Everything’s coming up zombies

You know how everything has zombies nowadays? Even if they don’t say they’re zombies or they give them other names, like hungries. 

Well, without a spoiler alert, this is one of those. 

I read a review on Goodreads that got slammed by some people for not giving a spoiler alert that the children were zombies. Honestly, if you’re that dumb a reader that you don’t get it pretty quickly, there’s no help. 

It’s not that there’s zombies that gives this a twist, it’s how the narrative unfolds and, as always, the interactions between the non-zombies that sustains the reader’s interest.  

I’m not a zombie fan. Zombies , blah blah blah. I didn’t get into Walking Dead, even though I love Andrew Lincoln. I know everyone says, “But it’s not about zombies, it’s about the characters.” Well, yeah but no. There’s zombies. The whole reason everyone is thrown together is because of zombies. I was really rooting for the sergeant. 

Despite not being a zombie fan and past the dystopian novel thing, I quite got into this novel. It is suspenseful. And nerdy.  

A movie has been released. I watched a short. But won’t watch the movie. Not because I don’t like how they swapped the racial background of the two main characters nor that they simplified the story. No, it’s just too scary for me to see visually. I can cope with words in a way I can’t cope with pictures. I already had nightmares, which I knew I would, from the book. Bugger novels getting into the sub-conscious mind! No say could I sit through a film. 

So if you want a scary suspenseful sci-fi read based on possible fact (there’s a fungi that turns ants into zombies and takes control of their bodies/brains – I love that the novel got me to find out about these ants) this is well-written. 

A couple of things that annoy me:

  • They walk through the countryside where everything is growing lush and wild. Yet it is described as “a landscape of decay”. Now just because the road is crumbling and the crops have been taken over by wild plants, surely it isn’t one of decay? Rather it is one of rebirth without human control over the wild plants, (when is a plant a weed?)
  • The chapter that says the landscape is one of decay is from Melanie’s perspective. How would she know this was meant to be one of decay? She’d earlier been impressed with all the wild flowers! She wouldn’t know the countryside had not previously been all flowers and weeds but neatly mown grass and crops. 
  • Sometimes the characters are so dumb. Like walking into a house without turning on the lights in a horror movie dumb. Eg they find a large tank-like motorhome which has no food in it. One character says they can hole up in it, even though she knows here’s no food and the previous incumbents probably left as they ran out of food. 
  • They make noise for various reasons, eg to let a character know where they are, yet they know there’s zombies about and bikie/Mad Max style humans after them. 
  • The zombies have super human strength and speed yet they use leather straps to contain one.
  • Why bikies? Why aren’t the survivors who don’t want to join a totalitarian regime, greenies or kind people? Why do writers of post-apocalyptic novels always use the trope of extreme patriarchal violent psychos?
  • Why do some humans only get bitten and this turn into zombies and others get fully eaten? If the fungus wants to reproduce it wouldn’t allow the zombies to totally consume the humans. But if they ate one another, there’d slowly be no one within whom the fungus could grown. 
  • Why don’t humans partake in arty things? Why is it all violence and science? Humans have always done this, even Stone Age man. Singing and dancing and drawing have diverted us, entertained us, sustained us. 

OK, more than a couple of things. I also think the novel could have been edited by at least 70 pages. 

And I don’t like the science that has all the earth the same. No mention of how the fungus survived during winter. Wouldn’t the zombies freeze sitting outside? And thus the fungus? Is there one fungus that can live in tropical and freezing conditions? So if the fungus is like Australian flora that needs fire to reproduce, it’d get that in Australia and other parts of the world that have natural bushfires. 

This will be my last ever zombie book. If I am ever tricked into reading one because someone doesn’t want to give a spoiler, I will be beyond cranky and will wipe that person from my “will talk to” list or at least refuse all offers of other books. 

10 thoughts on “Everything’s coming up zombies

  1. I accidentally got sucked into watching a zombie-like tv series as I thought it was yet another of my Scandi-noir crime shows. Ten episodes later I have finished the Swedish series Jordskott- feeling quite ridiculous that I kept going because I detest sci-fi nonsense. And yet- I needed to find out how it ended.
    Give me grisly crime drama without parasites that take over bodies, please!

  2. That book has had a lot of attention; I wondered what it was like. I do like post-apocalyptic/dystopian novels. Zombies, not so much. There are such novels that have an arts focus – I would recommend Station Eleven!

  3. I hope you enjoyed Christmas, Lucinda!

    Too bad this book wasn’t so good. I second Dar’s recommendation – I loved Station Eleven!

    I stay away from scary movies too, and I’m like you in that my tolerance for scary topics is higher when I’m reading than when I’m watching. I’m glad you mentioned the zombie ants – National Geographic has featured several articles on this topic over the past few years and I find it creepy and fascinating. If you’re interested in more:
    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2014/11/mindsuckers/zimmer-text
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/10/141031-zombies-parasites-animals-science-halloween/

    • Sorry I have taken so long to respond, Amanda. Those ants are creepily fascinating!!! Mr S didn’t believe me when I was regaling him with tales of them.

      I tried to borrow Station Eleven from my local library. But it is already out so I will have to wait.

      I did give too negative a review of The Girl With all the Gifts. It wasn’t that bad. I just find the same problems with most post-apocalyptic novels. Actually this was quite a good one.

  4. It sounds suspenseful even just reading the plot anacronisms. Part of me thinks, ‘trailer in the words, zombie-attracting noises – I’m in!’ But in reality I’ve only ever watched one zombie film (at Mr D’s request) and I enjoyed it but feel like it kind of told me everything I need to know about the genre. I’m half-way through the Secret River at the moment and think its amazing.

    • Finished Secret River yet? If the STC revive the play and take it to Melbourne or the Melbourne Theatre Company do it, you must go and see it. And now I think about it, I’ve never read what happened with the first contact between the British and Aborigines around Melbourne.

      I loved the comedy zombie movie. Shaun of the Dead.

      • No, only half-way through Secret River. Was reading an ebook copy so everytime I was off wifi (like in the plane) it didn’t work. Trying to read away the shocking jet-lag today. 😣

  5. Pingback: Caveats & reviews | lucinda sans

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