I used to be terrified of zombies when I was little. I was a huge fan of Scooby-Doo but I had this one film called Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island and it traumatised me; I had nightmares for weeks.
But now that I’m older, my feelings towards zombies have changed a lot. They still freak me out, but it’s that kind of relationship where something terrifies you but you really enjoy it. I even gave up on The Walking Dead because there were too many humans and not enough zombies (although I might go back to it once university is over).
As you can guess, I’ve read a fair few zombie novels and watched a fair few zombie films. So, in no particular order, here is the promised list of my favourite zombie books:
The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
My Rating: 5/5
Synopsis: Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.
When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite. But they don’t laugh.
Melanie is a very special girl.
Why I loved it: I didn’t manage to get this book in the photo (it’s back at my university house and I’m at my family home), but it’s one I couldn’t leave out of this list. Where to begin? For starters, I always love anything apocalyptic that’s set in the UK. I’m so bored of almost every post-apocalypse or dystopia novel being set in the US. I may be biased because I’m English, but I think the UK as a setting has something really gritty about it that the US doesn’t have.
Anyway, this book was captivating from start to finish. A zombie plague, caused by some kind of spore, has taken over the UK. A remote army compound researches infected children who still have control of their faculties. I won’t summarise anymore because I think anyone who hasn’t read this book should do so immediately. The writing is haunting, the plot captivating, and the characters full of life (or virus, take your pick). Even if you aren’t into zombies, pick up this book, because it’s by no means a cliche addition to the genre. A film adaptation is also being made that was actually filmed in Birmingham! My sister turned up to work one day to find her street had been turned into an apocalypse-lover’s dream. Hopefully they do the book justice.
The Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy by Carrie Ryan
My Rating: 4/5
Synopsis (just the first one, so no spoilers for the other two):
In Mary’s world there are simple truths.
The Sisterhood always knows best.
The Guardians will protect and serve.
The Unconsecrated will never relent.
And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth.
But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future – between the one she loves and the one who loves her.
And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?
Why I loved it: I remember I got the first book in this YA series quite a few Christmas’s ago and I was so excited about it I kept creeping into my parents room and just looking at it. At the time, I had no idea it was about zombies (the blurb doesn’t give much away) but this was what started my zombie obsession. The first book is so poetic and so tense. I think it’s actually time for a re-read. The plot is unique and heartfelt, and Ryan really manages to keep the novels toeing the line between emotion and action.
However, I only gave the series 4/5 because the magic goes a little bit in the final book. We’re out of the eerie isolation of Mary’s world so the mystery fades slightly, but the story is still engrossing and there’s an extremely tense scene of a main character fleeing from a horde.
The first book is also finally being made into a film with Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams as Mary. She’s not who I envisaged as Mary but she’s a good actress and I’m excited to see what she does with the character.
Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
My Rating: 5/5
Synopsis: ‘R’ is a zombie. He has no name, no memories, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He is a little different from his fellow Dead.
Amongst the ruins of an abandoned city, R meets a girl. Her name is Julie and she is the opposite of everything he knows – warm and bright and very much alive, she is a blast of colour in a dreary grey landscape. For reasons he can’t understand, R chooses to save Julie instead of eating her, and a tense yet strangely tender relationship begins.
This has never happened before. It breaks the rules and defies logic, but R is no longer content with life in the grave. He wants to breathe again, he wants to live, and Julie wants to help him. But their grim, rotting world won’t be changed without a fight…
Why I loved it: Yet another zombie book I got for Christmas and devoured like there was no tomorrow. This book is so thoughtful and philosophic for a zombie novel, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any gripping action. One thing I loved about this book was the character of Perry, whose brain R keeps and takes occasional bites from, and whose voice subsequently penetrates R’s mind. The dynamic between these two was beautiful and Perry has one of the best, heart-wrenching monologues towards the end of the book that I love to go back to and relive. I was really sad that they left this out of the film, but it still captured the sensitive humour of the novel. The long awaited sequel is coming soon and I am so so so excited.
The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell
My Rating: 4/5
Synopsis: God is a slick god. Temple knows. She knows because of all the crackerjack miracles still to be seen on this ruined globe . . .
Older than her years and completely alone, Temple is just trying to live one day at a time in a post-apocalyptic world, where the undead roam endlessly, and the remnant of mankind who have survived, at times, seem to retain little humanity themselves.
This is the world she was born into. Temple has known nothing else. Her journey takes her to far-flung places, to people struggling to maintain some semblance of civilization – and to those who have created a new world order for themselves.
When she comes across the helpless Maury, she attempts to set one thing right, if she can just get him back to his family in Texas then maybe it will bring redemption for some of the terrible things she’s done in her past. Because Temple has had to fight to survive, has done things that she’s not proud of and, along the road, she’s made enemies.
Now one vengeful man is determined that, in a world gone mad, killing her is the one thing that makes sense . . .
Why I loved it: I read this book quite a while ago but it’s definitely one that has stuck with me. Temple is such a strong protagonist and her young age makes her all the stronger. I loved her story and found it a really refreshing addition to the genre. It’s not about curing the plague and saving the world, but just getting on with it. The story is emotionally fraught, dark and tender. I only discovered recently that there was actually a sequel published so I’m excited to buy that sometime soon.
Have any favourite zombie novels I haven’t suggested? Let me know in the comments!