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The Fallen
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Book Discussions > Most Realistic Zombie Books

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Jack Fallen | 12 comments Which zombie(ish) books have the most realistic scenarios?

Personally I prefer books that don’t involve the ‘undead’ or ‘living-dead’ as they seem a little unbelievable and rely on a lot of artistic license. Instead I prefer scenarios that involve some more likely occurrences such as disease (e.g. 28 Days Later) or otherwise altered people (e.g. Blindness, Day of the Triffids, etc) - giving living humans zombie like qualities. These more realistic scenarios make for more frightening reads. In my book, The Fallen, an event wipes the memories of most of the population, reducing them to base creatures, but in all other respects they are dangerously ‘normal’.

The Fallen by Jack Ziebell

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Scott Baker | 84 comments World War Z has my vote for the most realistic scenario.

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Glinda Harrison (glindaharrison) | 61 comments I'd also vote for "World War Z" with Rhiannon Frater's "As the World Dies" series a close second.

Personally, I do not like the diseased people scenario for zombies. It add a level of moral complication that I don't want to have to deal with. If in killing a zombie, you have just "re-killed" a dead person, that's one thing. But killing a diseased person who possibly could have been cured would bring in a level of guilt and an inability to act that would be too much (for me, at any rate).

However, I did like the way the disease factor was used in David Moody's "Autumn." In "Triffids," I wouldn't describe the blindness as a zombie-like quality, but more as simply disabling the humans so they couldn't fight back against the alien plants. :)

Won't it be exciting when the zombies attack for real and we know which scenario is *really* right, LOL?

Jack Fallen | 12 comments Good point - I hadn't thought that some people might like the lack of moral complication that comes with killing things that are already dead! The characters in my book feel quite a lot of guilt when faced with the prospect of killing threatening 'affected' individuals that may, or may not, 'get better'.

People always say the zombie genre is an analogy of the mindless, destructive, crowd mentality often displayed by humanity, and I guess the ‘living dead’ aspect makes it safe to explore this idea in ways that would otherwise be distasteful.

The Fallen

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Char I think Jonathan Maberry's Dead of Night had a realistic premise for the start of the ZA.

I agree with Scott re: WWZ.

Jack Fallen | 12 comments Dead of Night sounds a little far fetched - genetically engineered mind altering parasites that keep the brain alive while the body rots? Hmmm. Got pretty good reviews though.

Don't agree that WWZ is realistic premise - underwater Chinese zombie bites boy leading to zombies that can only be killed by destroying their brains? Classic zombie plot; but never found the idea of a chomping, self-supporting, dismembered head too realistic (more like a ghost story). However Brooks does make a good attempt at making the rest of the book plausible - e.g. government / human reactions, etc.

The Fallen

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J. A. White (JawBone) | 5 comments Glinda wrote: "I'd also vote for "World War Z" with Rhiannon Frater's "As the World Dies" series a close second.

Personally, I do not like the diseased people scenario for zombies. It add a level of moral compli..."

Hi, while I liked the "As the world dies" series I found it most unrealistic, the way they rebuild their little society, and how the power stays on (which is feebly explained by some vague military presence over at the power plant?), etc. If you would be so kind as to enlighten me about what you think make it realistic I would very much appreciate it :).

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Tom prigg | 2 comments Hey Jack, check this out. This is real. Their flesh rots off their bodies while they do this drug.

I wrote the article, but it fits with the comment about flesh rotting while brain is intact.


It's only not work safe because of disgusting pics. Not sure why the editor bothered with that in the title.

message 9: by Glinda (last edited Oct 10, 2012 08:17PM) (new)

Glinda Harrison (glindaharrison) | 61 comments J.A., I guess I will have to reserve judgment on what's a "realistic" description of a zombie apocalypse until I have went through one (and lived to tell about it)! I thought the initial reactions of Katy and Jenny and those they encountered were incredibly real. The judgementalness of people, wanting to avoid chores, and a lot of the other descriptions seemed plausible to me. The rebuilding and power plant issues didn't strike me as something too implausible considering a certain level of suspension of disbelief - at least enough to be reading a zombie novel in the first place. :)

Of course, I have no idea how long the power would stay on. (For years, every time we got the least little bit of rain, our cable went off.) I have no faith in technology, I fear, as much as I love it.

