Tuesday, 30 November 2010

I Have A Secret To Tell....

....from my electrical well (kudos if you know *that* reference!)

It's time to confess something.


I don't like zombies (and I'm not about to end that sentence with "...I love them!" Again, kudos if you know the reference - I have Ashes fever and I'm not apologetic...)

I. Don't. Like. Zombies.

I don't understand the attraction. The only zombie film that has kept my attention is Shaun of the Dead and that is all about the Simon Pegg factor. I don't read zombie books.

I like my creatures of the night sleek and deadly, or animalistic and wild. Vampires and werewolves are my choice of monster.

The shambling gait, the longing for brains, the inability to communicate with zombies - all of this makes for a poor antagonist to a tale, in my opinion. I sort of get why people would find them terrifying, in terms of the fact that they can't be reasoned with and will simply keep coming until you can't prevent them from tearing flesh from your limbs - but it just doesn't capture my interest.

So, if you can suggest just one zombie-related book to change my mind and allow me to see why zombies are so terrific, please drop me a comment! I will pick three of them to read and let you know whether I have been convinced. I look forward to your responses.

Pic courtesy of Pulp's Comics.


  1. Not gonna try to change your mind as I completely agree with you :D

  2. Feed by Mira Grant. Great book, one of my best reads of the year - it's got plenty to love and isn't a typical 'zombie wants brains' novel. I think you'll like it :)

  3. Boneshaker by Cherie Priest.

    Next question!


  4. The Walking Dead comic - like all good fiction, it's about the characters and how they cope in extreme situations.

  5. I've read five zombie books during October on The Eloquent Page as part of my self styled Zombie Appreciation Month.
    There were two standouts Feed by Mira Grant and Zombie Apocalypse! edited by Stephen Jones. Feed is the first part of a trilogy while Zombie Apocalypse! is short stories. Either are well worth a read.

  6. Read World War Z, I'm sure it'll change your mind :)

  7. In general, people will give you one of three reasons for liking zombies.

    1. They're an allegory for consumerism/group think/McCarthyism/whatever is trendy to fear.

    2. They're vast, unstoppable and emotionless.

    3. The zombies themselves aren't cool, but the stories of survival are.

    Feed by Mira Grant is one of those latter ones. It's interesting to see how people react with being an endangered species, especially when they're in close quarters. The whole appeal of The Walking Dead is based around this idea.

    And yet, it's so easy to screw up. Personally, I'm less than pumped about zombies, too, for the same reason I don't like disaster movies. Basically, all that happens afterward is survival and picking up the pieces.

    Sometimes, this works. Most of the time, the tension sort of burns out. If the zombies are such a threat, how can people basically rebuild a society? And if they're not a threat, then are we just watching a sitcom with zombies?

    But then again, I haven't really given it a whole lot of thought.

  8. I think I know what you mean, but zombies are so fashionable at the moment I almost don't want to admit it in case everyone realises how uncool I am... There have been a smattering of zombie movies that I enjoyed, but usually because they were handled in a slightly different way- comedy zombies in Shaun of the Dead, actually scary "fast" zombies in 28 Days Later.

    So I'm afraid I have no recommendations for you, but I do sympathise.

  9. I'd echo what Pablo says: give Zombie Apocalypse! a try - not so much individual stories as a "mosaic novel". Interesting approach, and the framework may make all the difference.

  10. I don't tend to like them much either. I am not a fan of the films, but I do like the Walking Dead comic and TV series, and book wise, best one I have read is The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell. Haunting and amazing.

  11. blue canary in the alley by the light switch, who watches over you

    and some dreadlock holiday - loving you today!

    Zombie movies/TV good - zombie books generally bad (although The Strain is purportedly about zombies and i liked that)

    Zombie graphic novels also good.

    The reason that i like them is because of the human interest angles of many of the stories. A disparate band of people fighting together against a common enemy is always going to push some button and, when done well, makes great TV!

  12. I'm with you Amanda, boring brainless no imagination foes. The Romero films were nicely bleak but give me a good vampire anyday...

  13. I can't stand them either - at least the Romero conception. I don't like the look of them. However, I find the Haitian necromancy idea much more interesting - the pale figure in the centre of the ring of candles swaying beneath a tropical moon.

