book that will defy all the preconceptions you might have about love and the undead!

 

 

 

The Living Dead, edited by John Joseph Adams

From Stephen King to Poppy Z. Brite, Neil Gaiman, Laurell K. Hamilton and the great Harlan Ellison, this anthology has a talented range of awesome authors ready and willing to take on zombies, and take the genre to a whole new level. From editor John Joseph Adams, this may be the definitive zombie short story anthology.

 

The Brain Eater’s Bible by J.D. McGhoul with Pat Kilbane

If you wake up and find that you’ve turned into a zombie, this book will prove to be invaluable. Written as a kind of self-help book, the road to accepting yourself as a member of the reanimated dead can be tough, but The Brain Eater’s Bible has all the advice you’ll need to adjust. Don’t think of yourself as slow and stupid! You’re just a zombie. Learn to deal.

 

Portlandtown by Rob DeBorde

Are you ready for a rollicking supernatural western set in a zombie-infested Oregon? It’s the Wyldes versus the zombies with a little bit of magic thrown in there too. If the floods don’t get you, the shamblers will!

 

 

 

As the World Dies: A Zombie Trilogy by Rhiannon Frater

Here’s a series of books which helped proved that self-published authors can make it online and eventually have a major book deal on their hands. If you’re looking for some action-packed zombie-killing, look no further than Frater’s Jenni and Katie shooting up the undead, Texas-style!

 

 

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

This YA title is set post-zombie apocalypse, as the cannibalistic undead try to attack a small band of survivors in a forest is protected by the Sisterhood of the Guardians (and a fence which traps the living as well as it keeps out the dead). Narrated by the teenaged survivor Mary, the book has a personal feel on par with The Hunger Games. Does the ocean still exist? Is Mary wrong to believe in it? Read this novel and the rest in the bestselling series to find out.

 

The Passage by Justin Cronin

Though heralded as book riding on the mainstream vampire craze, all sorts of mutants show up in Justin Cronin’s The Passage trilogy, including zombie-like creatures. After releasing this first book in a planned trilogy to widespread acclaim in 2011, Cronin then heated things up with the recent sequel, The Twelve. This is one great series to follow if you aren’t already on board!

 

The Zombie Combat Manual: A Guide to Fighting the Living Dead by Roger Ma

Roger Ma’s handy Zombie Combat Manual can turn anyone into a seasoned, zombie-slaying warrior. Let’s not just survive the zombie outbreak, let’s take the fight back to the brain-eaters! A great satire of a bygone era of combat/survival manuals.

 

 

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

One of the leading authors in the steampunk genre, Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker is the first book in the Clockwork Century series, which will see its latest installment released next week with The Inexplicables! Not only do Priest’s novels feature anachronistic alternate history around every turn, but there are zombies lurking, too! Boneshaker was also recently optioned for a movie, so it’s time to get caught up on this truly awesome series.

 

World War Z by Max Brooks

Following his satirical Zombie Survival Guide, Max Brooks took a decidedly more serious approach with World War Z. Told from numerous perspectives from around the globe, this zombie apocalypse feels frighteningly real. Though the film adaptation has been bogged down in development problems (and you might be having mixed reactions to the aforementioned teaser trailer), the novel is worth anyone’s time—zombie fan, or no.

 

Dead of Night by Jonathan Maberry

A prison doctor injects a condemned serial killer with a formula designed to keep his consciousness awake while his body rots in the grave....but some drugs have unforeseen side effects. Before he can be buried, the killer wakes up.  Hungry. Infected. Contagious. This is the way the world ends: not with a bang…but a bite.

 

 

The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore

If you’re a fan of the runaway hit TV series of the same name, remember it all started here! Robert Kirkman’s dark tale about a zombie outbreak and its aftermath makes us not only fear the undead, but worry about how the survivors of this horrific future can possibly learn to trust each other in the face of so much carnage. Essential reading for any zombie fan.

 

So that’s our list, but of course there’s plenty more where that came from—let us know which of your favorite zombie books should be considered required reading!


