As an anthropologist, I really appreciate author Sophie Little field’s attention to underlying cultural themes, explored amid the bleak setting of a zombie apocalypse. She’s a mother who awakens to find herself as a zombie that’s mysteriously turned back human.
Class then embarks on a dangerous search for her daughter, seeking help in a world filled with flesh-hungry Beaters (i.e. zombies). Interestingly, I first met author Rhiannon Crater online many years ago on an obscure forum for horror fans.
Fast-forward a decade later and Rhiannon is now an accomplished author being published by Tor Books. Among her most celebrated releases is the As The World Dies zombie apocalypse trilogy, beginning with The First Days.
The thematic pairing of bloggers / zombies may initially put off some genre purists. And, yes, there are sections in the book where author Mira Grant veers too deep into the technical aspects of online journalism.
The Newsflash series offers plenty of character and emotional depth, wrapped up by a largely satisfying ending. From Extinction Horizon and beyond, author Nicholas Smith feeds you an exquisite serving of frenzied zombie action.
This military story follows Master Sergeant Reed Beckham who, as leader of his Delta Force Team, has lived through his fair share of nightmarish missions. However, his worst hell begins when his team is sent in to investigate a super-secret research facility that’s gone dark.
An epic catastrophe soon unfolds when they discover that infected zombies have started to spread across cities, threatening human extinction. While coming across as a back-to-basics thriller, you’ll be surprised to find a host of intriguing characters woven into an addictive narrative fabric.
This opens her eyes to the outside world for the first time; an existence plagued by a zombie apocalypse within which, unbeknownst to her, she has a role to play. At the start, you aren’t fully informed of what Melanie’s ‘gifts’ really are, leaving you guessing.
A zombie book less about in-your-face action and more focused on fostering a genuinely creepy atmosphere. Older than most books on this list, The Rising treks a father’s journey through a zombie apocalypse in an effort to rescue his son.
The Rising is credited for partially helping to jump-start the new wave of zombie survival fiction. The plot centers on a group of students who find themselves trapped in school, with a zombie horde pounding to get in.
However, I think the strong plot and surprisingly charming characters will definitely find an audience with adults alike. However, as far as zombie novels go, The Briefing seems to be a hugely overlooked gem for the genre (based on the many five-star reviews I’ve read).
I can’t give much more detail than that in fear of breaking the blood oath you’re essentially forced to sign at the beginning of the story that says to hold the book’s secrets close to you as to not spoil it for others. The bleak, minimalist style seems appropriate to the setting of nuclear winter, and although the book isn’t heavy on plot, it still manages to be completely absorbing.
Sale It seems only natural to include master of horror Stephen King on this list with his apocalyptic contribution The Stand. It’s about a plague that is accidentally unleashed upon the world from a government lab and wipes out most humanity (save those that are mysteriously immune), which would be compelling enough in its own right; but, this being Stephen King, he, of course, has to add some supernatural elements as well.
If you’re open to the idea of a post apocalyptic comedy that, essentially, feels like The Secret Life of Pets for grown-ups, you should definitely give Hollow Kingdom a read. It’s also vastly different from the movie (if you’ve seen that already); rather than an action-packed thriller, the book is set up more like a documentary, with a series of interviews and eyewitness accounts.
Sale In Earth Abides by George R Stewart, we again see disease as the chosen device to wipe out humanity. It is fascinating, just not in a keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat way; it moves along at a languid pace, taking place over the course of several years, but still manages to be both engrossing and haunting.
Atwood has a knack for writing dystopian novels that are close enough to our own reality as to be almost feasible, and that is what makes them so delightfully creepy. Orly and Brake is utterly engaging, clever, and thought-provoking; it raises many ethical questions regarding the direction in which science is headed, and whether it could be going too far.
This book is unique in that the plague is vampires, not zombies, and Robert Neville is not one of few humans left on earth, he is the last. The gut-wrenching loneliness Neville experiences is absolutely chilling; that combined with the creatures makes this book positively nightmare-inducing.
Palette premise of New York Times bestselling author William R. Porsche’s cautionary tale One Second After is this: an electromagnetic pulse emitted from three nuclear weapons renders all electronic devices completely useless, consequently causing the breakdown of society as we know it. The most terrifying part of this novel is that the scenario is by far the most realistic of all the post-apocalyptic concepts; it was based, in fact, on a threat Porsche perceived as being very real.
Admittedly, the writing style can be a bit grating at times, but the premise of the story is fascinating if you’re not especially sensitive to the repetitive dialogue and the sometimes preachy nature of the book. Like many post apocalyptic books, it is a cautionary tale against nuclear warfare and about taking the dangers of science too far.
This is a hefty work, coming in at over 750 pages, but one you could easily finish in a few days due to its compelling nature. Salazar we have another nuclear-war induced holocaust, an idea which gained popularity during the Cold War Era, and the concept of which is always chilling in its realism.
Published more than half a century ago, this book has withstood this test of time; it remains as poignant and as relevant today as ever. It is certainly a product of its time, but in some ways is actually quite progressive in that gender and racial roles tend to fall by the wayside in the wake of the apocalypse.
Alas, Babylon is less bleak than many of the other books on our list; it is filled with hope, and is truly a story of survival and the triumph of the human spirit (although of course the subject is depressing by nature). In The Day of the Griffins we have perhaps the unique apocalyptic scenario: rampant blindness resulting from the Earth passing too close to a green comet combined with killer plants.
Swan Song is a delightful and unique combination of post-apocalyptic horror and fantasy; think The Stand, but with nuclear warfare instead of a deadly virus. Be warned that the gritty realism contained herein is not for the faint of heart; the book is often gruesome and horrific things happen to the main characters.
Do yourself a favor and pick this one up if you’re a fan of the genre; don’t be daunted by the length, because we promise you that you won’t want it to end. In The Book of M, the apocalypse starts when people begin losing their shadows, and along with it, their memories, in an epidemic dubbed The Forgetting.
It’s a brilliant tale, right down to its climax, and Peng does a great job presenting the reader with an unsettling apocalypse that’s truly riveting.