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October 20, 2011 10:22 AM   Subscribe

A question about zombies. Specifically, Zombie Stories. Extra specifically, Zombie Stories that Don't Suck.

I'm obsessed with post-apocalyptic whatever. I'm like, the only guy you know who liked "The Postman" and "Waterworld." Since I got my Kindle last year, I've been churning through all kinds of books, but I'm always looking for more. In particular, more zombie books.

Here's some insight: I thought World War Z was crap. I thought Day by Day Armageddon was CRAP.

I read Rhiannon Frater's Zombie Trilogy and thought it was pretty great, minus some of the pages-long-sappines. I liked that she really addressed specifically what the people did in preparation.

I read Joe McKinney's "Dead City" trilogy and thought it was good, except the first one which I accidentally read second and was REALLY glad I read it second, because otherwise I wouldn't have ever read the first one.

It's not Zombies, but I'm digging Chuck Hogan and Guillermo del Toro's Strain Trilogy.

Recommend more to me? Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter was made of awesome, again though...not zombies. Anything I guess, like, end-of-the-world/apocalyptic/small group of or individual hero kicking ass against all odds, etc.

No: Sparkly vampires, no thinly veiled love stories, no romanticism of the fallen, no allegories to Society At Large. Yuck. Oh...and I read The Stand too, and made the mistake of reading the unabridged version. Stephen King will type 15 pages on a tangent when no normal reader is still paying attention.

yes, I read "literature" too. Sometimes it's nice to turn off my brain for something...juicy.
posted by TomMelee to Grab Bag (41 answers total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Two recommendations that come to mind:

boneshaker by Cherie Priest.

the passage, by Justin Cronin. (Note, in reviews the antagonist monsters are often described as being more like vampires, and some of them sort of are, but the ones that make up the bulk are more zombie-like. Definitely no sparkling involved.)
posted by advil at 10:33 AM on October 20, 2011 [3 favorites]

Have you read I Am Legend?
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:35 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: yes. Good.
posted by TomMelee at 10:36 AM on October 20, 2011

I just read Marvel Zombies, and was pleasantly surprised.
posted by cmoj at 10:38 AM on October 20, 2011

Best answer: Not Zombies but The Carhullan Army might fit the bill of
end-of-the-world/apocalyptic/small group of or individual hero kicking ass against all odds, etc.
posted by Megami at 10:41 AM on October 20, 2011

Best answer: Not a book but if you can listen to audio, The Zombie Podcast is awesome.
posted by yb2006shasta at 10:47 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: On further thought, you might also enjoy The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway. It's not a zombie book, or even a traditional monster story, but I loved it. Its plot is really difficult to summarize, so you should just get it from the library and give it a try.
posted by workerant at 10:55 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Mira Grant, Feed. It's part of a trilogy, with the second book already out, and the final book due in 2012 (May? not sure on month). Just a warning, I was in a foul mood for a few days after finishing the second book, because damnit, I don't want to wait months for the next one, gimme my fix NOW NOW NOW.
posted by jraenar at 10:56 AM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I've only read the ebook sample so far, but Colson Whitehead's Zone One (just came out this week!) looks really promising.
posted by gnomeloaf at 11:06 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: While technically Young Adult books, Christopher Golden's Soulless actually disturbed the bejesus out of me. The treatment of his zombies was very different from how I expected them to behave.

Also, Carrie Ryan's Forest of Hands and Teeth starts off another series that was very post-apocalyptic and intriguing. It's a YA book as well, but it is really well written and cause me to stay up way too late because I couldn't stop reading.
posted by teleri025 at 11:11 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've long thought the short-story anthology Book of the Dead, edited by Skipp and Spector, is the gold standard for this stuff, but first you have to find a copy. Maybe that's not helpful since you're on a Kindle, but at least I read the part where you said, "World War Z was crap."
posted by Joey Bagels at 11:13 AM on October 20, 2011

Best answer: I think you'd like Mira Grant's Newsflesh series. She did a lot of research about medical/scientific stuff before writing it so it's got a lot of realism in the sense of taking zombism as a disease. Not that the books are very scientific - they're more adventure plus great characters. But the science makes the background feel solid.
posted by marginaliana at 11:13 AM on October 20, 2011

Fuck yes, Mira Grant.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:13 AM on October 20, 2011

Response by poster: Audiobooks and podcasts are also great. I've been listening to the Dresden Files while I work on my house and was recently distressed that book 5 gets a new narrator and he is full of FAIL.