Stubby the Rocket is the voice and mascot of Tor.com. Stubby always aims for the head. Stubby rarely misses.

71 comments
Kirshy
1. Kirshy
There are no zombies in The Passage. Please provide an example.
Kirshy
3. TheSaint08D
Ive heard that Raising of Stony Mayhall is a fantastic zombie book...just hearsay...just sayin'
Kirshy
4. jva
Five words: The Reapers Are the Angels.
Kirshy
5. Dean B.
Pretty good list. But whaddabout?

1. "The Rising," Brian Keene
2. "The Reapers Are The Angels," Alden Bell
3. "Don't Eat Cat," Jess Walter (Kindle Single)
Kirshy
6. Cautious Train
Blurgh... The Passage was horrible.

And try "Zone One" by Colson Whitehead, that's a great zombie read.
james Pope
7. jim162065
The passage is a vampire storie, still it has the same feel as the zombie storie.
Kirshy
8. Thaxll
The Reapers Are the Angels is the best story featuring zombies I know of, and one of the best books I've ever read. It's a hauntingly beautiful book.

Another interesting zombie novel is Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines. It has the zombie apocalypse take place in a world where superheroes exist. The surviving superheroes have fortified themselves in Hollywood and try to protect the remnants of humanity against the zombie horde, which includes some zombiefied fallen superheroes.

And the Passage is a zombie apocalypse story for all intents and purposes. That it features monstrous vampires instead of zombies is just a detail.
Kirshy
9. Clamarnicale
I think Reaper Man, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett, deserves a mention.
Jack Flynn
10. JackofMidworld
I did a quick skim of titles and have to add one more to the list. Plague of the Dead by Z. A. Recht is a very good read. It's the first part in a trilogy (he was a young guy and, sadly, died between book 2 being published & finishing book 3 but somebody else did eventually pick up and finish up the last) and, for anybody who has actually served in the US Army, you can tell that he has, too.

A quick edit, now that I've actually read the list. I've read almost half of these and it's a very good list. I'll have to check out the ones I haven't read yet. Can't wait to see what everybody else adds, too.
Kirshy
11. Kestrelhill
Paladin of Souls, by Lois McMaster Bujold. No, seriously. It's a zombie romance.
JUAN DIEGO GOMEZ
12. juandiegomez
Another vote for Daaryl Gregory's "Raising Stony Mayhall"!
Kirshy
13. Depatter
Patrick D'Orazio's The Dark Trilogy gets my vote.
Kirshy
14. Richard Becker
Brains: A Zombie's Memoir by Robin Becker
One of the earlier books on the zombies tale as told by the zombie himself. As with all viruses there are mutations and she gives a select group differnt abilities so they can cope in their new melieu. Worth the read.
Bruce Arthurs
15. Bruce-Arthurs
The classic template for zombie stories has no zombies in it. I'm talking about "Leiningen vs. the Ants" by Carl Stephenson, first published in ESQUIRE in 1938. The oncoming horde of army ants in that story are mindless, seemingly without number, and they will eat you if you get in their way.
Chuk Goodin
16. Chuk
I've read The Raising of Stony Mayhall and it was excellent although it's probably only technically a zombie book.
Kirshy
17. claire1220
Day by Day Armageddon by J.L. Bourne.
Kirshy
18. DavidGreybeard
I've read a few zombie books and the very best I've read is
BREATHERS: A ZOMBIE'S LAMENT by S.G. BROWNE
Kirshy
19. Shira W
What about the Aftertime series by Sophie Littlefield?
Kirshy
20. ZombieFan
There's a new one in the genre, that puts a zombie twist on the clasic "Choose Your Own Adventure" books. INFECTED.
Adam Christopher
21. AdamChristopher
No list of zombie novels is complete without THIS DARK EARTH by John Hornor Jacobs. Even for zombie fans a little tired and jaded of our beloved shamblers, there is something new in this book that makes it *highly* recommended.

