On Monday, you can be sure that hordes of zombie fans will be shambling into your library looking for readalikes to hold them over waiting for next week's episode. I am going to assume that all of your The Walking Dead graphic novels are checked out right now (ours are). But some of you may not be aware that last week, Kirkman along with co-writer Jay Bonansinga, released a novel which builds the back story of the villain of the graphic novel series (who has yet to appear in the TV show), the Governor. Entitled, The Walking Dead: The Rise of the Governor, here is the plot summary:
In the Walking Dead universe, there is no greater villain than The Governor. The despot who runs the walled-off town of Woodbury, he has his own sick sense of justice: whether it’s forcing prisoners to battle zombies in an arena for the townspeople’s amusement, or chopping off the appendages of those who cross him. The Governor was voted “Villain of the Year” by Wizard magazine the year he debuted, and his story arc was the most controversial in the history of the Walking Dead comic book series. Now, for the first time, fans of The Walking Dead will discover how The Governor became the man he is, and what drove him to such extremes.Again, this may also have a long hold list. Thankfully for you, zombie novels are my personal favorites. Here is the link to everything I have tagged "zombies" here on the blog. Chapter 7 of the new book is also all about zombies. But why do American readers just love zombies. In that chapter I try to answer that question with the following:
“Zombieism” is a kind of virus that infects people and can be passed on from the zombie to a healthy human. The infection angle that has entered modern zombie stories is also the key to understanding its appeal with readers. Fans expect these zombies to be portrayed as a shambling, unthinking monster, which clumsily moves through a frequently apocalyptic landscape, indiscriminately eating and infecting those in their paths. While readers find this storyline compelling, fans also like how the zombie is a not-so-veiled critique of modern humanity. Zombies can be seen as a symbol for the masses, which get “infected” by charismatic politicians or personalities and blindly do as they are told. The dead rise in novels to serve as a cautionary tale for the consequences of blind conformity. Zombies terrify readers because, as a character in George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead says, ‘There’re us.’So there's the why, but now what to read? Here are a few of my favorite zombie novels and collections which are the best options for fans of The Walking Dead.
My number one sleeper choice of a title that will be most appealing to your The Walking Dead fans AND will have the highest chance that they have not already read it is:
Fingerman, Bob. Pariah.
When a zombie plague wipes out most of humanity, a small band of survivors gather in a New York City apartment building to try to hold off the advancing hordes of hungry zombies. Inevitably however, their supplies begin to dwindle and tempers rise. Their only hope appears to be Mona, a girl whom the zombies never seem to bother. The inclusion of someone who is immune to a zombie plague is new to the subgenre and adds a novel twist to this story. The horrors the survivors inflict upon one and other, as well as the unsettling ending makes Pariah a good choice for zombie fans new and old.
Other less obvious readalikes for The Walking Dead include:
Adams, John Joseph. The Living Dead.If you want to sample the full range of what zombie fiction has to offer, this anthology is an excellent starting point. With reprinted stories ranging from gross-out to thought-provoking and including authors as varied as Stephen King, Lisa Morton, Kelly Link, and Sherman Alexie, this collection appeals to a wide audience. Readers will also want to read the sequel, The Living Dead 2.
Kenyon, Nate. SparrowRock
Six teenagers survive a nuclear bomb explosion in an underground bunker. As they await rescue, things go from bad to worse. First, they find out that it may not be an accident that they ended up in the bomb shelter, and then, mutant bugs begin turning everyone into zombies. Should they stay locked underground, or attempt to make it on the outside? With its combination of claustrophobic tension, zombie fighting action, and hopeful, but unresolved ending Sparrow Rock is a heart-pounding, edge of your seat read for fans of zombies and post apocalyptic fiction alike. Here is a link to a longer review I did for this title.
McKinney, Joe. DeadCity.
Rising star McKinney asks readers who thought Katrina was bad to imagine surviving five hurricanes in a row, only to find that in the rubble, a virus has been born that is reanimating the dead--thousands of them at a time! Quickly, the virus spreads across the entire state of Texas, as hordes of hungry zombies begin taking over. This is a terrifying and action packed story with a realistic premise. McKinney returns to the action of Dead City in Apocalypse ofthe Dead.
Tripp, Ben. Rise Again.
In a small town outside of Los Angeles during a Fourth of July celebration, the crowds start going crazy. A zombie uprising has begun, and the few survivors head north for help. Rise Again has great characters, political intrigue, and gory zombie action. Tripp is a great new voice in the genre.
Have a great time watching The Walking Dead tonight. Now you are prepared to help readers tomorrow too.