Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Book Review: "The Zombie Survival Guide"

A while ago a I reviewed the book World War Z by Max Brooks. That book was a "true" oral history of a zombie war. Before Brooks wrote that book, he wrote a survival guide to combat zombies. That book is, obviously, The Zombie Survival Guide.

Like WWZ, ZSG is a "realistic" look at how one can survive a zombie attack. He gives advice on dealing with zombies whether you are running from them, defending your home, or going on the offensive. He even has a chapter on what you should do if zombies take over the world. There are illustrations that give visual aid and at the end of the guide, there is a section for you, the reader, to write in as a pseuo-journal as you monitor suspicious, zombie-like behavoir.

Before all of that, Brooks goes into the science behind the what and how of zombies. He states the zombies are created by a virus known as Solanum. He lists how a zombie works (there is no blood pumping) and how they use their senses. He also "debunks" the myth that zombies are super in strength or other abilities, stating that zombies merely use their senses differently than the living. This nuts and bolts science is one of the most interesting parts of the book. The other interest part is the Appendix at the end that lists all the historical zombie attacks recorded. This section reminded me a lot of what Brooks would write about in WWZ.

However, the parts in between were only ok. The actual survival sections of the book, save for the Zombie Apocalypse, were fairly pedestrian. Granted, that's how various guides are written in the real world, but I still found these parts boring. Descriptions of terrain and how to properly defend yourself from zombie attacks were interesting the first time he discussed them, but he has to cover all situations, and it grows a little tedious. I also found some of the illustrations as superfluous.

Also, again akin to real survival guides, Brooks' writing style were short sentences and generally very plain. A nice touch though was the further subdivision of each chapter into mini-sections, and even having those mini-sections have subdivisions. The inherent limitations of a survival guide are clearly highlighted in Brooks' book and while the actual material is staid, the creativity behind the project is outstanding. That is the aspect of the book I was most impressed with. That Brooks' could think of reasonable defenses and offensives against something that doesn't even exist is fascinating. Unfortunately, the only way to truly present this creativity is in the format used here.

Even Brooks' himself may have realized the trouble of writing a survival guide, as in World War Z, a character he is "interviewing" slams a zombie survival guide as being blatantly false and misleading. While I didn't enjoy this Max Brook zombie book as much as the first one a I read, it is still an interesting piece of alt-fiction. The creativity and originality of the book lifts it to high esteem. I recommend picking up this book after reading World War Z to see the genesis of Brooks' obsession with zombies.

4 Bitemarks out of 5.


Post a Comment

<< Home