[Book Review] There’s a zombie inside us all, and it wants out

Parasite by Mira Grant

Parasite (Parasitology, #1)

Talk about a perfect Halloween read! I sat down on October 31st to read this, and just blazed through it. Next time I looked up, it was hours later, long after dark, and I had zombies on my brain. Zombies. Zommbbbiiiieeeees!

Enter Sally, a survivor of a horrific crash who wakes up with no memory of her life before the car accident. (YES! Amnesia plots are my favorite.) She’s a miracle survivor, so for the last six years, as she’s slowly re-learned who her family is, who she is, and even how to speak, she’s been a bit of a natural science experiment for the company whose medical breakthrough (a living tapeworm-like implant that fixes your body) made her survival possible.

But the company (and the government for whom her father works) are keeping secrets, and as people start collapsing from a mysterious sleeping sickness – and saying her name! – Sal finds herself caught right in the middle of it.

I’m no zombie fan. Never. But this wasn’t really a zombie story. It was a speculative (medical?) suspense thriller full of corporate machinations, amnesia, and…a side-plot of zombie apocalypse. Mira Grant is a master of suspense, putting me on the edge of my seat in anticipation that just built and built as Sal navigates her life, her turbulent relationship with who people tell her she used to be, and all the medical tests she has to take. The take on zombies is also novel and intriguing. It’s medicine run amok, humans overreaching, the guilty in denial, and a moral question of whether the zombie cure is worse than murder. Continue reading

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[Small Chirp] Watch the First Four Minutes of Warm Bodies

Somewhere along the line, I became completely obsessed with zombies. I guess it’s not entirely surprising; the only thing that scares me more than zombies are sharks, and I eagerly anticipate the Discover Channel’s “Shark Week” with rabid fervor. The gateway drug that was Feed has extrapolated into a full-blown addiction.

And that’s why I let out a squeal when I heard that Fandango had a sneak peek at the first four minutes of “Warm Bodies,” the quirky teen romance based on the book by Isaac Marion. I have to say, after the video, I’m even more excited about the film. Continue reading

Advance Book Review: Dead Reckoning, a steampunk zombie western

Dead Reckoning by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill

Publication Date: June 05, 2012

What do you get when you mix a western, a zombie infestation, and a dash of steampunk? A whole lot of YA fun.

Jett Gallatin is a sharpshooter and gambler traveling across the wild west–he is also a lie, a name made up and used by a young woman searching for a brother who disappeared at the end of the Civil War. White Fox is an army scout, investigating the reason why thriving towns are becoming ghost towns overnight, all their people disappeared without a trace. And Honoria Gibbons is an unconventional young woman riding a gears-and-steam machine across the prairie, out to prove that science can explain any phenomena.

But when a zombie horde marches across their paths and force them to band together to survive, even Jett’s tenacity, White Fox’s experience, and Gibbons’ mythbuster approach to life might not be enough to get them through the night. Continue reading

[Small Chirp] A zombie apocalypse in context

One aspect of Mira Grant’s Newsflesh series I particularly enjoy is how the reader is simply plopped down in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse and then left to fend for himself. The narrative only drops little tidbits of back-story when the plot requires further explanation of the zombie issue and how the zombies came about. This tactic is the exact opposite of what critics lovingly call an ‘info dump,’ and the text in both books in the series is all the more engaging because of this deft narrative choice.

But for all my appreciation of author Mira Grant’s decision to limit background information, I was left a little wanting. After all, a true zombie-phobe like myself needs to know the precise details of any hypothetical apocalypse in order to properly prepare for the coming doom of humanity. So imagine my delight when Grant produced a filler story between Deadline and the soon-to-be-released Blackout. Countdown is a tight novella (the audio was only about two and a quarter hours) chronicles the days just prior to and through the worst of the first Rising–Grant’s term for the zombie apocalypse that takes place in very-near 2014. Continue reading

[ Book Review ] Lions and Tigers and Zombies, oh my!

Kat’s Review: Hollowland by Amanda Hocking

In Hollowland by Amanda Hocking, hardcore teenager chic Remy travels with a Canadian, a rock-star, and a fashionista teenybopper through a post-apocalyptic, zombie-ravaged landscape on a quest to find the military quarantine holding her brother. Romantic subplots are plentiful, but for a post-apocalyptic tale of horror and adventure, there aren’t enough zombies to fertilize a garden. The true monsters the companions encounter are their fellow man (in the form of polygamous cults, armies of psychopaths, and military law). But while these subplots are tense and suspenseful, it was a downer that the slow-moving zombies never made me fear for the character’s lives or health. In part, this was because they had a lion in their car.

Wait, what? Is that a typo?

Nope. It’s a lion. Lioness, to be precise.

Though Hollowland starts out with a modified T.S. Eliot quote, and the title is a nod to his melancholic poem “The Hollow Men,”  I would have pulled a more tonally appropriate title and quote from Old Possum’s Practical Cats.

Ripley (the aforementioned lion) is a very practical, zombie-eating feline. When Remy (the teenager) takes pity on a chained-up lion, the cat ends joins their party rather than eating it, and then goes on to display a remarkable preference for rotting, undead flesh. The tigers show up later, but they seem to prefer to make friends with evil humans.

This entire Lion-Tiger thing may have caused some fatal suspension of disbelief issues, but that’s a chirp for another day.

Let’s shift back to the reading experience: Continue reading

[ Guest Chirp ] So What’s Your Apocalypse?

So What’s Your Apocalypse? 

by Nathan L. Yocum

“That’s great it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes, an airplane. Lenny Bruce is not afraid.”

-REM It’s the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)

Bad news…the world is going to end. It’s an inevitability akin to taxes or Hollywood divorce. We as a species will die out. Our world will twist and change and crumble to dust. The Earth will be rendered unrecognizable to the tortured spirits that loom in its wake, scouring for the last bits of food and clean water before succumbing to their hellish deaths.

The world will end. I can’t stop it, you can’t stop it, Kirk Cameron can’t stop it. The only relevant questions are “how and when?”

Imagine that the Earth is a gun and you’re Christopher Walken from The Deer Hunter. What bullet (or apocalypse) will be the harbinger of your destruction? What are your apocalyptic options? How likely are they?

I’m here to help. Here’s a breakdown of four of the most common forms of apocalypse.

Global Pandemic

Examples in History/Pop Culture: The Black Plague, Omega Man, Contagion, The Stand

Likelihood of Occurring: Possible. Global pandemics are kind of a yearly thing. Mind you, not everything is as ultimately destructive as the Black Plague or Captain Trips, but one of these days bird flu or swine flu or monkey flu is going to land on your sinuses. Will you survive?

Pros:  

  1. Unlimited parking.
  2. No worries about food supplies, you will literally never run out of canned goods and bottled water (assuming you survived near a city).
  3. Social standing goes way up, opposite sex has to be less choosy (this could be a con if you were wealthy/attractive/charismatic before the fall).
  4. Get to scoff at all those dead suckers who forked out $7+ a shot for tubes of Airborne. Way to buy the hype!

Cons:

  1.  In order for a global pandemic to be legitimate it needs to wipe out at or around 99% of humanity. Odds are that means you, Ninety-Nine Percent-er.
  2. Even if you survive, all your family and friends will perish.
  3. May have to endure flu-like symptoms.
  4. Even if you survive, you might be caught in a good vs. evil fight to the death. Continue reading