Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion and then I found World War Z (2007) by Max Brooks. Sure, these two weren't too hard to miss--when a post a day was popping up on Cannonball and the Hollywood advertising machines were grinding away. But both were so unique and enjoyable in their own way, I almost feel like I've become a fan of the genre.
World War Z takes place directly after a 10-year war with zombies that began sometime in the near future. The world is recognizable and familiar as the one we live in now. The story is told through many short stories of the survivors. Their experiences are all harrowing but vary drastically. Because the zombie apocalypse is a world-wide problem, Brooks allows his book to have an international focus. The story starts in China, one of the solutions to the crisis has its origins in South Africa, and even though the United States plays an important role throughout the book, some countries that you wouldn't expect are highlighted.
What makes this book fascinating is Brooks' real knowledge of these countries and his mostly realistic take on their actions if something this drastic would actually occur. (There were a couple times I felt Brooks was taking things a little far to make a point, but it wasn't too often.) The wide scope of the story made the book feel like I was reading a real history. So, I was not too surprised when I looked up Brooks and found that he'd majored in history. I was also impressed by Brooks' ability to tie together a coherent narrative from the single voices and short stories of so many different characters. There were some short stories that were very powerful and effective just by themselves, yet Brooks was able to compile them into something more as well.
I've heard the movie isn't nearly as good as the book, but I'm still planning on watching it as soon as Netflix decides to give it to me. And I'd recommend this book--if there's anyone interested out there who hasn't read it yet.
There's one more thing that endeared this book to me: Brooks includes "The Battle of the Five Colleges" where some students in Southern California hold off the zombies for an inspiring and incredible amount of time. They make the stand at Scripps and celebrate at the bell tower at Pomona College. Now, I went to Pomona College, and it's a very good school, but also pretty small and not well known. I knew he must have gone to one of the five Claremont colleges if he was writing about them. As soon as I read that, I looked up Brooks and found out that he'd gone to Pitzer! (another one of the Claremont colleges).