Admittedly enough I am a zombie junkie, much like others my age (mid twenties) I’ve been overcome with the obsession of the walking dead. The genre is interesting to me because it conveys the easy comfort of allowing one to get lost in spectacle. The field also gives an individual an opportunity to realize the gross luxury that many of us in Northern American society bask in.
As with any genre zombies are bathed in many different masks of origin and behavior. Where do they come from? What is their main purpose for existence? My favorite is one that has been coined and parodied by one almost laughable side street known as “Return of the Living Dead” in which the zombies are searching for live brains, because digesting them eases the pain of being dead. You can also see some “living” zombie movies in which the zombies are not really the living dead, but simply afflicted individuals of a virus that causes them to abandon rational thought and become ravenous feral beings, this is exemplified in the movie “28 days later”, and also in the book that started it all “I am Legend” by Richard Matheson. On a side note please keep in mind that George Romero (Night Of the Living Dead – Land Of The Dead) has referenced this book as something he “Ripped Off” when making Night Of The Living Dead.
Now keep in mind that when I say I am obsessed this does not reach to a fever pitch of visiting graveyards or watching and re-watching “The Serpent and the Rainbow” to try and get the zombie poison just right. However it does mean that I read and watch mostly everything with a shamble in it (at least once.) This has led me to some truly awesome rare finds of obscurity and more often than not also showed me the truly awful shit that a recently popular genre can produce (re-make of Day of The Dead.)
Because I also side as a cartoonist I listen to a lot of audio books while drawing and coloring. This is a fantastic way to easily absorb books without the need for sitting in a chair and focusing your entire attention on the pages. However be warned, just as I mentioned before there are gems, and there is fools gold, baring that in mind let’s get to the point of all this….”The Holy Risers.”
Through my mass credence to the zombie field of literature I’ve found that there are several different types of stories that you may find when sitting down to read or listen to a book based in a cannibalistic apocalypse setting.
1. No frills mindless hordes of the undead, character driven survival story
2. Religious based story portraying zombies as satanic or ancient religious demons
3. Zombies created by technology (nanotechnology or other) still mindless on their own but also at the whims of an overall “hive intelligence.”
Before I go on I want to point out that I know I’ve left a few out there, but it is a veritable sea of literature and I only have one life, so forgive me if I left out some of the less known areas. Now on to my complaint and the title of the article, Holy Risers. I titled this article with that because of my own paranoia in regards to religion. I have noticed alarmingly as of late that there are quite a few new books hitting shelves and ITunes that have a disturbing amount of reference to Christianity and the end of days.
I suppose you could chalk this up to writers wanting to show their characters coming to terms with their surroundings and the events that are taking place in it, but good sweet microwavable hamsters it seems to happen way to often to be given a pass. It seems that every other zombie book has a priest or pastor character who relays to the reader his confusion with God’s plan but decides to remain reluctantly faithful to his perplexing God only because he knows of no other way of coping.
The bitch about that is that all of these characters are likeable and for the most part morally righteous. Well that makes sense right? I mean after all they are men of the cloth, or of God, or however you want to put it. Yes granted they are religious individuals, but does that give the writer the right to make them the blandest predictable characters in the story? It’s like watching a red shirt walk on to the set of star trek alongside Captain Kirk, or a black guy go looking for the strange noise in a mid nineties horror movie. Beyond all that, what gives some horror writer the right to harp at me about the almighty when all I want is to hear about a survival story in all of its gory science fiction based details?
Now if you are as crazy as I am you’ll want to avoid this pain in the ass and find yourself some nice relaxing Living Dead auditory or ocular enjoyment. I’ve taken the liberty of laying out some of my favorites for your flesh feasting pleasure, keep in mind that these books are available in both hard copy and audio book versions.
1. World War Z – If you haven’t read it and claim to be a zed fan, you are a disgrace
2. The Zombie Survival Guide – Not a fictional story book, but still good for those hypothetical zombie discussions with friends
3. I am legend – George Romero started modern zombies with this book, if you don’t read it (or listen to it) take down that NOTLD poster, you don’t deserve to own it.
4. J.L. Bourne’s Day by Day Armageddon – This feels so real that you might actually start rationing water just as a precaution after the first couple of chapters
5. Flesh Eaters – One in a series of three books, it kept with the clean no “Sunday” school vibe that I love so much, there are no reoccurring characters (for the most part) but the books as a series provides somewhat of a story in segments Tarantino approach to the timeline that really adds depth to the atmosphere.
Okay so theres five clean no “gamey” taste books that you can read righteously without fear of being told you are not in fact “righteous.” As I come across more I’ll let you know, in the meantime I give you this warning, if while introducing a character the writer mentions he is a religious man, or affiliated with the church in any strong way, get ready to start skipping pages at a time of half assed religious philosophy shabbily tacked onto what should be a dime store guilty pleasure. After all when there’s no more room in hell, the crappy horror writers will walk the earth.