The Essential Zombie Fiction Reading List

Judging by the reviews of World War Z, the epic zombie flick starring Brad Pitt (loosely based on the novel by Max Brooks), the next few months could very well be a glorious Summer of the Undead.

And if you’re a zombie fiction aficionado like myself—or especially if you’re new to the genre—this could be an unforgettable summer considering the abundance of exceptional zombie novels on and about to hit the shelves!

To make it easy for you, I’ve compiled a few lists: the best zombie novels (and series) that I’ve ever read, excellent new zombie fiction releases, and titles to look for later this summer!

Past

• The Aftertime trilogy by Sophie Littlefield (Aftertime, Rebirth, and Horizon)

I’ve called this trilogy “Stephen King’s The Stand in a bra and panties” and, in my mind, it’s one of the best post-apocalyptic sagas ever written.

• The Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant (Feed, Deadline, and Blackout)

A razor-sharp political thriller à la Richard Condon’s The Manchurian Candidate, this Hugo Award-nominated series is transcendent.

• Rhiannon Frater’s As the World Dies trilogy (The First Days, Fighting to Survive, and Siege)

I described the female duo in this outstanding trilogy as the “Thelma and Louise of the Apocalypse.” Enough said.

 • The Last Bastion of the Living by Rhiannon Frater

This one is my favorite standalone zombie novel of all time. Set in a future where humanity is all but extinct, it is utterly unique and, ultimately, unforgettable.

The Loving Dead by Amelia Beamer

In Beamer’s brilliant debut novel, the zombie virus is transmitted through sexual content and those turned into zombies become “all id and no ego; entirely focused on pleasures of the flesh.” Yep. Horny zombies.

Night of the Living Trekkies by Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall

Zombies invade a Star Trek convention. This one is a classic.

Present

• Eloise J. Knapp’s The Undead Situation and The Undead Haze

These novels follow sociopath Cyrus V. Sinclair as he navigates the zombie apocalypse with his albino ferret Pickle. It’s downright cold-hearted and shockingly brutal—and virtually unputdownable.

Plague Nation by Dana Fredsti

The sequel to Plague Town, this novel featuring featuring snarky heroine Ashley Parker is an appealing blend of paranormal fantasy and hardcore zombie horror.

The Becoming: Revelations by Jessica Meigs

The third book in Meigs’ vastly underrated Becoming series continues the Atlanta-based apocalyptic saga featuring an ensemble cast of survivors.

Future

Fiend by Peter Stenson (July 9)

The buzz on this book—which deals with a meth addict and the apocalypse—is simply incredible, and if the early reviews are even halfway accurate, it’ll be the debut novel of the year.

Deadman’s Road by Joe R. Lansdale (August 1)

This reissue of Lansdale’s stories featuring Reverend Jebediah Mercer includes the zombie cult classic Dead in the West. An audacious fusion of pulp western and zombie fiction!

Zombelina by Kristyn Crow (July 9)

An illustrated kid’s book about a zombie ballerina. I’m buying it for my daughters.

  • Elyse Salpeter

    This is a great compilation list of zombie books and some of them seem incredible! I’ll check them out – thanks for listing them!

  • audreydc1983

    Jonathan Maberry is a terrific zombie fiction author – I’m a big fan of his Benny Imura series (Rot & Ruin). I’m glad I didn’t pass it by because it had ‘YA’ on it – it’s a true gem. I also want to start digging into ‘Patient Zero’ (Book one of the Joe Ledger series). Otherwise, great list! I’ll totally check these out. :)

  • Jonathan Ferguson

    Just had two tweets in a row – first a link to this page, and then a link to the following article. Interesting read – article dealing with zombies from a Christian perspective.

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2013/06/21/4-reasons-zombies-wont-die/

  • AndRuu

    Surprised not to see Zone One by Colson Whitehead or The Reapers Are The
    Angels by Alden Bell on here. They show up on a lot of other zombie
    book lists and they’re two of my favorites. They’re more “literary” type books than genre books, so there’s more character development and great writing than there is wall-to-wall zombie action. Recommended for fans of stuff like The Road or The Passage.

  • Book Wookie

    A young adult zombie novel that I read and really enjoyed is one called The Scourge by AG Henley – http://bookwookie.ca/dystopia/young-adult-dystopian-fiction-book-review-the-scourge/

  • mmsinpa

    I think this list and reviews of each book and/or series was spot on except that I was so disappointed nothing from Shawn Chesser was on the list.

  • http://www.zombiepop.net/ Curtez

    Man your missing some of the greats. But I guess that your only really pushing those that have a brand named publisher behind them. Do yourself a favor and take a look at: Craig Dilouie, Shawn Chesser, Joe Mckinney, and Mark Tufo amongst others…. Shucks, here’s a better list: http://www.zombiepop.net/16-zombie-books-to-keep-you-busy-until-the-return-of-the-walking-dead/

  • Douglas Engle

    Missing Day by Day Armageddon by JL Bourne, whose first two books rank among the best in the genre IMO, but whose third book, Shattered Hourglass, was poorly executed- just pretend it never happened. I am also a fan of ZA Recht’s Morningstar saga, starting off with Plague of the Dead. Otherwise, Curtez’ list and link were pretty solid.

  • Alexandra Harris Mallory