Good to see MY LIFE AS A WHITE TRASH ZOMBIE in the list. One of my favourite books, ever.
Kirshy
22. xrobzix
i am missing the zombie books named : monster island, monster nation and monster world, by david wellington, this trilogy works on more than one level and is very entertaining certainly desirved a mention on this list
Kirshy
23. CRT
Too bad Patient Zero was terrible. Double Dead by Chuck Wendig is better times a thousand.
Kirshy
24. DebS
You left out Scott Kenemore's excellent Zombie, Ohio!
Kirshy
25. Shamus
Mira Grant's Feed is the worst book I have ever read.
Kirshy
26. Mary DeBorde
A few other must-reads are:
The Reapers Are The Angels
Pariah (one of my favorites)
Enclave & Outpost
Kirshy
27. Darket
I know they're not 'zombies' but... Where's "I Am Legend"!!
Kirshy
28. Basel Gill
Where is Cell by Stephen King?
Kirshy
30. Scott K.
THE PASSAGE is great, but it doesn't belong on a list of Zombie books. AUTUMN by David Moody should be on this list instead.
Kirshy
31. Keith M
I am thrilled Jonathan Mayberry is represented, he is an incredible author but where is my man Joe McKinney. Joe has a set of books called the DEAD WORLD series that turns the world upside down with incredible characters, action packed flesh eating and man's inhumanity to man and to zombies. If you haven't read the DEAD WORLD set, I would put down all reads and grab these as quick as you can.

In addition, check out Wayne Simmons, a young Irish lad that has introduced zombie-ism through the FLU and FEVER. I love the setting as much as Joe's (since he is Texan and I hail from the same state) but the uniqueness of this occurring in Ireland let's you imagine the onset in a foreign locale. Wayne has done an incredible job with the culture and the attacks.

That said, I love the WALKING DEAD books. Kirkman and Bonansinga bring the gaps in the WALKING DEAD show and comic to life with RISE OF THE GOVERNOR and ROAD TO WOODBURY. Intelligent writing with great action and descriptive text that will keep you awake at night fearing the knashing of teeth outside the door.

Not a real great list but hey, I guess they can't be right all the time. TOR is a great publishing house.
Kirshy
32. Derek H
Raising Stony Mahall by Daryl Gregory is a great Zombie read
Kirshy
33. Linda C
I love your list and look forward to reading the books on it. However, I think that Jonathan Maberry's BENNY IMURA series which includes ROT & RUIN, DUST & DECAY and FLESH & BONE should definitely be included. This series is an excellent read for both young adults and adults alike. I highly recommend it!!
Kirshy
34. TwoTone
What about Keaton's ZEE BEE & BEE or Brooks' ZOMBIE SURVIVAL GUIDE???
Kirshy
35. brian J
Lotta good add-ons here already, try NOT DEAD by a`la Dang(?) as well. A little short (novella), but waaay worth the read.
Walker White
36. Walker
Patient Zero reads like Mary Sue fan fiction. Joe Ledger and his random friends are just magically more competent than everyone else working in this field for ever.

But at least you did not put that Brian Keene garbage on your list. I give you points for that.
Kirshy
37. bormanator
The 5 book series "Autumn" is excellent.
Kirshy
38. Jennybo
What about Zombielicious by Timothy Mcgivney? Gays are hot right now.
James Howard
39. hoghead
Ok folks let me shine a light on some decent Zombie fare-such would be Ty Schwamberger's-The Fields tale is set in the deep south and for sure does a unique spin on the usual Zombie tale,it is good,spooky and well worth the cost.In fact I have yet to read any bad work by this guy,so I am gonna highly suggest this one especially..
Kirshy
40. Land Down Undead
A great list.

I am personally thankful to Max Brooks for turning zombie novels into a serious little sub-genre of the modern novel.

