A few years ago when I saw the first hint of the zombie craze coming to books and movies, I knew I would never understand the draw of it. I’m all for a good scare, but to me zombies were just gross.
I went happily on my way ignoring it as much as possible until I came across this new television show called The Walking Dead. I heard great things about it, so I decided to give it a shot. I was worried it wouldn’t live up to my expectations because there’s a fine line between doing a zombie flick (which to me is just a lot of screaming and snarling and blood), and creating a show that can carry the zombie theme week after week without getting stale.
Well, I was impressed. Like, really impressed. Yes, there are zombies, and yes they are pretty darn gross. But at the same time, the show drew me in. I couldn’t give it up because the characters were so compelling. I love that the show didn’t pull any punches, the choices these poor survivors are forced to make to keep each other alive are so hard. Everything is intense. There are real-life consequences to their actions, real-life problems to face, and the characters grow from their experiences.
So I picked up the graphic novels and started to read. I really recommend that fans of the television series read these. They really are fantastically done (although you’ll be disappointed that Daryl isn’t in the books—my one big complaint).
Ok, I decided to give zombies a fairer shot overall and picked up Monster Island by David Wellington and…well…I liked it too. This was original, different, and it proved to me that there could be more to zombies than the shuffling, brainless, moaning creatures they had always been portrayed as. It was definitely another take on a zombie theme.
It’s one month after a global disaster. The most “developed” nations of the world have fallen to the shambling zombie masses. Only a few pockets of humanity survive — in places rife with high-powered weaponry, such as Somalia. In New York City, the dead walk the streets, driven by an insatiable hunger for all things living.
One amongst them is different; though he shares their appetites he has retained his human intelligence. Alone among the mindless zombies, Gary Fleck is an eyewitness to the end of the world — and perhaps the evil genius behind it all.
From the other side of the planet, a small but heavily-armed group of schoolgirls-turned-soldiers has come in search of desperately needed medicine. Dekalb, a former United Nations weapons inspector, leads them as their local guide. Ayaan, a crack shot at the age of sixteen, will stop at nothing to complete her mission.
They think they are prepared for anything. On Monster Island they will find that there is something worse even than being undead, as Gary learns the true price of survival.
After that, I read this fantastic book by Isaac Marion called Warm Bodies. Besides being beautifully written, it proved that the zombie doesn’t have to be a one dimensional chomping machine. There are many ways to explore the genre, and this book does that by giving the reader hope for a dying race and telling you a love story—from the zombie perspective.
R is a young man with an existential crisis–he is a zombie. He shuffles through an America destroyed by war, social collapse, and the mindless hunger of his undead comrades, but he craves something more than blood and brains. He can speak just a few grunted syllables, but his inner life is deep, full of wonder and longing. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams.
After experiencing a teenage boy’s memories while consuming his brain, R makes an unexpected choice that begins a tense, awkward, and strangely sweet relationship with the victim’s human girlfriend. Julie is a blast of color in the otherwise dreary and gray landscape that surrounds R. His decision to protect her will transform not only R, but his fellow Dead, and perhaps their whole lifeless world.
Scary, funny, and surprisingly poignant, Warm Bodies is about being alive, being dead, and the blurry line in between.
And I can’t tell you how excited I am for the movie! I saw the trailer a few weeks ago, and I’ve been going back to watch it constantly.
So who else is giving zombies a chance, and what do you think so far?