I’ve been on a zombie fiction binge recently. On three separate occasions last week, when I told someone what book I was reading, I got the same response: “Oh, zombies… I can’t read that stuff. It’s all the same.”
And when I asked how many zombie novels they had read, everyone said: “Well, I haven’t read any, but…”
It’s so disappointing to hear comments like this. Zombie releases in the last few years have been anything but formulaic.
As this post shows, zombie novels are wildy diverse, and include science fiction, paranormal fantasy, romance, and noir fiction—even children’s books!
And for those of you staunch unbelievers who still think zombie fiction is all the same, here are two new debut novels that put a cool spin on the zombie mythos.
Posthumous, by David S.E. Zapanta
This debut novel—the first installment in Zapanta’s Cadabra Rasa saga—is easily one of the most innovative and imaginative works of zombie fiction I’ve ever read. Set in a world where people can be reborn after death, with the help of licensed medical witch doctors—“the ultimate second chance”—it explores the political, sociological, and economical consequences of a world where Warmbloods live side-by-side with the undead (don’t call them zombies). Reanimates don’t need to eat or sleep: they’re the “most ideal workforce ever imagined.” And although the Cold Wars are long over—and the living and the undead have reached a tenuous truce—there are more than a few humans who hate what the undead are doing to their country and are plotting to get rid of them forever.
Posthumous is so much more than a zombie novel; the storyline (particularly the backstory) is wildly imaginative and meticulously constructed; the cast of characters is fully fleshed out; the dark humor is spot on; and the social commentary is, well, biting. Zombie fiction aficionados and fans of speculative fiction in general who seek out and read this ambitious debut will agree that Posthumous is one of the most unique—and entertaining—novels they’ve read in years.
Fiend, by Peter Stenson
This highly touted debut novel delivers in a big way. Revolving around a 25-year-old junkie named Chase Daniels, the storyline is absolutely brilliant—all of humankind has been turned into the undead: except those who are hardcore crystal meth addicts. Running low on drugs and with no other options, Chase and his buddy Typewriter set out from their stinking drug den on the outskirts of Saint Paul in hopes of surviving. But for them, survival isn’t necessarily about finding food; it’s about breaking into pharmacies looking for stockpiles of Sudafed, locating working meth labs, and, at least for Chase, somehow saving his former girlfriend. As it turns out, fighting hordes of undead is simple compared to battling addiction… powered by a stripped down and brutally honest narrative, this heartrending novel isn’t so much about the zombie apocalypse as it is about an addict on a quest to find salvation. This is a novel readers will not soon forget!
Zombie fiction is definitely not dead—and for all of those readers out there who think so, I urge you to read these two debut novels. I think you’ll have a change of heart…