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Zombie Fiction or Something to Chew On

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I finished Year of the Dead and it was really good, as was the sequel. Last night I read Apocalypse Then by Al Lamanda and was blown away. Really cool blend of the Old West and zombies, except here they are referred to as "ghouls". Ending was kind of a shocker but very fun read nonetheless. I hope the author is up for a sequel.

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I just finished part three of the Dead End series (about A Very Good Man). It's a really unusual take on a zombie story, and the evolution of the character (and the weird mythology that crops up) definitely has me guessing. This installment felt more like it was intended to get to the next book than that it was a great book in its own right, but I definitely enjoyed reading it. I just really, really hope the series doesn't end before he gets some. LOL

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I agree with you on all that, Oregon Chick. I think we need to start a pool over who the lucky woman is going to be. My guess now is...Colleen. Did not see that coming until this book. By the way, the sequel to The Remaining just came out. I have not read it yet but I am looking forward tonight.

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Ah, I've now downloaded The Remaining: Aftermath and will let you know what I think! Very cool.

 

I also agree that they are setting up Colleen, maybe as the person who will be able to reintegrate all of the many personalities of Jake/Mickey/A Very Dark Thing after the battle to come? Oh, and I'll admit that I laughed out loud for a good minute or two when, near the end of this most recent book, Jake says that the next time he sees them he's going to kick the military in the nuts. It's such a petty, mean response and would not help a darn thing, but it cracked me up for some reason to picture him just walking right up to the CO and connecting before even a word is said.

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Well, remember what happened to the last person he said he was going to punch in the junk for ten minutes the next time he saw him? He did it, even after the guy was dead. Which made it even ... funnier? I like the idea of Jake becoming even darker and less whiny just because that is what he needs to do. I hate to admit but I am finding the secret mythology to be pretty cool in this book. Some I have heard of (Valkyries, Bawdrie, Vampires, Beserkers, etc.) while others are just out there. I don't think the Technologists did it, by the way. At least, not alone. Jeez, I am such a geek sometimes.

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Completely agree - I think the technologists are easy patsies because they are so isolated and they may suffer from that possible scientific weakness whereby they get caught up in the idea of whether something is POSSIBLE to achieve instead of thinking whether it's safe/ethical to do so. I do really like the different "races" of supernaturals that are listed there (I'm partial to Valkyries because of my own Norse roots but also because of their hilarious antics in Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series). And yes, Jake needed to move beyond the "why is it that I am literally the man nobody will sleep with even when the world ends?" whining, away from his (somewhat understandable) isolated and suicidal thoughts, and into a perspective of having a much greater purpose.

 

I liked The Remaining: The Aftermath somewhat, although some of the decision-making was skewed to the point that I wonder whether Lee really has it in him to be the leader that is theoretically needed for him to achieve his goal. And I'm leery of whatever political/prophetic stuff it seems to be leading up to in the last chapters of this installment in the series. However, I still genuinely like Jake and find the premise interesting - how do you go into an existing group, even with superior skills/supplies, and compel them to make good choices and act responsibly and rationally for the good of the many?

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I am on the same wavelength as you, Oregonchick. At their best, these zombie books deal with group dynamics and how a leader motivates their people, whether through positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, by example, or a combination of all three. You might want to check out What Zombies Fear, which is now up to the third volume. Not your typical zombie series, and I am going to throw out some spoilers here but in this series, the zombies are being used as pawns by an invading race of intelligent, microscopic organisms that ride human corpses as parasites. Even crazier, this is not their first try to take over the planet and some people are immune to their effects but develop heightened abilities after they come in contact with the parasites. Yes, they are superhuman. Superheroes vs. zombies! Despite all that, I like the fact that the humans are not drifting from place to place, getting picked off one by one.

 

I point this series out because the leader of the group of survivors is one of the "powered" guys, but his abilities are secondary to the planning and leadership in his job. One of his drawbacks is his insistence on leading from the front and not asking anyone to do something he would not do, so his is often in trouble. He is arrogant and a bit bossy, but his people respect him anyway for his guts and vision.

