The Top 20 Zombie Novels of the Last Decade

spaaaaaaaaaceBack in the ‘80s and ’90s—during my time as a bookstore manager—zombies weren’t even on the radar when it came to genre fiction fodder. Sure, there were some well-written and innovative zombie-powered novels on the shelves (like Lansdale’s Dead in the West and Lumley’s Ship of Dreams, to name just a few) but, for the most part, it was all about the vampire: Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, Yarbro’s Saint-Germain Cycle, Huff’s Blood saga, McCammon’s They Thirst, GRRM’s Fevre Dream, etc.

But a lot has changed since then—so much so that I would say the last decade (2003-2013) has been nothing short of a Golden Age for zombie fiction. Zombies now rule the roost when it comes to supernatural entities in genre fiction. I’ve already explored the elite zombie fiction series of all time (Sophie Littlefield’s Aftertime trilogy, et. al.), so let’s give a little undead love to some of the best zombie novels of the last decade!

Honestly, I could’ve doubled or tripled this list, but that would have made for an unwieldy blog. In the last decade, virtually hundreds of ground-breaking and undeniably extraordinary zombie novels have been released, and while I couldn’t include all of the zombie novels that have blown me away over the last ten years on this list, I have narrowed it down to 20 bloody literary gems.

And for those of you out there who think that zombie fiction is all the same, I beg to differ. This list includes science fiction, horror, urban fantasy, apocalyptic fiction, romance, tongue-in-cheek parody, literary fiction, bizarro fiction, and alternate history titles. Zombies are everywhere, my friends, and if the phenomenal popularity of The Walking Dead is any indication, I think they’re here to stay for quite some time.

If you want the crème de la crème of zombie fiction, here’s your list!

20. Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry (2009)

19. Necro Sex Machine by Andre Duza (2008)

18. The Becoming by Jessica Meigs (2011)

17. Zombie, Ohio by Scott Kenemore (2011)

16. Apocalypse Z: The Beginning of the End by Manel Loureiro (2012)

15. Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist (2010)

14. The Panama Laugh by Thomas S. Roche (2011)

13. Happy Hour of the Damned by Mark Henry (2006)

12. Day by Day Armageddon by J. L. Bourne (2009)

11. The Rising by Brian Keene (2003)

10. By the Blood Of Heroes by Joseph Nassis (2012)

9. Zone One by Colson Whitehead (2011)

8. Dust by Joan Frances Turner (2010)

7. Raising Stony Mayhall by Daryl Gregory (2011)

6. Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse? by Max Brallier (2011)

I love this book, which is essentially a choose-your-own-adventure for adults. Insanely entertaining, this is a must-read for anyone who considers themselves a zombie fiction fan.

5. Night of the Living Trekkies by Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall (2010)

Set inside a hotel during a Star Trek convention, this look at a zombie apocalypse is laugh-out-loud funny and a book to be absolutely cherished by Trekkies and zombie fiction fans alike.

4. World War Z by Max Brooks (2006)

3. Monster Island by David Wellington (2004)

2. The Loving Dead by Amelia Beamer (2010)

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.”

1. The Last Bastion of the Living by Rhiannon Frater (2012)

Set in a world where humankind is all but extinct, this extraordinary novel is vividly realized science fiction, visceral zombie fiction, visionary apocalyptic fiction, and, above all else, a heartrending romance. I’ve read hundreds, maybe thousands of zombie-powered storylines, but I’ve never read anything quite like this unforgettable novel.

How do you feel about Paul’s list? Did he leave out any of your favorites? Discuss!

  • MyBookAddiction

    A lot of great choices on that list. On my list, I would have included the Benny Imura series (Rot & Ruin) by Jonathan Maberry!

    • no_mad

      Good choice.

    • Renee Hill

      Totally! Also Vacation by Matthew Costello, read it last year and it still remains vivid in my imagination!

      • Isabel Herron

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    • Alan Deelightful Dale

      Completely agree….and “Dead of Night.” Monster Island? Terrible.

  • seelenfisch

    How can The Reapers Are the Angels not make this list?

    • Disqususername

      I read that recently and thought it was rubbish. It seemed to be a vehicle for the author’s religious beliefs and was more up its own ass with its message than an actual story.

