Books about zombies are as tough and relentless as their shambling characters—just when you think every possible angle about the undead has been covered, a new author comes up with a fresh take and the whole genre is, if you’ll pardon the irony, revitalized!
From classic zombie tales to fresh interpretations, we’ve herded some of our favorite shambling corpses into the reinforced containment unit of a list post. Check out our picks below, and be sure to add your own in the comments!
All of these titles can be found in the Tor Store on iBooks!
In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus was Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born. But on its first test run the Boneshaker went terribly awry, destroying several blocks of downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas that turned anyone who breathed it into the living dead.
Now, sixteen years later, a wall encloses the devastated and toxic city. Just beyond it lives Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teenaged boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. Until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history…
Rot & Ruin (Benny Imura series)—Jonathan Maberry
In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half.
Benny doesn’t want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash… but he isn’t expecting a dead-end job to become a vocation that teaches him what it means to be human.
The Girl With All the Gifts—M.R. Carey
In this novel’s dystopian future, most of humanity is wiped out by a fungal infection.
Ten-year-old Melanie is good-humored and a star student, but she lives in closely guarded lockdown. Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. Why don’t they like her? Why do they seem so angry?
She jokes that she won’t bite. Why don’t they laugh?
My Rotten Life—David Lubar
Ten-year-old Nathan Abercrombie is having a really bad day. First, Shawna Lanchester, the prettiest girl in his class, doesn’t invite him to her party. Then he gets picked last in gym class. Things couldn’t get any worse…until he gets doused with an experimental serum that turns him into a half-dead zombie!
Nathan soon discovers that being half dead isn’t all bad. He doesn’t need any sleep, so he can stay up all night and play games online. He doesn’t feel any pain, so there’s no need to worry about Rodney the bully anymore. Still, Nathan would rather be human. Will he find a cure? Or will Nathan be half-dead forever?
Three Parts Dead—Max Gladstone
A god has died, and it’s up to Tara, first-year associate in the international necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, to bring Him back to life before His city falls apart. Her client is Kos, recently deceased fire god of the city of Alt Coulumb. Without Him, the metropolis’s steam generators will shut down, its trains will cease running, and its four million citizens will riot. Tara’s job is hard enough. How can she resurrect Kos before chaos sets in? But making life even more difficult? The only one who can help is Abelard, a chain-smoking priest, who, until recently, was an acolyte of the dead god. He’s having an understandable crisis of faith.
When Tara and Abelard discover that Kos was murdered, they have to make a case in Alt Coulumb’s courts—and their quest for the truth endangers their partnership, their lives, and Alt Coulumb’s slim hope of survival.
World War Z—Max Brooks
The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, recording the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the undead.
Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War.
Six-Gun Tarot—R.S. Belcher
Beyond the pitiless 40-Mile Desert lies Golgotha, a cattle town that hides more than its share of unnatural secrets. The sheriff bears the mark of the noose around his neck; some say he is a dead man whose time has not yet come. His half-human deputy is kin to coyotes. The mayor guards a hoard of mythical treasures. A banker’s wife belongs to a secret order of assassins. And a shady saloon owner, whose fingers are in everyone’s business, may know more about the town’s true origins than he’s letting on.
A haven for the blessed and the damned, Golgotha has known many strange events, but nothing like the primordial darkness stirring in the abandoned silver mine overlooking the town. Bleeding midnight, an ancient evil is spilling into the world, and unless the sheriff and his posse can saddle up in time, Golgotha will have seen its last dawn…and so will all of Creation.
Sabriel (Abhorsen series)—Garth Nix
Since childhood, Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who refuse to stay dead. But now her father, the Abhorson, is missing. Sabriel must cross into that world to find him… but how will she ever survive?
Two friends travel with her: Mogget, whose feline form hides a powerful (malevolent?) spirit; and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage. Together, they head beyond the walls and deep into the Old Kingdom. There, Sabriel confronts an evil that threatens much more than her life and comes face-to-face with her own hidden destiny. . . .
The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had defeated 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 inexorable command: FEED.
