Zombies: they just won’t die. Every fictional trend has its moment, but zombies seem to be having a lifetime. Not only does The Walking Dead continue to amass mind-boggling ratings, but it’s now produced a spinoff series, Fear the Walking Dead. Adding to the scraggly bands of survivors is the cast of Z Nation, which is having a good enough run on SyFy to secure George R.R. Martin (and his still-unpublished final A Song of Ice and Fire entries) as a guest star. (Not to mention iZombie on the CW.)
Of course, zombies aren’t just a presence on TV. Fans of the undead have more braiiiiins books to read than you could shake a rotting meat stick at. Here’s just a few favorites to keep your bloodlust sated—once you’ve devoured The Walking Dead graphic novels of course…
World War Z, by Max Brooks
You can’t very well have a list of zombie novels without the big kahuna. Brooks exposes us to the zombie apocalypse through rotating perspectives from interviews with survivors around the globe. (Unlike in the film adaptation, Brad Pitt is not actually the center of humanity’s struggle.) What makes World War Z feel like one of the most complete novels in the zombie canon is its attention to detail and its thoroughness in exploring every aspect of a global response to such a plague, including the geopolitics that enable an outbreak. This level of obsessive dedication should come as no surprise, of course. Brooks first displayed it in the wry The Zombie Survival Guide, which details strategies for fighting off the undead and recorded attacks throughout history.
The Newsflesh series, by Mira Grant
Encompassing three novels (Feed, Deadline, and Blackout) and a handful of novellas, Grant’s Newsflesh world puts an entirely unique spin on the genre. Twenty years after the Rising (the zombie outbreak in 2014), the world has survived a crisis it created: the virus at the heart of the infection was created by human efforts to create cures for cancer and the common cold. The undead still roam, but the living can eke out, well, a living in cosseted safe zones. Blogger siblings Georgia and Shaun Mason get the story of lifetime when they’re granted press access to a senator’s presidential campaign. But it’s a dangerous assignment that leads them to the heart of a deadly (and undeadly?) conspiracy.
Boneshaker, by Cherie Priest
Steampunk zombies? Steampunk zombies. Priest makes a genre statement with her tale of an alternate Seattle, in which a post-Civil War gold rush unleashed a blight gas that creates the living dead through inhalation. Sixteen years later, in the first installment of her Clockwork Century series, the city has been walled up to keep the toxins in and the living out—until a son enters the city to clear a father’s name, and the undead inside are only the beginning of his problems.
Dead of Night, by Jonathan Maberry
In case it hasn’t been apparent in the many forms our pop culture fascinations with zombies has taken, our struggles with the undead tend to result from actions taken with little forethought. The trend continues in Dead of Night, as a scientist, hell-bent on revenge, injects a condemned serial killer with a cocktail that will keep his consciousness alive as his body rots in its grave. Amazingly, this act of vengeance has a few consequences, sparked by an unburied, undead serial killer surprising an unsuspecting mortician.
The White Trash Zombie series, by Diana Rowland
In the same vein as Warm Bodies, the White Trash Zombie books give an, erm, human face to the living dead. In My Life as a White Trash Zombie, we meet Angel Crawford, who—with her pill addiction and criminal record—is not having the best life. But then she wakes up in the hospital, for reasons she’s not sure of, and all of a sudden she’s having these weird cravings…for brains. What’s great about Rowland’s series is that her mysterious zombification is only the tip of the iceberg of Angel’s challenges.
Carnage Road, by Gregory Lamberson
Finally, take a look at this bite-sized pleasure cruise of the zombie genre. Easy Rider meets the end of the world as Boone and Walker set off on their motorcycles, amid an outbreak, to see what’s left of America. On their coast-to-coast journey, the pair comes across wonders and horrors, and they learn that the living may be more dangerous than the infestation of ghouls. While Boone and Walker rediscover their homeland, they also dig into bigger questions of humanity.