They are a pop-culture phenomenon. Not as much as say, three years ago. But they are still going strong today.
I like zombies just as much as the next guy. I've never seen any of the classic movies, I've never gone on a zombie walk, I've never created a list of necessary items I would need to have in case of the Zombie Apocalypse (not recently anyway), but I still like zombies.
Actually, it isn't really the zombies, per say, that I enjoy the heck out of. It's the state of the world a good zombie apocalypse causes and the tales of survival that come out of it.
As I said, I've never seen any of the classics: Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, etc. And I'm sure I'll burn in Geek Hell for that. No, I fell in love with the whole zombie genre thanks to Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Edgar Wright, and a little movie called Shaun of the Dead.
From there I've seen the Dawn of the Dead remake, 28 Days Later, Zombieland, World War Z, and I have Pride and Prejudice and Zombies resting softly in its cozy Netflix envelope on top of my entertainment center just waiting for me to give it a real good watch.
At one point after Shaun of the Dead I found the Walking Dead comic book by Robert Kirkman, which is still, I believe most deep in my heart, the single greatest comic book being published today. After the comic there was the television show. Which is great, not as great as the comic, but still really good stuff. In fact, as I write this, the wife and I are trying to find a few free days coming up soon so that we can finally sit down and binge-watch Season 6 which popped up on Netflix this past September 15th. From there I started watching Z Nation, which is nothing but good zombie fun.
But a few years back, in 2010, I stumbled across a zombie novel. I read a lot of novels, but never did I mix my love of zombies with my love of prose. See, I was online, browsing through the new books my local library had acquired at the time, when up popped this book. The simple cover stood out to me and the title made me pause and read the description.
It was Plague of the Dead by Z.A. Recht.
Based only on those sources, I'd known that there were three kinds of zombies for writers to play with:
The slow and shambling zombie. The fast running zombie. And the not really dead just mindless with rage and can run faster than you zombie
In Plague of the Dead, Z.A. Recht takes the first and third type and puts both in his novel. Which I found great fun.
This is how it works. A virus that they call the Morningstar Strain starts it all. Once you are infected, you tun into what we call a Rage Zombie.
You are alive, but you are nothing more than a mindless bag of meat that wants to bite and kill. You can die just like any other living, breathing, human being. But once you do, providing your brain is still intact, the virus reanimates your corpse and you become one of the slow-moving living dead.
My experience with zombie tales are that they are, to a degree, somewhat small and personal as they follow a small group of people as they try to find a way to survive in a world full of zombies. Plague of the Dead is a bit more global.
Here's the Amazon description:
The “zombie apocalypse,” once on the fringes of horror, has become one of the most buzzworthy genres in popular culture. Now, in Plague of the Dead, Z.A. Recht delivers an intelligent, gripping thriller that will leave both new and die-hard zombie fans breathless.
The end begins with a viral outbreak unlike anything mankind has ever encountered before. The infected are subject to delirium, fever, a dramatic increase in violent behavior, and a one-hundred percent mortality rate. But it doesn’t end there. The victims return from death to walk the earth. When a massive military operation fails to contain the living dead it escalates into a global pandemic. In one fell swoop, the necessities of life become much more basic. Gone are petty everyday concerns. Gone are the amenities of civilized life. Yet a single law of nature remains: Live, or die. Kill, or be killed. On one side of the world, a battle-hardened general surveys the remnants of his command: a young medic, a veteran photographer, a brash Private, and dozens of refugees, all are his responsibility—all thousands of miles from home. Back in the United States, an Army colonel discovers the darker side of Morningstar virus and begins to collaborate with a well-known journalist to leak the information to the public...and the Morningstar Saga has begun.
When you finish Plague of the Dead, you are left wanting more.
Thankfully, there is more.
Three more books to be exact:
Thunder and Ashes
Survivors (with Thom Brannan)
Healers (By Brad Munson - Released today!)
Sadly, Z.A. Recht died before Survivors could be finished so Survivors and Healers were written by other authors. But though I haven't read Healers yet, Survivors was still a dang good read and fits right in with the previous two books.
So if you like zombies, survival, the apocalypse, and just good books, then I highly recommend Plague of the Dead by Z.A. Recht.