Sometimes a trend comes along that just isn’t for everyone—like traditional zombies. Maybe they’re hot right now (thanks, Walking Dead), but they’re also sort of gross, definitely scary, and usually all around sad. But if The CW’s new iZombie proves anything, it’s that zombies don’t have to be those things. Zombie stories can be heartwarming, hilarious, and totally charming, which, of course, YA authors already knew. Here are 5 funny and smart zombie stories you can devour now that iZombie has opened your eyes to the world of not-so-gross zombies.
Warm Bodies, by Isaac Marion
Imagine an incredibly funny Romeo and Juliet, but with more brain eating. R is a soulful philosopher trapped in the body of a zombie. His days are spent engaging in traditional zombie hobbies: riding escalators, groaning, and eating brains. But when R eats the brains of a teenage boy and begins hearing his thoughts, things take an unexpected turn, as he falls in love with the boy’s girlfriend. The two star-crossed lovers begin a romance that will transform more than just their lives—it’ll change everything. Bonus: Warm Bodies was turned into an equally charming movie starring the always welcome Nicholas Hoult.
Undead, by Kirsty McKay
This book is what happens when Shaun of the Dead meets The Breakfast Club, which basically means it’s a funny zombie book full of teenage angst. Bobby is just trying to fit into a new school, and luckily she meets a cute rebel boy to get her flirt on with. But when a zombie outbreak threatens to ruin the school ski trip, Bobby must work with her fellow classmates and take refuge on the school bus to avoid becoming the next zombie snack. Full of comic gore and nail-biting suspense, this series starter is a hilarious look at teen dynamics during crisis time.
Eat Brains Love, by Jeff Hart
It’s a zombie road trip book complete with laughs, government agents, and psychics. Jake is your average video game–playing high school student with a crush on a super-pretty and popular cheerleader…that is, until they both turn into zombies and eat half their high school. Together, they try to outrun the Necrotic Control Division, which is assisted by a teenage psychic named Cass. When Cass struggles with her growing connection to Jake, she begins to question the government’s agenda. Told from the alternating perspectives of Cass and Jake, this is a quirky zombie novel that will leave you laughing out loud.
Never Slow Dance With a Zombie, by E. Van Lowe
On the night of her middle school graduation, Margot crafted a manifesto detailing how exactly her star would rise during high school. Of course, her junior year rolls around and she’s accomplished literally nothing on that list, and the whole thing is just really upsetting. And then the zombies happen, which may sound bad, but really, this is Margot’s chance to fulfill her manifesto. It’s easy to be popular when most of the student body is the undead. In this hilarious take on how to deal with zombies (Rule #1: While in the halls, walk slowly and wear a vacant expression on your face), Margot must decide how far she’s willing to go to meet her goals and whether any of it’s worth it in the end.
Zombie Queen of Newbury High, by Amanda Ashby
Mia—the Supernatural-watching, Buffy-loving BFF of your dreams—is finally living out her nerd girl dreams when the super-hot football captain asks her to prom. But when the evil cheerleading goddess tries to make some moves on Mia’s new man, Mia attempts a love potion that accidentally unleashes a zombie virus instead. Her new zombie horde treats her like a queen, and everything looks like it might be okay, until an ultra-handsome zombie hunter informs her the zombies are just fattening her up. This funny look at the zombie apocalypse will charm your paranormal socks off.
iZombie Vol. 1: Dead to the World, by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred (Illustrator)
And finally, there’s always the source material iZombie is based on. Like its small-screen counterpart, the graphic novel is a smart and witty detective story that follows the perspective of a female zombie. However, the graphic novel also includes a whole host of other supernatural creatures, like ghosts, vampires, and mummies. And who knows? Maybe we can expect a hot but demented mummy on future episodes.