The best books that put a different spin on a popular genre

Who am I?

I absolutely love stories—books; TV shows; movies—that take a familiar topic, and either turn it on its ear or examine its full potential. For me, The Empire Strikes Back is one of the best sequels of all time because it did not just repeat what Star Wars did before it, but expanded upon it. As a reader, I seek this; as a writer, I emulate this. If a superhuman can produce kinetic shockwaves, what else might one do with this ability? If a vampire can turn into mist, what are the furthest implications of this supernatural skill? Don’t settle for a trope, explore it!


I wrote...

Paranormals

By Christopher Andrews,

Book cover of Paranormals

What is my book about?

In the tradition of X-Men and the Wild Card anthologies comes a novel of superhuman wonder. Five years ago, a celestial event bathed the Earth in its awesome glow, and some people began changing. The "Paranormal Effect" had no discernable pattern. Anyone can change... at any time... in any way...

The world is trying desperately to adjust. The United States government formed the Paranormal Control Agency to deal with the new breed of criminals, but with precious few paranormal agents of their own... At the heart of the maelstrom stand four people: Vortex, a young man with a vision; Ensign Michael Takayasu and Shockwave, agents of the PCA; Powerhouse, a new paranormal desperate to protect his family. Paranormals—The world will never be the same.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Memoirs of an Invisible Man

Christopher Andrews Why did I love this book?

I was floored by this fantastic thriller. Most “invisible man” stories cast the invisible character as the villain, but Memoirs flips the script, and the result is magnificent. The protagonist, Nick, is the victim of a scientific accident, and must go on the run from the corrupt government agents who want to capture him. The result demonstrates that Nick missed his true calling—he should have been a secret agent himself. Saint’s protagonist is clever and resourceful as he navigates through every attempt to trap him. And the best part of this different take on the genre: It leaves you asking yourself, “What would I do?” I’ve read it three times, and I spend the intervening years wondering how I would have survived in Nick's shoes. An absolute must-read.

By H.F. Saint,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Memoirs of an Invisible Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When a freak accident leaves stock analyst Nick Halloway completely invisible, he is pursued by intelligence agents, amasses a fortune, and battles against desperate loneliness


Book cover of Ex-Heroes

Christopher Andrews Why did I love this book?

I love zombie stories, but in the wrong hands, the basic premise can sometimes feel repetitive. Ex-Heroes asks, what if there were a zombie apocalypse in a world of superheroes? And the end result is wildly entertaining. The few heroes cannot simply “fix” an entire apocalypse, so the story explores just how normal people could survive with their handful of super-protectors: Where would they be reasonably safe, so they could sleep at night? What could they do about power, about food? How can they form any plans for rebuilding society, and is that even feasible? And when it comes to the inevitable superhero-vs.-zombie fights, Clines is inspiring in how imaginative he is. Perfect for zombie-lovers, or superhero-lovers, or—ideally—both.

By Peter Clines,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Ex-Heroes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book One in the EX Series

The Mighty Dragon. Stealth. Gorgon. Regenerator. Cerberus. Zzzap.

They were superheroes fighting to make Los Angeles a better place.

Then the plague of living death spread. Billions died, civilization fell, and the City of Angels was left a desolate zombie wasteland.

But the ex-humans aren't the only threats the heroes face. Another group is amassing power . . . led by an enemy with the most terrifying ability of all.


Book cover of Howling Mad

Christopher Andrews Why did I love this book?

Werewolf stories are pretty straightforward, usually only varying as to whether or not the human can control their wolf-half. Not so with Howling Mad. David weaves a unique tale, not of a man cursed so that the full moon turns him into a wolf, but of a wolf cursed so that the full moon turns him into a man. As a comic book writer and novelist, David is known for his wit—and Howling Mad has plenty of that—but the highlight is David’s adroit examination of this trope reversal, from how the new man-wolf deals with suddenly having opposable thumbs to the effects of “civilized” society on the beast’s basic nature. I was so struck by the clever premise that it influenced some of my own supernatural tales.