So, then I found this:


It is much easier to suspend your disbelief if you don't know. Sigh. I may never be able to read another zombie book now.... :)

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J. A. White (JawBone) | 5 comments Glinda,thanks for your reply, I appreciate it :). I agree some of their initial reactions seemed realistic. I tend to be distracted from these things by small details (I was also annoyed by the amount of green eyes and kissing in that series, for some reason I kept thinking I had to find a Texan and ask him or her if people in Texas really kiss that much). Ah damned tendency to seek realism in places where it shouldn't matter how you ruin perfectly enjoyable things XD.

Thanks for sharing the article too.

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Jack Fallen | 12 comments That Russian drug sounds pretty terrifying, although even the most desperate addict is still human. I’ve met heroin addicts who were able to function normally and hold down proper jobs with their colleagues unaware of their addiction; providing the addict was able to obtain their regular medical-grade heroin (on prescription, free on our National Health Service believe it or not – yes the UK is a bit different to the US!).

But on a dark night, coming face to face with an addict who has no support and in dire need of a fix; that would be a scary prospect for anyone.

Back to realistic premises – you could certainly envisage a drug or cocktail of drugs that could have monstrous effects on people, e.g. Cloud 9 (MDPV – which resulted in the unfortunate face eating incident) plus some kind of incredibly addictive substance such as desomorphine / krokodil.

Sadly for many people the reality of their lives is far more terrifying than fiction, hence the desire to escape through illicit substances, leading far too many to an untimely end.

The Fallen

Kristin (Blood,Sweat and Books) (goodreadscomHermyoni) | 274 comments Glinda wrote: "J.A., I guess I will have to reserve judgment on what's a "realistic" description of a zombie apocalypse until I have went through one (and lived to tell about it)! I thought the initial reactions ..."

What a great link. I knew they would fail quickly due to watching way to many episodes of Life After People but I like you just sorta rolled with it in the As the World Dies series.

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Jack Fallen | 12 comments The Fallen – Book Launch Promotion - Available FREE for 1 day only

This Saturday (13 October 2012) The Fallen will be available to download for free from Amazon (normal price $2.99)

Download for Kindle, iPad, iPhone, Android or PC at:

US - http://amzn.com/B009ATJ2XS
UK - http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B009ATJ2XS

The Fallen by Jack Ziebell

'A post-apocalyptic journey across three continents, The Fallen explores how far we would go to protect the ones we love.'

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Tom prigg | 2 comments lol Jack, I was just giving you something that would cause the flesh to fall off like a zombie. I thought that fit your question.

If you want zombie like behavior, all you need to do is add some really bad prions that effect a certain receptor type in the brain. receptors are just proteins, Prions are misshapen proteins that cause other proteins to change their shape. Get the right prion to misshapen a certain receptor protein and you gotta big problem.

Drugs typically only effect a single receptor type directly. ;)

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Shannon Sharpe | 5 comments New here so be kind...:) I have to say I LOVED Rhiannon Frater's series...Being you have read them the next ones I suggest if you want a very edge of your seat series I would have to give it to Stephen Knights Rising Horde series..Way different from Mrs. Fraters...OMG is all I have to say..It is just amazing.You will not put them down for sure..Nothing I have read since can compare...You will not be disappointed!! Shawn Chesser...also very good series!

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Saturnfx | 14 comments Most realistic "zombie" series I have read so far would be The Remaining (and the second book, aftermath) by D.J. Molles. Though I found the supporting charaters slightly weak, the overall premise is something that "could happen". Its a good couple books though, worth the read. But, by the end of book 1 / start of book 2, your ready to just have the char put a bullet in his head. murphys law x100

As far as the most accurate representation of handling a zombie apoc outbreak, I would go hands down with the Stephen Knight novels (The Gathering Dead, Left With The Dead, The Rising Hoard, etc). Amazing series of Military V Zombies. Not much of a military fan overall, but these books changed my outlook. The zombies themselves were your standard undead variety..with about 1% being a "smart zombie"..aka, able to open a door, shoot a gun if it is in its hand, etc..the zombies were ultimately a bit cheesy, but the story was so intense that I got over it. It had the right mix of intense action, and breaks that gave the reader a mental break

One thing that is rarely tackled in z books I have read so far is..what happens to all the nuke plants around the world...without proper shutdown, those things go into meltdown, and z apoc or not, we are all screwed. I would like to read a military v zombie book where it follows a squad with missions to shut down a few facilities so they don't do this..soldiers and scientists rubbing sholders, etc..perhaps its a touch of ocd that drives the wonder of the other stuff, but it is important to know.

