The best zombie apocalypse books that take you on an epic journey

Scott L. Smith Author Of Cajun Zombie Chronicles, Book One: The River Dead
By Scott L. Smith

Who am I?

S. L. Smith is an author, attorney, and Catholic theologian with deep roots in southern Louisiana. Despite being better known for his work in Catholic theology and history, Smith has also published extensively in the Southern Gothic genre. This crucible of tastes, religion, and location resulted in the Cajun Zombie Chronicles. Beneath the oaks and moss, lie shadows that bite.      


I wrote...

Cajun Zombie Chronicles, Book One: The River Dead

By Scott L. Smith,

Book cover of Cajun Zombie Chronicles, Book One: The River Dead

What is my book about?

Welcome to Cajun country, Louisiana. Home to gators and gumbo, mosquitos and Mardi Gras, zydeco and... zombies. This is zombie survival the Cajun way. Ancient gothic churches become citadels and swamp fortresses. The dead rise from the depths of the Mississippi River in The River Dead.

The books I picked & why

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World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

By Max Brooks,

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

Why this book?

After reading World War Z for the 20th time, I had no choice but to start writing books about zombies. No choice! Max Brooks (the son of Mel Brooks, by the way) actually and inadvertently picked some of my family's land in Louisiana as a setting for one of the many zombie vignettes in World War Z. This is the one where a lady relief supplies pilot parachutes into the Louisiana swamps south of Interstate 10 between Lafayette and Baton Rouge.   

There is nobody that has delved so deep into the world of zombie apocalypse as Max Brooks. In all likelihood, Brooks is just an interdimensional traveler and journalist who actually experienced a zombie apocalypse and is just writing non-fiction.   

Talk about spanning continents and heroes! One of the heroes (Waynio) literally fights across an entire continent... And is voiced by Luke Skywalker, himself, in the audiobook version!


Day by Day Armageddon

By J.L. Bourne,

Book cover of Day by Day Armageddon

Why this book?

I listened to this whole series while climbing mind-numbing stacks of backlogged legal work as an Assistant Attorney General. My vision was clogged with the vivid scenes of Bourne's books, legal folders, paper clips, and coffee stains. It actually inspired the fourth book of my zombie series.   

Told in the diary format common to many books of the zombie epic subgenre, this journal depicts one man's struggle for survival. The unnamed narrator is a naval officer who was just returning home to Texas from visiting his parents in Arkansas when the zombie apocalypse hits. John, another survivor, and Annabell, John's miniature greyhound, work together with the narrator to survive, hoping to find some last working vestige of the US government. 

There are some cool elements to this zombie epic that I haven't found anywhere else. They shelter in a functional missile silo at one point. The clunk, clunk of the dead falling through the silo's inconspicuous hole in the ground was particularly memorable. There's zombie vs. houseboat. I've often wondered about this survival tactic. Plus, there are radiated zombies flowing out of Houston causing havoc.  


Cell

By Stephen King,

Book cover of Cell

Why this book?

Did you know Stephen King wrote a zombie book? The undisputed master of horror—even he—has waded into the zombie apocalypse. The heart of this book is a father journeying through the zombie landscape to find his son. As a father many times over now, this theme will never stop being poignant for me. 

King's The Stand is the grand-daddy of the epic apocalypse book. If you're a fan of The Stand, and of course you are, you will love this book. The Cell is basically The Stand plus zombies. 

But King doesn't just wade into the zombie apocalypse, he re-creates it. There are a number of zombie innovations in this book. First off, the method of transmission for the zombie "virus" is the cell phone. It's King's techno-pessimism or cyber-phobia that elevates this zombie book. King asks us a simple question. Just how far removed are we from these zombies, as we tap and scroll, tap and scroll, mindlessly staring into the glow of our smartphones? And then joining the raging hordes on social media? Gulp.         

King should be higher on this list, but alas, Cell is just one book. We need a series!


The Morningstar Strain: Plague of the Dead

By Z.A. Recht,

Book cover of The Morningstar Strain: Plague of the Dead

Why this book?

The Morningstar Strain takes us around the world and block-by-block across America. Let me say this. This is not high-concept literary artwork. Z. A. Recht is not William Faulkner or Flannery O'Connor. Recht knows what he does well, though, and he sticks to it. He puts you in the setting. Great detail work. Have you fantasized about scavenging in the zombie apocalypse? Recht puts you there. 

I still feel that urge from time to time to join Army General Francis Sherman and Dr. Anna Demilio in their continent-spanning quest for the zombie cure. They may be the same old characters saying the same old dialogue you find in every Jerry Bruckheimer film ... but. That serves as something as a bridge from the familiar to the apocalyptic.         

So, join General Sherman, Dr. Demilio, and the other survivors as they hitch a ride on the island-hopping USS Ramage to the Pacific Northwest and head inland. Search and clear the dead and the deadly from the Main Streets of America. 


Zombie Fallout

By Mark Tufo,

Book cover of Zombie Fallout

Why this book?

You can’t compile a list like this without including Mark Tufo’s Zombie Fallout series. At least in sheer volume, this is as epic as it gets. Tufo has now published the 20th book of this series. 20 books! Tufo's series is built on a solid core of family survival. The books' dry humor and the wit of the main character, Mike Talbot—this is what really sells these books. This isn't pure zombie, mind you (or should I say "brainnssss you"). There is also an evil vampire queen and other monsters to spice things up. 


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