Zombie Month Book Review -- Warm Bodies

Title:  Warm Bodies
Author:  Isaac Marion
Genre:  Post-apocalyptic
Pages:  Hardback 239
Published:  2011
Opening Lines:  I am dead, but it's not so bad.  I've learned to live with it."

"R is a young man with an existential crisis—he is a zombie.  He shuffles through an America destroyed by war, social collapse, and the mindless hunger of his undead comrades, but he craves something more than blood and brains.  He can speak just a few grunted syllables, but his inner life is deep, full of wonder and longing.  He has not memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams.

"After experiencing a teenage boy's memories while consuming his brain, R makes an unexpected choice that begins a tense, awkward, and strangely sweet relationship with the victim's human girlfriend.  Julie is a blast of color in the dreary and pray landscape that surrounds R.  His decision to protect her will transform not only R but also his fellow Dead, and perhaps their whole lifeless word."

~ Jacket copy


Thoughts:  While I love the nitty-gritty zombie novel with people trying to survive the reanimated corpse that plague the world, I also enjoy reading a book that makes a zombie a sympathetic character.  It is easier to see the zombie as abject and pull away from it.  The zombie forces us to look at our most basic level in an extremely personal way.  It is easy for us to push the id down and block it out.  It is easier to look at it and kill it rather than dealing with it.  This book is able to show the evils on both sides—man trying to kill that which is too real and the zombie trying to distance themselves from their perceived evil.

This book follows R.  While we wouldn't equate zombies with actual life and focused thought.  However, R is deep and thoughtful.  Even though his language skills have been reduced to one or two syllable words, he is able to look at his life and think about it.  In addition, on his outings into the city to look for food, he brings back souvenirs of the Fleshies.  He loves to sit in his home and listen to Frank Sinatra records.  Through the brains that he eats, he is able to take part in the life of his victim.  All of their memories fill him and become a pseudo movie picture of a life he has forgotten.

During hunting excursion, they happen upon a group of people in an apartment building.  When R eats the brains of their leader, he is skyrocketed into the memories and life of Perry.  Through those memories, he falls in love with Julie.  He decides to save her, cover her with zombie-goo, and bring her back to his home at the airport.  Realizing that she cannot stay there forever, he goes on an adventure to bring her home.  On this adventure he will end up finding life again.

I did not expect the outcome of this book when I read the synopsis on Amazon.  I felt that the author did a good job fleshing—no pun intended—both the society of the living and dead.  The concept of the Boneys and a governing force behind the dead community.  Also, the fact that even though they look like stumbling, thoughtless, and hungry reanimated dead, this book shows them to be more.  Further, he did a good job with group of people living in the big stadium.  Both societies were written with an awesome depth and visually was amazing!

The author also did an excellent job with character development.  All of the characters were different and added their own element to the story.  Honestly, I felt the scenery and characters made the book.

This book was wonderful!  Even though it took me awhile to get through it due to the new job, I always looked forward to reading it on my lunch break.  The story is rich and skillfully written.  If you're looking for another take on zombies, I would suggest this book.


Rating:
Currently: Zombie Queen of Newbury High by Amanda Ashby
Current Pages:
3960
Current Progress:


