Sunday, November 20, 2011

Since it's going to be a movie soon anyway...

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="219" caption="Pretty steady reading."]The cover of World War Z[/caption]

I figured now would be a great time to stop whining, suck it up, and read "World War Z" by Max Brooks.  It's slated for theaters sometime in December, and I despise watching a movie before reading the book.  I'd stayed away from reading WWZ because, quite frankly, Max Brooks' zombie visions scare me witless.

Oftentimes while reading WWZ, I tortured myself mentally for passing up the chance to see Brooks live in Buffalo in October.  What the hell was I thinking?!  In any event, that won't happen again, if I can help it.

Back to the book though.  I read through it slowly, mostly because I wanted to really have time to think about what was going on, whether it could actually happen, and what it was saying about the human race.

In general, the book was pretty steady reading.  It wasn't overly crazy, nor was it boring.  It kept a decent pace, and was set in many locales.  Brooks did an outstanding job of writing from different perspectives - it was possible to believe he was actually conducting the interviews with different people.  There were locales in Korea, China, Russia, the US, and several other cities.  Brooks' focus wasn't really on the plight of the zombies - most likely because that niche has been thoroughly (and thankfully) flooded with material.  He chose to focus on the interactions between the people in different countries, and the impact of racial, religious, and cultural differences.  I tend to agree with him in that humanity's inability to occupy the sandbox peacefully will get us into trouble.  However, being the diehard cynic I am in that regard, I don't share his belief that we will overcome the threat.  I see us bombing ourselves into oblivion instead.  (Sorry folks, I've never been the sunny kind of person  when it comes to these things.)

One section had me bawling my eyes out though.  There is a series of interviews with a man who ran a K-9 team during the War.  He talks about the struggles of working with your canine partner, and of the tragedies that accompany the line of work.  For a few days, I had horrible dreams of my dog Lily and I being part of those teams.  Only instead of us being victorious, I always wound up seeing her disappear beneath a swarm of gray hands, the last vision always being her looking at me pleadingly.  I had to stop reading the book for awhile.  It still bothers me, even while I'm sitting here writing.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a casual or avid zombie reader, or is interested in history.  Again, read the book before you see the movie!  (While I was looking for a trailer, I got rick-rolled.  Oops.  Well, maybe later when the fake and fan-made trailers are done taking over I will find a decent one to link.)  In any event - stop reading this and go see the movie!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The End of a Heartbreaking Journey

[caption id="attachment_1305" align="alignright" width="300" caption="This picture was lovingly and respectfully pilfered from the author's blog. <<http://gotld.blogspot.com/>>"][/caption]

I finished Kim Paffenroth's "Dying to LiveLast Rites" a little while ago, but haven't gotten the opportunity to give it the write-up it so badly deserves.

**Pre-Review Warning: You will cry your eyes out so hard when you finish this book that your chest will hurt.  Actually, I lied.  There are a few sections where you will cry your eyes out.  Don't say I didn't warn you!**

It was a thought-provoking tear-jerker that left me thinking about the human race, and also introspectively about myself. It made me consider what I myself might be capable of under the right circumstances.  I'd like to think that I would be a good person, but when I think of what I'd do to save the ones I loved, my certainty wavers.  (So don't sit there smugly assuming you'd be any better either...)

If you've read the two previous books in the series, you have already been introduced to the four central characters.  Rachel and Will, two humans who are forced to leave their community because of their treatment of Lucy and Truman, two sentient zombies.  The community they were living in doesn't believe in executing zombies, but they don't believe in coexisting in the same house either.  In any event, the last installation of the trilogy finds the four companions on a boat, with Rachel seriously ill.  Will, Truman, and Lucy decide to seek medical help from a town they find.  What happens to each and every one of them will test the boundaries of what most readers think humans are capable of.  You will find yourself sickened, pensive, and deeply heartbroken by the end of this novel, I guarantee it.  And then you'll feel lost knowing that at this time Paffenroth has not announced any other additions to the series.

Probably the single greatest strength of this work is Paffenroth's ability to create new and complex characters that work seamlessly with his well-established characters while at the same time never losing sight of the importance of the message. While many messages can be found in the book, I choose to take away the idea that a life built on greed and egotism leads to nothing. Conversely, a life built on sharing, self-sacrifice, loyalty and love may not always give you what you expect, but it will be more fulfilling. The best part? Paffenroth isn't preachy about it. He sneaks up on you, his you over the head, and runs off into the darkness while you are left with a serious bump on your head and the echos of his laughter.