[Ed. note: you might want to stop reading if you don’t want to see plot points through The Walking Dead‘s season three finale.]
That moaning sound you hear isn’t approaching zombies, but all the fans of AMC’s The Walking Dead (adapted from the eponymous comic book series) recovering from Sunday’s season finale. The Governer officially lost his marbles, we lost Andrea to a zombie bite, and poor little Carl lost a bit of himself, too. Now, we have to hold out until October for season four! To make the wait go faster, here are five books that tap into all your favorite aspects of The Walking Dead, from its family dynamics to a unique take on zombie infection.
If you need more zombies:
When the first issue of The Walking Dead was published 10 years ago, Robert Kirkman hooked us with a compelling, if straightforward, zombie apocalypse tale. In the intervening decade, subsequent authors in the genre have had to challenge themselves to concoct more metaphorical origin stories—and Grant’s is one of the best. Making the zombie virus a hybrid of the cures for cancer and the common cold highlights humanity’s arrogance. Her world, where bloggers are more trusted than the national news, is scarily prescient. Plus, the final book of the Newsflesh trilogy is out now, which means you can devour all three in quick succession without a frustrating wait for the next release.
If you miss the family dynamic: Saga by Brian K. Vaughan
Kirkman contemporary, Vaughan, who started out writing for Vertigo, has also joined up with Image Comics for his latest series, Saga. Young soldiers from opposite sides of an interstellar war conceive an impossible child and go on the run from the robot royalty and freelance assassins who want them dead. At this point on The Walking Dead, the Grimes family is permanently shattered, with Lori dead and Rick unable to recognize the hardened survivor his son Carl has become. Saga’s infant narrator Hazel brings to mind a more innocent Carl, with her curiosity and snarky self-awareness of how much tougher it is for her family to stay together in this setting than any other.
2. The Mirage
For an alternate history:
Maybe you’ve had enough of dystopian/apocalyptic futures for the moment and want to read an alternate history tale. Ruff’s unflinching exploration of the most radical “what-if” will challenge any reader: On 11/9/2001, Christian fundamentalists highjack two planes and crash them into Baghdad’s World Trade Towers, launching a War on Terror. The notion of Saddam Hussein as a gangster and Osama bin Laden as a war hero is eerily fascinating, especially as the characters start to wonder: What if this world they’ve always known is actually a mirage?
3. Gone Girl
For twisty thrills and a battle of the sexes:
Something that The Walking Dead has always done well is to highlight the uneven gender dynamics among the survivors. Indeed, with Andrea dead, Carol is now the last surviving female member of the original camp. Flynn’s books all focus on twisted female antiheroes, but Gone Girl provides unflinching commentary on how marriage changes both parties. Rick and Lori had nothing on this perfect husband grappling with the disappearance of his perfect wife. Told in agonized first-person (him) and increasingly unstable diary entries (her), it won’t let you trust either narrator until you’re ready to find out the truth.
For more Robert Kirkman:
Even though Kirkman has left the actual running of the show to Frank Darabont, Glen Mazzara, and now Scott Gimple, we wouldn’t have such a compelling series without his source material. I saw him speak at New York Comic Con a few years ago and was blown away by how he juggles the ongoing Walking Dead installments with a bevy of other series, no two alike. Even though he wrote Super Dinosaur as a comic that kids could read, critics have hailed it for being just as suspenseful and emotional as his more adult series.
Or if you just can’t live without The Walking Dead in your life, then pick up The Road to Woodbury, Kirkman’s novel prequel to all of this Governor madness.
This article was updated September 24, 2014