If I had to choose a favorite, however, it would be Johnathan Maberry's "Family Business," dealing with half brothers Benny and Tom Imura, who both wi...moreIf I had to choose a favorite, however, it would be Johnathan Maberry's "Family Business," dealing with half brothers Benny and Tom Imura, who both witnessed their parents' death - well their mother's anyway - on First Night - the marking point of the zombie outbreak. Benny, continuing to blame older brother Tom for their parents' death, refuses to join the "family business" of going out into the Rot and Ruin - the wasteland outside the gates of their town - to hunt down zombies for pay. In this twisted version of the brutal near future, everyone living within the town limits must hold a job, otherwise they only get half of their rations. Unlike other zombie hunters, Tom Imura doesn't kill for the sport or because he's a twisted son of a bitch. When Benny is forced to suck up his pride and works with Tom, he learns the true nature of this brother's job, and the hero he never knew. In order to seal the deal that Benny will take the job and become a man like his older brother, the two of them venture into a gated community that is all too familiar. (less)
Breathers is possibly the funniest book I've read to date. The way S. G. Browne times his jokes make the read marvelous. It leaves me wondering why I...moreBreathers is possibly the funniest book I've read to date. The way S. G. Browne times his jokes make the read marvelous. It leaves me wondering why I put it off for so long. It's not difficult to see the comparison to any civil rights movement - the narrator even brings it up himself. What makes this book great is that it's not your typical zombie book. The world isn't at the brink of apocalypse or even the dawn of the post-apocalyptic era. Zombies haven't overpowered humans. In fact, they've been around for centuries and kept in the shadows. Not until recent decades has their presence been acknowledged. And they're even treated the way people treated African-Americans and homosexuals - with fear and ignorance.
The whole zombie civil rights idea aside, the book also judges the humanity of, well, humanity. By shining the light on innocence of children - "Is that true? Are zombies really human?" - to the shear hate of adulthood - "Go back to the grave!" - we're given insight on how outside forces mold our views on what is right and wrong, acceptable and what should be abhorred. It stay true with the Romero-philosophy, the sense that zombies should only bring to realization the way we handle social issues - war, racism, materialism, xenophobia, civil rights, etc.
But Breathers also brings another aspect of the zombie evolution. The creatures aren't mindless. They are exact reflections of the people they once were. And the vampiric rejuvenation is a nice edition to the zombie mythos.
It's the zombie book that will become canon, if not already. (less)
Keene's novel records the tale of Lamar Reed, a gay, black man from Fells Point (can we say three strikes against the narrator in the real world?) who...moreKeene's novel records the tale of Lamar Reed, a gay, black man from Fells Point (can we say three strikes against the narrator in the real world?) who finds himself down on his luck before Hamelin's Revenge spreads across the nation, bringing the infected dead back to life - human and animal alike. After gunning down his friend and only surviving neighbor, Alan, Lamar is pushed out of his hiding place by a wild fire, spreading throughout the neighborhood and city. Upon his escape, he comes across two orphaned siblings, Tasha and Malik and a gun aficionado, Mitch. The four of them manage to escape the city, rescued by a motley crew aboard a naval ship turned museum. But the danger doesn't end there as Hamelin's Revenge begins to mutate and jump upon species previously assumed to be immune.
Haunted by his past, Lamar is regrettably the "hero" of the story and is told so more than once by a few characters. He doesn't feel like the hero they need, but the hero the book deserves (and that's not a harsh insult whatsoever). It makes him believable. After all he has done to fight the stereotype bestowed upon African-Americans from Fells Point, he feels that he has become exactly what he has fought against for so long. And to top it off, he feels his sexuality is just another thorn on his side. He carries excess baggage that he's unwilling to let go even as the world is literally eating one another.
His journey through it all, leaves him pondering the end. If the hero is supposed to be heroic, lead his flock into safety, bring knowledge forward at the dawn of a new age, then what happens to the hero when the world around him is filled with the groans and moans of the undead and the screams of those who cannot out run them? Who is left to tell the tale of the hero after all is said and done? And exactly why does it matter that he continues on?(less)