Title: Zombie apocalypse
Author: Stephen jones
Genre: zombie/ apocalypse/ horror
Review: Zombies are big right now. Like, really, crazy big. True zombie fanatics have been around for decades, watching and re-watching George Romero films and adorning themselves with fake blood, torn clothes and shambling around while crying “brains” at Halloween. But in recent years zombies have really gone mainstream ranging from humorous independent films like Fido, to a big-budget comedy parody in Zombieland, video game franchises (and movies) likeResident Evil and critically acclaimed works such as The Walking Dead (both its comic book and AMC versions). And, unfortunately, that has led to a lot of zombie garbage being retched into the media as well.
Luckily, Stephen Jones’ Zombie Apocalypse! is not among this garbage. The cleverly designed collection of short stories, strung together as journal entries, police reports, emails, texts, medical records and classified documents, tells of a near future London that, over the course of about a month, goes from being a country trying to celebrate its history in a failing economy, to ground zero of a massive zombie outbreak.
Compiled of no less than 37 short stories, the book is a phenomenal undertaking. The backbone story features the excavation of an old church. This leads to the discovery of a crypt sealed since the days of the bubonic plague by an eccentric, if not crazed, architect who believed interning a body for a certain length of time would bring it back to life to carry the souls of the dead. Jones’ tale does get a little muddled here as the initial idea behind the resurrection seems mystical, but then it appears the fleas from the bubonic days are reanimating the corpses but then it gets even fuzzier as a simple scratch may pass it on the plague, or even touching the bile-like blood of the deceased might do it.
The account takes its time (ALMOST too much) to really get going, peppering the early pages with hints and the usual non-believers and eye-rollers. But when it does hit, it’s full zombie carnage. Unlike Max Brooks’sWorld War Z which, although retold through a series of personal accounts, seems to talk with one voice, each entry in Zombie Apocalypse! has a very unique style. Since so many writers were employed to pen the stories and as each entry is supposedly from a journal recollection or internet post, this works well. However this does lead to some annoying discrepancies, from the infection’s origins to how the zombies act. Some are mindless, some go for brains, some retain memories of their past and even intelligence and some are carnivorous animals just devouring flesh.
The early recountings are confined to a specific area in London. The best zombie stories will parody current political and social issues and the first part of the book does that eloquently, giving the reader a very British feel and flavor. But the story does lag a little when the plague goes global. When stories from other countries come into play it almost seems forced, as if the book loses a little of its way.
As a whole, Zombie Apocalypse! is a great read for any zombie fan. Of particular note are the story “Minutes of Meeting” and the copy of the actual communication sent out to emergency services. The ending has a very interesting and poignant twist, leading the reader to see that those who do manage to survive Zombie Apocalypse! will be living in a very brave and very flesh-hungry new world.
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