Our Epic #BringYourOwnBoar weekend continues here at GeeksToGeeks, preparing you to survive the end of The Walking Dead season 5 as we know it (TWDSFAWKI).
(That was a prepper joke.)
To do that, here’s three apocalyptic novels/series for your reading consideration. To make this list, each of the books needs a zombie/walker-like threat and survival themes.
Be forewarned, all of these books are gritty and have violence and gore. Some have sex scenes, a few have rapes or abuse. Also, there’s a lot of foul language, much unnecessary. So if this bothers you, this is your official warning. Otherwise, the characters, plot, and circumstances of these books warrant consideration on your spring and summer reading list…
(Also, unlike many monstrous/zombie apocalyptic thrillers, The Gemini Effect and The Passage/The Twelve have fantasy elements infused throughout. I love fantasy, so those were very easy pills to swallow for the rabbit hole.)
Without further ado…
1. The Gemini Effect by Chuck Grossart
“The Gemini Effect” is Chuck Grossart’s explosive and apocalyptic debut on the novel scene. http://www.chuckgrossart.com/
Ever wonder what happens if someone doesn’t clean up a toxic biochemical hazard? Viscous plans, Mother Nature, and viral evolution explode onto the scene with deadly and horrific force in Chuck Grossart’s debut novel, The Gemini Effect. Not only that, but it’s ripe with a secret society, political intrigue and manipulations, adventure, horror, and quite a few genuine surprises. Couple that in with science, technology explanations that are reminiscent of Tom Clancy, and The Gemini Effect has everything I needed for a refreshing take on the apocalypse. Plus, it comes highly recommended from a screenwriter, fellow author, and a great friend, Lisa Kovanda.
This isn’t to say The Gemini Effect was without weak points, but many of those points were easily explained away if you followed the ever-expanding world building Chuck maneuvers in. Additionally, with a fantastic meta-narrative to be told and some solid characters, this was exactly the book I needed.
The Gemini Effect is currently in the Kindle First top 20 and was the 2014 Winner of Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award — Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror. Add it to your collection, if you dare… An intense and very satisfying read.
2. The Remaining: Allegiance by D.J. Molles
D.J. Molles’ The Remaining: Allegiance is the fifth book in the zombie apocalyptic series. It begs the question, can their meager rebuilt civilization survive millions of undead and political upheaval?
The Remaining: Allegiance scored on The New York Times Print Paperback Best Seller list. Hooah.
There are zombie books, there are survival zombie books, and then there’s well written zombie apocalyptic thrillers. After spending some time perusing the genre, I quickly learned the difference. Having purchased multiple books that I thought I’d gobble up in several sittings and enjoy thoroughly, I was only disappointed and set them down, sometimes not long into the reading.
The Remaining is a series I had hoped was out in the published world. Stumbling across it felt like discovery treasure; a solid entry into the genre. And then I found the sequel. Then another, and another, and…I had to wait a whole year. Luckily, I pre-ordered the fifth entry and likely penultimate novel (as the sixth and final novel is due out later this summer–more on that later).
The Remaining series begins with Army Captain Lee Harden, whose on a specialized mission to continue the United States should any disaster befall it. Unfortunately, no one realized that disaster would be a bacterium that caused the zombie apocalypse. Like The Gemini Effect, there’s just enough science and discovery and unique vision for these Remaining zombies to keep my mind engaged. The zombies evolve–and oh, does that up the stakes.
D.J. Molles’ The Remaining forced Captain Lee Harden into breaking orders and abandoning his shelter to begin a covert mission…in a land where the dead now walk and the living are just as dangerous…
Lee’s mission is to gather as many survivors as possible and rebuilt civilization. There’s plenty of political and military intrigue of all types and a researcher–something not all zombie books, films, or TV shows have in common. Hmm? Over the course of the series, we grow close to several characters. Unfortunately, like all apocalyptic thrillers, eventually a few die and it hurts.
In Allegiance, the story continues as herds numbering in the millions of infected make their way south along the Appalachians. The suffering and dwindling strike groups Lee forms to blow up bridges and bottle neck the infected meets with unexpected delays as alliances are built and allegiances shatter…more.