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Michael | 2 comments I've got to go with the J.L. Bourne books - they are insanely detailed and very believable.

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Mike (Krassos) | 39 comments Glinda wrote: "J.A., I guess I will have to reserve judgment on what's a "realistic" description of a zombie apocalypse until I have went through one (and lived to tell about it)! I thought the initial reactions ..."

I worked that Straight Dope article into my series. It made things more interesting for me and difficult for my characters.

Kristin (Blood,Sweat and Books) (goodreadscomHermyoni) | 274 comments I remember reading a book that touched on the nuclear plants but for the life of me I can't remember the title.

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Ricky | 19 comments When I approached the zombie story I tried to imagine what would happen to the internet and the servers that provide us with pretty much access to everything on the net. I wondered how things would progress if the net went down, with small pockets of operational servers. I eventually found out about Submarine Cables and how they transfer data under the oceans to other lands around the globe.
I had thought about including the effects of power stations and the implications of an unmanned station, but I could have spent another year researching that.
I think I will look into it though, because it is a valid question in the apocalyptic scenario.

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Jim | 219 comments Mod
I think the definition of "realistic" depends on whether you apply it to the zombies or the aftermath of the situation. I think the "infected human" version of zombies are more realistic though I personnally do not consider them zombies because they are still alive and I adhere to the Zombie Survival guide definition of zombies. I think there is a more realistic potential for some disease to result in a degradation of mental abilities combined with intense rage (think creutzfeldt-jakob disease) than for a reanimation of the dead. As for the realism of human response after the outbreak, World War Z was enjoyable and probably realistic for response. The walking dead series of comics is also probable with regards to individuals reactions and crashing of social order in order to ensure survival.

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Brenton J. (Atrum_Terra) | 11 comments I wrote my book to be as realistic as possible. I researched medical conditions, psychology, military and civilian weaponry, tactics, etc. as a matter of fact, Sean Page of the Ministry of Zombies said this about it:

"The is a genre zombie book and will therefore have a wide market but one thing I will say for it is that it offers quite some depth into why things happened. These details are cleverly revealed as the story develops."


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Kevin Walsh | 47 comments I look forward to reading it, Brenton!

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Brenton J. (Atrum_Terra) | 11 comments I sure hope you like it Kevin. thanks

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Daniel Williams (Daniel_Williams) | 27 comments Realistic can be tough when it comes to zombies. For Mace of the Apocalypse I took a real event (Meteorite called the Murchison stone that landed in Australia in 1969), and injected it into the story line. The meteorite contains amino acids foreign to earth (alien in nature), so in the story a terrorist group injects these foreign amino acids into a toxin that was created by Castro during the cold war.

As far as the rest of the story, like the others who have responded here there is a good deal of research that went into emotional responses and govt. reactions.

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Shannon Sharpe | 5 comments Saturnfx wrote: "Most realistic "zombie" series I have read so far would be The Remaining (and the second book, aftermath) by D.J. Molles. Though I found the supporting charaters slightly weak, the overall premise..."
Agree 100%!

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J. Rudolph | 16 comments Agreed.

Kristen, I used a nuclear power plant to mutate a rat that was carrying an infection called LCMV. It's a fairly common virus that rodents carry. It causes meningitis. Only one rat had the perfect exposure conditions to cause the mutation.

The story itself I wanted to keep realistic. There isn't anyone who is immune, no one has a special connection w the government. It's just a group of people who are in an apartment complex that are trying to survive, as told by Cali. Cali is just your everyday gal, a mom, a wife, and a nurse.

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Glyn Gardner | 37 comments I like the "common" virus idea. Meningitis, encephalitis, and Rabies. The big problem is that most of these have LONG incubation periods, except meningitis.
Although NotLD is the classic, I always liked The Crazies.
Although the movie could have been better, Quarantine had a good premise with the genetically engineered rabies.

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Randy Harmelink | 1627 comments Glyn wrote: "Quarantine had a good premise with the genetically engineered rabies."

And, in terms of being realistic, a much better way to go then the other movie based on the same script -- REC. In that movie, the underlying cause is a biological version of demonic possession [huh?].

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Anton (AntonTroia) | 59 comments Cancer can also be attributed to zombies. Especially if the cancer doesn't kill you.

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