Now, twenty years after the Rising, news bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives-the dark conspiracy behind the infected. Will they find the truth? Will they find a way to save humanity… or will their search kill them before they get a chance?
The First Days—Rhiannon Frater
The morning that the world ends, Katie is getting ready for court. Across town, Jenni is getting her family ready for a busy day. Little do they know, two hours later, they’ll be fleeing for their lives from a zombie horde.
Thrown together by circumstance, Jenni and Katie become a powerful zombie-killing partnership, mowing down the undead as they rescue Jenni’s stepson, Jason, from an infected campground. They find sanctuary in a tiny, roughly fortified Texas town. But will their partnership be torn apart by Travis, leader of the survivors?
Never Slow Dance with a Zombie—E. Van Lowe
On the night of her middle school graduation, Margot Jean Johnson wrote a high school manifesto detailing her goals for what she was sure would be a most excellent high school career. She and her best friend, Sybil, would be popular and, most important, have boyfriends. But it’s three years later, and they haven’t accomplished a thing!
Then Margot and Sybil arrive at school one day to find that most of the student body has been turned into flesh-eating zombies. When kooky Principal Taft asks the girls to coexist with the zombies until the end of the semester, they realize that this is the perfect opportunity to live out their high school dreams. All they have to do is stay alive….
Clayton Riddell, an artist from Maine, has just landed a comic book deal that might finally enable him to support his family by making art instead of teaching it. He’s already picked up a small (but expensive!) gift for his long-suffering wife, and he knows just what he’ll get for his boy Johnny. Why not a little treat for himself? Clay’s feeling good about the future.
That changes in a hurry. The cause of the devastation is a phenomenon that will come to be known as The Pulse, and the delivery method is a cell phone. Everyone’s cell phone. Clay and the few desperate survivors who join him suddenly find themselves in the pitch-black night of civilization’s darkest age, surrounded by chaos, carnage, and a human horde that has been reduced to its basest nature… and then begins to evolve.
There’s really no escaping this nightmare. But for Clay, an arrow points home to Maine, and as he and his fellow refugees make their harrowing journey north they begin to see crude signs confirming their direction. A promise, perhaps. Or a threat…
A global plague has nearly vanquished mankind; the citizenry of New York City is no exception. Eight million zombies, shoulder to shoulder, walking the streets, looking for their next meal of human flesh.
The residents of an Upper East Side walkup have joined forces to keep themselves safe, the pageant of walking rot outside their windows a constant reminder of the their foreseeable fate. Trapped in the safety of their building, the tenants find themselves at each others’ throats. But when they spy a lone teenage girl who walks unharmed among the undead, impervious, their world opens up.
Awakening in a bleak landscape, Cass Dollar vaguely recalls enduring something terrible. Having no idea how many days—or weeks—have passed, she slowly realizes the horrifying truth: her daughter, Ruthie, has vanished. And with her, nearly all of civilization. Instead of winding through the once-lush hills, the roads today see only cannibalistic Beaters—people turned hungry for human flesh by a government experiment gone wrong.
In a broken, barren California, Cass will undergo a harrowing quest to get Ruthie back. Few people trust an outsider—much less one who bears the telltale scars of a Beater attack—but she finds safety with an enigmatic outlaw, Smoke. And she’ll need him more than ever when his ragged band of survivors learn that she and Ruthie have become the most feared, and desired, weapons in a brave new world….
It’s the eve of the twenty-second century: a world where the dearly departed send postcards back from Heaven and evangelicals make scientific breakthroughs by speaking in tongues; where genetically engineered vampires solve problems intractable to baseline humans and soldiers come with zombie switches that shut off self-awareness during combat. And it’s all under surveillance by an alien presence that refuses to show itself.
Daniel Bruks is a living fossil: a field biologist in a world where biology has turned computational, a cat’s-paw used by terrorists to kill thousands. Taking refuge in the Oregon desert, he’s turned his back on a humanity that shatters into strange new subspecies with every heartbeat. But he awakens one night to find himself at the center of a storm that will turn all of history inside-out.