Though the series is largely a hit, I have to sadly say that Allegiance is probably the weakest entry because it felt like two books divided. The cliffhanger didn’t leave much of a cliff, more of a slope, and though the climatic action sequences were very welcome, momentum was lost as we lingered with the religious fanatical army. About that, I still feel like the opposite coin was under-served with the awesome Father Jim, who could’ve juxtaposed the Followers’ beliefs. This latest novel felt like the penultimate episode leading to a finale. That’s not to say it’s a bad book. Far from it!! Allegiance is very well written, even improved from earlier novels. Some of the female characters who were under-served in previous novels finally got their due page time and things to do and others were further developed.
These books are heavily on the psychological and emotional tolls of the apocalypse, just where it should be. The inner dialogue, though increased, adds to the characters.
Is Allegiance the best entry into the series? No. Can I barely wait until the next novel? Here’s my money. Take it, D.J. And with updated covers, maybe he should take yours, too.
Honorable Mention: Surviving the Dead Series by James Cook
James Cooks’ Surviving the Dead book 1: No Easy Hope.
Before we reach the end of the list, let me add another series entry which will be sure to please fans of slow-moving zombies and murderous living lunatics. James’ shows off an impressive knowledge about survival skills, weaponry, tactics, and more. The characters are rich, and yes, there’s intrigue. Would any book make it on this list without it? Plus, there’s a bit of scientific explanation. The characters are exceptionally well written. I love the banter and friendship between leads Eric and Gabriel. There’s a very different feel to the series, and I confess to having only read three of the four novels. Also, all of the things I discussed at the beginning of this article apply here, and then some. At times, this series gets too graphic, but hey, it’s not The Passage. So if slow-moving zombies, crazy villains, quick wit, survival skills, intrigue, and weary survivors settling into a small, walled town that needs better defenses (ahem, Alexandria), is your thing, Surviving the Dead is worth it. Just remember my warnings.
A side note: James Cook states on his website he’s going to be diving into the urban fantasy and fantasy genres. Oh, really? How excellent.
3. The Passage Trilogy by Justin Cronin
Our final entry is probably the most controversial for me. It’s brilliantly written and so well crafted. The characters are just fantastic. The setting, the details, marvelous. Except…it’s the most graphic of any of the list. It’s brutal, ugly, and I’ll be honest, between The Passage and it’s sequel, The Twelve, I skipped a lot of pages that were very uncomfortable. However, the rest of both novels? Impressive.
What happens if you take ancient biological agents, the stuff of legends, and inject it into humans? James’ Cronin’s The Passage Trilogy. http://enterthepassage.com/
Science goes too far, once again, in discovering an ancient biological agent that morphs its initial victims into vampires, their first victims into familiars, and the rest into zombie-like creatures they control. The narrative is woven into multiple sections, telling what happened before, during, and directly after the initial outbreak. Then it skips. At first this is slightly disorientating until you realize it’s brilliant craft work.
The history of this series is excellently designed. Each novel brings to fruition the plot points established in the earlier timeline setting. Furthermore, there’s so many strong heroic characters–especially with a number of strong women, of which there is a lack in some zombie books.
Besides, if you know me, you know I never read anything about vampires. To hook me with a vampire (not-quite-zombie) apocalypse is, well… only The Passage Trilogy. The third entry, City of Mirrors, is rumored to be due out in the fall. So, once again, if you want to brave the most graphic and most uncomfortable of the books mentioned here, but yet excellently crafted thrilling adventure, then Justin Cronin’s The Passage is for you. I did warn you. Enjoy.
So there you have it. The Gemini Effect, The Remaining series, Surviving the Dead, and The Passage Trilogy all for your consideration as you’re enduring The Walking Dead withdrawal starting next week.
While we’re on that subject, don’t forget you graphic novel fans, of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead comics. (Spoilers Beware: There are comic remixes in the TV show.) Plus, the new spinoff series, now officially titled Fear the Walking Dead, was confirmed by Kirkman earlier today on Twitter. Those six episodes should launch sometime late summer…so our withdrawal will be further minimized. Better get reading.
Cheers, and happy #BringYourOwnBoar weekend!