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Heck, Yeah! Mountain Man II: Safari and the Rising Horde Part I and II just came out. I have finished Mountain Man II and I gotta say this is a darker, crazier story. Gus is right on the edge, folks. He also starts talking to an empty bottle of Captain Morgan rum (think Wilson in Castaway). Some really funny, sad stuff in here. For those of you who have not done so, go right now and order a copy of the first Mountain Man book on Kindle and enjoy. The ending in this second one was kind of a shocker, in a good way. I get tired of all the hopeless, nihilistic zombie stories out there.

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Okay, Safari: Mountain Man was an interesting read. I was glad that Gus didn't (completely) give up and die after everything that happened in book one. Talking to Captain Morgan was pretty funny, especially since part of him always seemed vaguely suspicious of any advice he received from a guy dressed like that even as the rest of him seemed a little aware that he was mostly talking to himself. Parts were quite tragic and distressing; it's interesting to see him struggle with the question of what kind of man he is, now that he's done what he has to survive. And yes, the ending was not at all what I expected, especially considering the series of events that immediately preceded it.

 

Don't you wonder just how horrible Gus looks by the end of the book? Broken nose, missing teeth, facial scars, burns... It could be pretty bad! LOL

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Just read No Easy Hope (Surviving the Dead) by James Cook.

 

It's solidly written and not quite as obvious a plot as some of the other z-lit I've read, but it's also not substantially different in its major points. There were a few ominous build-ups that led to happy, peaceful resolution without any major conflict, which I thought was odd. And some of the zombie fighting and marauder fighting wasn't as dramatic (or graphic) as one would normally expect from this genre. That said, this book focuses more on a survival mentality and on the human need for hope and companionship instead of the typical gore and glory, which makes the characters more likable.

 

The end of the book (and the fact it seems to have a series name in its title) make a second book almost a sure thing, and I fully intend to read it. It will either be Gabriel's back story - which could be interesting from a prepping standpoint as well as a character development one - or it will be the quest to Colorado, and I think either could make for worthwhile reading.

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Oregonchick, I love the fact that Gus looks like a crispy hockey goon, sort of a cross between Freddie and Jason! Seriously, I was really amazed at how well the author dealt with some serious, real world issues with regard to guilt and loss. In contrast, I just finished both parts of the Rising Horde book and I feel like I was hit by an armored car afterwards. After a long build-up (basically book 1), the eventual action was intense. The author obviously put in a ton of research to get the right tone and feel, and I think his hard work paid off. The author actually put some thought into this story and his zombies (sort of reminded me of Max Brooks in that respect), and these zombies are really terrible. One hint- the ones that can, shoot to cripple so it doesn't spoil the meat. I read No Easy Hope and I agree I want to find out more about Gabriel.

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LOL Completely agree about Gus. Survival ain't pretty, apparently.

 

I'm a little nervous about the Rising Horde books from your description - zombies a la George Romero are scary enough; ones that come with weaponry? That's terrifying.

 

You know what I kept thinking about Gabriel in No Easy Hope? "This is a man who REALLY needs a girlfriend." Something to fight for, a soft place to land, solace... it would go a long way.

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Oregonchick, you always crack me up. Gabriel definitely sounds like boyfriend material in the Zombie Apocalypse. Probably any other Apocalypse, too. I will say Steven Knight (author of Gathering Dead and Rising Horde) is a really good writer and a nice guy, too. After I wrote a favorable review for Gathering Dead on Amazon, he sent me a really nice e-mail thanking me and giving me his thoughts on the sequel he was then writing.

 

Knight has come up with some really disturbing ideas regarding the z-boys, and so has John O'Brien with his New World books, which is rapidly turning into something other than a zombie series (which is a scary thought- what happens when you used to eat human flesh and then you get better? How messed up are you going to be?). Also, Mr. O'Brien is also a very accessible author and he responded extremely positively to a question I sent regarding this latest volume. I have a lot of respect for authors who actually look at reader e-mail much less send a half page response.

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LOL Actually, I'm not sure how good of a boyfriend Gabriel would be given that he's clearly traumatized and antisocial. I suppose in a zombie situation, finding a basically decent (if damaged) and entirely resourceful guy to look out for you would be a good survival strategy. If you aren't able to take care of yourself, then it's likely worth a certain amount of "affection" to remain safe... and it could become something more emotional and less transactional over time, I suppose.

 

Okay, you've sold me on the work of both Knight and O'Brien. Think I'll be filling up my Kindle tonight!

