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Picks and Pans – Zombie Edition

Someone who enjoys writing books will almost always enjoy reading books as well. Stephen King would pay his young boys to read books aloud and record themselves so he could listen to them when he was on long trips. So, while I have no children to read books aloud and record them for me, I still enjoy books the old fashion way.

Now, like anyone who reads, I have my favourite authors. First and foremost is Stephen King; a love affair which started with the publication of his second novel (“Salem’s Lot”; still one of my favourites). I really enjoy Clive Barker, whom I have met on two separate occasions at book signings. Nice guy. When someone asked him if his wrists didn’t get sore from signing books so much he commented that he has strong wrists because he jerks off so much. What a card.

Now, of and by itself, having favourite authors is never a bad thing. You pretty much know what you are getting and, once the author starts telling you their tale in that voice which is particularly theirs; well, it’s quite a special relationship. From time to time it is always fun to check out someone else’s favourite author. Expand your horizons as it were; and so it was with “The Zombie Survival Guide” and “World War Z”. My friend Shawn swears by these books, and if you checkout his Facebook page I know that he has them down as two of his favourites.

Hell, zombies? I’m there. So I picked both books up to give them a spin.

The Zombie Survival Guide


Max Brook’s first zombie tale reads like a how to manual for, well, surviving a zombie outbreak. It is done straight up, with illustrations and played as an actual How To book. Starting with the description of levels of zombie outbreaks the book expounds upon desirable weapons to combat the hordes of undead, stating each weapon’s pros and cons. Same with terrain, sandy as compared to swampy, flat as opposed to rocky; which shelters are the best defensible and which ones are deathtraps. What to pack and what to leave behind. So realistic was the book that, at times I found myself wondering if we had some of the materials on the list and, if not, how hard would it be to procure them.At the end of the book there are a goodly number of “case studies” and recorded events from throughout history when zombie outbreaks occurred.

The one thing that I did find a little tiring about the book was the degree of repetition. Each new step or lesson was presaged with reminders about ideal weaponry, defensive positions etc etc.

The case studies whet my appetite for Max Brook’s second novel.

World War Z: An Oral History Of The Zombie War

And the second book did not disappoint. Written from the perspective of a journalist traveling around the globe toworldwarz interview survivors of the first Zombie War; the titular Wold War Z. The anecdotes are organized in such a way as to tell the sorry tale of how mankind nearly lost it’s foothold on the good old planet earth and the lengths to which humankind had to go to survive.

Max Brooks has an innate skill to make each interviewee sound different from the last, different colloquialisms, slang not to mention tales to tell, each as harrowing as the next. As the voice of the interviewer Brooks keeps a consistent tone throughout; asking for clarification or expansion from subjects down the line from a preceding chat.

I enjoyed World War Z maybe a little bit more than I enjoyed The Zombie Survival Guide, in no small part due to the wonderful way that Brooks weaved his tale. When news first broke that Hollywood were planning on turning World War Z into a full on Hollywood flick I was cautiously hopeful they might do the source material justice. I mean, The Walking Dead got it right (for the most part). It pains me to say then that the trailers I have seen thus far have left me shaking my head in dismay. I mean, it looks slick and I will more than likely go see it, it just missed the mark entirely on the book; at least from what I can see.

Either way, if the thought of zombie goodness makes you all weak at the knees, by all means grab these two excellent books. They will make a worthy addition to your library.

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