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“The Zombie Survival Guide” by Max Brooks.

I accidentally noticed that August 13 has been a particularly productive day for me over the years, with a new entry posted every year from 2002 to 2007. 2008 and 2009 didn’t see any activity, probably caused by my general lack of commitment to force my ramblings on a limited, but surprisingly faithful audience. Since my goal is to write at least 100 entires this year, I’ll try to reboot the an-entry-every-August-13 this year with a short book review.

I came across Max Brook’s “The Zombie Survival Guide” book while surfing reddit where I read that Bras Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment had secured the rights to another of Brooks’ books; “World War Z”. Actually, this happened all the way back in 2007, but sometimes news travels slow – at least it often takes a while before I notice things. I like Brad Pitt, at least as an actor, I have to admit that I don’t know him personally. But he is probably a likable fellow. I also enjoy zombies, but not the fast moving ones you find in Left 4 Dead, I prefer the slow ghouls you can see in movies like the excellent Shaun of the Dead1. Why? Because it’s possible to outrun, or maybe even outwalk them quit easily. The fast ones tend to kill you.

Max Brooks’ zombies are like that: Outwalkable. And when I imagined Brad Pitt in an action movie with outwalkable ghouls, I decided that I wanted to read the book before I saw the movie for once. Even though there is no actual movie being made right now, and there might very well never be, the book could to our to be entertaining. Brooks wrote “The Zombie Survival Guide” before “World War Z”, and even though the books are not directly linked with each other, the guide contains very detailed information about the zombies in “World War Z”. Because of that, I decided to read the guide first.

“The Zombie Survival Guide” is written as just that, a zombie survival guide. What to do and not to do when the living dead starts roaming the Earth. It’s entertaining at first, with a lot of detailed descriptions about the ghouls, how to behave during various classes of zombie outbreaks, what weaponry is the most efficient, and probably the most important thing to know of them all: How to kill a zombie.

I’ll save you the cost of buying the book: You can only kill a zombie by destroying the brain. Decapitation will not be sufficient as the head will continue to function without the body. So destroying the brain is the way to go. Apart from that, use commons sense and you boyscout knowledge. After about 100 pages, I got tired of reading – the book had turned into just a guide and nothing more, the entertainment value was minimal. So I skipped to the last one fourth of the book, which describes recorded zombie attacks. This part of “The Zombie Survival Guide” serves as a good warm up to “World War Z”.

My recommendation is that if you want to be prepared for the inevitable zombie war and need a great book about protection from the living dead, then you should buy “The Zombie Survival Guide” and learn it by heart. If you on the other hand want an entertaining book about zombies, you should look elsewhere and just skip ahead directly to “World War Z”.

But do you dare to be unprepared when the living dead walk the Earth?

Footnotes

  1. What, you haven’t seen this movie yet? Then do yourself an favor and rent it right now. What the hell, go ahead and rent every Simon Pegg movie you find.

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