11/50 books



Sinn

Guest Post Rhiannon Frater


My Love Affair With Zombies
By
Rhiannon Frater

The shambling undead did not enter my life until I was around eleven years old.  The popular monsters of my childhood were Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers.  I wasn’t even aware of zombies until one afternoon when I happened to catch Night of the Living Dead on television.  My brothers and I weren’t supposed to watch horror movies, but we turned the sound down low and huddled close to our old TV hoping our parents wouldn’t notice what we were watching.  I had never seen anything as horrific as the zombies slowly and methodically beating their fists against the farmhouse windows, anxious to eat the humans within.  I was absolutely traumatized and vowed never to watch another zombie movie again.  The mere idea of zombies was so terrifying I had trouble sleeping for many nights afterward.
One Sunday afternoon when I was a teenager, I walked into the living room when Day of the Dead was on HBO.  The notorious disemboweling scene with the nefarious Captain Rhodes was taking place and I ran to the bathroom and threw up.  Once again, I vowed I would never watch another zombie flick.
Strange what we’ll do for love.  Years later, in my twenties, one of my former boyfriends talked me into watching Night of the Living Dead again.  At this point I was a big fan of Hammer films and other horror movies, but could not bring myself to watch anything related to zombies.  He dared me to watch it with him, and I did not want to be seen as a wimp. So I sat down on the couch and watched the movie that is now my favorite zombie film. Somehow, my fear of zombies was transformed into fascination. 
It was difficult to find George A Romero’s films on dvd, but I finally tracked down the trilogy.  My new boyfriend (the man I would marry) and I had a marathon of the old movies before going to see the new version of Dawn of the Dead in the theaters.
I have to say the remake completely solidified my love of all things zombies and I was forever hooked.
But even though I was a fan of the genre, I never dreamed I would end up writing my own zombie epic.  The monsters of my childhood nightmares were vampires.  I tend to write about what I fear, so I honestly believed my success would come first from my vampire stories.  I was very surprised when a short story I wrote on a whim became the beginning of a three book trilogy that I wrote online between 2005 to 2007. 
For those two years I lived with zombies shambling (or running) through my nightmares.  Their presence was a constant in my dreams.  I became acutely aware of my surroundings as I went about my daily life, the fear of my characters infecting me during daylight hours.  I would enter a building and instantly plan my escape.  Every day I would write a bit more of my zombie story, creating a taunt tale of Texans surviving the zombocalypse.  Though the AS THE WORLD DIES zombie trilogy is a character driven action adventure tale, the zombies definitely had their moments.  I had fun creating new ways to kill them or to make them dangerous. 
At first I tried to stick with the Romero rules of zombiedom, but quickly realized that this was my tale to tell.  Since Texas has a gun culture, I knew that for Texas to fall the zombies had to be fast.  Yet, I still loved Romero’s shambling zombies, so I found a way to slow mine down.  I spent far too many hours thinking about how much trauma the body of a zombie would go through every day.  Since they aren’t intelligent and can’t feel pain, they would inflict massive damage on themselves very quickly. Also, the elements would take their toll.  Slowly, I created my own zombie mythos.
In 2008 I started to self-publish my zombie story in three complete volumes to appease the fans of the online story.  I never dreamed it would have such brisk sales or end up garnering accolades from fans, other writers, and review sites.  The series won the 2008 and 2009 Dead Letter Award for THE FIRST DAYS and FIGHTING TO SURVIVE and was optioned for a possible TV show.  In 2010, my literary agent sold the trilogy to the genre publishing powerhouse Tor.  With the guidance of my editor Melissa Singer I was able to return to the world I loved so much and revise it into a leaner, meaner, and better version.  I consider the Tor versions to be the ultimate versions of the series.  I am incredibly proud of them.
As I have moved on to other projects, I am often asked when I will return to the world of the zombies.  I am done revising AS THE WORLD DIES for Tor, but I have plans to publish two follow-up short story collections to my self-published AS THE WORLD DIES UNTOLD TALES VOLUME 1 this year. The short stories highlight minor characters and their side adventures in the deadlands.  I am also currently working on a futuristic zombie tale that has a whole new kind of zombie to fear. 
Though I will go on to write about other monsters and other horrific scenarios, the shambling undead will always have their place in my nightmares and my heart.


Rhiannon Frater is the award-winning author of the AS THE WORLD DIES zombie trilogy and the author of several other books: the vampire novels PRETTY WHEN SHE DIES and THE TALE OF THE VAMPIRE BRIDE and the young-adult zombie novel The Living Dead Boy and the Zombie Hunters. The first two books in her zombie trilogy, THE FIRST DAYS and FIGHTING TO SURVIVE, are available now in bookstores.

Website: rhiannonfrater.com & astheworlddies.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/astheworlddies
Twitter: twitter.com/rhiannonfrater 
Blog: rhianonfrater.blogspot.com


Sinn

S.G. Browne Guest Post



People are always asking me about zombies:

            Have you always loved zombies?
            Do you think you’ll survive the zombie apocalypse?
            Is it necrophilia if you’re both dead?