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I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. Just remember on the Knight books, you need to read them in order of Gathering Dead, Left for Dead (A novella), and the Rising Horde vol. I & II. The Rising Horde was split because even after much editing, the thing was still over 700 pages long. That said, the first volume in the Rising Horde is basically the set-up for the Sparta Base, while Vol. II is mostly just one long battle. Also, unlike some series, the novella actually is important to the story because it deals with Sgt. Gartrell and plays a key part in the next book. Sorry to be cryptic but I don't want to spoil the tale. Watch out for the Undead Artillery.

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No a zombie book, but 'On the Beach' is good. below is the description from Wikipedia. Read it in Junior High (and re-read it last year) real good. Hits home about seeing the end coming your way and not being able to do anything about it.

 

The story is set primarily in and around Melbourne, Australia, in 1953. World War III has devastated most of the populated world, polluting the atmosphere with nuclear fallout and killing all human and animal life in the northern hemisphere. The war began with a nuclear attack by Albania on Italy, and then escalated with the bombing of the United States and the United Kingdom by Egypt. Because the aircraft used in these attacks were obtained from the USSR, the Soviets were mistakenly blamed, triggering a retaliatory strike on the USSR by NATO. There is also an attack by the Soviets on the People's Republic of China, which may have been a response to a Chinese attack aimed at occupying Soviet industrial areas near the Chinese border. Most if not all of the bombs had cobalt that was included to enhance their radioactive properties.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Beach_(novel)

This may be the book you are looking for.

http://www.amazon.com/On-Beach-Nevil-Shute/dp/0886461375

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Son of a gun, I already read The Gathering Dead AND I think I recommended it here. LOL Anyway, I read the Rising Horde I and II and was mesmerized and horrified by it. I felt so bad not only for loss of life, but because McDaniels and Company were doing SUCH a thorough job making plans and creating contingencies for SPARTA, and wanted to make sure everyone was as safe as could be. But it's like they had been sent in prepared to deal with a flood and were suddenly confronted with a flood and a tsunami all at once. And the ending actually made me SO angry because the Sergeant Major deserved something better waiting for him.

 

What was interesting to me is that, in some ways, SPARTA accidentally became a "solution" that was suggested in World War Z. To keep the hordes of wandering zombies from overrunning the west coast, people were left in fortified locations in the middle of the country specifically so that zombies would congregate at those locations. The people there were expected to sit tight, wait for frequent resupplies (via air, of course) and hope that the military was able to kill off the zombies before their location was compromised. Basically, they were consigned to be the people lowered into the ocean in a shark cage during a feeding frenzy while everyone on the boat figured out what the heck to do with all the sharks. LOL

 

What Knight does so well is show just how much it costs each person who is involved in a battle situation to get through it when there are no good choices, when the guys you know and respect are KIA, when you're facing the odds that you will meet a similar fate. There's a great balance between commitment to the mission and belief in having a real purpose and the fact that it's cold comfort when your comrades are never coming home - or your family is left defenseless because you're in the thick of things and can't get to them.

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Oregonchick, so many zombies, so little time. My brother was so excited when I told him this was out already that he was downloading from Kindle while still on the phone with me the other day (he is a member here but usually just lurks except to occasionally take a good natured swipe at me).

 

I concur with you on the author's skill in letting us get a glimpse inside these guys heads. He has a way of developing even minor characters so that you flinch when something happens to them. In addition, you can tell he has great respect for the men and women in our Armed Forces and he has done a ton of research to try to get the details right. I agree, the Sgt Major deserved better, but I think that was the point. Bad things happen to good people. I felt especially sorry for the father and daughter who managed to get out of New York. I'll say no more so I don't spoil it.

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Not trying to spoil anything, either, I'm so glad that they spared us the actual details of what happened to the daughter.

 

John O'Brien's series is SO addicting! How do people get excited about the Twilight series when this is available?

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Beats me, Oregonchick. My wife likes the movies for the action scenes, though. I am fortunate enough to be married to a woman who LOVES action movies, but sadly she hates horror. Twilight is as close as she will come to scary, and even she thinks the romantic interludes are kind of cheesy.

 

BTW, I picked up Those Lazy Sundays by Thomas North, which is a zombie short novel despite the title. Not great, not bad, but serviceable. I thought the descriptions of New England in the fall were nice, anyway. First book in a proposed series.

