It's been a while since we last checked in on Zombie fiction, and with the release of World War Z in theaters this summer, the time seemed ripe—your Pun Shield is still up, I hope?— for revisiting tales of the undead.
In Part 1, we looked at continuing series and also at recent short zombie fiction anthologies. This week, we look at new series and standalone novels featuring the undead.
A SMORGASBOARD OF ZOMBIE FICTION
The beauty of fiction is that there's something that fits for every reader's tastes. The pleasant surprise of zombie fiction is that, although we're talking about a smaller set of books, it offers no less a wide variety of flavors. You want mainstream? Pick up Zone One by Colson Whitehead, wherein a pandemic divides the world into the uninfected living and the infected living dead. You want humor and fun? Check out Mur Lafferty's The Shambling Guide to New York City, which is about a travel writer, saddled with being merely human in a world of supernatural creatures, who takes a job with a shady publishing company in New York, and who is tasked with writing a city guide for the undead. Or try Apocalypse Cow by Michael Logan, which is about a virus that turns Britain's livestock into the undead and the unlikely heroes that must save the day.
Want more? How do some of the following grab you? Graveminder by Melissa Marr takes place in a mysterious town that connects the living and the dead, where only the protagonist's family line has the power to keep the zombies where they belong. In City of the Lost by Stephen Blackmoore, a Los Angeles low-life gets killed by a crime boss, comes back as a zombie and is on the hunt for a mysterious, magical talisman. Also set in California is Horizon by Sophie Littlefield, an introspective book from the point of view of a girl looking to survive in a nation of zombies. Meanwhile, Nancy Holzner takes readers to Boston in Darklands, which features a quarantined section of the city called Deadtown due to its inhuman and undead residents. The title character of Madeleine Roux's Sadie Walker Is Stranded is raising her 8-year-old nephew in the zombie apocalypse. And, proof that zombie fiction is not dead, this month sees publication of the thought-provoking zombie novel Fiend by Peter Stenson, which pits hordes of the undead against meth addicts and uses that as a background for some thought-provoking meditations on addiction and hope.
If you like the mixed flavors of mashups, consider By the Blood of Heroes: The Great Undead War by Joseph Nassise, a World War I zombie story; or Stant Litore’s Strangers in the Land: The Zombie Bible, a zombie retelling of biblical tales and ancient history. Or try Z 2134 by Sean Platt and David W. Wright which puts a little zombie in your Nineteen Eighty-Four with a futuristic dystopian story set 100 years after the zombie apocalypse.
LET'S START SOMETHING FRESH (NEW SERIES)
Readers love reading a good series from the beginning and zombie fiction readers need not feel locked out. For example, Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due have begun a compelling new series with Devil's Wake, about two people who find love amid the zombie apocalypse. The story continues in Domino Falls, where survivors meet the charismatic leader of a cult. In her new series featuring protagonist Ashley Parker, a woman immune to the virus that is turning the world's population into zombies, author Dana Fredsti offers up the fast-paced Plague Town and Plague Nation, which is described as "Buffy meets The Walking Dead. Campbell Award–winning writer Seanan McGuire, no stranger to the undead under her pseudonym Mira Grant (author of the Newslfesh trilogy), is now serving up the new InCryptid series. Comprised of Discount Armageddon and Midnight Blue-Light Special, the series features all sorts of undead monsters. If detective fiction is your thing, zombie-reader, then consider Kevin J. Anderson's Dan Shambles series. The three novels so far (Death Warmed Over, Unnatural Acts and Hair Raising) feature many sorts of undead, including the dreaded zombie...all of which the author's private investigator handles with a smooth effectiveness.
Zombie fiction readers who are fans of mashups will be pleased as well. Peter Clines has started a new superhero/zombie series about Los Angeles-based superhumans that try to save the world from a post-apocalyptic zombie wasteland in a series of novels that begins with Ex-Heroes and continues with Ex-Patriots and the newly-released Ex-Communication, the latter of which uses some comic tropes to chilling effect. There's also James Marshall's How to End Human Suffering series. Comprised of Ninja Versus Pirate Featuring Zombies and Zombie Versus Fairy Featuring Albinos, Marshall—despite the silly-sounding titles—tackles serious issues and pulls no politically incorrect punches.
And wouldn't you know it, I just learned of some new zombie books headed your way that are worth mentioning:
¨ The Savage Dead is the latest zombie book from the Bram Stoker Award–winning author Joe McKinney. Joe knows zombies, and this chilling novel proves it.
¨ If there's any one zombie book a parent would give to their kids to read, it would have to be Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi. The socially conscious (and New York Times best-selling) author tackles serious themes like food safety, racism and immigration—all delivered in a fun story of kids playing detective to save the world.
You may now consider yourself caught up on zombie fiction.