Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be a zombie these days. With a single-mindedness that only an animated corpse could muster, the zombies have recently risen from the grave to enjoy unprecedented heights of popularity. But even as they rub rotting elbows with the “beautiful people,” the zombies have always managed to stay true to their rancid, flesh-eating roots. Sure, they’ve experimented a little on their way to the top. They’ve dipped a gangrenous toe into classic literature, played slapstick for laughs, and even done a bit of thrilling song and dance. But the bottom line is that the zombies have earned their stardom by remaining committed to doing what zombies do best. Namely, they’ve doubled and redoubled their efforts to scare you snotless, and let’s face it, you’ve got to respect their work ethic even as you run screaming from their lurching pursuit. So this Halloween celebrate the Year of the Zombie with a book that captures all of their consistent creepiness. In each of the following gory reads, you’ll thank the zombies for keeping it real… real scary.
Feed by Mira Grant – Urban fantasy writer Seanan McGuire tries on a new pen name for this brutal, postapocalyptic thriller about zombies, politics, and social media. The year is 2039, and America has been shattered by a viral pandemic that reanimates the dead. As the country struggles to rebuild, twin bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason are tapped to cover the presidential campaign of Sen. Peter Ryman. But when zombies attack a campaign rally and kill Ryman’s daughter, the bloggers are swept up in a battle against crooked politicians, the CDC, and of course, the living dead. Gripping and suspenseful, this genuinely creepy zombie tale doubles as a shocking study of truth and the media.
The Living Dead edited by John Joseph Adams – This superb anthology will please zombie fans both new and old with its collection of the best living dead literature from the past 30 years. Included are stories from some of horror fiction’s biggest names like Stephen King (“Home Delivery”), Clive Barker (“Sex, Death, and Starshine”), and Joe Hill (“Bobby Conroy Comes Back from the Dead”). However, some less expected authors such as Sherman Alexie (“Ghost Dance”), George R.R. Martin (“Meathouse Man”), Dan Simmons (“This Year’s Class Picture”), and Neil Gaiman (“Bitter Grounds”) also throw their hats in the ring for this virtual cornucopia of zombie gore.
Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry – From the author of the Bram Stoker Award-winning “Pine Deep” trilogy comes this fast and furious thriller about a terrorist plot to destroy the world with zombies. Baltimore PD Det. Joe Ledger is in line for a much-deserved promotion when he’s recruited for a new mission by a shadowy government agency. A maniacal terrorist and his brilliant scientist wife have manufactured a plague that turns its victims into violent zombies, and Ledger must stop the villians before they unleash their carnage on humanity. Gruesome, adrenaline-filled, and packed with plenty of man-to-zombie combat.
The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell – Hummingbirds author Joshua Gaylord adopts a pseudonym for this exquisitely bleak tale about a young girl in a zombie-ravaged world. For 15-year-old Temple surviving in a society shattered by vicious “meatskins” means obeying one unbreakable rule: kill or be killed. But zombies aren’t the only danger. After defending herself from an assault at a safe house, Temple is forced to flee into the brutal frontier with the revenge-minded brother of her human attacker in murderous pursuit. Chased by both the living and the living dead, Temple partners with a vulnerable young man in whose friendship she seeks salvation from her haunting past. Violent, unsettling, and featuring a tough-as-nails heroine you won’t soon forget.
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks – The author of the deadpan Zombie Survival Guide makes a serious return with this “oral history” of the world’s desperate battle against the zombie menace. The story unfolds through the first-person accounts of a Chinese doctor who encounters the first government-suppressed case of the zombie outbreak as well as military personnel, smugglers, and others on the front line. Peppered with pointed jabs at contemporary politicians and society, this engrossing read is fast, fresh, and frightening.
And if your hunger for zombie horror still rages on, try chasing down the following:
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