Total sidebar, but that podcast actually is similar to something I was just thinking of---only I was thinking of having people from wherever "blog" about their survival and what they were doing, sort of RPG like but people not necessarily aware of each other. Some could be scientists, some could be kids, whatever.

Already snagged a bunch of these, keep 'em coming!
posted by TomMelee at 11:26 AM on October 20, 2011

Hate to point out the elephant in the room, but have you read (or watched) The Walking Dead?
posted by blue_beetle at 11:31 AM on October 20, 2011 [4 favorites]

I've only read the ebook sample so far, but Colson Whitehead's Zone One (just came out this week!) looks really promising.

I was going to suggest that (went to an author appearance for this last night!), but TomMelee said he didn't want "romanticism of the fallen", and Zone One may be guilty of this; there is a strong element of missing the Old World.

Tom, can you clarify "romanticism of the fallen," actually? Because if I'm wrong about what you meant by that (what I think you mean is, either subtle or overt themes of "mankind had it made but then the apocalypse happened and I wish things were the way they were alas"), then let me know because that's stopped me from suggesting something else that may be good after all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:33 AM on October 20, 2011

Best answer: Someone posted We're Alive on Askme a little while ago, and it's an excellent zombie podcast that I'm listening to right now.
posted by _cave at 11:35 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I like: Swan Song No Zombies, but good end of world story.

Also really liked the Brian Keene's The Rising
posted by bleucube at 11:37 AM on October 20, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for asking Empress.

By "romanticism of the fallen" I mean, like, pages of someone waxing all sad because "I knew Joe, he was such a hard working farmer, I mean I HAD TO jam that screwdriver in his eye, he was trying to eat fluffy!"

I mean clearly there's sadness and grief and WTF to be had, but like, for example in 28 days later, they JUST MOVE ON because you HAVE TO KEEP MOVING.

Rhiannon Frater does a really good job of it---they talk about it and think about it, but only in the quiet time. There's no mid-battle-crisis-of-conscience, if you know what I'm saying.

I am Legend style "must save the species" is just fine.
posted by TomMelee at 11:38 AM on October 20, 2011

Best answer: Forest of Hands and Teeth (and the other two) are thinly veiled YA love stories. There's a lot of pining and angst going on between the zombie attacks. And lots of romanticism of the fallen.

I also encourage you to stay away from Raising Stony Mayhall (romanticism of the fallen, societal allegory, mostly not post-apocalyptic) and Warm Bodies (societal allegory, love story).

Note: All of the above are great books, just not what the OP is looking for.
posted by elsietheeel at 11:40 AM on October 20, 2011

Best answer: Have you read Tooth and Nail by Craig Dilouie? Seems like it might fit your description.
posted by davidvanb at 11:41 AM on October 20, 2011

Best answer: Check out the monster island series by david wellington. Very original take on the zombie.

There are three full length books out that show on amazon, but the tale began as an online serial. And the author has the full series available on his website so rather than tell you how good it is...
Monster Island
posted by anti social order at 11:42 AM on October 20, 2011 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Thanks, Tom.

Based on the excerpt I heard, Zone One may be right on the edge for you - sounded empirically great, mind you, but there's a couple of pausing-to-wax-nostalgic moments, it seems. Do consider it, though.

My own rec is from a nuclear apocalypse instead of zombie or plague, and takes place a couple thousand years after said apocalypse. But even so Riddley Walker is damn awesome. It's in a sort of made-up dialect and you'll have to read the first few paragraphs over a couple times getting used to it, but you'll get it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:54 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: no zombies, but the road?
posted by Tom-B at 12:02 PM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It's short, but hilarious: Little House After the End.

Apparently, there's a whole slew of similar material out in the nets.
posted by ES Mom at 12:14 PM on October 20, 2011

Best answer: Allison Hewitt Is Trapped. Was started as an actual blog on teh interwebs, and includes comments that readers added, in character.

It might be high on sappiness, but also high on butt-kicking.
posted by BrashTech at 12:23 PM on October 20, 2011

Best answer: Seconding Boneshaker, and its follow-up (not a sequel but set in the same fictional universe) Dreadnought, which I actually think is the better of the two.
posted by KingEdRa at 12:31 PM on October 20, 2011

Best answer: I found The Reapers Are the Angels to be an amazing book. I can't recommend it strongly enough. It's short at 240 pages.
posted by ftm at 1:00 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: George Romero likes the new book The Zombie Autopsies, though it might be more similar to World War Z than you'd like (I liked WWZ and this one sounds interesting, though I haven't read it).
posted by filthy light thief at 2:01 PM on October 20, 2011

Best answer: Charlie Higson's YA trilogy beginning with The Enemy are the best zombie books I've read by some way. They are set in London, and there's a certain amount of UK-centricity. Ilsa J Bick's Ashes is similar for a US audience but it's also the first book in an as yet incomplete series, which is frustrating.
posted by featherboa at 2:23 PM on October 20, 2011

Best answer: Rise Again, by Ben Tripp. I picked this up at my library, it had a sticker that said "Reader Favorite." Uh oh, this is gonna be crap.

