9.15.2010

Finally catching up: The Walking Dead

Someone recently told to me that I'm always late to the game, but I do show up. Well, that is definitely true in the case with me finally reading the first two volumes of Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead. I had only heard good things, reviews, press. What took me so long? And what makes the book so good?

The human drama, that's what it comes down to. Kirkman masterfully plotted out how life would be for this band of survivors, and how it would go on, the big picture. No quick movie end, this is life after, and how hard it is, as the people all around you dwindle one by one.

I am excited in a way, because there are about 10 more volumes in existence for me to find and devour like the party of friends finding some precious food in the bleak story and cherishing it. The fact that the survivors haven't accepted the fact that at any moment any one of them can die, and they still grasp onto family, friends, and what may have once been normal life, creates a desperate situation that is so easy to identify with. How would I act in such circumstances? Would I be brave enough to go into the city to find food or weapons? Could I be detached enough to let someone I love go, just as they are bitten, knowing they're already gone? Hard questions to answer.

All I knew is that I had to start reading before AMC's TV adaptation of the series kicks off on Halloween--while I'll be at World Fantasy Con--I'm sure a few of us bookish types can find a tv and see how the grizzly comic adaptation turns out. From what I've seen already in previews, it looks really good.

And althoug the attic library only had volume 1 and 2  of the series, now neatly returned to their rightful place in the archives, my quest will be to beg, borrow, or--well, purchase the remaining trades and get all caught up.

9.10.2010

Review of The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell

I was hard pressed to find parts of this novel I didn't like, even the zombies were ok in my book. Written by a guy who teaches in New York; obviously well educated, well read, and with a nack for imagery and symbolism, this book was beautifully written. The protagonist, Temple, or Sarah Mary Williams, her real name maybe, was tough and scrappy, and I immediately liked her.

Temple travels in a post-apocalyptic world, still in its infancy at about 25-years since end of civilization as we know it. Temple is looking for something, or maybe nothing, but in this world she avoids zombie-like creatures, or meatskins, as she calls them, who lumber in far less dramatic fashion than usual throughout the empty streets.

She encounteres some aweful and amazing things in this book, like the electric-fence guarded plantation home, existing oblivious to the decaying world outside the baricade, with a sad and desperate family within. But even with fresh food and shelter, the wanderer, feels the calling of the road. She meets a pair of brothers as well, which doesn't go so well, and haunts her throughout the story.

To take this journey with Temple is to put it lightly. She encounters so much, gets into a few scrapes, and I felt myself both cringing and marveling at her actions. Most of the trip is dark, as she often questions whether or not she is evil in the things that she has to do to survive. But she also has goodness coursing through her veins, she tries to help a friend find his way to find his family, all the while being pursued by another not so unlike herself, only much larger.

Some basic technical things bothered me about the novel, for instance, the utilities working in several parts seemed not to be something the author was concerned about. Even in deserted places, Temple was able to walk into shops, use the running water, and I wondered if this was an oversight or was the "world" still so new in this phase, that some of the basic utilities still functioned somehow? It bothered me a bit in the beginning, but then not so much as the novel wore on.

I also like the introduction of other creatures aside from just your average zombie. I won't spoil anything here, but if you stick around long enough, you'll see Temple encounter a new kind of fiend, a result of the horrid wasteland and how a few have figured out to survive.
 
Overall I really enjoyed the novel, and think Alden Bell is someone I'll keep an eye on to see what's next. I recommend for fans of tales from the wasteland.