Zombies. I love ’em. Got into them with Shawn of the Dead and worked backwards through Dawn of the Dead (and other flicks) to understand them more.
The appeal, I’ve read, to zombies is the human feeling of being threatened and swamped by mediocrity and obstructions. That these staggering, stumbling things that all get in your way can actually be overcome by a blow to the head. Placed against a no-rules world of an apocalypse, it makes for fun watching. Or reading.
Zombie Apocalypse! is a collective effort by a group of writers assembled by Stephen Jones, with the rising of the undead, the fall of our world, and our move towards something else (a darker, stranger, and forever-altered world). In this case, the 15-minutes-into-the-future setting is a zombie-like stumbling Britain, a faltering nation that is trying to toss bread and circuses to its dispirited citizens through a “New Festival” But the massive stage that this massive event will take place on is constructed in some open areas located around Greenwich Park, land originally set aside as a plague pit in older times, land that is now being dug up and the clay-entombed bodies tossed into the cellar of a nearby church, All Hallows.
Interesting. The main park they describe it there, but not the park with the plague pit. And All Hallows churches exist in London, just not where they say. However, I have been to Greenwich and found it interesting to read of an Apocalypse there. But this is an aside.
In the story, of course, the “plague” victims are actually zombies (or carry the essence of zombies). And this is the only part of the book I had to frown at – it wasn’t quite clear on what was causing zombification. There were mentions of plague-fleas (in numbers enough to animate a corpse). Or a red mist coming from the ground. The writers didn’t seem to have a clear cut idea of the “rules” of this game. And that’s part of a good zombie story – the rules. How come the dead are coming back like a pocketful of bad pennies? There are even mentions of long-term dead, on American soil (or even the Hudson) walking again. Fleas couldn’t do that. There was even confusion of whether these were “fast” or “slow” zombies, a longstanding division of this genre.
I don’t care.
It was a lot of fun. The book is made up of dissimilar voices in dissimilar storytelling guises, all snippets of communications, emails, memos, twitters and diaries. Some of them we come back to, breaking back into their story and later checking in to see how they are doing. There were nice observations, some clever twists, and some interesting takes on this old storyline that made the book far more enjoyable than I was originally expecting it to be. In this, the book holds the power of a collection – if one story sucks, it’s over in a handful of pages and you can move onto something new. And that worked, with all the strange page graphics (hand-written pages to twitterfeeds) and ever-degrading situations.
So if you like zombies (or horror, or suspense), you should check this out. I got a kick out of it and will keep an eye open (a dried, nerve-dangling eye, zombie-style) for any followups.