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When it comes to horror books, my favorite sub-genre is zombies. Zombie books take me into a world of paranormal, apocalyptic drama – they keep me on the edge of my seat and desperate to know how it ends.
Books about zombies have become increasingly popular over the past decade, with the rise of video games and TV series focusing their storylines on beating a zombie apocalypse.
But there’s something so much more thrilling about reading a book. It would be best to use your imagination, which can be both exhilarating and terrifying.
You’ve come to the right page if you’re in the mood for a great zombie book. In this guide, I’ve listed my best zombie books that will keep you hooked to the last word…
What Can You Expect From Zombie Books?
Zombie books are filled with suspense, horror, and adventure. Most stories revolve around a zombie apocalypse where some kind of virus or infection has transformed the dead into bloodthirsty creatures who want to feast on human flesh.
Readers can expect to find characters struggling to survive against hordes of zombies, searching for a safe haven, and looking out for one another in a desperate attempt to make it against all odds.
The protagonists have to find ways to create weapons and protective shields so that they can fight against the relentless onslaught of the undead.
Along with this adrenaline-filled action, there are often moments of sadness as characters come face to face with their own mortality and grapple with heartbreaking losses.
As readers get deeper into such stories, they can also expect to learn about societal issues such as morality, ethics, and group dynamics in a darkly fascinating way.
Best Zombie Books
Are you ready to add some zombie books to your to-read list? Below are my top picks for exciting zombie novels.
1. Slow Burn: Zero Day – Bobby Adair
Slow Burn: Zero Day by Bobby Adair is the first book in the Slow Burn series. It’s a short novella, but it’s currently free to read on Kindle Unlimited, so if you’re looking for a quick read, as this to the top-recommend zombie books that fans can’t get enough of.
A new flu strain is taking over the world, and the footage on the news is horrifying. People everywhere are preparing for the outbreak that’s turning people into zombies.
Everyone is scared except for Zed Zane.
Zed doesn’t have the slightest clue that anything is going on. All he knows is that rent is due, and he doesn’t have the money. He plans to drink a bottle of tequila and go to his mother’s house to beg for money.
When he arrives, his stepdad attacks him in a zombie-like state. To get free, Zed stabs him multiple times.
Now, he’s infected and heading to jail for murder. But this is only the beginning of Zed’s story, as he must continue fighting for his life.
I enjoyed this book because it has a more plausible storyline (well, not that I’d want it to happen!) and is not just another zombie apocalypse book designed to frighten the reader. There is real depth to the plot and the characters are convincing and relatable.
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2. The Rising: The Newsflesh Trilogy – Mira Grant
The Rising features all 3 of Mira Grant’s The Newflesh collections in one book. The story that takes place in the series is so intense that it needed three novels to complete.
This does mean this is a massive 1,000 page brick of a read, but trust me, you’re going to want to power through this.
It starts back in 2014, when it seemed like scientists made a breakthrough when they found cures for cancer and the common cold. With new medical discoveries came something horrible.
A widespread outbreak that turned people into flesh-eating zombies.
Twenty years later, Georgia and Shaun Mason are determined to find out the truth about what caused the outbreak. They will do anything to get answers, even if it means putting their lives on the line.
This is another zombie book I liked for its plausible storyline. I mean, it does start with a pandemic…
Despite being a massive read the storyline is quite fast-paced, and has a good amount of suspense and mystery. If you like virology-based zombie books, then add this to your TBR list.
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Related reading: Apocalypse romance books
3. This Is Not A Test – Courtney Summers
One of the best zombie books to keep you on the edge of your seat is This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers.
It follows a group of teenagers as they navigate their way through a zombie apocalypse, focusing more on their psychological struggles and how they manage the threat on an intellectual level, rather than just running away and smashing things.
It’s set at the start of a zombie apocalypse, leaving no safe places to reside. Sloane and five others find shelter inside Cortege High. However, the dead could barricade through the doors at any moment, killing them all with one bite.
Sloane was prepared to die. But her time inside Cortege High inspires a new will to fight to survive.
But, as the group spends more time together, they realize being inside could be more dangerous than leaving.
If you’ve been watching The Last of Us on HBO lately, then you might find similar vibes in this novel – it’s less about the infected and more about the character development.
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4. Cell – Stephen King
I will be honest, Cell is not my favorite Stephen King novel, and any fans of his works will probably want to debate their favs in the comments. After all, Stephen King is the master of horror books!
In this book, the action begins within the first 7 pages and doesn’t stop until the end. Each page is as gripping and as action-packed as the last. It adds a new definition to the word “page-turner.”
It all begins on a beautiful Autumn day in Boston, and everything appears normal. Clay didn’t think anything was out of the ordinary.
Until regular people fell victim to an outbreak that came out of nowhere that unleashed an animalistic instinct and hunger for humans.
And how it starts is even more bizarre. Every time someone answers their cell phone, they turn into crazed maniacs.
