Thursday, August 04, 2011

I heart the zombie apocalypse

Confession:  I'm terribly interested in anything that has to do with zombies.  I wish I could say that it wasn't a result of the recent explosion of all things zombie related in pop culture, but, well . . . it probably was.  Anyway, the whole concept intrigues me, especially when crescendoing to apocalyptic proportions.  What could go wrong when you combine survival, preparation for disaster, cannibalism, camaraderie, loneliness, and of course the dead rising?  Nothing!  Nothing at all.

So I've read and watched a significant amount of zombie-related media in the past year or so, but unfortunately because of my quote-on-quote "hiatus," I wasn't able to review anything.  But, because zombies have such a special place in my heart, and because they play heavily into a SECRET PROJECT I'm working on, I'll briefly review some of the highlights.
  • Shaun of the Dead:  Perhaps the single greatest zombie film ever made.  Hilarious, satirical, full of zombie blood and gore, but the film still manages to be very human at the same time.  ******* (7/7 stars)
  • Zombieland:  Perhaps the only zombie movie I've seen that can rival Shaun for the top spot.  What I loved about Zombieland: the whole story revolved around the four main characters and their relationships.  While the zombies were still very present in some ways, they took a back seat and allowed some actual acting to happen.  Emma Stone and Woody Harrelson take the spotlight here in my opinion, although Jesse Eisenberg has his moments as well.  And, of course:  the illustrious Bill Murray as himself.  ******* (7/7 stars)
  • The Zombie Survival Guide:  Max Brooks' hilarious take on typical "worst-case/survival" manuals, with a zombie twist.  Brooks provides an interesting backstory and history to the zombie pandemic, all the while managing to dispense surprisingly practical advise.  ***** (5/7 stars)
  • World War Z:  Brooks' companion novel that essentially provides a narrative for the Survival Guide.  Told as a collection of interviews after humanity has narrowly survived a zombie apocalypse.  The interview format works quite well here, and Brooks manages to make me care about a number of individual characters despite the global sweep of the book.  ***** (6/7 stars)
  • The Walking Dead:  AMC's take on the comic book of the same name, season one of this television series might be the only serious attempt at zombie disaster that I've seen on the screen.  The zombies are terrifying, the characters are intriguing, there's conflict everywhere, and I particularly love how they've explored the concept of identity and when exactly someone stops being themselves and begins existing as a ghoul (if, indeed, that particular transformation happens at all).  I'm eagerly awaiting season 2.  ******* (7/7 stars)
  • The Reapers are the Angels:  Far and away the best zombie book I've ever read, and the best novel I've read in years, full stop.  Alden Bell's debut novel tells the story of a young girl, Temple, and her way of life in a post-zombie-apocalyptic world--she has never known anything different.  Again, the zombies take a back seat (although there are some wonderfully terrifying scenes) and allow Temple's character and her interactions with others to demand the attention they deserve.  A phenomenal book.  ******* (7/7 stars)
  • Feed:  A novel I read in preparation for voting for the Hugo Awards and attending Worldcon this August (Feed is one of the nominees for best novel).  The concepts are interesting:  by finally curing the common cold and cancer, humanity created the perfect petri dish for a zombie epidemic.  Humanity survived the apocalypse intact, bloggers are now the main form of news and entertainment, and when the main character's blogging team is chosen to follow the next presidential campaign, they begin to uncover a shocking conspiracy.  This book surprised me, which is a rare thing these days.  ******* (7/7 stars)
So there you have it:  my year in zombies.  As mentioned above, I'm currently working on a TOP SECRET PROJECT that has to do with zombies, the internet, blogs, and more.  This secret project may or may not play a part in my upcoming graduate thesis, but either way, its coming (fairly) soon.  I'll remain tight-lipped about it for now, but there you have it.

Thats all for now, folks!  May you always delight in the consumption of brains, and may your ghoulish moans resonate uninhibited.

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