Monday, January 17, 2011

Zombies and Shit (review)

Zombies and Shit, by Carlton Mellick III

I don't really know where to start with this book. I was really looking forward to it. I'm not a huge zombie fan, and while I love a good horror book, I don't really read all that much horror. But as far as horror goes, this is like those horror movies that are ridiculously over the top, they're not scary, just disturbingly funny.

So, what is this book about? It's about a group of lowlife shitkickers and gutter punks who are dumped in a zombie infested wasteland to participate in a reality tv show called 'Zombie Survival'. It's pretty full on, with 20 participants featured as main characters, plus minor characters, plus detailed backstories.

I think what really separates this book from all the other zombie books around is the characters and backstories. Mellick has built up a corrupt post-apocalypse world where the majority of the world's population lives on an island called Neo New York. It's divided into four quadrants; Platinum, Gold, Silver and Copper. And that's pretty much how class is divided in the city. The show takes its contestants from copper and uses them to entertain the citizens of the other quadrants. This season of the show, however, contains contestants that are far more interesting than past seasons, with mercenary punks, androids and immortal lizard/humanoid creatures. Even the average contestants show a determination that exceeds expectations.

The concept is fascinating, and the action is brutally entertaining. And the stories that unfold are genuinely thought-provoking. From this book comes issues of race, class and corruption. Why save the world, when the guys in control have their every need catered for. There were parts in the book where I wanted to stop reading, or to just skip over them (I'll just skim over Gogo's story...) due to the graphic fetishised nature the story had adopted. But I guess that sort of stuff just works as a reminder that this book is a zombie book, and it's fucking hardcore. So I think a lot of people who don't read much horror/bizarro would probably cower away from this book, if you can trek your way through the disturbing parts, it's well worth the read. It's what you'd expect from a book called 'Zombies and Shit', but it's got that something else to it that is tragically sad, that the plight of humankind in the event of disaster is inherently futile. Carlton Mellick III certainly knows how to shock, but he also knows how to twist a seemingly self-indulgent story towards larger themes.

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