Allison's Book Bag

A Month of Zombies

Posted on: October 31, 2013

When I subbed for my wife last November, I reviewed my childhood favorites. This year my theme is zombies.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve noticed that children’s and young adult fiction has OD’ed on fantasy. Teen books are populated by wizards, ghosts, angels, and demons. And then there are the monsters. Thanks to Stephanie Myers’ Twilight series, every conceivable kind of monster is getting its day in the sun. So much so that I decided to focus on just one of these monsters: zombies.

Three of the zombie books I will be reviewing this month

Three of the zombie books I will be reviewing this month

So far my selections include: the first book in a young adult series, a more adult-oriented series of popular graphic novels, and — believe it or not — a picture book. I’ll be picking one or two additional titles in the coming weeks. Be forewarned, you romantics — I have no interest in books that give zombies the Twilight treatment. With the exception of the picture book, my interest is in books that treat zombies as monsters, not as love interests.

Before I go any further…. Zombies are such a niche genre that I think it’s important to declare my allegiances upfront. What good are reviews of zombie books from a classic literature snob? Or from an over-protective parent who thinks all children’s books should be about kittens and unicorns? Conversely, recommendations from a complete zombie geek would likely be of little interest to, say,  a normal person.

George A. Romero was an early contributor to t...

George A. Romero was an early contributor to the genre with his 1968 film, Night of the Living Dead. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am not a zombie fanatic. I do love horror movies — as part of my broader love of movies in general — but the only zombie movie that even approaches the status of favorite is the original Night of the Living Dead. (Shaun of the Dead is pretty good too.) My taste in literature is narrower — mainly thrillers — and until now has not included zombie fiction.

To give you a better idea of where I stand with zombies, we just need to look at my relationship with The Walking Dead franchise. I started with the computer game by Telltale Games, then the AMC television series, and finally I took a stab at the graphic novels that started it all. Here’s how I rank them: I love the TV series, I like the game a lot, and… well, I will be reviewing the graphic novels here later, so for now I’ll just say that they rank third on this list.

What I enjoy most about zombie stories are not the zombie encounters but rather the resetting of civilization. The replacement of the mundane tasks of the modern world with the gritty and dirty tasks of a world turned upside down. The upheaval of the classes. “Oh, you used to have a high-paying job, a big house, a fast car, and a trophy wife? Well I’ve got an ax, a crossbow, a shotgun, a solid American pickup truck, and a full tank of gas. And my wife can kill a zombie with her bare hands. You take care, now.”

While not a hard-core zombie nut, as I’ve mentioned I am a big fan of The Walking Dead television series. And what I like most about it is that, unlike many zombie movies, the zombies are not defeated in two hours time, and the heroes do not escape to a zombie-free promised land. The Walking Dead world is rife with zombies and that’s just the way it is. It’s not about winning, it’s just about day-to-day survival: fighting, losing friends, running in terror, fortifying, scavenging, hooking up with new allies. Over and over again.

The Walking Dead (season 2)

The Walking Dead (season 2) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I like The Walking Dead so much that I have become truly eager for a zombie apocalypse. Okay, I know that sounds really bad, but that’s only because it is. Seriously, if you can ignore the little issue of billions of people dying, you must agree that a zombie apocalypse would be pretty cool. The only problem with this dream of mine is: I have no survival skills. I don’t know anything about guns, I don’t know how to siphon gas or hot-wire a car, and I would rather sit on the couch and watch TV in my air-conditioned home than, well, anything else. But the one good thing about a zombie apocalypse is that the survivors wouldn’t need to start from scratch. For months, if not years, we could feast on the corpse of civilization — much as the zombies would feast on us. Need a gun? Raid a gun store. Need food? Raid a grocery store. My point is, the zombie apocalypse will allow survivors to ease themselves into full-on survival mode. We don’t need to transform ourselves into Rambo overnight. Initially, an ax and a can opener should get us pretty far.


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Happy New Year!

Allison’s Book Bag is currently on hiatus. I will return after a much-needed rest with reviews of Advanced Reader Copies including: Freddy Frogcaster and the Flash Flood by Janice Dean, One Two by Igor Eliseev, Incredible Magic of Being by Kathyrn Erskine, Dragon Grammar Book by Diane Robinson, and Wide as the Wind by Edward Stanton.



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