Reviewed by Lisa E. Brown
I had a moment of pure geekiness while attending the True/False documentary film festival in Columbia last weekend.
At a packed showing of Morgan Spurlock’s new film, “Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope,” a warm-hearted ode to fan boys and fan girls, I squealed with delight and blurted out “Walking Dead!” when a staged scene straight out of Robert Kirkman’s classic comic book (and now TV) series flashed on the screen. My best friend, already humoring me simply by attending this geek fest, just shot me a sideways look, like she was expecting such behavior from me.
I have zombies on the brain, if you’ll pardon the phrase And I’m not alone. Zombies seem to be the latest literary craze. But, as with any craze, there are some good books out there, and also a lot of mediocre ones. What follows are snapshots of some of the better ones I’ve read lately.
“The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor” by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga
Viewers of AMC’s “Walking Dead” who are familiar with the comic books have spent two seasons wondering when The Governor will make an appearance. The part has been cast for Season Three, but for now, fans have “The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor.”
This novel serves as a prologue to the comic books, providing a back story for a man who eventually morphs into a violent, psychotic villain.
“Rise of the Governor” opens a few days after the first zombies appear. A small group of survivors – with Philip Blake, his daughter Penny, and his brother Brian at its core – makes its way through the zombie-ravaged landscape of Georgia. They’re always on the move, in search of vehicles, weapons, food, a place to rest.
As the novel progresses, Phillip and the others begin to unravel, worn down by the constant threat of violent death and a waning hope of ever finding safety.
The story-telling in “Rise of the Governor” is solid and tense, with quite a few “I never saw that one coming” moments. The result is a novel that fits in nicely with the “Walking Dead” body of work.
And if you haven’t read the comics or seen the TV series, get to it! Zombies await!
“Dead of Night” by Jonathan Maberry
This book scared me silly. And I loved every minute of it.
“Dead of Night” depicts the birth of a zombie apocalypse, told over the course of 24 hours from multiple perspectives. It begins with a mystery surrounding an executed serial killer and ends with complete chaos and terror.
Maberry effectively cranks up the tension, and there are moments of genuine horror. One scene, in particular, made me squirm: a patient on an operating table, unable to move but aware of everything, becomes the victim of her zombified doctors and nurses.
If you want to read a scary zombie book, full of panic and gore, “Dead of Night” is for you. I hope you find the final two chapters as chilling as I did.
“Zombie High Yearbook ‘64” by Jeff Busch
This fun little novelty looks just like a vintage yearbook – except that the students and teachers are rotting, walking corpses, or “revenants,” as they prefer to be called.
Although I’m not certain if the author created this book from scratch or just PhotoShopped an old yearbook, I found his attention to detail amazing.
In addition to the usual pictures of students, faculty and clubs – some of which you need to examine closely to notice a missing foot or chewed-on limb – there are snaps of Zombie High personalities, such as “Most Polite” and “Cutest Couple Without Mandibles.” Some of the captions are normal, but then there are ones like this: “Jean Maurer and William Simundza are always there to open a door, pull out a chair, or reattach a limb for you.”
And, as with a real yearbook, revenants have signed their names, penned personalized messages, and sketched their own illustrations, this time on pages already liberally splattered with blood, bile and other nasty fluids.
“Zombie High Yearbook ‘64” is a fast, amusing read, perfect for someone who wants to avoid scary zombie books but still partake of the zombie trend.
Lisa E. Brown is the Administrative Assistant at the Joplin Public Library.