And it started out kinda crap, and I was all smug, and then whammo, I was up until I finished the book at 4am.
posted by BleachBypass at 3:19 PM on October 20, 2011

Best answer: Try Codex Nekromantia. More zombies than you could shake a stick at, written by MeFi's own Burnfirewalls.
posted by JDHarper at 4:26 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Not a novel, and I don't know if there are (legal) Kindle versions, but The Walking Dead comics are awesome.

It has a very realistic "anybody can (and will) die" feel, characters make hard decisions which have consequences, yet there's always a glimmer of hope. Until something bad happens to flush that hope down the drain.
posted by porpoise at 4:35 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It's down at the moment, and I'm not... sure how to fix it, but my SLG-published comic Dead Eyes Open is online for free. It was, if I can pat myself on the back, pretty damn good, and different than anything else that's ever been done in the genre.
posted by Shepherd at 4:57 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I found The Living Dead anthology pretty good overall, although it was skewed upwards by George R.R. Martin's "Meathouse Man," which is just made of pure awesome.

Also, it is (partially) a straight-up love story, but Fragile by Stefano Raffaele does a good job of going through the logistics of sentient zombies as well as being a rollicking good read.

In the quasi-zomboid post-apocalyptic sense, the short stories at the end of
Veniss Underground take the "half-dead but still recognizable human" thing and run with it. "Balzac's War" in particular has that terrifying "it's your friend but not the way you remembered her" thing going on, in the middle of an all-out war between humans and man-sized, sentient meerkats.
posted by Tubalcain at 5:49 PM on October 20, 2011

Er, meant to close that tag. Really did. But the whole sentence points to Fragile now, I suppose.
posted by Tubalcain at 5:51 PM on October 20, 2011

Best answer: I like the Postman and Waterworld also, so coming from someone with similar tastes: I second Monster Island trilogy.
posted by BurnChao at 7:57 PM on October 20, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks again for the suggestions, I've snagged several things already. I'm 20% through "feed" already...although I'm hoping it picks up soon, which I think it will.

Feel free to keep adding suggestions. Anyone know of a non-Romero-ist forum or group dedicated to such things? It might be a fun place to waste my idle work-hours.
posted by TomMelee at 5:13 AM on October 21, 2011

Thirding the Monster books. I first tripped over them when he was doing them via blog and bought them as they came out. A very interesting twist on the Inevitable Zombie Apocalypse (tm). I did not however like the Postman or Waterworld, so take that as you may.
posted by Samizdata at 9:04 AM on October 23, 2011

Daybreak, by Brian Ralph
posted by audacity at 2:46 PM on October 28, 2011

Response by poster: Ok, updates. A day or two after posting this thread, a really nifty-keen young writer messaged me and asked me if I would be willing to read his draft of a zombie-esque story. Can you say HELL YES?! So I read it, and he and I have traded emails since. Pretty cool.

I grabbed Feed by Mira Grant because everyone said it was soooo good. I was like 59% of the way through it (thank you Kindle) and honestly I was thinking it was kind of a waste. So much concentration on their journalistic tendencies and miniature cameras, with Zombie interaction for about 3 pages at a time every 60 pages. So last night I'm in bed reading, and I say to my SO "Man, those folks on Metafilter lied to me, literally nothing significant is really happening in this story. I mean it happens, but it's all anticlimactic. I guess I'll finish it, but meh." So like 3 pages later, the poop hits the circulation device, (Buffy, for those who have read it) and I'm like WELL SNAP CRACKLE POP I shoulda complained 50 pages ago. So...I'm not sold but at least now I'm intrigued.

I grabbed a bunch of others too, baby and life and Federal reporting period have gotten in the way of reading so I'm a little slow right now.

I was cleaning out my study on Sunday (ok fine my spare bedroom) and I have all these paperbacks I don't really want, that aren't worth selling on Amazon or ebay, but that I don't want to throw away. Does MeFi have a bookswap?
posted by TomMelee at 1:47 PM on November 7, 2011

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