11. The Rising, by Brian Keene (2003)

As much as we love George A. Romero’s original Dead trilogy, as well as AMC’s The Walking Dead and Robert Kirkman’s comic book source material, zombie fiction tends to bore. Blame it on the surplus of cookie-cutter short stories and novels, written by lazy authors who’ve watched the same Romero flicks, in addition to 28 Days Later, and simply regurgitate scenes and story beats.

One rare exception is Brian Keene’s fast-paced novel The Rising, a fresh take on the flesh-eating and mobile cadaver subgenre that allows the ghouls to operate machinery and strategize amongst each other. Even worse for the still-breathing humans in Keene’s universe are the reanimated birds and animals also hungry for human flesh. That’s something you won’t see Rick Grimes contending with, at least.