    The 'mass zombie attack' thing leaves the individual creatures with no personality and so, for me, reduces my interest in them. Scarier figures are like the girl in the Exorcist who has the possibility of being saved and who is a very individual and characterful monster. Similarly The Shining where he's much more than a man with an axe, he's your husband and dad with an axe.

    Taking up from Sam's point, I think Al Qaida may have something to do with their current vogue - they're seemingly senseless, destructive, they are individually easy to kill but just keep coming.

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  15. I must admit that when the Zombie genre is done badly it is really awful. Unfortunately in 80-90% of cases this is exactly what Zombie stories are - awful.

    However, when done well I have to admit I can really get roped into a story. It has been mentioned above, but this really centres around people and their survival stories rather than the Zombies themselves.

    Look at the Walking Dead on TV at the moment. I'm absolutely glued to it!

    In some senses there is also the suspense and how ordinary people cope with it. Unlike Vampires who have unnatural talents and can only be beaten by a once-in-a-generation hero, or magical artifacts, Zombies are slow, ponderous creatures that can be dealt with by an ordinary person.

    The suspense comes with how do they cope? Yes a single Zombie can be beaten, but a slow moving horde?!

    I have to agree with you in that there are no stand-out Zombie books however. I can't say I've read a single one. The closest I have come is Day of the Tryffids (which 28 Days later was loosely based) but even that is a better Zombie book for not having Zombies in.

  16. brains, brians, BRAINS!!!

    I agree that Feed is a most excellent novel but for a real laugh that doesn't take itself too seriously I'd go for "A Festival of Skeletons" by RJ Astruc.

    Personally I do love zombies, but probably enjoy them most in a gaming capacity (plants versus Zombies is great).

  17. Not to put too fine a point on it, Say is this the only bee in your bonnet?
    Totally agree Zombie films generally good...Zombie Literature generally baaaad. That said I enjoyed World war Z an Oral history of the Zombie War by Max Brooks.Loving the site too Amanda thanks for the invite, all the reviews make my christmas list way more informed!

  18. Well, my answer isn't going to surprise you, but:

    I don't like zombies either. I want to, but for the most part, I don't. I loved Shaun of the Dead. I sat through umpteen million Romero films when my housemates decided to have zombie-night Thursday. I did so willingly, because these were post-apocalypse movies, and I love post-A movies, and yet I was mostly bored to tears.

    But: I loved I, Zombie. I probably wouldn't have read it if I hadn't been given it for free, but as I had been, I started it, and I was instantly hooked. Part of it is that: it's not really a zombie novel, it's a sci-fi novel (but to say too much about why would spoil it). The other part is that: the zombie's not a typical zombie. He's not part of a horde, and he doesn't carry a zombie-infection, and he's not a shambling barely-sentient thing. He's a dead man, who's still walking, and who (although he would rather not think about it) likes to eat brains. He doesn't know what or who he really is (or was), and that's the central enigma of the novel, and his characterisation is excellent. He *wants* to be human, to be like a human, but he's not - his conscious is finely crafted as just a little bit alien and detatched... and not really wanting to be. He's interesting because he's likeable, but he's also clearly both a monster and a killer.

    It's a really fascinating, well-drawn novel, and not a typical zombie book at all.

  19. I love zombies! The Living Dead is a good collection of short stories. I also loved The Enemy by Charlie Higson (It's a childrens book but thats easy to ignore).
    I actually prefer zombie films to zombie books and have quite a lot of really random zombie film DVDs. Shaun of the Dead is brilliant. One of my favourite fims ever is 28 Days Later.
    I love horror in all forms though (both in books and films), zombies, vampires, monsters, evil people, anything really!

  20. I agree with what's been said, decent zombie media should be about the human survivors, rather than the zombies themselves. The Walking Dead comics and TV show are excellent, in that you get drawn into the world of the survivors and the zombies are just the threat they face, like any disaster or end of the world show. I don't think of zombies as the antagonists, they're 'merely' a force of nature, all be it one with a human (ish) face.


  21. I actually like zombies.

    I'm rapidly becoming bored with the current surge in all things zombie, but that's just about overload due to a spike in popularity. Leaving aside the often unoriginal recent application in literature and film, I like the zombie because on the whole it's an unreformed horror. It is simply ourselves dead, rotting and putrid, staring us in the face (usually while eating our brains). Sure it has become a convenient prop for overly simplistic metaphors about the collapse of ordered society, whether that be, through consumerism, terrorism or any other would be agent of the apocalypse. But there is a primal fear inherent to its very nature, and for the most part it defies being sexed-up.