      • Joshua Gaylord

        The author is a lifelong atheist–so the book isn’t a vehicle for his religious beliefs. But I can confirm to a certainty that he does spend way too much of his life with his head up his ass.

        • Disqususername

          Aside from the religious crap, I forgot to mention the writing style – who the hell does the author think he is? Rules like wrapping speech in quotes are there for a reason. It read like something written by a child who has a great vocabulary and spelling and all, but hasn’t gotten around to learning the rules of grammar yet.

    • Jordan VanDerKuyl


  • Seyma Doris Bennett Shabbir

    Love R. Frater… As the World DIes should have been on the list as well as the Newsflesh series by Mira Grant.

    • Alan Deelightful Dale

      Yup especially “Feed.”

    • joy clendening

      Definitely agree on the Newsflesh series!

  • Paul Goat Allen


    I included Frater’s As the World Dies trilogy and Grant’s Newsflesh trilogy in my blog about the Best Zombie Epics of All Time. (You’re right – both sagas were amazing!) :)

  • Joe Nassise

    Very pleased to see By the Blood of Heroes make the list and thrilled that you enjoyed it so much, Paul!

  • Paul Goat Allen

    By the Blood of Heroes so deserves to be on the list—just an unputdownable read. Can’t wait for the sequel! :)

  • Diane Visavati

    Apparently Paul has not read the better zombie novels. The best should have included these talented writers Mark Tufo for his Zombie Fallout series. Joe Talluto and John Obrien and Keith Blackmore. These authors tell the most amazing stories and would have been a better choice. I have read all the books you listed and beg to differ with you.

  • Patrick J Kennedy

    I’ve only read Keene’s THE RISING and segments of WWZ, but zombie stories were certainly on my radar in the 80s & 90s. Lansdale’s DEAD IN THE WEST and Skipp & Spector’s Book of the Dead collections, which has Joe Lansdale’s “On the Far Side of the Cadillac Desert with Dead Folks” & David Schow’s “Jerry’s Kids Meet Wormboy” are seminal zombie fiction! Get out there and read ’em, kids! And check out Brian Keene’s stuff if you haven’t. Please! Oh, and while WWZ the film looks like a paltry adapt of the book, Max Brooks deserves a lot of credit for getting the current zombie zeitgeist rolling. Which means you have to thank Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner for making Max as twisted as he is! Could you imagine growing up around those two?!

  • Derek Tatum

    Cool list — AND I’m digging the new interface! The explosion of interest in zombie is interesting, I will say that.

  • Bryan Cassiday

    My favorite zombie apocalypse book “Sanctuary in Steel” is not on the list.

  • Stant Litore

    There are some good choices on here, but you left out some of the most groundbreaking and original work that’s been done in zombie fiction — including Hugh Howey’s “I, Zombie”; Carrie Ryan’s “The Forest of Hands and Teeth”; and Kim Paffenroth’s “Valley of the Dead: The Truth Behind Dante’s Inferno.” Not to mention “The Reapers are the Angels.”

    I am glad to see that my friends Rhiannon Frater and Jonathan Maberry are on the list, though! Their work is imaginative and very evocative. Also glad to see Zone One there, representing the cerebral side of the genre. (Pun intended?)

    Stant Litore

  • Michael Edwards

    forgot….The Return Man by V.M. Zito

  • no_mad

    Some good selections, but a couple dogs. These are two of the worst books of any kind I have ever read.

    12. Day by Day Armageddon by J. L. Bourne (2009)

    11. The Rising by Brian Keene (2003)

    The fact that zombie fans think such books are good is the reason books on the undead will never enter the mainstream.
    8. Dust by Joan Frances Turner (2010) – This is not a zombie book. It’s also not very good.

    • Sabrina

      I hated The Rising so much i left it on a plane. My husband said, “you’re forgetting your book.” My reply was, ” no, I’m leaving it, but I certainly hope I forget it.”

      • Dan Tindell

        Nice. I heartily agree with you- terrible, terrible book.

    • In_Fid_el07

      I’m with you on The Rising. It wasnt my kind of book. But I really liked the first two books by J.L Bourne. They seemed more realistic than others.

