What a book!

May 7, 2010

Give me the brain … and the tea and crumpets

Filed under: Authors,Horror,Jane Austen,Zombies — mike @ 7:07 pm
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I tend to agree with the movie critic Richard Roeper about zombies: They just aren’t interesting villains because they “just zombie ahead.” But I will make an exception if there are other elements that are image interesting. Examples: “Night of the Living Dead” was a lot like “Fort Apache” and about the people involved, than zombies. And despite the gimmicky take on zombies in “28 Days Later,” I’m always interested in what Danny Boyle is going to do with a genre. And my wife actually liked “Resident Evil,” so I was all WTF about that one.

But on the page, zombies are even worse for me. They just bore me; I don’t care about the allegory that people insist zombies effect, they just bore.

Jane Austen has always left me cold, too, until recently. But I have to admit, when all the buzz started about “Pride and Prejudice and image Zombies”, which features a mix of the original Austen text and new text by Seth Grahame-Smith, I wanted to read it. But much like when I made sure to watch “Bad Boys II” and “28 Days Later” before I watched “Hot Fuzz” and “Shaun of the Dead”, I listened to “Pride and Prejudice” before listening to the zombie mashup.

I have to admit, I got into “Pride and Prejudice” and, like so many others, came to be annoyed and frustrated by Mrs. Bennet, root for Lizzy and generally think Mr. Darcy really wasn’t as bad as the modern romantic comedy makes him out to be.

Because Austen’s original text is included here, for long stretches even, the overarching story still guides the plot. The added text dealing with zombies (sometimes just a word changed and no more) is mostly there for laughs. The story remains about characters and doesn’t revolve solely around brains and gore and cannibalism (although there is lots of that, but not too graphically so).

One particular passage had me laughing out loud. A very pompous noblewoman, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, scolds Lizzy in the original about how common she is because Lizzy’s parents raised five girls with no governess. What follows is a tirade with the constant repetition of the word “governess.” In the mashup. Lady Catherine is one of the most feared zombie killers in all the land and the same rant is repeated, except where it originally said “governess”, the text substitutes “ninjas.” Believe me, in the context of the story, this is very funny.

So give this tandem a try. You’ll get a classic under your belt, at the very least, and you may have a little fun along the way. The audio versions had narrators with a good grasp of proper English speech, which only added to the fun.

You may like this if: You like zombie books (because you’ve already got a twisted sense of humor); you’re an Austen devotee who happens to have been born with a sense of humor.

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March 31, 2010

“World War Z” by Max Brooks

Filed under: Authors,Fiction,Max Brooks — ukmelia @ 8:00 pm
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I never thought of myself as a chick who liked zombie stuff. If I’m going to dig supernatural fiction, I tend to enjoy sexy vampires, not rotting corpses. Typical girl, I know 🙂

I think it was the film ‘Shaun of the Dead’ that started to turn me around on zombies and think about them and how they function (or don’t function as the case may be.) I once wrote a short story involving zombies which turned into a book and my zombie love was sealed.

I’m pretty sure I heard about ‘World War Z‘ on Twitter. I follow some authors and other fans of zombie stuff and while I never heard much about what the book was about, I was still intrigued because, you know, zombies. After checking with my Facebook peeps, all of whom highly recommend I get this book pronto, I bought it and, excuse the pun, devoured the thing.

It is perhaps the most unusual take on zombie fiction I’ve ever read.

It’s written as a sort of non-fiction fiction narrative.  A journalist travels the world several years after the Zombie Apocalypse interviewing survivors – doctors, military grunts, politicians, K-9 sniffer dog handlers, artists, spiritualists – to create the definitive (and only record) of those who survived the near-decimation of the entire planet.

It’s haunting. Thought-provoking. Riveting. Sad. Heroic. Uplifting. And creepy as hell. Imagine being tasked by what’s left of your government to march endlessly across the plains on a sweep and clear mission. You must take on wave after wave of “Zacks” (as army grunts call them) and they never seem to end. Only a head shot will take them out and your ammo is limited. Or perhaps you are a panicked, frightened teenager in what’s left of Kyoto. In your apartment building there are nothing but infected corpses reanimating as soon as they die and heading straight for you. How do you escape?

This book is a collection of tales like that and while, yes, it’s fiction, it’s written as if it really happened, without any irony or facetiousness and it will reach out, grab you and make you think about stocking up on bottled water and canned foods.

YOU’LL LIKE THIS IF: You enjoy zombie stuff 🙂 Honestly, it’s one of the better zombie books I’ve read.

World War Z on Wikipedia.

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