Book Review: The Zombie Survival Guide

"The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead, published in 2003, is a tongue-in-cheek survival manual dealing with the potentiality of a zombie attack. Its author, Max Brooks, lays out detailed plans for the average citizen to survive zombie uprisings of varying intensity and reach.

"The book is divided into six separate chapters, a fictional list of attacks throughout history and an appendix. The first chapter is entitled 'The Undead: Myths and Realities'. It lays down the specific ground rules that are referenced repeatedly in the book. The first of these describes 'Solanum', the fictional virus that creates a zombie, along
with details on how it is spread (such as through an open wound, when coming in contact with infected blood or saliva), and treatment of the infected (suicide or amputation). The second chapter, 'Weapons and Combat Techniques', discusses the weapons at the average reader's disposal and weighs them against the various threats that may be faced during confrontations with the undead. The third chapter, 'On the Defense', focuses on how to turn residential or public building into a base.

"The fourth chapter, 'On the Run', discusses the rules and
necessities of traveling through zombie-infested territory. Chapter five, 'On the Attack', specifically deals with engaging ghouls to ensure their destruction. The sixth chapter, 'Living in an Undead World' looks at survival during a doomsday scenario that would see zombies becoming the dominant species on Earth. The guide concludes with a fictional list of documented zombie encounters throughout history. The Appendix takes the form of a sample 'Outbreak Journal', with the author noting a covered-up zombie outbreak being seen on the local news and the preparation steps he takes in the event that the outbreak worsens. The following pages are blank entries, for the reader to use as a basis for their own journal; their inclusion furthers the overall feel that the book is a survival guide to a life-threatening possibility."

Max Brooks, known all too well as the son of director Mel Brooks and the author of World War Z and even a staff writer for Saturday Night Live, packs together anything and everything you would (will) ever need to defend yourself in a zombie apocalypse. This guide is utterly invaluable if you plan to survive. Just like a hooker and her pimp, you and this book should never be too far away from each other, because you never know when you'll need the protection. According to the New York Post, The Zombie Survival Guide is "a tome you start reading for fun and then at page 50 you go out and buy a machete just to be on the safe side."

What Brooks doesn't go into detail on is combat manuals, field manuals, cook books, etc. He tells you that all of those skills are encouraged, but should already be considered a given in a world overrun by zombies. The only kind of book Brooks denounces (as far as help against the undead goes) is home security manuals, due to the fact that most are built upon the idea of police showing up after triggering an alarm, which won't do any good at all. The police will be busy or already (un)dead.

Brooks also denounces the fast and the voodoo zombies, which is fine by his personal preference, but technically limits the value of the information contained. Considering he published that his zombies are actually "infected" with a virus (the fake Solanum), which has become the commonly accepted cause of a rage-infected zombie (effect), then it seems a bit odd he would model his ghouls after that of Romero's (Night of the Living Dead). It's a small matter though, since surviving in a Boyle (28 Days Later), Snyder (Dawn of the Dead 2004), and O'Bannon (The Return of the Living Dead) zombie-infested world would be practically impossible.

Survival advice and techniques aside, the humor and satire laced throughout, along with the numerous line drawings, make this book one hell of a read. If you have even the least bit of interest in the living dead, I wholly recommend this. My own copy is actually a bit waterlogged, from fighting zombies in a lake (not entirely true), so don't count on your copy being waterproof. Now I just need to get around to reading his follow up, World War Z. I'm so damned lazy.

Best quote: "Ignorance is the undead's strongest ally, knowledge their deadliest enemy. Personal choice, the will to live, must be paramount when the dead begin to rise. The choice is up to you."

1 comment:

Prostrate Surgery said...

sometime ago I was watching a TV show about this theme, and the worst par was when a expert said "yes is totally possible to create a zombie virus" I don't like this idea, and if some government is planning do this, please emmit a emergency communicate before.