Now he’s trapped on a ship bound for the center of the solar system. To his left is a grief-stricken soldier, obsessed by whispered messages from a dead son. To his right is a pilot who hasn’t yet found the man she’s sworn to kill on sight. A vampire and its entourage of zombie bodyguards lurk in the shadows behind. And dead ahead, a handful of rapture-stricken monks takes them all to a meeting with something they will only call “The Angels of the Asteroids.”
A Questionable Shape—Bennett Sims
Mazoch discovers an unreturned movie sleeve, a smashed window, and a pool of blood in his father’s house; the man has gone missing. So he creates a list of his father’s haunts and asks Vermaelen to help track him down. However, hurricane season looms over Baton Rouge, threatening to wipe out any undead not already contained, and eliminate all hope of ever finding Mazoch’s father.
Bennett Sims turns typical zombie fare on its head to deliver a wise and philosophical rumination on the nature of memory and loss.
A year ago, Cal Thompson was a college freshman more interested in meeting girls and partying than in attending biology class. Now, after a fateful encounter with a mysterious woman named Morgan, biology has become, literally, Cal’s life.
Cal was infected by a parasite that has a truly horrifying effect on its host. Cal himself is a carrier, unchanged by the parasite, but he’s infected the girlfriends he’s had since Morgan. All three have turned into the ravening ghouls Cal calls Peeps. The rest of us know them as vampires. It’s Cal’s job to hunt them down before they can create more of their kind…
Harry Keogh is the man who can talk to the dead, the man for whom every grave willingly gives up its secrets, the one man who knows how to travel effortlessly through time and space to destroy the vampires that threaten all humanity.
While Britain and the Soviet Union both maintain super-secret, psychically-powered espionage organizations, Harry is the only person who knows about Thibor Ferenczy, a vampire long buried in the mountains of Romania—still horribly alive, in undeath—and Thibor’s insane “offspring,” Boris Dragosani, who rips information from the souls of the dead in a terrible, ever-lasting form of torture. Somehow, Harry must convince Britain’s E-Branch that only by working together can they locate and destroy Dragosani and his army of demonic warriors—before the half-vampire succeeds in taking over the world…
Raising Stony Mayhall—Daryl Gregory
In 1968, after the first zombie outbreak, Wanda Mayhall and her three young daughters discover the body of a teenage mother during a snowstorm. Wrapped in the woman’s arms is a baby, stone-cold, not breathing, and without a pulse. But then his eyes open and look up at Wanda—and he begins to move.
The family hides the child—whom they name Stony—rather than turn him over to authorities that would destroy him. Against all scientific reason, the undead boy begins to grow. For years his adoptive mother and sisters manage to keep his existence a secret—until one terrifying night when Stony is forced to run and he learns that he is not the only living dead boy left in the world.
Gil’s All Fright Diner—A. Lee Martinez
Duke and Earl are just passing through Rockwood county in their pick-up truck when they stop at the Diner for a quick bite to eat. They aren’t planning to stick around—until Loretta, the eatery’s owner, offers them $100 to take care of her zombie problem. Given that Duke is a werewolf and Earl’s a vampire, this looks right up their alley.
But the shambling dead are just the tip of a particularly spiky iceberg. Seems someone’s out to drive Loretta from the Diner, and more than willing to raise a little Hell on Earth if that’s what it takes. Before Duke and Earl get to the bottom of the Diner’s troubles, they’ll run into such otherworldly complications as undead cattle, an amorous ghost, a jailbait sorceress, and the terrifying occult power of pig-latin. And maybe—just maybe—the End of the World, too.
I Am Legend—Richard Matheson
Robert Neville has witnessed the end of the world. The entire population has been obliterated by a vampire virus. Somehow, Neville survived.
He must now struggle to make sense of everything that has happened and learn to protect himself against the vampires who hunt him constantly. He must, because perhaps there is nothing else human left. When Neville meets Ruth he’s not sure what to think. How can it be that she’s uninfected? And what does it mean that the infected have learned to fight the disease, and come out into the light?