The world is on the verge of disaster. And there are no clues on how to fight those who are already dead. The book has an unusual format and is written from the perspective of those who witnessed the catastrophe. And the only thing they have in common is that they managed to survive.
The ending might seem a little soft.
This masterpiece of zombie fiction became so popular among the audience that it even got made into a movie with Brad Pitt in 2013. It is a must-read for those who are in the genre and want to get the best of its pieces.
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, Max Brooks
342 pages / 3830 KB / 5 hours and 59 minutes
Three Rivers Press; 1st Edition (October 16, 2007)
James Spenser is a special boy from Kansas City who tries to survive in the world full of zombies along with his family and a little bunch of the others who managed to save their lives. Now, they all need to find out how to fight against an enemy that is unknown to mankind.
It starts a little slow and gets intense only in the middle.
This epic story is filled with blood-chilling horror, unexpected plot twists, surprises, and even has a little bit of humor. The book was well-received by critics and won a prestigious Writer's Digest award.
This Plague of Days, Robert Chazz Chute
750 pages / 1352 KB
Ex Parte Press; 1st Edition (January 8, 2015)
Tom Freeman saw the horrific consequences of the zombie invasion. Now, he can only get back home to the USA where it is still safe. But is it really that safe? The smell of the decomposed walking corpses follows Tom wherever he goes.
You can come across a few typos in a paperback version.
There is no time and sense in finding out why millions of people were slaughtered anymore. The main task for all who stayed alive is to collect enough food and supplies, find guns, and fight for their life. This brilliant novel won't let you put the book down. And the whole trilogy comes in one volume, which is very convenient.
Last Man Standing, Keith Taylor
702 pages / 4198 KB
Independently published (January 9, 2019)
People in an average American town live their normal lives until one day the townfolks started turning into the living dead and killing their friends, families and killing themselves. The read is very gripping and will keep you on the edge up to the last page of the book.
Not suitable for younger readers since it has a lot of sexual content.
This unusual story describes a cruel and convoluted experiment that was held in one town to submit them. It has a lot of dynamic action involving bright and memorable characters, so, you will definitely not be bored while reading it.
Night Chill, Dean Koontz
Mass Market Paperback
School & library Binding
384 pages / 3404 KB
Berkley; Reissue Edition (September 15, 1986)
The vaccine that was meant to save people starts turning them into living dead. With the number of deceased growing rapidly, the word has changed for good. There are some lucky survivors but not all of them can be trusted.
The descriptive words are repetitive.
This book about the zombie apocalypse is a real page-turner. The plot combines elements of horror and adventure and even has a tint of romance between the main heroes who try to survive and make their way through this.
The First 30 Days, Lora Powell
365 pages / 14881 KB
Typewriter Pub (September 26, 2019)
Max Brooks World War Z:
Unusual Structure and Narrative
When it comes to zombie literature, undoubtedly one of the most famous books ever created in this genre is World War Z. Not only did it bring a lot of attention to the genre but also it made Max Brooks a world-famous writer. The book has held the New York Times best-seller positions for four weeks and was made into a blockbuster movie with Brad Pitt in 2013.
The author began working with the zombie theme in the early 2000s and published his humorous take on the zombie apocalypse in his book The Zombie Survival Guide. But in this book, things get a little bit more serious. The author drastically changes the tone of the narrative, so this book can be rightfully considered a horror piece.
The book doesn’t have a traditional structure and elements of the novel. It is also hard to highlight the main character of the story. The writer tells the story of the whole world through the eyes of survivors who witnessed the planet suffering from the mystical epidemy which turned a major part of humanity into the walking dead.
Brooks provides a detailed look at how the authorities of different countries face the threat of the deadly virus. For example, the American government fails to come up with an efficient strategy. As a result, numerous territories fall under the army of the dead. Israel, on the contrary, recognizes the real threat of the plague from the first days. The country goes in a full isolation mode and manages to protect most of the population. Cuba, thanks to its island position, also doesn’t suffer that much from the zombie invasion.
Korea, in turn, decides to move the people underground to an unknown location, so millions and millions of people disappear from the surface of the planet. Now, the survivors have to wonder whether Koreans stayed safe and untouched by the virus or there is a ton of zombies locked underground.
A Piece of Zombie Classics
The author covers a pretty long period of time in his book. It shows the reader how the population of the planet evolves under the scary condition, finds new ways to survive, and comes up with the salvation plan. The end of the book reveals whether there is any hope for people to destroy the virus and return to a normal life. Even though it doesn’t have a traditional structure of the novel, the book is still very interesting and engaging.
