This book works, and I'll be damned but it's easily one of the best I've read this year. Bell smooshes a poetically beautiful coming-of-age saga onto...moreThis book works, and I'll be damned but it's easily one of the best I've read this year. Bell smooshes a poetically beautiful coming-of-age saga onto a post-apocalyptic zombiescape, shakes it up a bit, and pours out an incredibly unique and worthwhile story. There are a couple of flaws (notably the, um, zombie growth hormone bit with the hillbillies...why?) and a too-predictable Dark Secret of the protagonist's past, but those are completely drowned out by the sheer awesomeness of the rest of this book.(less)
I’m rereading The Walking Dead up through just-released volume fourteen, and overall it’s been a treat. First volume? Okay. Second through eleven? Fuc...moreI’m rereading The Walking Dead up through just-released volume fourteen, and overall it’s been a treat. First volume? Okay. Second through eleven? Fucking amazing. Twelve through fourteen?
Here’s what I mean by that ‘Hmm’: 1. Apocalypse Stepford. Really? This little slice of oddly zombie-free suburbia is too, well, zombie-free. Not that actual zombies need to be showing up, grunghing and hammering their gooey fists on the walls – I’d buy that a group with that many guns and young men kicking around could keep the walls reasonably ungooed. It’s just that there’s no sign – emotionally, socially, hell, architecturally – of a zombie apocalypse. Everyone accepts the job that lovable father figure Douglas “Hands On” Monroe assigns them. Everyone has clothes that fit, dust-free floors, and 1,500 square feet of home per family! Sure, there’s a hint here (oh no, we can’t intervene – we need doctors, after all!) or there (gotta reread the same newspaper! Ha, ha! Know the personals by heart! Especially the pathetic ones!). But let me emphasize this, because Kirkman seems to have forgotten what made the prison sequence – which was a similar setup, being in one place with a set group of characters – pulled off so brilliantly: 2. Gasoline is life. Those dust-free 1,500 square feet? That takes a vacuum. Those creases in Douglas’ khakis? That takes an iron. The fact that those khakis frickin’ fit? And that everyone and their dog have clean clothes that fit? That takes an unbelievable amount of energy and time, which we saw in the prison: the women were constantly washing clothes, clothing did not fit or flatter, and there was an entire story arc dedicated to how people stank and how hard it was to stay half-decent for the apocalypse. And let’s not forget the showers, the stoves to make beef jerky stroganoff, not to mention all those rugged jeeps that haul around a quarter ton of Expendable Men. That takes gas, gas takes time, and gas takes people putting themselves at risk to go outside the fence. 3. Stuff comes at a cost. Vases, khakis, rugs, a well-equipped surgery, candy for a super-trippy anachronistic Halloween…these came from somewhere, because there’s absolutely no sign of a functioning pottery, loom, herbal garden, distillation apparatus, etc. And we’re supposed to believe that two dudes running into D.C. are going to waste their time in a fucking Pottery Barn? Sure, sure, they could’ve raided the local suburbs for some sensible flats – but these would be few, far-between, and jealously guarded prizes, because raiding the local suburbs makes it damn likely that you’ll be swarmed by undead toddlers. Which dovetails nicely into my next point… 4. People are sane. I don’t buy this. I don’t buy this at all. Let’s say we accept that they’ve pulled off Apocalypse Stepford. You don’t shrink people’s world to one little nubbin of safety, surround it with groaning gooey things that can and will eat you, and have nice little barbecues full of twittery matchmaking with everyone tut-tutting at young men with the Asian Flush. Yes, it’s been a year and a half so by now, most of the fragile and unlucky have been picked off or picked themselves off. That leaves behind the crazy and the lucky, and those are not mutually exclusive.
But damn, the survivors should be showing a few scars, some twitches, some screaming at night. Something. Not just walking their dogs around. I get it, I really do – the Stepfordians have their heads buried in the sand, and the whole point of volume fourteen is to watch those heads get yanked out and curb stomped. My point is that no one would make it this far in a zombie apocalypse like the one Kirkman’s given us without having their head partly yanked out already, or being the one who’s trying to do the curb stomping.(less)