I read this as a kid. I look back at some of the stuff I read as a kid, or watched for that matter, and wonder why I have insomnia. I found a copy in...moreI read this as a kid. I look back at some of the stuff I read as a kid, or watched for that matter, and wonder why I have insomnia. I found a copy in some bargain bin and decided that I wanted it for the memory it provoked. I'm not sure now if that was childhood fear and if so why I wanted to embrace it again. I don't think the stories disturbed me in reading them again, though I didn't read them all, but the artwork still gives me the creeps, so mission (if there was one) accomplished. I wonder about the brain sometimes, I really do.(less)
It's taken me a while to review this book for various reasons. Mostly, I guess, because I'm not sure how to go about it. It's certainly one of my favo...moreIt's taken me a while to review this book for various reasons. Mostly, I guess, because I'm not sure how to go about it. It's certainly one of my favorite novels and while I have it listed for horror, it's a little bit more than that for me.
I agree completely that the fictional version of a zombie is very different from what's found in voodoo and the like, but the idea and mythos of the undead is worldwide and that, to me, is what's utterly fascinating. Unlike the vampire, which is often presented as urbane (though there are plenty of legends where they're just as disgusting as zombies and just as single minded), the zombie is pretty much focused on one thing. It's relentless. It doesn't reason. It doesn't feel pain. It doesn't cower or hide or, really, under many circumstances, stop. It just lurches, shuffles, and in cases like 28 Days Later, speeds toward human consumption. To me that's what creates the horror. A mindless, determined creature, this degradation of self, of what we are, that wants to do nothing more than feed on us.
I'm extremely picky about horror stories anymore. I think I got through my cheesy gore phase when I was a teenager. Horror to me is far more about the psychological. Writing horror, good horror, is certainly a talent. Anyone can churn out some blood, a firefight, glittery vampires and what have you. But the key, to me again, in horror is to make me feel compassion and empathy for the characters. If I don't have those, why should I care if they're eaten, bitten, chased by werewolves or whatever else. Likely I won't and will probably be glad when it happens.
So, what I like about Brooks's take on the traditional zombie: he runs the gambit of survivors. It's not just the well trained that manage to make it. It the clever and the desperate and their actions haunt them. There's guilt; there's angry justification. He shows the break down of governments, the idea of conspiracy on different levels, what people will do for self preservation but also what people will do out of kindness. That even under such horrible circumstances there's hope.
Yes, it's a story concerning zombies, but to me it's not a zombie story. It's a human story. You could take out the zombies and replace it with just about anything else. The zombies aren't important. The people who are telling the story are. And for me that's what makes it such a great novel.
Zombies are currently really popular. Because of that, to me, there's a lot of hit or miss. I've liked zombies for a long time. Probably since I first saw Night of the Living Dead as a kid (and that is such a great commentary, just like Brooks's novel is a commentary). It can be done either really well or really badly. I suppose it depends on the author's intent (and cheesy zombies have their place too). But, really, World War Z is compelling as a story about humanity. And most really good zombie stories do just that.(less)
I love this time of year. October is coming and a girl's fancy turns to the undead. Or at least this girl's does and in the idea of zombies (or vampir...moreI love this time of year. October is coming and a girl's fancy turns to the undead. Or at least this girl's does and in the idea of zombies (or vampires that ash out in sunlight rather than sparkle like lip-gloss from Bonnie Bell.)
So, what does that mean? It's time to brush off the zombie collections and novels (the few that I have thanks to being fussy) and prepare for Halloween spookiness where I will, no doubt, freak myself out as I've rediscovered all the gore and whatnot that didn't bother me a decade ago bothers me now. Not so much in books (but sometimes), but movies. Yet, this isn't about movies. It's about Adams's The Living Dead.
Really, for someone that loves zombies (what could be cuter? Have you seen Fido? It's just...you know, aww.) it's marvelous to come across a well done anthology. I know there are other anthologies out there, both decided to our brain eating friends as well as tucked into horror collections or author specific anthologies, but this one, I think, is one of the best anthologies dealing with a wide variety of what it would mean either to be a zombie or to have survived an influx of them.
What I like best about anthologies is the chance to read authors I've never read or heard of and finding stories that I've never read by authors I really like. A few of my favorites in this are:
The Song the Zombie Sang - Harlan Ellison and Robert Silverberg: What I love about this story is that it's atypically. It's not slobbering, I want to eat your brains. It's keeping flesh animated for the sake of music and how that music will never change or create something new because the musician is dead. It's a really thoughtful piece.
Almost the Last Story by Almost the Last Man - Scott Edelman: The draw of this is the main character being a writer trapped in a library who feels the need to write (as many of us do, I'd imagine, under difficult circumstances). It's just an interesting take as he moves through various beginnings and dialog trying to set things up while not wanting to deal with what's actually happened.