            In case you’re curious, the answers are:
Yes, no, and I don’t think so.

I’m asked this because I wrote a dark zombie comedy titled Breathers that was published back in 2009 and I’ve since had several zombie short stories published in anthologies. So now everyone seems to think I know a lot about zombies.

Truth is, I’m not an authority on zombie sex. However, I do know a lot about sloughage, frothy purge, and cadaver impact testing.
            For some reason, this troubles my parents.

            I've been a zombie fan ever since I saw Romero's original Night of the Living Dead back when I was in sixth grade and they instantly became my favorite monster. I even used to dream about them chasing me through the streets. Or surrounding my house. Or doing my taxes. And I’ll admit that I enjoy the fast moving zombies as well as the shuffling ones. They're both terrifying in their own way.

            I do realize, however, that there are zombie purists out there who only want their zombies to be of the post-apocalyptic variety. Slow and mindless and horrifying. They don’t like it when you do anything new or different when it comes to the living dead. They get very Dr. Seuss Green Eggs and Ham about their zombies.

            They do not like them when they run
            They do not like them if they’re fun
            They do not like them when they’re smart
            They do not like them with a heart

            While I respect this point of view, I have a large umbrella when it comes to zombies and I welcome all types to stand under it. Fast and slow. Sentient and mindless. Comical and terrifying. After all, can’t we all just get along?

            Which relates to another question that often comes up:
            Why do you think zombies are so popular right now?

            I suppose you could make the argument that zombies are an allegory for the end of the world as we know it. That the current mainstream popularity of zombies is a direct reflection of global fears regarding the economy and terrorism. Horror as catharsis for the fears and anxiety of a society making commentary on itself. You could even argue that zombies are the proletarians of the monster hierarchy and in troubled economic times, they become the poster child for the financial ills of a nation.

                A lot of other zombie authors and film makers who are asked about the popularity of zombies agree with this hypothesis. Me? Not so much.

I believe the recent surge in zombie popularity can instead be attributed to the fact that zombies have been taken out of their proverbial archetypal box. No longer are they just the shambling, mindless, flesh-eating ghouls we've known and loved for most of the past four decades.

They’re faster. Funnier. Sentient.

                They’ve expanded their range. Become more versatile. More well-rounded. And who doesn't enjoy a well-rounded zombie? Plus they’re tragically comical, shuffling along, losing their hair and teeth and the occasional appendage. Add the fact that they used to be us, that we could all become them one day, and you can’t help but relate.

Ultimately, that’s what prompted me to write Breathers in the first place. I thought: What if I was a zombie? But instead of your stereotypical mindless Hollywood zombie, shuffling along and craving human flesh, I was just a reanimated corpse who was gradually decomposing, I had no rights, and I needed some serious therapy?

How would society treat me? What would my parents think? Could I join a bowling league?

What I ended up with was a story about a group of zombies who attend Undead Anonymous meetings while trying to find their purpose in a society in which they have no purpose. It’s part dark comedy, part social satire, with a little blood and violence. Kind of like Fight Club meets Shaun of the Dead, only with the zombies as the good guys.

            The other question I’m often asked is:
            Do you think zombies are here to stay?

            Truth is, zombies have been starring in low-budget films and mass market paperbacks for most of the past forty years. They’re just finally being appreciated for their diverse talents and given the opportunity to show that they’re more than one-dimensional monsters. Instead of being cast in supporting roles, they’ve become the leads, the stars, the marquee attraction. And as long as writers and film makers continue to push the boundaries of the mythology, I think zombies will remains as popular tomorrow as they are today.


S. G. Browne is the author of my favorite zombie book, The Breathers: A Zombie Lament.  It is interesting to see how different authors in the zombie-genre have chosen to tackle the issues of what it means to be a zombie or live in a world infested with the walking dead.  Even though some books try to be sympathetic to the zombie, I feel that Browne's book is the best.  Not only does the reader share in Andy's adventures of being a zombie, they also see that a zombie can be very much a central character. 

If you're interested in checking out S.G. Brown, you can find him at the following:

S.G. Browne's website  (follow his Twitter and blog from this website).

Thanks, Scott, for being willing to participate in Zombie Month!