If any readers are looking for a quick zombie comedy fix then they can dig into our comedy novella Land Down Undead about backpacking through Australia after the zombie apocalypse.
Kirshy
41. jonboywalton
One Bloody Thing After Another by Joey Comeau (of "A Softer World" fame - www.asofterworld.com). Maybe not strictly a zombie book, it cetrtainly has zombie in it, and her young daughter trying to keep her in check and hold on to some semblance of normalcy for herself and her younger sister. It's an often funny and incredibly touching story and I can't recommend it highly enough.
Kirshy
42. ShamblerFan
Pretty good list, but definately incomplete. My favorite is ZOMBIES: A RECORD OF THE YEAR OF INFECTION by DON ROFF & CHRIS LANE. Probably the best artwork of any zombie book out there. Period.
Kirshy
43. Wendy Darling
The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell is spectacular--written like a literary zombie western. Love Newsflesh and Warm Bodies as well!
Kirshy
44. Gabrielle Feather
The 'Feed' trilogy by Mira Grant were by far the most unique, fantastically written, darkly funny zombie books I have ever had the pleasure to read- 3 times!! I was sad when I finished Feed because I had been so immersed in it, and when I found out that it was an actual series I though I'd died and gone to heaven!! There were a few little idiosyncrasies in the second book 'Countdown', but that was probably because was so intensely enthralled I couldn't put it down long enough to let my head clear!! Definitely highly recommended, also World War Z & Survival Guide for the Zombie Apocalypse by Max Brooks (Mel Brooks' son). I am a very avid zombie fiction reader so I hope this little insight can be of benefit to others!!
Kirshy
45. KES
There is a really popular up-and-coming book called After America: Plague. Very entertaining read. Here is the link:

http://www.amazon.com/After-America-Plague-ebook/dp/B00AU6J0DC/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top
Kirshy
46. Alex Arcade
I would suggested  a book series called The book of Flesh, anthology of zombie stories from fantastic writter's, my favourite is the book of more flesh, from zombie rabbits to love stories in zombie amusement parks, its got everything for a pure zombie nut.
Kirshy
47. ThatGirlBoog
The "Autumn" series by David Moody is really good! 5 amazing books,a nd I found it hard to put each of them down! I also heard his "Hater" trilogy is awesome, but I havn't started it yet. I would add Z.A. Rechts's "Plague of the Dead" trilogy as well!
Kirshy
48. denton214
I just read a new zombie novel called the Night Sweeper. Super cool. It was very action oriented and was kind-of a new take on the genre I think. It's supposed to be the start of a series and it has a killer cliffhanger.
Kirshy
49. mjk9564
Where is Apocalypse Z a great zombie book and a lot better than a few of these.
Kirshy
50. Annalynne
COOKIE, zombie apocalypse by Scarlett Dupree has fast, scary zombies that talk. pretty creepy. And the lead is a girl that kicks zombie ass. Really witty and funny and full of gore. It's got some pretty hot sex in it as well. Definitely recommend.

I've read the five book series Autumn which i loved. Great blog and I just bought my life as a white trash, so thanks for the recommend!
Kirshy
52. Ollie 2600
I've just finished the Reapers Are The Angels based on recomendations from this site and i have to say its fantastic. I'm almost in mourning that i've finished it.
Its stunning and will stay with me for a long time. As someone said its hauntingly beautiful.
Kirshy
54. Zombielover
Get out of my head!!! Read every one of those books and I think these were good picks for MUST reads!
Kirshy
55. RonA
I have just released a new book, Bisexual Vegetarian Zombies - available on Amazon.com. It is an intelligent political commentary wrapped up in a zombie parody. I have gotten very strong feedback from all initial readers.
Kirshy
56. Laughing Crow
No zombie book list is complete without Zombie Attack! by Devan Sagliani. That book is amazing!
Kirshy
61. John F. Holmes
Even Zombie Killers Get The Blues

www.facebook.com/ezkgtb

A military oriented approach to the Zombie Story, it focuses more on the soldiers themselves the zombies.

