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50 Shades of Zombie Apocalypse Novels
on November 18, 2012
This is not the best zombie apocalypse novel ever written; rather, it's a disappointingly mediocre zombie book, even to the reviewer, for whom almost any tale of undead Armageddon is a treat. The reason I gave it two stars instead of one, is that it is, after all, about zombies, instead of a chamomile-quaffing dilettante contemplating his navel.
Okay, the reasons I didn't like it are:
1. Only in the first fifteen pages or so are the societal repercussions of the fall of the civilized world discussed at all, and then only superficially. The most interesting part of zombie apocalypse tales is seeing how the world's structures first collapse, and then slowly coalesce around the survivors as they rebuild and regroup to fight the hordes. World War Z is a good example of how this is fascinating. Apocalypse Z, on the other hand, is basically chapter after chapter of the first-person narrator dodging around corners and spear-gunning a few zombies as he flees from storeroom to shack to boat. If "zombie" were replaced by "angry gorilla" throughout the entire book, the author wouldn't much have to change the rest of the plot. The book is like the record of a first-person shooter videogame in novel form.
2. The writing is bad. Is it the original or the translation that is responsible for the badness? I don't know, but the end result for the English language reader is the same. Bad in the way the writing in 50 Shades of Gray is bad: clunky, obvious, hammy. Instead of "Crap! I can't believe I let my desire for Christian's playful strength make me lower my guard." we have (paraphrased) "Crap! I can't believe I let my desire for a bath make me forget that the solar panels I conveniently installed two weeks ago can't supply enough wattage!" And of course, the barely illegal girl who eventually enters the story has a lithe, feline frame and "perky breasts"--perfect for zombie fighting. The takeaway point is that the language and composition give every scene a trivial aspect. I'm not trying to be snobbish here: for a great zombie story that uses an easy, streetwise language, check out Junot Diaz's "Monstro" in the New Yorker.
I don't write too many reviews, but the combination of this book's high star rating (which tricked me into buying it) and the unusual level of displeasure I had reading it, made me want to submit this to provide a little balance.