Sinn

Teaser Tuesday


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the follow:
  • Grab your current read
  • Opening toli a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • Share Title & Author, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Here's my teaser this week:
I notice the maps in these memories are slightly outdated; the street they're calling Jewel has been renamed.  The sign is newer, a fresh primary green, and instead of a visual icon it has an actual word painted on it."
Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, 122


Sinn

Zombie Month Book Review -- Zombies Don't Cry

Title:  Zombies Don't Cry
Author:  Rusty Fischer
Genre:  YA zombie fiction
Pages:  Oversize paperback, 371
Published:  2011
Opening Lines:  "The graveyard is calm at this hour, an appropriately full moon shining down on acres of freshly mown lawn and miles of evenly spaces headstones."

"Maddy Swift is just a normal girl—a high school junior surviving class with her best friend and hoping the yummy new kid, Stamp, will ask her out.  When he finally does, her whole life changes.

"Sneaking out to meet Stamp at a party one rainy night, Maddy is struck by lightning.  After awakening, she feels lucky to be alive.  Over time, however, Maddy realizes that she's become the thing she and everyone else fear the most: the living dead.

"With no heartbeat and no breath in her lungs, Maddy must learn how to survive as a zombie.  Turns out there's a lot more to it than shuffling around 24/7 growling, 'Brains.'  Needing an afterlife makeover is only the beginning of her problems.  As Barracuda Bay High faces zombie Armageddon, Maddy must summon all her strength to protect what matters most—just as soon as she figures out exactly what that is."
~ Jacket copy


Thoughts:  Books looking at zombies as something other than shambling reanimated bodies looking for the nest slice of brains is an interesting spin on the genre.  Reading this book after Rot & Ruin is an interesting contrast.  Where Rot & Ruin looks at a world post-zombie-apocalypse, Zombies Don't Cry brings it home with zombie high school students.

This book follows the teenage angst of Maddy.  It starts out like every YA novel: Maddy is a regular girl, has a selfish best friend, and falls for the new kid.  However, the author throws the zombie-element into the mix and turns it into a version of Teen Wolf.

I found it interesting that the author talks about zombies being created from either a high voltage shock of electricity or a bite.  However, if a person is bit, they become a raging zombie called a Zerker.  This gave the whole zombie myth a new twist.  It also made zombies more sympathetic.

Honestly, while I love zombies and YA books, this book was just kind of "meh" for me.  It didn't grab my attention, the characters were two-dimensional, and everything was a stereotype.  Further, I felt that the author didn't spend enough time on certain things.  I was very saddened that he did not talk in more details about the Elders, The Guide, etc.  Also, I felt there was a pseudo buildup without a huge climax.

All in all, this book really didn't move me or catch my full attention.  It was too superficial and vapid.  However, if you're looking for a quick, easy, and shallow read, this is the perfect book.    


Rating:
Currently: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
Current Pages:
3617
Current Progress:


10/50 books

Sinn

Teaser Tuesday


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the follow:
  • Grab your current read
  • Opening toli a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • Share Title & Author, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Here's my teaser for this week:
What if Dad comes out of his shower and sees the full trash and wants to recycle, and as he's sorting the trash finds brains all over the paper plate?

"So I groan and empty the trash, lugging it out to the curb while looking around to see if maybe the neighbors can somehow see through the can and spot the brain crumbs drying as me speak."
Zombies Don't Cry by Rusty Fischer, 140


Sinn

Zombie Month Book Review -- Rot & Ruin

Title:  Rot & Ruin
Author:  Jonathan Maberry
Genre:  YA post-apocalyptic with zombies
Pages:  Hardback, 458
Published:  2010
Opening Lines:  ":Benny Imura couldn't hold a job, so he took to killing."

"In the zombie-infested world Benny has grown up in, teenagers must work once they turn fifteen—or they;ll lose their food rations.  Benny isn't interested in taking on the family business, but he reluctantly agrees to train as a zombie killer with his older boring big brother, Tom.  He expects a dull job, whacking zombies for cash.  What he discovers is a vocation that will teach him what it really means to be human.