So, if you are looking for an unusual zombie-themed read, we can't recommend this book by Max Brooks highly enough. Considering its major success among readers and critics and the fact that the book hasn't lost its popularity for over a decade, World War Z can be rightfully called a piece of horror classics that is definitely worth reading.
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Robert Chazz Chute This Plague of Days
The Story of a Special Boy
Are you looking for a zombie-centered series? If so, give This Plague of Days written by Robert Chazz Chute, a journalist who became a writer a try. The series includes five books, or five episodes, as the author calls them. For your convenience, the publisher offers you the first three installments collected together in one volume.
The main character of this story is James “Jamie” Spenser. He is not your average horror protagonist: he is an autist, so he has special needs and interests. The author provides a look into the mind of this boy who, alongside his family, tries to survive in a zombie-occupated world.
After more than half of the world’s population was killed by an unknown flu virus, it starts mutating and bringing people back to life. The plague quickly spreads from one continent to another. Through Jamie’s eyes, you will be able to witness how a pack of British zombies invade America. The survivors divided into small groups, desperately trying to find a way of how to fight the living dead. They unite as they hope it may lower their chances against the army of zombies wandering around. But as the story goes, the boy eventually realizes that those who stayed alive could be not less dangerous than those flesh-eating monsters. Looters and outlaws have no boundaries, and they will stop over nothing when it comes to saving their own skin.
The book stands out for a fancy format. Each chapter is like an individual novella or short story that reveals some important plot twist or a surprise in the end. This will induce you to read more and more. Before the book was published, each chapter came out weekly, flaming interest in readers and making them suffer in anticipation.
The story is filled with a lot of suspense, many unexpected moments, and jaw-dropping revelations. It is also spiced up with some humor, so the narrative won’t seem excessively serious. The author also creates a bunch of interesting characters that have well-thought backstories and personalities. You will be able to see the evolution of each character throughout the series. But it will be especially noticeable when it comes to Jamie. As the story progresses, you will be able to see how this special kid grows in tough conditions of the apocalyptic world and manages to stay true to himself.
So, This Plague Of Days is an attention-worthy read for those who are interested in intense horror zombies. If you enjoy this book, you will be able to continue following Jamie’s adventures in two more parts from the series.
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Keith Taylor Last Man Standing:
Complete Trilogy in One Book
Keith Taylor has a massive writing experience as he tried his hand in various genres under a few different pen names. And even though his other books were pretty popular as well, his true calling is post-apocalyptic fiction. You can see it for yourself while reading his trilogy Last Men Standing. It includes three books: Hunger, Cordyceps, and Vaccine, all of them collected in one volume for your convenience.
The main character of this series is Tom Freeman, an American citizen who faced the consequences of zombie invasion outside his homeland. He decides to run back home to the US, where there is still no infection and where he can return to the normal life, away from all this horror. But the truth may not be as promising as Tom wants since the horrific virus is following in his footsteps and the terrifying smell of the decomposed walking corpses invades his nightmares. As the disease progresses, millions of people are slaughtered, and there is barely a chance for salvation. All Tom can do now is to find enough food, supplies, and armor, lock himself inside and stay in.
But unfortunately, this doesn’t help. Along with the whole world, the USA has fallen. What makes things even worse is that there are people who try to use the catastrophe opportunistically rather than unite and protect what is left of humanity. And when it looks like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, a glimpse of hope in the form of the vaccine appears on the horizon. But it is only the end of the third book where the reader will be able to find out if the human race will survive or not.
Long and Intense Read
Since this post-apocalyptic book contains the whole trilogy, the paperback version is a rather long read that contains more than 700 pages. It won’t be an easy read either. The book is full of descriptions of violent murders, zombies feeding on human flesh, and the brutality of people who will do horrible things just to save their own life. Yet, the read is very engaging and has a lot of intense action, so it will be really hard to put it down until you finish it. No parts of the book seem too boring or excessively long, and the author does a great job creating a thrilling horror story with the elements of drama.
Summing up, the Last Man Standing written by Keith Taylor is a great trilogy for zombie fans. The author uses all the popular genre tropes to create a solid piece of horror fiction that should fit the taste of those who are real big on such intense heavy literature.
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Dean Koontz Night Chills
Vile Experiment in a Small Town
If you are not a fan of post-apocalyptic zombie novels but you still want to read something about the living dead, we suggest checking out Night Chills by Dean Koontz. The magnitude of the tragedy in this book is way smaller and occurs on the territory of only one town. Yet, it doesn’t make the action less intense.