    • Dan Tindell

      Yikes- The Rising WAS a terrible book.

  • Todd S

    Need to have Rot and Ruin series and the Newsflesh trilogy on the list.

    • Ashley

      I have started reading newsflesh’s FEED and I’m on chapter 7 and still am not fully interested in it. I like zombie-themed movies and books but I’m really not intrigued by this book at the moment. I hope either it gets to more climaxes or the next two books are better. There really isn’t much action but a lot of back story for the back story.

  • Bob Reiss


    Another great list. We don’t always agree, but since we are not clones of each other, that is how it should be. With Zombie Awareness Month Coming up, adding some of these to my list.

    Have you read The Reanimation of Edward Schuett yet? Was my favorite Zombie novel of 2012.

  • Cajun Bauman

    Check out the Zombie Fallout Series

  • Deborah Craytor

    I have several of these books on my TBR list, but of the ones I’ve already read, I would put Patient Zero above Apocalypse Z: The Beginning of the End.

  • Clare Allington

    No Autumn, David Moody? and Remains of the Dead, Iain McKinnon?

  • TristanVick

    Bitten: A Resurrection Thriller by, well, me. Shameless plug, but it’s a really well written novel that always seems to get glowing reviews but not enough attention.

  • Laughing Crow

    This list is missing Zombie Attack! by Devan Sagliani, one of the best zombie books ever written!

  • ZombiePlace

    This list must have been hard to do. There are a bunch of zombie books (nearly a thousand I believe) and most made in the last few decades…

  • Mersey Male

    Zombie stories are doing really well at the moment, aren’t they, just as the vampire romance stories are. Being a published horror Kindle book author myself, it is my ultimate dream to have a horror novel published. I am working on a few rough drafts for possible storylines at the moment, so I am hoping that something solid may develop from them.

  • Mersey Male

    I wish somebody would start doing some new Frankenstein stories. Unlike the vampire and the zombie genres, there haven’t really been all that many new spins on the mad doctor and his timeless creation over the years. The only Frankenstein novels of any worth that I can recall are the Donald F. Glut series which were published back in the 70s, and the two written by Robert J. Myers – The Cross of Frankenstein and The Slave of Frankenstein – which were also published back in the 70s.

    • Brian Jordan

      Dean Koontz did a 5 book Frankenstein series from 2005-2010. They are Prodigal Son, City of Night, Dead and Alive, Lost Souls and The Dead Town.

  • W. Mee

    This zombie story is unique, based on (some!) true events in the Caribbean and some folklore that will make you shudder!

    Luminescence, an Ebook by Who Mee

  • Jason Thompson

    You forgot Walter Greatshell’s “Xombies”! Awesome book; it involves running zombies, of course, and also lots of weird science-fiction bits and military-industrial stuff and absurd humor… but very, very scary when it wants to be.

  • Tony Finan

    Maberry could almost populate the list by himself. But the Newsflesh series by Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire is a HUGE oversight. Also the work of Joe McKinney is noticeable missing.

  • disqus_IhhPa7BHws

    Wow, what a shit list. Did you put this list together for a giggle? Patient Zero number 20? Should be top ten at least. Were you infected when you made the list? Ever heard of Z A Recht? Shawn Chesser? Mark Tufo?

    • Cathy

      Yet ‘The Loving Dead’ made it to #2…that’s what truly scares me here.

    • Garrett Fisher

      Z A Recht(may he rest in peace) totally agree! Also, John L. Campells Omega Days Series!!!

  • vangpo

    The zombie apocalypse “romance” novels and Night of the Living Trekkies invalidates the entire list.

  • Billy B.

    Couple zombie E-readers that I would put on the list. They probably don’t get as much attention as they papr 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.

  • Joseph Devon

    I’d like to see a list of the best zombie book series, not just standalone books.

  • Sophia Richie

    I agree with Joseph Devon – i’d also like to see the Book series about zombie / zombie post apocalypse, cause I’m really obsessed with brain eaters, I even play flash zombie games at, watch movies, walking dead series, reading novels. THanks for the post actually 😀

  • Danielle Grunig

    Trailer to my book’s trailer

  • Ailsa

    The Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant! Absolutely brilliant

  • Adz B

    I recommend the “arisen” and “The Remaining” series both excellent choice very cheep on the kindle app well worth a read.

