Saturday, 25 June 2011

Zombie Apocalypse - Created by Stephen Jones

I thought Zombie Apocalypse could be a lot of fun. I mean, zombies plus end-of-the-world normally equates to good times. And it’s an original concept, written through ‘emails, blogs, letters, diaries and transcripts’ so it’s kind of like a fictional non-fiction book about zombies and the destruction of the human race.

So what was good? Firstly, the individual set pieces work well and link together subtly. There is a problem with having many different people provide the narrative which include a few continuity slips, but that’s to be expected. There is a huge one though, but I’ll come to that later.

There was a bit that really stood out as some of the best atmospheric writing I’ve seen in my short blogging career, and that was “Special Powers” by Paul Finch. Out of the 478 pages, this was easily the standout 32. It sets the scene beautifully, night time in London with loads of weird stuff happening but no one knows what. Even though we know that there are some zombies (otherwise the title would be lying) it still gives the fear of the unknown and not you never know when a zombie is going to pop out and take a chunk out of someone.

The thirteen year old girl’s diary is good too. It adds to the perspective seeing it through the eyes of someone who would normally be in the background in such a disaster. She still sees the real world despite the doom and is desperately trying to cling onto it. There is something horrifically tragic about her story that really links with the Apocalypse in the title.

Right, that’s the good stuff, now back to that tricky continuity slip. This really irritated me because I was enjoying the book thoroughly and then this part, while being groundbreaking in its approach to the zombie genre, doesn’t making any sense in the context. And is completely stupid.

SPOILER. Page 342 “Wasting Matilda” by Robert Hood toys with the idea that eating zombies makes you immune to catching the disease. This doesn’t work for the simple reason that, in the same book, people get infected by zombie blood going into their eyes and mouth. While it would be a good stand alone piece with fresh ideas, it has no place in this collection because it doesn’t agree with the rest of the book.

SPOILER. Now for the ending. I’m all for innovative storytelling but having zombies become world leaders?? Just for once, I would have liked to see the humans win! That would be more innovative and different than, ‘I’m the president... oh and by the way, I’m a zombie.’ Then there could also be a sequel about how we recovered from said apocalypse.

I would recommend it despite the glaring things that I didn’t like. There is some really good stuff in here and it proves that multi-writer continuative storytelling can work.

Zombie Apocalypse was created by Stephen Jones and was published by Robinson in 2010. RRP £7.99 (Paperback)