As I mentioned in my recent blog Got Discworld? I read all sorts of books. I also watch all sorts of films. Generally speaking, however, I’ve never really developed a taste for Zombies (pun intended) and films like Night of the Living Dead tend to leave me a bit cold (sorry, I couldn’t help myself).
All of this goes to make it a little surprising that, when I come to think about it, I’ve actually been seeing quite a lot of these little rascals recently. I think it all started with The Walking Dead television series, whose plot is nicely summarized on the Wikipedia as follows:
The Walking Dead tells the story of the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse; it follows a small group of survivors, traveling across the desolate United States in search of a new home away from the shuffling hordes of the undead. The group is led by Rick Grimes, who was a sheriff's deputy in a small Georgia town, before the zombie outbreak. As their situation grows more hazardous, the group's desperation to survive pushes them to the brink of insanity. At every turn they are faced with the unbearable horrors that come from having the dead walk again, as well as facing hostility from the scattered remains of a struggling human populace who are focused on their own survival, now that the structures of society have collapsed.
I not sure why, but I really got into this. I think it may have been because this wasn’t just “gore for gore’s sake”. Instead, you got involved with the various personalities and it made you think “What would I do if I ever found myself in such a situation?”
(I know it sounds silly, but these days as I’m driving along I look at houses as I pass them thinking things like “Well, that would never stand up to a zombie attack!”
or "Yes, I could defend that!"
Shortly after the TV series ended, I discovered that it was actually based on a monthly black-and-white American comic book series called The Walking Dead
that was published by Image Comics beginning in 2003.
I couldn’t help myself, I immediately bounced over to Amazon and ordered Book One
– a hardback edition that contains the first 12 issues of the comic (you have to be careful while ordering, because there are all sorts of different individual issues and compilations). In fact this was so good that I recently ordered books 2 through 6 (the issue date of book 7 is still to be decided).
The problem is that this is like looking at videos on YouTube … you see one, and then you are attracted toward another one, and then lured to another, and so it goes…
While wandering around my local Books-A-Million, for example, I ran across a paperback called Married With Zombies
by Jesse Petersen (the sequels, which I haven not yet read, are Flip This Zombie
and Eat, Slay, Love
Married With Zombies
is basically a light-hearted tale of a young couple called Sarah and David who are on the verge of a divorce. We meet them while they are waiting for their regular counseling session, sitting in the waiting room bickering at each other. Their appointment is running late and – since they don’t like the couple in front of them – they open the door to discover their marriage counselor in the process of eating the earlier clients.
It doesn’t take long before our heroes discover that they are embroiled in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. There are a lot of funny parts to this tale, like when they are trying to head out of the city and David says that they are almost out of gas (petrol) and Sarah is less than happy (“You said you were going to fill it up yesterday!”
Strange as it may seem, this ends up as a romantic comedy (heavy on the comedy, light on the romance). The funny thing is how the couple comes to realize that the lessons they learned in their counseling sessions turn out to be applicable to handling the zombie menace.
Another unusual offering is Breathers: A Zombie's Lament
by S.G.Browne. This starts off with us being introduced to Andy Warner, who reanimates after a car accident. So Andy is a Zombie, but he’s not running around eating people (at least, not at the beginning); instead he’s a thinking person who lives in his parents wine cellar and attends an Undead Anonymous (UA) zombie support group.
At the beginning of the book Andy is too damaged to talk, so he has to communicate using a small dry eraser board and pen. As the book progresses Andy and some of his zombie friends meet another Zombie called Ray, who feeds them with jars of meat that he says is venison. Strangely, the more they eat this stuff, the more Andy and his friends start to heal.
Andy also falls in love with one of his fellow support group members – Rita, a sexy reanimated suicide victim with a lipstick fetish. The strange thing is that by the time they start eating “breathers” (regular humans), you’ve actually started to like them as … well, non-living people. So when Andy’s heart is broken when Rita is set on fire and burnt to a crisp by a group of students, you actually feel bad yourself. It’s a funny turn of events when you feel sorry for a zombie who is “killed” by a living human being…
But wait, there’s more. I don’t recall how I came across these, but there are three zombie books written by a guy called Mark Henry – Happy Hour of the Dammed
, Road Trip of the Living Dead
, and Battle of the Network Zombies
These are all based around an advertising executive called Amanda Feral who lives in Seattle and who is turned into a zombie. Like Andy in Breathers
, Amanda is not your typical zombie – instead she is a thinking being with a few quirks, like the fact that the only things she can stomach are alcohol (which she drinks in copious quantities) and human flesh.
It turns out that Seattle is home to undead of every description, and Amanda (who, by dint of great effort and lots of makeup) remains stylish and impeccably groomed (she waffles on throughout the books about the various dresses and shoes and purses she’s wearing … in some ways it’s like a zombie version of The Devil Wears Prada
). As someone else wrote in a review:
Amanda is a hip and sassy undead fashionista with a skin care regimen to make Liz Taylor proud. Really, even I learned some things from her!
It’s hard to describe Happy Hour of the Dammed
and it's companions in the series. Once you’ve started you can’t stop, but be warned that they are disgusting in a “must read more”
sort of way … trust me, you don’t want to know what happens when a zombie cannot resist his or her chocolate addiction, and don’t talk to me about sex with zombies…
Last but not least we have Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
, which is amusingly billed as being authored by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith.
The first line of Jane Austen’s classic novel, Pride and Prejudice
reads as follows: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife"
By comparison, the first line of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
is as follows: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains."
So I bought the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
and read the first line. But then it struck me that, although I’ve seen multiple incarnations of the film version of Pride and Prejudice
, including the Bollywood version Bride and Prejudice
(which was a lot of laughs and incredibly well done), I’ve never actually read Pride and Prejudice
I decided that it would be a good idea to read Pride and Prejudice
first so I could better contrast it with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
. Fortunately, my wife and I have the complete works of Jane Austen on the book shelves in the study. Unfortunately, I haven’t managed to get past the first page or Pride and Prejudice
without falling asleep, with the result that I haven’t gotten around to reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
. However, I did see a sample in someone else’s review that read as follows:
"Elizabeth lifted her skirt – a rather immodest gesture necessitated by circumstance – and delivered a swift kick to the creature's head, which exploded in a cloud of brittle skin and bone."
As the other reviewer said, “This lends new meaning to the term deathless prose.”
(I wish I’d said that [grin]).