What I found most thrilling about Cell was how quickly things escalated. And if you think about how people are glued to their phones in today’s society…the idea of this happening is chilling.
This is just the beginning of the apocalypse zombie book. Like most King books, readers can expect thrills and chills from the start to the end.
**This book contains scenes of violence against women and animals that may upset some readers**
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5. The Forest Of Hands and Teeth – Carrie Ryan
Are you in the mood for a suspenseful zombie dystopian book that takes place after a zombie apocalypse? If so, I suggest grabbing a copy of The Forest Of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan.
Mary is a part of the sisterhood. They live in a protected village that protects them from the forest of hands and teeth. A zombie apocalypse has taken out most of the population.
As far as the sisterhood and the Guardians know, the people in their village are the only people in the world that aren’t infected.
Trouble arises when Mary discovers that the sisterhood hasn’t been honest with her. She begins to question things and what could be outside.
When the safety of the fence that keeps the gate protected is compromised, Mary questions if she should risk escaping.
This is an interesting take on the events after an apocalypse, when society should be rebuilding and coming together, others are being advantageous and cunning.
Again, I like this book for its plausibility. Admittedly, it takes a bit of time to get into it. I almost gave up but then persevered and the story picked up after about 50 pages in.
If you want something to suck you in from the beginning, this isn’t going to be the book for you, but if you’re looking for a series that will have you pondering, questioning reality, and investing you with its plot – then you may enjoy this book.
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6. Dread Nation – Justina Ireland
Dread Nation is not just a zombie book, it’s a zombie book about female empowerment. It’s set in the post-Civil War era and features a black female protagonist fighting zombies – something we can all agree is not seen enough in literature!!
I think the best way to describe this book is it’s like a historical fantasy zombie fest meets Pride and Prejudice.
The story follows Jane, who was born only two days before the zombie apocalypse started. Now, she’s nearly completed her education at Miss Preston’s School Of Combat in Baltimore.
This is an institute where select students are chosen for training to take out zombies.
Despite her skills, being a zombie hunter wasn’t on Jane’s list of life goals. Upon graduation, she plans to travel back to her Kentucky home. However, Jane is in a conspiracy as people begin missing in Baltimore.
I was heavily invested in this book because of how much I enjoyed the character of Jane. She was brave, courageous, and endearing, but not in a perfect way, which made her more relatable.
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7. Generation Dead – Daniel Waters
Are you in the mood for a YA zombie book? Generation Dead by Daniel Waters is a refreshing take on your typical zombie novel, offering something uniquely different from the rest.
It starts when a strange outbreak occurs that causes teenagers to die, only they aren’t staying dead. They are resurrected as zombies, creating a new clique of zombie teens who are just trying to fit in with society.
Oakvale High tries to create a welcoming environment for these undead kids, but the living kids aren’t comfortable with it.
Everyone except for Pheobe that is.
Phoebe has genuine feelings for Tommy, the leader of the undead kids.
As citizens who don’t want the undead to stay around are finding ways to get rid of them, Phoebe is doing anything to keep Tommy safe.
Generation Dead is a funny, romantic, and thought-provoking read. It’s a coming-of-age novel about teenagers finding their place in society with a zombie twist.
The friendships and human (and non-human) interactions are what sets this novel apart. It’s definitely one of the more unique storylines on this list.
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8. 100 Days In Deadland – Rachel Aukes
100 Days In Deadland by Rachel Aukes is a creatively written story that begins on the first day after the world ends.
Told through the POV of the protagonist, Cash, a strong female office worker turned survivalist due to an apocalypse.
I would say as far as zombie books go, the storyline isn’t anything new. It starts after a zombie infestation took over the world in one day, leaving a trail of monsters with an insatiable hunger for the living – and there’s no stopping them.
Cash is one of the few survivors. She ends up meeting up with Clutch, an army veteran. Cash doesn’t have the skills to survive and could use all the help she can get.
The two flee the city to find safety but enter the nine circles of hell. Danger surrounds them everywhere, and the living is just as dangerous as the dead.
Despite the somewhat cliche storyline, it is done remarkably well. The characters were well-developed, the dialogue seemed realistic and there wasn’t a moment that felt like it dragged.
Anyone who loves zombie books may enjoy this read.
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9. Clementine, Book 1 – Tillie Walden
Are you in the mood for a graphic novel? Then you may enjoy Clementine by Tillie Walden.
This book takes place in the world of Robert Kirkman’s, The Walking Dead, so if you’ve ever played the game you may see similar elements of the plot in this book.
Clementine is on the road and ready to forget her past. She teams up with Amos, another teenager. They head to Vermont, where they plan to stay at a settlement with other teenagers for the winter season.
Zombies and the cold aren’t the only dangers these kids face. As Clementine spends more time with these teens, she realizes they could be her most significant threats.
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10. The Darkest Winter – Lindsey Pogue
The Darkest Winter by Lindsey Pogue is a superhero meets The Walking Dead type zombie novel. If you’re after a book with a happily-ever-after, then this might be up your alley.