"As his worldview is challenged again and again by the lessons he learns from Tom, Benny is forced to confront another horrifying reality: Sometimes the most terrible monsters are humans."
~Jacket copy 


Thoughts:  I honestly had no idea what to expect going into this book.  At some level, I anticipated the traditional zombie-apocalypse with teenagers as the central characters.   However, this book really teaches valuable life lessons and forces the reader to take a closer look at society.

Wanting to find the easiest and most entertaining job they can, Benny and Chong, his best friend, start trying out jobs they find listed in the help-wanted pages.  After Chong finds his dream vocation up on the watch towers, Benny is left struggling to find something before his rations run out.  Even though he hates his brother and thinks of him as a coward, Benny decides that becoming Tom's apprentice is the only option.  Expecting a boring job of killing masses of undead for bounty money, Benny is faced with the horrible truth behind human nature in the Rot and Ruin—where there are no rules and those strong enough will take what they want . . . By any means necessary.

From start to finish, this book was engaging!  Even though I understand Benny's feelings towards Tom, I couldn't fully understand why he felt zombie killing would be a boring job.  After all, he loved to spend hours at a time listening to Charlie Pink-Eye and The Hammer talk about their zombie killing adventures.  Using that as a judge, it was surprising to be how insistent he was on the boring nature of the job.

I felt that Maberry did a wonderful job fleshing out the characters as well as the surroundings.  To me, the Rot and Ruin was as much a character as the people.  Each deserted town, Lilah's cave, etc. had it's own personality.  Further, even though the zombies were a vehicle for the plot, he manages to make them characters in his own right.

Maberry put a lot of thought and time into this work.  He uses it to address deep issues of true human nature and the nature of evil.  He questions whether zombies can really be called bad a or evil since they lack any awareness.  They are driven by an insane hunger they cannot control, and, from all outward appearances, seem to have no brain function outside of this insatiable hunger for human flesh.  Therefore, they cannot be blamed for their actions and those actions cannot be seen as malicious.  The people, however, choose to torture zombies, throw lost children into pits with zombies for entertainment, and so on.  Tom challenges Benny to look at the true monster in society.

The concept of the zombie being the "noble-savage" reminds me a great deal of The Last Man On Earth. What makes us human?  What separates us from the animals?  What keeps our baser instincts in check?  This book was amazingly deep, engaging, and well extremely well written. 

Rating:
Currently: Zombies Don't Cry by Rusty Fischer
Current Pages:
3246
Current Progress:


9/50 books

Sinn

Theme Song Saturday (18)



Welcome to Theme Song Saturdays, a new weekly meme, hosted by yours truly, in which we share our love of music and books! Since I love books and music, this meme is for fun to try to incorporate those two loves! Whenever I read a book, a certain song -- kind of like a soundtrack or theme song -- plays through my head.

Want to know how to play? Head over to this post to read the rules and get the code.

Here's my pick this week:






The Zombie Song by Stephanie Mabey really made me think of this book.  Benny's obsession over The Lost Girl seems as though it is more than just a crush.  Even though this book isn't the most lighthearted, this song is cute and, to me, lends well to the subject matter. 







Sinn

Follow Friday

Follow My Book Blog Friday is hosted by Rachel at Parajunkee's View and Alison at Alison Can Read. The point is to follow as many book blog as you can and make new friends! As part of the adventure, she gives a weekly question.

Here's the questions for this week:

Q: Define what characteristics your favorite books share. Do they all have a kick ass heroine or is the hot love interest the Alpha Male?

A:

Wow, that's a hard question.  Even though some of my favorite books have similar characters, at lot of them don't.  Honestly, thinking about it, my main characters have to be strong and show growth.  Further, they have to be sympathetic in some way.  However, that being said, there are some books I absolutely love but hate the characters.  One example of this is Hamlet.  I hated Hamlet and wished he would just stop whining about whether he should kill himself and just do it!  That being said, the characters are not limited to one gender.

I am curious to see how other people answer this question ^_^
 
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    "If you’re a freak like me, Wave your flag! If you’re a freak like me, Get off your ass! It’s our time now, To let it all hang out!" I am a recovering English major, closet bibliophile, breve addicted, zombie lover with a rockabilly and heavy metal fetish.