A History of Zombie Literature

So recently I found this really interesting article. It give a quick rundown of some of the most famous cases of our famous undead friends making appearances in books! I hope you all enjoy!

http://www.bestzombiebooks.com/a_history_of_zombie_literature.htm

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White Flag of the Dead Series by Joseph Talluto

Spoilers!
If you read as many zombie novels as I do, you may have come to an unsettling conclusion. The more books that are written and published on the subject the lower the quality of the stories become. Very few novels in the Zombie Genre can compete with the holy book of Zombie Literature, World War Z by Max Brooks (My review for which can be found here:https://jhame085.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/world-war-z-by-max-brooks/). This may be because I get all my zombie books off of Amazon Kindle and their standards are lower or maybe it’s because I’ve read so many that they’re all blurring together. I desperately hope the latter is not the case because I genuinely love this genre and I don’t want it to get boring for me. Either way I was pleasantly surprised after reading the White Flag of the Dead series of books as the author, Joseph Talluto made an obvious effort at showing a new aspect of the genre and he thankfully succeeded.

The story starts out as most zombie stories generally do, with an unknown virus causing the dead to rise along with the usual fall of society thing. This part of a zombie story is my favorite for I enjoy seeing how different authors see the civil and military authorities handling the rising of the dead. This aspect of White Flag is somewhat brief, only a few chapters, but the way Talluto portrays it is very realistic and believable. The aspect of this series I loved the most, however, is that all the books take place after the fall of civilization and portrays the broken pockets of humanity slowly adapting to the zombie plague and eventually joining together to reorganize and rebuild a semblance of life before the fall. Now, the way humanity rebuilds in the White Flag series is very different from how humanity rebuilds in World War Z. While large areas around the surviving pockets are cleared and pacified numerous zombies still room the land, mostly around former cities. Also, most populated towns and villages are surrounded by either walls, fences or moats. Further technology is on a more late 19th-early 20th century level rather than on the modern level portrayed in World War Z. Something I found amazing was that a somewhat organized USA is reborn a number of years after the original fell apart. I say somewhat, for while the government is more or less the same as the real life US, the fact that there are large spaces between populated towns that governing the new country is more like how the country was run in the days of the Pony Express.

The story follows the actions of John Tallon a former school principal and all around bad ass as he strives to keep his new born son safe in this new and terrifying world. As he defends his son he inadvertently becomes the catalyst for the surviving pockets of humanity to rally behind and reorganize themselves. Later in the series he becomes a folk hero to the survivors, something akin to a combination of George Washington mixed with some Tom Henry and Paul Bunyan. At times some of the things he does seem more than a real life person could actually do, but this really doesn’t detract from the overall realism and excitement of the story.

This series was a very fun and interesting read. I readily suggest it to fans of this genre that I really hope is not decomposing with time (Get it? Because zombies decompose! Haha!)

The books in the Series are:
White Flag of the Dead
Taking it Back
America the Dead
United States of the Dead
Dead Surge
Last Stand of the Dead

World War Z (The Movie)

Spoilers!

To start off this is a movie review and I understand that since this is a book blog it’s rather odd to do this. However, in my review of the book World War Z  I promised that I would post my thoughts on the movie after I had seen it. After having seen it I can confirm that the movie was what I had feared. Something Awful.

I feel that the writers of this movie essentially took a copy of World War Z, threw it in the air and hacked it up with a knife, and whatever pages the caught (which wasn’t a lot) was put in the movie. There were only about three instances from the book that were actually in the movie. It begs the question of why even give the movie the same title as the book. The only thing the two had in common was the fact that they had zombie, and even the zombies in the movie were different from the book! In the book the zombies are literal walking corpses that decompose as time goes on.  They can’t run and hold no superhuman abilities.  This is not the case in the movie. In the movie they’re more akin to the zombies in 28 Days Later. They’re fast moving and are capable of feats that a normal person is not capable of. Also while the zombies actually eat people in the book, in the movie they just bite and run off. It is is also worth note at the lack of blood or gore in the movie. I’m not saying that they needed the same amount of gore as they had in the Saw Franchise, but if you’re being bitten in the thought you usually tend to at least spirt a tiny bit of blood.

