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Bones & All: A Novel by Camille DeAngelisIn this unusual twist on the coming-of-age tale, 16-year-old Maren Yearly goes looking for her father after being abandoned by her mother, who just couldn't continue protecting Maren from the consequences of her bad habit. You see, Maren eats those closest to her. On her search for her father, armed with a birth certificate that provides some clues to his identity, Maren meets cannibals like herself, and a young ghoul near her own age joins her on her quest. Though this entertaining novel with hints of magical realism isn't for the squeamish, Publishers Weekly calls it "delicious fun."
Harrison Squared by Daryl GregoryTeenager Harrison Harrison, aka Harrison Squared or H2, lost his father and the lower part of one leg in a boating accident when he was three. He's been terrified of the water ever since, but his marine biologist mother Rosa moves them to a New England coastal town for her research. However, Rosa disappears soon after their arrival in Dunnsmouth. H2 is determined to find her, but gets almost no help from the exceedingly creepy villagers. Replete with half-human ocean-dwellers and a ghost in the high school library, Harrison Squared is also a kind of prequel to author Daryl Gregory's We Are All Completely Fine.
The Dead Lands: A Novel by Benjamin PercyThe Dead Lands portrays a grim post-apocalyptic vestige of the U.S., where a shred of civilization remains in the former St. Louis, now called Sanctuary. A tyrant rules the walled city, and life is marginal. When a mysterious woman called Gawea arrives with word of fertile, rainwashed lands beyond the Cascade mountains, Lewis Meriweather, Wilhelmina Clark, and a few others decide to flee Sanctuary and follow Gawea to the Pacific coast. Though it's inspired by the original Lewis and Clark expedition, this trek is more dangerous and frightening, since Sanctuary's leaders are determined to stop the adventurers, who must also battle gigantic bats, spiders, and other monsters -- and their own fears.
The Devil's Detective: A Novel by Simon Kurt UnsworthIn The Devil's Detective, Information Man Thomas Fool has the job of cataloging Hell's rules and logging violations. Since this is Hell, there are no consequences to breaking the rules, but when a particularly brutal murder occurs just when a delegation from heaven arrives on tour, there's, uh, Hell to pay. Author Simon Kurt Unsworth vividly depicts the place of eternal punishment as a really, really unpleasant city, marked by bad smells, dim light, bizarrely terrible public transit, and worse. Fool himself is an appealing, believable noir-style investigator who diligently attempts to solve the crime. Richly conceived world-building and character development make this variation on the hardboiled crime novel a compelling, macabre reading experience.
Positive: A Novel by David WellingtonAuthor David Wellington creates a grim post-apocalyptic world in Positive, where exposure to a particular virus can turn anyone into a zombie, and the virus has a decades-long incubation period. Teenager Finnegan, exposed to the virus when his mother goes zombie, hopes to avoid becoming symptomatic, but meanwhile he must go to an isolation facility for those who have been exposed. When he gets separated from the transport caravan, he's suddenly on his own in a perilous trek to safety. Facing the vicious human outlaws may be riskier than avoiding the zombies in this thrilling novel about the ultimate breakdown of American society.
The Dead Town: A Novel by Dean KoontzIn Dean Koontz's 5th and final volume of his Frankenstein series, Victor Frankenstein (alias Victor Leben) has unleashed a deadly horde of lab-created zombie-like monsters as he plans to remake the world in his own image. Survivors of previous battles with Victor have gathered in Rainbow Falls, Montana to make a stand against Victor's apocalypse. The believable, sympathetic characters were ordinary people living typical American lives before they met the updated Frankenstein, and now the fate of the world is in their hands. Those who prefer to read series in order will want to start with Prodigal Son, though The Dead Town can be read on its own.
Apocalypse Cow by Michael LoganWhen zombie cows and other zombified domestic animals overrun Glasgow, Scotland, only a trio of "losers" can find a cure to the plague infecting the bovines and save the world. Together with a research scientist who helped create the virus and survivors of the original cattle attack, the three desperately go looking for a cure for the infection, which was deliberately created as a bioweapon. The government, of course, wants to conceal its role in the debacle by any means necessary. Scottish journalist Michael Logan delivers this absurdist narrative in a deadpan style that allows the vivid horror details full play. If you're hungry for more like Apocalypse Cow, try the sequel, World War Moo, due out this June.
Zombies! Zombies! Zombies! by Otto Penzler, editorEditor Otto Penzler begins his introduction to this anthology by saying, "Zombies ain't what they used to be." To back up his claim, he offers evidence in 57 stories, from the classic voodoo-resurrected living dead to the more contemporary animated decaying corpses with an insatiable taste for human flesh. Penzler even supplies fiction about the undead that predates W.B. Seabrook's 20th-century reports from Haiti (which informed the world about the zombie phenomenon). Whatever your preference in zombie fare, you'll find plenty to savor in this ghoulish feast.
Fiend: A Novel by Peter StensonTo crystal meth addicts Chase Daniels and Typewriter John, the sight of a little girl devouring a Rottweiler at first seems to be a hallucination. All too soon, they realize that it's their first glimpse of the zombie apocalypse. They also discover that being stoned makes them immune to the zombie virus. In this intriguing and scary combo of druggie caper and horror tale, Typewriter, Chase, his ex-girlfriend KK, and her new boyfriend shoot for epic highs -- but they have the apocalypse to deal with. Fiend is a "crisply written, grisly mashup tailor-made for black comedy junkies," says Kirkus Reviews.
Zone One: A Novel by Colson WhiteheadIn a post-apocalyptic world decimated by zombies, the U.S. government has retreated to Buffalo, New York, and survivor efforts to rebuild (Project "American Phoenix Rising," complete with power anthem) are focused on lower Manhattan. With several others, Mark Spitz works as a "sweeper" -- eliminating zombie stragglers as he struggles with PASD (Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder) and recalls humanity before the apocalypse. Author Colson Whitehead is known for an eclectic body of work, but you can depend on him for dark, mordant humor, stylish writing, and plenty of pop culture references. Don't miss this intelligent, thought-provoking literary take on the zombie horde.
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