Zombies, Apocalypses and Plagues, oh my! round-up

Not only Zombie apocalypses, but ye plain olde apocalypses!

Here’s a quick summary of what I’ve been reading:

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan– Ryan‘s first novel, classed as YA, takes place in a future in which surviving humans don’t believe the stories they’ve heard of their past, before zombies (the unconsecrated) emerged. One girl does believe the stories handed down to her, and becomes obsessed with finding the ocean. Her chance arrives when a mysterious girl, mistakenly turned into a fast, strong, unique zombie by the village’s female religious order, returns to demolish the village and everyone in it–except for Mary and a few of her friends and her brother who escape the slaughter. Some answers to the past are found in another empty village, but not all, and the end leaves a dangling plot line. Is Ryan planning on continuing Mary’s story so we can find out what happens? I hope so. (ah, checking her site, yes, there will be two more books coming set in Mary’s world of zombies)

Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse-anthology edited by John Joseph Adams– This is a collection of short stories taking place before, during, and after an incredible array of apocalypses. Octavia Butler is represented by “Speech Sounds”,  a story of a woman who is afflicted by an aphasic plague (as is the rest of her civilization) where she cannot read. Others cannot speak. Language is lost. Or is it? She has a secret that could kill her if others discovered what it is. Neal Barrett’s  “Ginny Sweethips’ Flying Circus” is another stand-out. Ginny pops out in the anthology as a woman who knows how to survive, and does it with style.  She lives in what I could only call an R.  Crumb world. Giant talking opossums wielding machine guns? Oh yeah! Elizabeth Bear contributed “And the Deep Blue Sea”. Overall, a good anthology if you like to read about the end of the world with a decent sprinkling of female characters and writers.

The Living Dead–edited by John Joseph Adams– This anthology, unlike the Apocalypse anthology, has a strong women writer presence: Poppy Z. Brite, Laurell K. Hamilton, Kelly Link, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Hannah Wolf Bowen, Lisa Morton, Nancy Kilpatrick, Catherine Cheek (“She’s Taking Her Tits to the Grave”-my personal favorite), Nancy Holder, Susan Palwick; ten stories out of 34 written by women. Zombies are treated as Romero zombies to flat out metaphor, to everything in between. Excellent anthology with many strong entries.

Summer of the Apocalypse by James Van Pelt (he also has a story in the Wastelands anthology). I debated whether to include this book in my list since its main theme has to do with sons and fathers, but I think it belongs in a list of post-apocalyptic fiction. It’s a wonderfully structured book that weaves between our ‘present’ somewhere in the 90s and sixty years in the future via the life of a 15 year old boy/75 year old man experiencing life after a plague. Women figure into this short novel as strong figures as he travels through part of California. It’s not with them that he has difficulties with: it’s the other males in his life. Again, a strong recc. especially if you love end-of-the-world by plague.

The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead–Max Brooks (yes, Mel Brooks’ son) Not a novel at all, but a handbook and reference used by many writers of zombie books, and for good reason! Although clearly written tongue in cheek, the handbook goes into great detail about different scenarios, what you can do to survive a zombie outbreak, and how, and how to live if zombies end up taking over the world (Ryan’s scenerio in Forest of Hands and Teeth, and Frater’s in As the World Dies). It’s a very influential book in the subgenre, and if you get into zombies, you really have to read it to see where many of the writers are coming from, especially when they use George Romero style zombies.

And some good news:  If you had a chance to read Rhiannon Frater‘s first book As The World Dies: The First Days: A Zombie Trilogy, the second book in her trilogy debuted March 9th. As The World Dies: Fighting to Survive: A Zombie Trilogy is available. Soon as I can, I’m ordering it.

And that’s it for now! Good reading!

(and just a note: off to the right of this article, you’ll the Hathor Link to the Hathor Library–you can take a look at the books there, and maybe find some others that have been reviewed, or recommended by the Hathor writers!)


  1. Patrick J McGraw says

    Seconding the recommendation for World War Z. The book is absolutely fantastic. It takes the form of transcripts of a series of interviews with survivors of the Zombie War, and ranges from disturbing to terrifying to heartwarming (seriously).

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