There's one other, but I can't remember the title about a lone woman surviving in a small camp on the outskirts, I believe, of a New Zealand town. While there are zombies and they would like to have her for dinner, the main focus of the story is the utter loneliness she has and what that's like. That even though the zombies are dangerous to her, she might be willing to be physically close to them because they're as near to human contact as she'll get.
So, some of the stories are really funny, others more thought provoking. Some traditional and others not. It's a great collection to get different takes of what seems to be a very popular thing. But, to me, the zombie's always been popular. Just in the wow let's run away from that, not take a picture with way. Times change, I suppose.(less)
I just re-read this. My version is a battered, yellow-edged, second-hand one that claimed I bought it for a dollar and twenty-five cents. I'm not sure...moreI just re-read this. My version is a battered, yellow-edged, second-hand one that claimed I bought it for a dollar and twenty-five cents. I'm not sure when that was. In the 80's, I'd imagine as the used bookstore is long gone now. Sadly.
This is, no doubt, one of my favorite books by Bradbury. From it, I think you're able to see his influence upon other writers. Also, it's easy to see why his such a fantastic writer. Everything is so precise. His descriptions of youth, the way Will and Jim are so wild and fleeting just rings true when compared to the envy Charles has of them, the idea that youth always runs and runs and vanishes.
The carnival itself--and I must have some fascination with carnivals and circuses--remains just as creepy and mysterious as I remember from childhood. Bradbury does touch, though his freaks and Mr. Dark, the longings of people: eternal youth, knowledge of the future, etc.
But for me, it's those languid sentences. His characters that come to life. The small town that breathes and settles and murmurs to itself while boys race along the streets and a janitor sweeps dust through the library. (less)
I'm baffled that I'm finding things that, I guess would be considered horror, in the fiction section. I don't browse the horror section much anymore b...moreI'm baffled that I'm finding things that, I guess would be considered horror, in the fiction section. I don't browse the horror section much anymore because of the dislike of the series that goes on forever. Anyhow...
I don't like clowns. I turned the book facedown on my nightstand. (I recall doing the same thing with King's IT). But Katherine Dunn. author of Geek Love, wrote the introduction and that started it. I read the first page and decided to give it a go.
In short, I found Elliott to be brilliant in this utterly insane novel. As it is insane. Gory. Disturbing. The split of the main character's psyche into separate selves was well done, a rather different take of the idea of Jekyll and Hyde, with the idea of the chaotic self, lizard brain and that whole idea vs. the side that's clinging and fighting for rationality in a place where nothing is rational, where everything is madness.
Great descriptions and language. Elliott's style is truly intense. The paranoia and crumbling walls of reality are a marvelously tangible thing.
Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes is one of my favorite circus/carnival stories. Dunn's Geek Love is another. Elliott's is a certain third. (less)
This was almost a four. Almost. I found the novel overall enjoyable. I can't remember now when it was recommended to me, but probably more than fiftee...moreThis was almost a four. Almost. I found the novel overall enjoyable. I can't remember now when it was recommended to me, but probably more than fifteen years ago by now and I just never go about to reading it.
I think McCammon did a really marvelous job with the idea of what life would be like after a full out nuclear war, how people would act, what would society become. In ways it reminded me of The Road (which I do like better though I couldn't say for the film as I've not seen it.) I know that Swan Song has been compared to King's The Stand as well and there are definitely a lot of similarities in the idea of good vs. evil, supernatural, and even a dog, but other than that I think I have to agree with other reviews I've read of the book and found this leaning a bit more toward religious ideas than The Stand.
I did like a lot of the character, Swan herself as a child, Josh, and Sister Creep. Some parts got a bit dull for me and I'm not sure if that's because it's just such a huge book or that it began to feel like I was being smacked over the head with the ideas. Still, the idea of bringing life back to a completely desolated world and the descriptions of that, of hope were well worth some of the drag in other places.(less)
I have to admit that I'm a huge fan of reading works based on Lovecraft's or influenced by him and I tend to really enjoy Ellen Datlow as she draws ty...moreI have to admit that I'm a huge fan of reading works based on Lovecraft's or influenced by him and I tend to really enjoy Ellen Datlow as she draws typically wonderful pieces together from all over the place. This, in that regard, wasn't an exception to the rule. Nearly all of the stories were well done and the influence of HP could truly be found. Oddly for me the ones that I liked best (with the exception of Mongoose which took place in space) were set in Antarctica and Lovecraft's own Mountains of Madness is not a favorite of mine simply because I always feel that I have to slog(goth?) through it. But the two in this collection which I'm now forgetting the names of were brilliantly done dealing with the ideas of madness, isolation, things found that shouldn't have been and all the wonderful ideas that Lovecraft tends to bring out. I enjoyed Caitlyn R. Keirnan's Houses Under the Sea as well and always tend to like coming across her short fiction as she has a splendid voice.
My favorite story will probably always be Details by China Mieville (found in Looking For Jake and a couple other places) and nothing yet has fully compared to that, but there were a few in here that came a bit close.(less)