    I absolutely loath the sexy romantic make-over applied to vampires and werewolves. Most of the recent material on vampires just makes me want to heave. I want my horror creatures to be inherently disturbing, not a facile lure for the sexually repressed and emotionally unfulfilled.

    I am currently reading the Zombie anthology edited by Christopher Golden and that at least has some interesting takes on the Zombie - with an opening tale by John Connelly about the resurrection of Lazarus.

    I agree with M.D. Lachlan that the West African derived source for Zombie Lore, such as that which is found in Haiti and elsewhere in the African Diaspora is much more interesting. You could read The Serpent and the Rainbow by Wade Davis or watch the film by Wes Craven for a basic introduction to the kind of themes found there.

    Interestingly both vampires and zombies have their origins in a similar animistic fear of the ancestral dead. Vampires were largely wretched and insubstantial revenant spirits. West African derived zombi(e) rituals include elements of necromantic mediumship and trance possession by spirits of the deceased among other things. Neither is inherently sexy.

    That said, I agree with the point about them not being the most exciting of antagonists in literature terms. I think we are still waiting for a definitive work of zombie literature, although let's not forget Frankenstein.

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  23. I like zombies, not because they're great antagonists, but because of what many have said - the survival aspect. I put myself in their shoes and think about what I would do in the same situation and it's all kinds of fun. :)

    Thanks for asking this question, I now have what looks to be lots of great reads to check out.

  24. I'm not a zombie fan, either though I'm told that my opinion WILL change once I read books like "Feed" by Mira Grant. I still have yet to read it. I just can't quite get myself to the point where a book full of zombies appeals to me. I'm kind of excited to see if this helps you.

  25. I don't like zombies either and I can't bring myself to read any of the zombie books which are so currently popular. I even bought The Forest of Hands and Teeth but can't muster up the enthusiasm to read it.
    But I'm also not a big vampire fan as they are pretty much just glorified cannibals.

  26. I was exactly the same as you. Until I watched Dead Set when it came out - who couldn't love Davina as a zombie? And after being forced to watch it about 10 times by my OH and having to be accompanied to the loo of an evening for about a week afterwards... I kinda started to love them. I haven't seen any of the REALLY horror zombie films because I am a bit squeamish when it comes to films (not so much with books) but love Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland. I've only read a couple of zombie books so far but loved them. Night of the Living Trekkies - thoroughly recommend - zombies invade a Star Trek convention *g* The Forest of Hands & Teeth - a YA novel. Loved that too. Am going to note down some of the recommendations here :)

  27. I don't like zombies, either - gory horror is not my thing at all. In spite of that, I did really enjoy reading Feed by Mira Grant. I can't say it changed my mind about zombies, but since it was about a lot more than just zombies I found it very interesting to read. It took place after the zombie apocalypse and was largely about how the world changed mixed with a political plot line. Plus it has an amazing ending - had to take guts to write an ending like that!

  28. I just reviewed Scott Edelman's What Will Come After, and I thought that was quite brilliant: http://theakersquarterly.blogspot.com/2010/11/what-will-come-after-scott-edelman.html.

  29. I'd recommend two books. World War Z by Max Brooks and The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell (in fact I have a copy of this if you want it, it's an advance reader copy).

    Both feature zombies but they are not the main character.

    I was never a zombie person until I read these two books but I am now.

  30. If you do want the copy of Alden Bell's book email me kahless63@googlemail.com.

  31. I've got two options for you: Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry (fast and furious, could be the lovechild of 24 and Michael Crichton) or Uprising from Chris Newman (an awesome take on what might happen, politically, etc after a zombie outbreak, love this!). :-) Hope that helps!

  32. Feed by Mira Grant! :) The zombie book that really did it for me, and it's one of my favorite reads for this year. :)

  33. I think pretty much everything has already been said about why zombie books are great so I won't say any more on that... other than that zombie books are great :o) (I totally get why some people won't enjoy them though).

    Recommendations? I've got loads but I'll leave you with just one. Bob Fingerman's 'Pariah' is just gorgeous and I think everyone should give it a go. The best zombie books concentrate on human aspirations and that's what happens here. Read it :o)