I love The Walking Dead. If anything else, the show is a weekly one-hour series that gives us the mental challenge to consider how we could live in a world of nothing, scavenging up the basics of survival from the lost, forgotten world all around us. If you think life sucks when your iPhone dies and there’s not a charger in sight, then you won’t last long in Sherriff Rick’s group.
I did worry that maybe it showed signs of “jumping the shark” last week when Carol covered herself with Zombie guts and walked amongst the zombies undetected. I mean, honestly, if outfoxing the zombies is that easy then why hasn’t everyone just been walking around wearing zombie guts all the time? (Besides the obvious hygienic reasons, of course).
The Zombie Genre has rivaled the Vampire Genre in recent years, and yet it has always been a bit problematic. The main crticism of every zombie movie? They are all pretty much the same. Zombie outbreak occurs. Group of survivors ban together. Zombies walk around slowly and sluggishly, grunting “Errgh!” and “Argh!” Survivors must brave their way to some location where they believe they will be safe. Along the way, some member of the group is bitten by a zombie. The bite victim’s close friend and/or relative faces the painful choice of either shooting the zombie bite victim, thus putting him out of his misery and saving the group from the bites that will be forthcoming if he turns, or letting the bite victim stay as is, in hopes that some type of cure is around the corner.
Thus, in a genre where it is all pretty much the same thing, it is impressive that a comic book series and a subsequent TV show has been able to catch the public’s interest for so long. Yes, there is a lot of the “Erghs!” and “Arghs!” but there is also an attempt to look at what the world would become during a zombie outbreak:
1) People Building Communities – There probably would be a lot of people like the Governor who would go from being an avergage schlump to starting his own civilization. And undoubtedly, they would probably become power hungry and mad.
2) Scavenging – Searching through abandoned homes and stores for leftovers would become the modern equivalent of foraging. Only problem is once all the processed food runs out, people would have to do something crazy like – build a farm, raise crops, tend to farm animals, etc.
3) Bad People Would Take Advantage – Free from the constraints of the law and impending jail time for their misdeeds, there would be a lot of bad people to deal with, as the show illustrates sometimes in too graphic detail.
4) People Will Become Shadows of their Former Selves – Just ask former domesticated Mom turned Samurai Warrior Michonne.
5) Your Family Unit Becomes the People You Randomly Meet – You’ll meet people in need of assistance. If they seem trustworthy, they’re yours. You know have to drag those people around with you until the end of time.
In honor of The Walking Dead, here is a list, in no particular order, of Zombie Books:
1) World War Z by Max Brooks – Probably the preminent zombie novel in recent years, it was turned into a pretty decent horror/action flick starring Brad Pitt. It basically follows one man’s quest to stop a zombie outbreak. Plenty of “Erghs!” and “Arghs!”
2) Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith – Never read it, but my understanding is that it basically takes Austen’s original text and then adds in something like – “And then after Mr. Darcy drank his cup of tea, he was attacked by a ravenous zombie!!!” You may know Seth Grahame-Smith from such works as Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. My hat goes off to him as he has really managed to make a decent living off of taking historical figures and pitting them against supernatural forces.
3) The Zombie Survival Guide – by Max Brooks –Hilarious parody in which the author takes a fun and twisted look at the various ways one can prepare for a zombie apocalypse and use just about anything as a survival tool.
4) I am Legend – by Richard Matheson – Published in 1954, this classic tale tells of one man’s fight against a world of bloodthirsty creatures. Some may call it a vampire book, others might call it a zombie book. However, Matheson deserves some credit for getting the whole “survive in a world of horrible creatures” genre of the ground.
5) Cell – by Steven King – Ok, so this is not a traditional zombie book, but reviewers rave about it. It was published in 2006. You remember the 2000’s right? For those who have forgot, it was a time when society when from viewing cell phones as luxuries to necessities. (Believe it or not, there was once an age when people would say, “Why the hell would I want to carry a phone with me when I’m out of the house? I’m busy! Whoever wants to talk to me can call me when I get home!) So in other words, King took peoples’ newfound interest in phones and weaved a tale around it. Basically, a computer virus infects cell phones and turns their users into zombie-eqsue rage monsters, not unlike what was seen in 28 Days Later. Kind of a silly plot but the Master of Horror Fiction makes it work.
Did I miss any of your favorite zombie books? Feel free to post them below.