Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Zombie Fiction: A Real Literary Experience

In my personal time, I read voraciously (hey, there's a nice vocabulary word for the day), I love books, and I have actually come to prefer them over movies. No, I'm not just saying that, it's true. The interesting thing is that I definitely go through phases where I'll read tons of stuff out of one genre. For awhile, I was really in to spy thriller stuff, then, I got really into dystopia stuff, like 1984, A Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, Ayn Rand's books, and tons of others.

Right now, my genre obsession is zombie fiction. That's right, I'm a sucker for a good zombie fiction. And you know, it's really gotten me thinking, what are the redeeming cultural values of zombie fiction? There is actually a whole world of fascinating stories out there, and a growing pool of research about zombie fiction (nothing I'm going to mention now, but maybe in the future).

When I think of these great books, they're first of all, horrifying, but second of all, fascinating. Zombie fiction has taken on a growing form since 9/11, which is something I've read about in the research of others and have also read about in zombie discussion forums. One of the main recurring themes behind zombie stories is that you see the frustration and fear of America at large, and the continuing ignorance of the American government play out in these stories.

Max Brooks provides some of the best zombie fiction I've ever read in his anthology of the Great Zombie War, titled World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. This is easily one of my favorite books of all time, I am currently reading it for the third time, it's just amazing. It's a telling of short stories by survivors of the war that swept the world and practically wiped out 90% of the population of the entire world.

Brooks is just a start, he's also well known for The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead, which is also a very interesting read. I've recently also read some other books, that I'll provide in a list at the end of this posting.

The thing is, I really got to thinking about the possibilities for using zombie fiction as an educational experience. My next post will be on this, because this one is already getting pretty long, I'll put a link for it here when I write that post. For now, I'm going to end this post by listing the zombie fiction books I've read so far. I really want to read more, and will, but this is where I am right now.

  • World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War- by Max Brooks: This book, as mentioned above, is simply the best zombie book I've read, I can't get enough.
  • The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead- by Max Brooks: This book is pretty much as advertised. It's a survival guide, what kind of weapons to use, how to kill a zombie, how to get out of reach of a zombie, it's just so imaginative and so serious that you almost start believing it.
  • Monster Island, Monster Nation and Monster Planet- by David Wellington: I included these three books as one, because they're pretty much one long story. These books were unique to the zombie genre because you actually go inside the head of zombies, and see what they're seeing and experiencing. There's some interesting twists here, but they're very entertaining.
  • Day by Day Armageddon- by J.L. Bourne: This book is a total throwback in to the world of George Romero (you know, the Dawn of the Dead guy). This book is a journal of survivors fighting zombies as they're holed up in a small town outside of Austin, Texas. In this book, the zombies are mindless, flesh eating dead, no tricks, no smart ones, nothing like that. It's a really good, really well told book.


Anonymous said...

You left out a lot of really good ones, but I can see that you're just getting started, so hopefully you come across some more stuff, it's a huge genre.

Ms. Yingling said...

Have to look at Generation Dead. It's a little girly, though, and the zombie thing is a social problem. Hmmm.