The Mammoth Book of Zombie Apocalypse!
Review by DeadVida
I assumed this would be an anthology, and it is, but not in a traditional sense. I was expecting something straight-forward, offering apocalyptic tales by disparate voices, and while that is the case the framework actually holds together in a tight universe and offers a Rashomon effect of the end of the world.
The narrative starts with an email, which describes England’s current political state and the writer’s protest of the destruction of a church in South London. The church had been built by (a fictional) disciple of (the real) architect Nicholas Hawksmoor. Hawksmoor was responsible for designing and building churches all over London in the late 1600s-early 1700s. Modern theorists speculate about the possible Satanic or supernatural pattern these churches make when viewed on a map. When the ground near the church is excavated, something that had had a long standing prohibition, The Death is unleashed upon the world. It is suggested that this has happened before and that the Great Plague in the 1600s wasn’t actually bubonic plague, but zombies! I LOVED the mixing of fact and fiction here and also appreciated that exact answers are never provided because of the narrator’s view is all that we are ever given.
From there the story takes off and while this book will seem dated in ten years, I loved that the authors and editors used modern technology as a means for capturing the variety of individual experiences. Early on in the outbreak, we learn what is going on from emails, BMC (a fictional BBC-type company) internal memos, letters, interviews, medical reports, newspaper articles, voicemails, PDAs, and police reports. As the virus spreads and infrastructures collapse, documentations of experience shift to individuals instead of “official” sources. These include the diary of a 13-year-old girl (which seemed a tad too influenced by Anne Frank), Twitter chatter, texts, blog posts, pilot transcripts, uploaded video files, letters and more. There are some unreliable narrators, some nice twist endings, and even humor. Some of the stories are downright creepy and gruesome.
With about 20 contributors, this could have felt uneven, but it doesn’t and it held my rapt attention straight through. In the end you are left with questions, which is how it should be. The apocalypse shouldn’t be a tidy thing. Recommended!
Stephen Jones (Editor)
Paperback: 512 pages
Publisher: Running Press
Pub date: December 7, 2010