After the virus spread, the world, as people knew it ended. Zombies have taken over, and finding sanctuary is the most important thing.
Elle was an ordinary teenage girl that woke up in The Fever. When she woke up, she had superhuman powers. This had her worried that she was one of them.
Jackson is drinking away his worries as the world destroys. If he’s going to go out, he doesn’t want to be sober enough to know what’s going on. When he wakes up from a blackout with a gun in his face, he knows he must fight for his survival.
Ellie and Jackson are an unlikely pairing, but together they will navigate this dangerous post-apocalyptic world.
Lindsey Pogue has brilliantly described real emotion in this book. The way she captures grief, conflict, and loneliness is both poignant and relatable. Because of this, the characters are really the highlight of this read.
The storyline is well-rounded and there’s plenty of twists to keep you hooked to the end!
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11. Survivor Song – Paul Tremblay
If you’re looking for an intense zombie book, Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay might be a good one for you.
Although it’s defined as a zombie book, it’s similar to Cell in a way as it’s more like a virus that has mutated and turned people into crazy people – same thing, right?
A virus quickly spreads through Massachusetts, turning ordinary people into zombies with an infectious bite. This virus spreads within the hour, leaving no one safe.
Natalie is 8 months pregnant. Her husband was killed by an affected neighbor who also bit her. Knowing her limited time, she makes an emergency call to her pediatrician friend Rams.
The women face horrifying challenges as they fight for survival and to save Natalie’s life.
This book is not about literary jump scares or frightening monsters. The horror elements come from the intellectual fragility of the characters and human behavior. For that reason, I was absolutely hooked.
If pandemic reads are not too close to home, then this is sure to have you hooked from start to finish.
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12. Zone One – Colson Whitehead
Another zombie novel that focuses on the societal reaction to a zombie apocalypse is Zone One, which is all about survival after the apocalypse.
A plague that turned affected people into zombies wiped out half of the nation. The living and the undead separated people. The plague is over, and civilization is beginning to rebuild again.
A civilian team is working to rebuild Manhatten.
However, they soon discover things aren’t as safe as they seem. Things take a deadly turn over 3 days.
This novel doesn’t have a storyline that’s anything new, and I did find that the beginning started off slow, but from the middle it takes a surprising and unexpected turn that was quite refreshing.
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13. Alice In Zombieland – Gena Showalter
We’ve taken a trip to Wonderland with Alice before, but have you ever imagined taking an adventure in Zombieland? This is a fun take on the classic tale, featuring a zombie-fighting Alice.
Monsters are real, and this is something Alice knows all too well. Zombies took her family from her, and now she wants revenge.
To do this, she will team up with notorious bad boy Cole to fight the undead.
However, Alice soon discovers that her zombie-fighting partners are hiding secrets that could endanger them.
This is an original, fast-paced paranormal romance book that I found very hard to put down.
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14. Pride And Prejudice And Zombies – Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
We all know the classic tale of Pride and Prejudice, but what about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?
This is a refreshing take on the zombie genre, featuring elements of classic literature, paired with humor, swordfights, and zombies with a hunger for the living.
Zombies have taken over the village of Meryton.
Elizabeth Bennett is back for another book, but the classic character is fighting off deadly zombies this time.
But, when the arrogant Mr. Darcy arrives in town, our beloved heroine is distracted.
This is a far-fetched, over-the-top, and sometimes absurd book. If you loved the classic, you might find the historical inaccuracies annoying.
However, I found it to be quite funny in places, and I also enjoyed the illustrations. It’s not for everyone, but it is for those with a sense of humor.
It was also turned into a movie in 2016 starring Lily James as Elizabeth and Sam Riley as Mr. Darcy.
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15. Year Zero – Benjamin Percy and Ramon Rosanas
Last on the list of the best zombie books is Year Zero by Benjamin Percy and Ramon Rosanas. This is another zombie graphic novel series that is packed full of action and suspense.
The story takes place during a global zombie apocalypse, where five strangers with unique skills band together to fight the undead.
It follows multiple storylines and POV from characters around the world, from a boy in Mexico City to a hitman from Tokyo hitman to a survivalist in Minnesota and a woman from Afghanistan.
The author switches back and forth between each character and the events happening in their countries at the same time, which keeps you constantly invested in the story.
It’s all about the moral dilemmas these characters face as they fight for their lives during the pandemic.
It’s a short read, so if you’re looking for something quick to read to satisfy your fantasy urges, this is a good option.
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Final Words On Best Zombie Books
So there you have it; those are the most exciting zombie books that I think you’ll enjoy.
When it comes to zombie-themed novels, there are so many excellent choices, but these offer the best storylines, action, and suspense.
Of course, if you think I missed your favorite zombie book or you have another one to recommend, let me know about it in the comments below.
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Last Updated on March 6, 2023 by Louisa