The main characters of the story are Paul Annandale, a widower who has lost his wife, and his two kids, Mark and Raya. Paul plans a nice family bonding and decides to take his kids camping in the quiet town of Black River, Main. Unfortunately, he was unaware of the fact that the town was chosen for a vile experiment. Scientist Ogden Salsbury and multimillionaire Leonard Dawson teamed up to create a horrific poison and added it to the town water supply system. Those who get under the impact of the substance can immediately turn into will-less mindless creatures with just one keyword. The experiment is related to subliminal advertising, and since the scientist and his rich partner have no moral ground, they make people do horrible things including rape, the murder of family members and friends, and eventually, commit suicide. This may lead to the extinction of the whole town, country, and, who knows, maybe even the whole planet at the end of the day.
Mark and his family are trapped in this horrible place, but he doesn’t want to give up. Even though it seems that death is the only cure, he tries as hard as he can to save his family from mortal danger.
One of the First Zombie-related Horrors
Published back in 1976, Night Chills can be considered one of the earliest zombie horrors. Maybe it doesn't depict zombies in the modern-day meaning, yet it shows all the diversity of the genre. Those people who were under the mind control turn out not less frightening than the brain and flesh-eating monsters.
The author manages to create great suspense with an unusual plot and smart characters. The main hero is very charismatic and easy to relate to. Thanks to that, you will be sitting on the verge until you find out whether he manages to save his family or not. The antagonists are thought out to the last detail as well. The author provides their full profiles, so you could really get inside their wicked minds.
Overall, if you seek a not-so-typical story about mindless zombies, make sure to check out Night Chills by Dean Koontz. The book is a New York Times best-seller, so we consider it a worthy read for every zombie horror fan.
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Lora Powell The First 30 Days:
The Vaccination Went Wrong
Lora Powell managed to create a real page-turner about the zombie apocalypse that should fit the taste of all the fans of the genre. The First 30 Days is a horror story with elements of adventures and even romance all coming together in one exciting read.
The beginning of the book seems a bit slow and relaxed. The bad things start happening right of a sudden when the vaccination goes wrong. Instead of healing people, the vaccine actually starts turning them into the living dead.
Bri has been living a normal life before reports informed about the horrific tragedy. When the number of the dead began to drastically rise, it was clear that the old world had come to an end. Nobody was safe from this plague, including Bri’s roommate, who tried to eat her alive. Bri managed to save herself and hide in the bathroom. While sitting there, she finally was able to face the truth - the zombies were real and they were coming.
When it looks like there is no hope left, Bri gets saved by a stranger. They decide to unite against the flesh-eating monsters and try to find a shelter. Surrounded by the horror of death, they start getting closer and even develop romantic feelings towards each other. But on their way, they face another threat: there are other survivors out there, and some of them are not less dangerous than the living dead. Now, Bri has to decide for herself who she can trust.
Basic Plot With Interesting Innovations
In this book, author Lora Powell used a very popular post-apocalyptic fiction trope. A couple of strangers travels in the devastated world, trying to cope with the consequences of a zombie invasion. Yet, this doesn’t make the story an unworthy piece of pulp fiction. The writer comes up with smart plot twists and puts her characters through tough tests. Although some readers managed to find a few repetitive descriptions in the book, the adventures of the protagonists are filled with action, and there are no boring or slow-paced moments. Thanks to that, you won’t be able to put the book down until you finish it.
At the same time, the novel is not too long. It has 365 pages, which makes the story one of the shortest options on our shortlist. It is available in paperback format and as a Kindle edition to fit the preference of different readers.
To wrap the whole thing up, The First 30 Days is an interesting story with a basic premise but unusual plot twists. If you don’t like gruesome horror yet still seek something a bit chilling, this book will fit you.
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What Is a Zombie Book?
Considering how many zombie-related films, TV shows, books, and video games are available today, it might be hard to imagine that this term is actually quite new. Even though there is a whole lot of curses that turn the dead alive again, the first written record of this word dates back to 1819, and it was written as zombi originating from Brazillian history. Later on, its interpretation as a zombie was used by George A. Romero in the later works of his iconic series The Night of the Living Dead.
The zombie-focused plot usually describes some sort of a virus, disease, or curse that brings those who passed away or were killed back to life. Yet, unlike with the resurrection, zombies don't remember who they were in the previous life. They are driven by two bare instincts: to kill and to feed. That’s why those who face a zombie usually turn out to be in fatal danger.