  • Brett Sears

    Zone One – The skittering, skull whiteness of this dully shining epitaph wavered my resolve like lost decayed teeth in the spherical hypothetical skull. I think the author ate a thesaurus. I had to stop reading the book half way through the first chapter, before I overdosed on adjectives. If you can follow this book in anyway then I applaud you. I just feel sick whenever I think of this book.

    Tufo’s Zombie Fallout is entertaining but poorly thought through. Some of the strategies were so poorly conceived, they just plain and simply would not have worked. Also he is way to hung up on dog poop and farts. . I enjoy the series, but I dont take it as a serious zombie book.

  • Joe

    Terrible list – some of the worst books I have ever read are on here. Particularly the Rhiannon Frater series

  • Christamar Varicella

    link to a novel about a redneck zombie.

  • Eric Michael

    This is a bit dated, but Into the Darkness by Fox Lee is amazing. Super fast-paced heavy metal feel to a very original story line. Great characters, too.

  • deChelca Cynn

    The last word I want to see in a zombie book is the word, “romance”. Ew.
    Secondly, the Sovereign Spirit Saga should be on that list.

  • cheifkg

    the list should include Mark Tufo’s Zombie Fallout series and TW Brown’s DEAD series

  • Helena Thibaut

    I love Zombie Ohio ! Really good book ! I watched a movie which talk about the same subject. Book of the Dead, I loved it ! I send you the BestBuy link for people who want to see it and give me their feelings ! :)

  • The Dude

    “I Am Become Zombie” by C. L. Allen is a fantastic read. He is an indie author, but his style is morbidly hilarious. Check it out! Just look for it on Amazon or Smashwords or wherever.

  • Candy

    Mark Tufo’s Zombie Fallout series is not to be missed

    • Jill Lewis

      Agreed! The first thing I looked for was Zombie Fallout and am having a hard time believing they’re not in the list. They’re an excellent series, well worth the read.

  • Guest

    C. Chase Harwood’s Of Sudden Origin series gives a nice twist to the genre. Really refreshing. Utterly action packed and romance no less. The second book, Children of Fiends, may be even better.

  • guest

    What about “The Dead” by Mark Rogers? Great book.

  • sharad

    Patient Zero is a B grade hollywood movie script @ best.(IMHO)
    Loved “As the world dies” & WW z.

  • Rucia Oaks

    Why was Warm Bodies not on this list??? That is by far the very best zombie book I have ever read!

  • Chris

    I maybe a little bit biased, but I do like this one maybe, because I wrote it. Ahh what the hell, it’s a freebie right now on Amazon. Go on, give it a try … you know you want to.

  • Jaime

    Love and decay. By rachel higginson. I found it on my kindle ( : the books are really sesaons and episodes. I. Love them i think the reason for the outbreak is stupid. But besides that it has romance some comedy action. And the group of people the story follows are very intelligent and strong willed. Give it try. Well i guess i should add it might be more suited for females. Most entries are from the female characters. But there might be a few men who are man enough to read it (: yes….?

  • Tone Lyfe

    Hey guys, i see im a little late on the comments but i would have like to see the “Dead World” series by Joe McKMcKinney on this list. “Dead City” was awesome and “Apocalypse of the Dead” were some amazing stories.
    Just sayin…..

  • Neelam

    Those zombie novels are really scary. when i read those novels its feel like a nightmares. By Best price for AC

  • Plantastic

    and now you can actually grow a real zombie plant that “plays DEAD when you Touch it!

  • Brittany Walls

    How did TW Brown not make it on this list?? Check out Dead: The Ugly Beginning. Love that series.

  • Stacie Stark Morton

    Has anyone read the zombie thrillers by Nicholas Ryan? His titles are Ground Zero, Die Trying, Dead Rage and Zombie War. He has the unique ability to draw his readers right into the story. I’ve not experienced this with any other authors. I highly recommend him.

  • Archer Sterling

    Came across this and I thought it was funny seeing all the people saying Newsflash should be on this list. Hello Newsflesh isn’t a zombie book. To be a zombie book it requires zombies not a conspiracy theory about political corruption.

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