By Peter David,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Howling Mad as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Excellent Book


Book cover of I Am Legend

Christopher Andrews Why did I love this book?

Arguably the most influential vampire novel since Dracula, I Am Legend is one of my all-time favorites. Upon publication, vampire tales were almost universally set in far-off lands or gothic metropolitan areas, usually period pieces, and strictly supernatural in nature. But Matheson set I Am Legend in a suburban neighborhood, in the then-near-future, and explored vampires created and driven by a germ. Called an “inspiration” by Stephen King (who also named Matheson as “the author who influenced me the most as a writer”), I Am Legend left me wondering how I would manage to survive as the proverbial last man on Earth, how I would endure the lonely isolation and the nightly vampire assaults on my home that was half-shelter, half-prison. I have returned to I Am Legend again and again. 

By Richard Matheson,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked I Am Legend as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An acclaimed SF novel about vampires. The last man on earth is not alone ...Robert Neville is the last living man on Earth ...but he is not alone. Every other man, woman and child on the planet has become a vampire, and they are hungry for Neville's blood. By day he is the hunter, stalking the undead through the ruins of civilisation. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for the dawn. How long can one man survive like this?


Book cover of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

Christopher Andrews Why did I love this book?

Another zombie novel with a refreshing spin, World War Z takes place, not at the outbreak or during an undead apocalypse, but many years afterward. Framed as a series of interviews with survivors, the various interviewees share their personal tales, each coming from a unique perspective. Rather than focusing on the flesh-eating gore that is the emphasis of most zombie tales, World War Z explores such topics as how people survived when the food supplies dwindled, or what were the best tools for hunting zombies at night, or what happened to those whose sanity simply could not handle the nightmare. And ultimately, how the world handled the “clean up” after winning the war. Personally, I found this approach intriguing, fresh, and thought-provoking, all at once—another “what would I do?” win.

By Max Brooks,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked World War Z as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It began with rumours from China about another pandemic. Then the cases started to multiply and what had looked like the stirrings of a criminal underclass, even the beginning of a revolution, soon revealed itself to be much, much worse.

Faced with a future of mindless man-eating horror, humanity was forced to accept the logic of world government and face events that tested our sanity and our sense of reality. Based on extensive interviews with survivors and key players in the ten-year fight against the horde, World War Z brings the finest traditions of journalism to bear on what is…


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Deep Roots

By Sung J. Woo,

Book cover of Deep Roots

Sung J. Woo Author Of Deep Roots

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Novelist Tennis fan Cinephile Gamer

Sung's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

After solving her first case, private eye Siobhan O’Brien is hired by Phillip Ahn, an octogenarian billionaire with his own personal island in the Pacific Northwest. Ahn, a genius in artificial intelligence, swears that Duke, his youngest child and only son, is an impostor. Is Ahn crazy, or is Duke really someone else? As Siobhan attempts to arrive at the truth, her biggest challenge will be dealing with Ahn’s family, who all live under the same gilded roof: his current wife, his two ex-wives, and their awful, privileged children.

What is the real reason that Siobhan was brought to this isolated estate? If she can keep her head – literally and figuratively – she’ll learn that family secrets have some very deep roots.

Deep Roots

By Sung J. Woo,

What is this book about?

After solving her first case, Siobhan O’Brien faces her biggest challenge yet – Thanksgiving!  With her lawyer boyfriend Craig in tow, Siobhan travels to Minneapolis to endure small talk with the extended O’Brien clan and chow down on some seriously delicious turkey and dressing.  Everything’s swell until her sister-in-law Gwen tells her about her brother Sven's frequent late-night meetings with his co-workers.  Since Siobhan’s next case is just a ferry ride from their house in Washington state, she asks for Siobhan’s help.
Big sister is happy to oblige, though she’s got her hands full.  Hired by Phillip Ahn, a Korean…


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Interested in zombies, full moon, and espionage?

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