Zombie novels are usually filled with suspense and elements of a thriller. Such books are not easy or some entertaining read since the descriptions of a flesh-eating zombie’s brutality may not befit everyone.
But if you do like such stories, our selection of the best zombie books will suit you to a tee. And if you're on the lookout for some other thrilling books with intense plots, make sure to check out these horror books by Stephen King and mystery books.
What Features to Compare
Even though zombie literature became popular only in the 1990s, there are a few people who've already managed to make themselves a name in this genre. You can never go wrong with novels written by such classics as John Skip and Max Brooks, two American authors who have gained world fame and brought zombie fiction to a new level. However, don’t forget to give a chance to newcomers too. If you are really interested in a plot, read the book and, who knows, maybe you'll find your new favorite.
Speaking of the plot, there can be various plot tropes in zombie fiction. The most popular one so far is a post-apocalyptic story. In such books, the author describes either future or parallel reality where zombies have taken over the planet and those few people who have managed to survive, try to fight back the creatures. If you are not a fan of such stories, there are books that describe events when the magnitude of the disaster is much smaller. In such books, everything starts with only one zombie or they usually invade one town, city, or even one science lab. Such stories can be no less interesting and exciting than those depicting millions of living dead. Even Stephen King himself used this trope in his novel Cell.
Zombie novels are usually described as horror stories (more specifically, survival horror) and thrillers with a flair for fiction and science fiction. However, it is not always the case: there are multiple subgenres that can be used for a zombie book. If the action takes place in the past, especially against the background of some significant event, this automatically makes the book a historical novel as well.
Believe it or not, a zombie trope can be used even in romantic comedies. In 2010, Isaac Marion published his novel Warm Bodies that became a massive hit and a best-seller and even was adapted for the big screen. There are other light stories, in which the living dead retain their humanity and people have some sort of happy ending.
Like in any other genre, such books can come as a stand-alone novel or be part of the series. The series may vary as well. Some of them depict the struggles of the same characters trying to fight zombies while others show different characters and describe their actions in similar settings. So, if you would like to spend more time with one character, consider starting a series.
Number of Pages and Format
Depending on the length of the stories, the books may vary in the number of pages. When it comes to the zombie genre, anthology series with a few short stand-alone novels can be frequently found as well. And of course, these books are often available in various formats. Whether you prefer to have a paperback version, read a novel on your e-book or listen to audiobooks on your smartphone or tablet, you will be able to find something to fit your taste.
The Origin of the Term
The word zombie is actually very closely connected with the magic world of voodoo. The roots of the word go to the west-African word zombi, which (according to the different sources) could mean either “a small god” or “a soul of the dead”. The word spread on to Haiti with the slaves from Africa that were moved there to work on plantations.
The Very First Descriptions
There, in Haiti, the cult of powerful voodoo witches and sorcerers began to grow. The legends said that these people were able to hypnotize a person or even a whole crowd and turn people into will-less creatures that would blindly follow any given orders. The term zombie appeared in American literature in 1929. William Seabrook in his book The Magic Island wrote about the life of Haitian slaves, his own experience there, and described some of the voodoo rituals from the perspective of an occultist. The story about zombie slaves was later adapted in one of the very first horror films White Zombie in 1932.
The Beginning of Zombie Films
The success of the film inspired many independent film-makers to take the concept of the will-less, mindless creatures created by evil voodoo sorcerers and use it for their plots. The descriptions of zombies with similar features can also be found in the literature of the 19th and 20th centuries. Even when it comes to classic pieces of writing like Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, you can clearly see that the theme of the living dead was present even there.
Romero's Breakthrough in the Genre
The image of the modern-day zombie (which is a flesh-eating, weirdly-walking corpse) was created by the American film writer and director George A. Romero who made a number of films in his world-known series Night of the Living Dead. Even though he doesn’t use the word zombie directly in the film, people began to use it in the modern-day meaning after these films started to come out.
Night of the Living Dead also gave a boost to a completely new movie and fiction genre, which is a zombie apocalypse. Usually, in such stories, a small group of people try to survive in a word invaded by zombies. Authors take various things that launch a global plague. A virus, parasite, or curse are the most common methods of bringing the dead back to life. But even though the root cause can vary, modern zombies usually have similar features and can be killed in the same way, which is destroying their brain.
Nowadays, the creators also try to experiment with the appearance of their monsters to make them more unique and interesting while still fitting in the cannon. Thus, the creators of the game Resident Evil bring mutants to their stories and the creators of the series The Walking Dead imply that they can evolve. So, there are various ways to pursue this theme and the zombie genre will continue to evolve.