I love zombie movies, but I read almost no zombie novels. I find this fact kind of alarming, but my tastes in zombie storytelling are super specific. I love them when they are done well, I loathe them when they aren’t.
One of the popular trends in zombie stories is to make the zombies funny. It’s like, if the storytellers go out of their way to make them purposefully funny, they won’t accidentally do it. I don’t want my shambling, moaning zombies to be clumsy and slapstick. I want them scary. Always scary. That’s why I stand in the minority in that I like it when zombies run because that scares the crap out of me. I like when they are all crazy-eyed and animalistic. That scares me in all the right ways.
I also don’t like the long chapters of scientific back story. Blech. I am too well versed in zombie lore to know that it’s all smoke and mirrors, there is no good explanation to create scientific explainable zombies. I’m going to get an excuse as to why a virus mutated and turned crazy time in to I-Want-To-Eat-Your-Brains unstoppable monster of the week, and I just don’t care that much. When it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter why the dead won’t stay that way. It won’t make me feel better to know who set it loose. Unless they can put it back, the hows and the whys are just filler text. I want to know what we are going to do Right. Now. to survive.
I finished reading FEED by Mira Grant this last week just before OsFest. And you know what? It was pretty darn scary and awesome.
FEED has zombies, it’s been (I think) 25 years since zombies rose up due to some interactions between two separate cures – the cure for the common cold and the cure for cancer. My biggest complaint about the book is that there is so much scientific hand-wavery that I got a little bored in spots. Once you get past the science back story, it’s actually a really great zombie book. Sort of. I mean, it’s not as much about zombies as you might think. It is a lot more about news, the internet, xenophobic culture shock, and politics.
All with zombies shambling and noshing in the background.
Here’s the thing- after I was done reading FEED, I got hung up on a few details that I didn’t buy into. Considering that bloggers saved the world, they still aren’t treated very nicely by most people. The main characters went out of their way to be unlikable a lot of the time. Considering huge portions of the country are inaccessible due to zombies, technology has jumped heads and shoulders over what it is now. The political candidates seemed more like cookie cutter archetypes than actual people. We have the super right wing insane Texan, the moderate to left republican, the whorish and kind of stupid female republican…see where I’m going with this?
And yet. And yet. And yet. After the first couple of back story chapters, I couldn’t put the book down. It didn’t matter that there were a few points that I disagreed with…it was a page turner that kept me all the way to the end. The author pulled a super gutsy move a few chapters from the end. It didn’t take me by surprise because if you pay attention, the surprise is given away a few chapters before it happens. But the clue is buried and when I saw it I had to get up and walk away from the book before I started to bawl because there was no possible way the author was going to do what I thought the author was going to do. And when the twist happened? I cried for the rest of the book. An endless amount of tears. So there you go.
I still wish the characters, particularly Georgia, had been a little more likable. I wish Shaun had played a bigger part. I wish there had been more zombies. But I don’t wish so hard that it destroys my enjoyment of the rest of the book. I love the West Wing and I love zombies and this was a perfect marriage. The world building was quite impressive even if I found some of the technology leaps to be a little questionable, Mira Grant supported her world with confidence and clever, colorful details that made me believe the whole way.