The chapters are posted every few days as a serial on Facebook. Volume One is on sale on Amazon.
Kirshy
62. DMR
The Remaining series by D.J. Molles is a solid read, JJ Zep's 14 novela Zombie D.O.A. series is wild and fun but raw (bad editing), and
Manel Loureiro's Apocalypse Z is a fun read about the plague in Europe.
Kirshy
63. Billy B.
Couple zombie E-readers that I would put on the list. They probably don't get as much attention as they paper books. The first is The Remaining by D.J. Molles and the second is The Demented by Derek Thomas. Both were well paced, gritty zombie books.
Kirshy
64. gettostoner
all yall should go and read EDEN by Tony Monchinski and Tommy Arlin. it's really good.
Kirshy
65. Zombie Lover
You should check out Great Bitten by Warren Fielding. Great up and coming writer.
Kirshy
66. RickZombie
Lol. people are so obsessed with zombie apocalypse idea that we'll be watching a "Zombie Diaries" TV Show in nearest future :DD (no Dobrev in it). Btw i'm obsessed to, watched every movie with zombies, even played every flah zomgie games on the net. :)
Kirshy
68. luke and cody fan
The Zombie Notebooks is the funniest zombie story I have read in a while. I read it cuz Kirkus review said it was like the walking dead. I wouldn't compare it to that - it was filled with teenagers and it was funny. I would call it a Buffy, with zombies instead of vampires.
Kirshy
69. @geekiestgirl
I was surprised to not see any mentions of LZR-1143 by Bryan James. The series was an excellent, fast-paced read.
Kirshy
70. Eric Michael
Into the Darkness by Fox Lee is an an outstanding horror novel with unique zombies and a very original format that features the "bad guys" and zombies. Last time I saw, it had over 25 reviews and they were all 5-star reviews.
Kirshy
71. PKivolowitz
(full disclosure - I am the author)

Get Off My L@wn is said in many reviews to be a different take on the zombie genre. For starters it's told from the point of view of a middle aged computer programmer...

Please check it out on Amazon. Thanks!
Kirshy
72. Rob Deighton
Very interesting! I watched something on YouTube that was very similar to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOLCoCfApcQ

Entire Tales of the Living Dead on YouTube to watch for free.
Kirshy
73. Experience Zombies
Great list - a few there that we haven't read so thanks for sharing! If you're interested in real zombies check out our zombie experience day website :-)
Kirshy
74. Uggghhhh
The Zombie Survival Guide was not, is not, and never will be "satire." Brooks has said in many interviews that he wrote a survival guide, not a satirical look at one. He says that you can remove the zombies and survive in other situations. Brooks has said for years that it irks him that the book is often in the "humor" section of bookstores.

I also have never seen Roger Ma say that his book is a satirical look at survival guides or combat manuals. He maintains a website with his fighting techniques, has demonstrated his techniques for tv shows, and so on.
Kirshy
75. Zombie Fan
If you wanna read a unique but morbidly hilarious take on the zombie genre, search Amazon for "I Am Become Zombie" by C. L. Allen. He's an indie author, but trust me. It's freaking great. Part 2 is due out this summer.
Kirshy
76. Marla Salinger
Some of those r pretty good. U don't have my favorite tho.
Requiem for Humanity, Last days book one, by Joseph Sweet
Epic! get it! Read it! Love it! Can't say enough. I've read it like ten times. waiting impatiently for book two.
Kirshy
77. FayeG
Don't foregot... Apacolypse Z: Begining of the End, Apacolypse Z: Dark Days, Apacolypse Z: The Wrath of the Just.
I vouch 100% this is a great read. I read all three and hope there are more to be translated.

Written by: Manel Loureiro and beautifully translated by: Pamela Carmell.

"An international bestselling author, Manel Loureiro was born in Pontevedra, Spain, and studied law at Universidad de Santiago de Compostela. After graduation, he worked in television, both on-screen (appearing on Television de Galicia) and behind-the-scenes as a writer. His Apocalypse Z novels, including The Beginning of the End and Dark Days, took him from the blogosphere to bestsellerdom, earning him acclaim as "the Spanish Stephen King" by La Voz de Galicia. He continues to reside in his native Pontevedra, where, in addition to writing, he is still a practicing lawyer."
Kirshy
79. Joseph Tremblay
Hey Dudes,
Has anyone tried reading Adrian's Undead Diary? It's like 8 complete novels and probably the funniest zombie apocalypse story I've ever read.

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