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Zombies Book round-up for the Star-Ledger

June 7, 2010

‘The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks’ and other tales of nasty undead

By Star-Ledger Staff

June 06, 2010, 12:10AM

zombie-survival-guide-recorded-attacks.jpgBy Elizabeth Willse

When the recent resurgence of zombies, a fixture of film and literature for decades, began to infiltrate legitimate historic literature — last year’s literary mash-up “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” (Quirk Books), by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith, comes to mind — one had to wonder if anything is sacred.

A prequel earlier this year by Steve Hockensmith, “Dawn of the Dreadfuls” (Quirk Books), attempts to explain — albeit with the help of a ridiculously campy set of new supporting characters — how zombies invaded Austen’s England.

The enduring popularity of zombies, according to John Skipp, editor of the chilling, eclectic anthology “Zombies: Encounters With the Hungry Dead” (Black Dog & Leventhal, 704 pp., $19.95), is their capacity to “unearth deep reservoirs of darkness within . . . they are us, stripped of everything that makes life worth living.”

Genre greats like Ray Bradbury and Stephen King have contributed their visions of the undead, and Dean Koontz’s latest — “Frankenstein: Lost Souls” (Bantam, 368 pp., $27) — has everything a fan of classic zombie horror could want. Lurid mad scientists and body snatchers ripping their hosts to shreds, set against the witty banter of a police procedural, gives it a decidedly B-movie thrill.

Zombies can be funny as well as disgusting and scary.

Never Slow Dance With a Zombie,” E. Van Lowe’s first YA novel (Tor Teen, 256 pp., $9 paperback) wraps up a zombie gore-fest in the smart sarcasm of Margot, an awkward teen who realizes her dreams of popularity when the rest of the students are zombies, and discovers dating the star athlete isn’t much fun when he’s trying to bite her face off.

David P. Murphy’s “Zombies for Zombies: Advice and Etiquette for the Living Dead” (Sourcebooks Inc., 272 pp., $13 paperback), illustrated by Daniel Heard, helps the recently bitten victim transition to post-life as a functioning member of zombie society, with hygiene and etiquette tips delivered in a cheerful, self-help tone, tongue firmly planted in un-dead cheek.

For genuine horror, there’s Max Brooks’ “The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks” (Three Rivers Press, 144 pp., $17 paperback), a sparsely-narrated graphic novel, illustrated in bloodthirsty detail by Ibraim Robertson, in which ordinary historical events suddenly erupt into flesh-tearing carnage.

Alex Eckman-Lawn’s and Nick Tapalansky’s collaborative “Awakening Volume One” (Archaia Graphic Novel Press, 144 pp., $19.95), is a fusion of grisly zombie murders with a gritty private-eye mystery, expertly woven into a story that is as compellingly dreamlike as it is edgy and scary.

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