Another problem with the movie when compared with the book is the movie’s complete lack of political scope. Half the point of the book was the problems that arise for the still existing government when dealing with the undead hordes. In the movie it’s mentioned in passing that the US President as the Vice President and several members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are dead and that’s it. Well How are other countries faring and who the hell is in command of the US? While the movie makes it seem that most governments are collapsing the UN is still functioning, at least with the help of the US military. In the book the UN is more or less destroyed and is only brought back to functioning capacity years after the war against the undead begin. I find it hard to believe that in this situation that the US military would devote any resources to a failed organization such as the UN.  Only two other countries are mentioned, Israel and North Korea. Israel somehow builds a superwall around much of their nation. This does happen in the book, but in the movie it’s built within a month, while in the book it takes at least 6 to year for them to set it up, which let’s be honest is more realistic for a country rather than a single month. North Korea’s answer to the problem is to pull out the teeth of every single citizen so when one person is infected they can’t bite anyone. At this I actually leaned forward in my seat, shaking my head trying not to scream in the theater. In the book the entire population disappears. Most in the book believe that the entire population went into underground bunkers and continue to live there. I like this situation much better than the one discussed in the movie as it leaves a lot of potential open for future use.

Another problem with the movie was the main character, played by Brad Pitt. The character, Gerry Lane, is a completely hollow individual who, after having worked with the UN for number of years, somehow has the same capabilities as a Navy Seal. Some of the things he does in the movie are just so far above and beyond what a normal person could do that it seems like he can solve the entire global problem on his own. The character isn’t helped by the fact that Brad Pitt can’t act, but then again in an action movie all you need to do is be able to run and read so I wasn’t expecting too much from him in the first place.

To put it simply, the movie was an abortion. They had a chance to redefine the entire zombie genre and they blew it. This is unforgivable. I would not recommend this movie.

World War Z by Max Brooks

To put it simply, this is a generation defining book. Like it or not, that is an undeniable fact. It can be argued that this book along with its semi-prequel The Zombie Survival Guide, have single handedly started the present zombie fad. This is quite simply one of my favorite books and since it is being made into a movie (one that will most likely fail to live up to its written form) I felt that it would be a good time to give my review of it. If you haven’t read this book yet please keep in mind that this review may have some spoilers in it.

The writing in this book is rather different from most other books in that it is actually a collection of short-stories in the form of interviews. The premise of the story is that the author has gone across the world as a UN agent to interview survivors of a recent global war on zombies that humanity barely won. Each interview helps add to the larger picture of the global struggle against the undead as well as adding a distinct human element. Each story is radically different from the last. One story, for example, will be about how human trafficking in Asia helped to hasten the spread of the undead, while the next story will be about a housewife in the USA and how she and her family narrowly avoided being slaughtered in their home. The fact that the author chooses to focus on the world at large rather than just the US or some other country as most other zombie novels choose to do adds to the wide appeal of the book.

Another beautiful aspect of this book is the fact is that the story has several important themes that make this book surprisingly adult. While being a fun read about the undead it also a rather lesson in political theory. The book is decidedly anti-isolationist and also deals extensively with how countries deal with large scale disasters. It is because of this as well as for other reasons I have heard that, at least at the University of Pittsburgh, it is being used as an actual text book for political theory classes. Unfortunately I have no way of confirming this as I do not go to said school.

One of the sillier aspects of the book is that it is written by a decidedly “liberal” author, while the book is actually rather “conservative” in nature. The idea of individuality and self sufficiency is heavily pushed in many of the stories. It should be noted, however, that many stories also discuss team survival, but the the individualist stories are much more detailed and more memorable than the latter.

While this is truly an amazing book, I have serious doubts as to the movie. I admit that I have yet to see the movie (I will update this when I have) but from what I have seen in the form of previews that it will most likely only be World War Z in name only. While this is a book about deep ideas about humanity as a whole, the movie looks like a simple action flick. What can you expect from someone like Brad Pitt though? Even the author, Max Brooks has expressed doubts about this movie in at least one interview, which can be seen here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QEq-ud0NIc . Will I still see the movie? Yes. Will it be an abortion? Most likely. Hopefully I’m proven wrong.