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#17 – The Zombie Survival Guide

June 10, 2007

it’s the end of the world, i wanna live inside a shopping mallMax Brooks published The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead in 2003. I cannot believe it’s taken me this long to read it. There hasn’t been a product marketed so specifically for me since Christopher Walken hosted Saturday Night Live with Weezer as the musical guest.

So, The Zombie Survival Guide: Like the name indicates, this is an almanac in the tradition of the Worst-Case Scenario books, detailing how to survive in case of an undead uprising. Brooks states at the beginning he doesn’t intend to cover basic survival skills which can be gained from any existing guidebook; he’s only interested with information directly pertaining to zombies. And he proceeds to cover the topic exhaustively, from self-defence and safe barricading locations to zombie combat and how to prepare to run, all the way up to creating a new life in case of a Class 4 (total) outbreak. He even names the zombie virus (Solanum) and details the symptoms, lending the entire book a disturbing authority.

Much like in Nick Frost’s brilliant pre-Shaun of the Dead show Danger! 50,000 Zombies!, these vital survival skills are related practically and understandably. Unlike that show, however, and despite being labelled as ‘Humor’ on the back of the book, the only comedy to be found here is the wry comment of the academic. For example, Brooks on taking refuge in a bank: “Of course, there is safety in the vault. These titanic constructions would stop even zombies armed with rocket launchers. (No, zombies do not know how to operate rocket launchers.)” He even somehow avoids referencing zombie pop culture, aside from a warning not to take any information from “Hollywood” zombies, and a dismissal of shopping malls as “indefensible structure[s]”.

The entire book could be considered paranoid ranting via unreliable narrator (suggestions to watch for suspicious, unreported deaths; admonitions to stay within the law while stockpiling weapons in preparation) were it not for the thorough list of reported zombie skirmishes included here. These terrifying accounts, which are doubtless the precursor to Brooks’ next opus World War Z, gives all the preceding information a frightening sense of necessity. There are dozens of instances all over the world, going as far back as 3,000 B.C. (including Japanese attempts to use zombies as World War II weapons, and the badass theory that brain removal during Egyptian mummification was actually a zombie precaution).

I loved The Zombie Survival Guide, and I’m buying a copy ASAP. It seems almost like war profiteering to charge for it, but I suppose Max Brooks has to make a living. Regardless, you should have it on your bookshelf too. I mean, you’re probably not going to need it, but better safe than sorry, right?

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