Tuesday, July 20, 2004

The Zombie Survival Guide: A Review

Tuesday, July 20, 2004
In the vein of a traditional, realistic survival guide or the U.S. Army handbook comes Max Brooks’ “Zombie Survival Guide”.  Max Brooks gives exhaustive detail on what exactly a zombie is, what weapons to use, and in general just how to survive a zombie attack.  Even though “The Zombie Survival Guide” is typically catalogued in the “humor” section of the bookstore, Max Brooks plays this seriously.  At no point in this book is there any impression given that this is not fact and that this topic is one that should be taken very, very seriously. 
Brooks begins with the how Zombies are created and what it is the causes the reanimation.  Apparently it is a drug/chemical called Solanum.  When Solanum is entered into the blood stream (which can happen from a bite, or from being sprayed by infected blood) it leads to death but the Solanum then causes reanimation into a zombie.  Brooks discusses various facts and misconceptions about zombies.  For example, zombies do not have superhuman strength but what gives the illusion of this strength is that a zombie is unable to feel pain or get tired. 
Max Brooks moves on to discuss the various weapons that can be used to combat a zombie, and this too is exhaustive.  Included in the discussion are handguns, axes, rifles, assault rifles, flamethrowers, swords, pikes, fire, acid, hammers and many others that fall both inside and outside of these categories.  Brooks discusses the pros and cons of each weapon (and class of weapon), just as one might hope for in an actual survival guide. 
This volume also contains information about the four classes of zombie attacks which range from an isolated attack to having to live in an undead world.  Anything that the reader can possibly need to know to equip himself (or herself) to survive a zombie attack is contained in this book, and make no mistake, the point of this book is survival at a basic level. 
The greatest strength of this book is also its greatest flaw: Max Brooks does not wink at the reader or let the reader in on the joke.  As presented, this book is factual (though widespread media coverage has been either suppressed or manipulated) and straightforward.  If zombies attack, this is what you do and how you do it.  The joke, of course, is that there is no such thing as a zombie.  The straight forward zombie survival guide borders on being absolutely brilliant.  The greatest flaw is also the fact that this book is very straight forward and dry reading.  It reads like a manual, but the manual is for something that does not exist.  If zombies really do exist, we’ll all be in for a world of hurt. 


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