Monday, May 23, 2011

Re: Your Brains

May really is a workhorse of a month when it comes to dubious holidays. In addition to containing the well-meaning but thickly commercialized Mother's Day it has also been recently minted Zombie Awareness Month. Oh, and this year it likewise played host to Not-Quite-the-End-of-the-World Day, which I think we can agree is a nice touch. To commemorate two of these three delightful fauxlidays – and the third as well if you're willing to stretch a bit – the Zombie Research Society has released a fun new book that has been described as "a cautionary tale that teaches kids how to recognize a zombie outbreak in its earliest stage."

Written by the Matt Mogk, head of the ZRS, and colorfully illustrated by Aja Wells, That's Not Your Mommy Anymore is what could easily be called a children's book for adults. Falling somewhere between the classic Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book and the currently buzz-worthy Go the Fuck to Sleep, it's a simple, lyrical anti-bedtime story that explains with childlike wonder the warning signs of early-onset zombism.

Combining nods to touchstones like Night of the Living Dead, Return of the Living Dead and Zombi 2 with a certain skewed Seussian sensibility, it's really little more than horror film fan service. But that's enough for me.

Written with tongue firmly in cheek, That's Not Your Mommy Anymore doesn't bother to step outside its kiddie book shtick, and it doesn't have to. At 32 pages, it never overstays its welcome, and, though neither the art style nor the simple sing-song narrative are exactly ground-breaking, both are competently managed and play extremely well together.

A mere 8 bones at Amazon That's Not Your Mommy Anymore is what I would term an easy recommendation. Leave a copy around your den, office or dorm room to shock and amuse unsuspecting guests, or maybe snap one up for the new geekparent in your life.

And while I'm making this solitary sojourn into the Hipster, please! Undead Book Club, let me also shine my own gritty light on 2010 Philip K. Dick Award nominee The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell, a book I picked up on the good word of Seattle Geekly. The first real grown-up book I've managed to read this year, this novel runs the typical zombie apocalypse survival story through the filter of naturalism, both philosophical and literary.

While properties like The Walking Dead tend to project the arc of the zombie holocaust to a fairly linear mid-point, Bell takes a different approach. His tale of adolescent protagonist Temple, a girl who's lived her entire life in a world populated by ravenous meatskins, takes place after the hysteria and the looting and roving bands of gangs vying for control of meager resources.

It is instead a world that has at last achieved an odd equilibrium, a land of scarce reconstruction where hope for the future is tempered by a measured acceptance of its present reality. Beautifully penned in the voice of a hardened southern illiterate who, despite both her own flaws and those of the world around her, still manages to see the beauty and order of nature's machinery, The Reapers Are the Angels is a tale that begs to be experienced.

And thus concludes what appear to be reviews of two books. As opposed to, y'know, albums. Which are more firmly in my wheelhouse.

I hope that the shock of this unlikely missive hasn't driven anyone to an early grave. But if it has, I reckon we can all agree that's an oddly appropriate outcome.


Jimi said...

I like this new book chatter. I just bought 8 books on Saturday, but I'll keep The Reapers Are Angels in mind for in case I ever finish this haul

Z. said...

Yeah, Jimi, I do make with the book-readin' on occasion. Figured these were relevant enough to share. ;)

Shannon said...

The Reapers Are the Angels is a fantastic read. Bell's style combined with the book's topic made this a title I'll never forget. Thanks for helping others discover it!

Z. said...

How could I *not* talk about a novel featuring both zombies and mutants, Shannon?! ;)