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I'm reading two books in what I believe is intended to be a trilogy by Tom Calen where the zombie virus is man-made and referred to as Tilian flu at first. So book one is The Tilian Virus and book two is The Tilian Effect.

 

The first book is a decent story divided between two timelines - the first few days/weeks of the outbreak and six years later - focusing mostly on a high school history teacher who becomes the reluctant leader of a small group of former students and refugees. The second book, so far, is boring as heck. I'm about halfway through and there's a promise of more action, but it's going to be divided (yet again!) but this time between some survivors in a battle with a gigantic band of organized marauders and some survivors dealing with enhanced "Tils" (zombies) and a big, old fashioned government conspiracy.

 

The author writes well, but I think the pacing isn't working for me for some reason. It's also possible that the broken-down, soul-sucking malaise that the narrator in the first book feels has made it difficult for me to get too excited in book two. LOL Otherwise, good story and at least a little different from the standard fare, which is always a plus!

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Beats me, Oregonchick. My wife likes the movies for the action scenes, though. I am fortunate enough to be married to a woman who LOVES action movies, but sadly she hates horror. Twilight is as close as she will come to scary, and even she thinks the romantic interludes are kind of cheesy.

 

Glad your wife likes action movies! She sounds a lot like my sister, whose sole foray into "horror" was the Twilight series (and who therefore doesn't appreciate my stance that they are the WORST addition to the vampire genre ever, even if the Wuthering Heights-esque romance is easy to get swept up in). But it is disappointing when you don't have someone who is into horror movies, because that usually means you're either missing out or you're watching them by yourself (which isn't nearly as much fun).

 

FWIW, I watched Silence of the Lambs by myself the first time I saw it. Big, big mistake. I was a teenager, my parents were out of town, and my only responsibility that evening was to go pick up my little sister from a birthday party when it was over. I thought that was PERFECT so I rented the video, turned down the lights, and completely lost myself in it. Then, as Clarice Starling enters Buffalo Bill's dark house and the phone rings... OUR PHONE RANG! I nearly had a reason to change my pants, but of course it was just my sister. And then I had to be brave enough to go out into the dark street and get into my car to pick her up. LOL I was scared to death, and my sister didn't understand why I was kind of anxious about getting into the house and locking the door immediately.

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OMG, I had the same problem with Tilian Effect books! Book Two is still languishing, half-finished, on my Kindle for the same reason. Just lacked the will to finish it. My wife just shakes her head at my "time wasting" but she prefers me to be reading as opposed what the husbands of some of her friends are getting into in their time off from work.

 

As to horror, I enjoy it but I am sort of snobbish in a way, and I turn my nose up at stuff, or I should say "snuff", like SAW and HOSTEL and that whole array of what I think of as torture porn. Zombies, vampires, werewolves and the occasional bloodthirsty ghost are fine, but I just don't see the appeal of displaying someone getting their tongue cut out just for the heck of it. Silence of the Lambs does not fall into this category because it has an actual plot and some bad things are depicted but only to further the story, not to appeal to the worst natures of th viewing audience. I figure there are enough bad things we are exposed to in our everyday lives without adding more realistic carnage to clutter up our minds.

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No fan of torture porn, either. I have never watched Hostel - I knew as soon as I heard about it that it was NOT my kind of movie - and I only watched the first SAW, which is 90 minutes too much of senseless violence. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake was also a bit more than I could stomach. I do usually prefer supernatural horror stories vs. "real life" ones because it's easy to remind yourself that monsters aren't real, but you can't make the same argument that there are no serial killers, predatory sadists, etc. in the world.

 

That said, if you ever want to read some truly riveting and terrifying serial killer stories, the first two books in the series that spawned the TV show Dexter are amazing: Darkly Dreaming Dexter and Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay. (The rest of the series is disappointing, IMO.)

 

And of course, Thomas Harris, who wrote Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal, is amazing... to an extent. I wasn't as impressed with Hannibal Rising, and although the book was excellent in some ways, Hannibal also took some liberties with Clarice Starling that didn't sit well with me. I'd say the scariest book he wrote, though, is Red Dragon (the movie Manhunter was based on it, and then they made Red Dragon because Silence of the Lambs was so popular, but the book really is so much better).

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