I have never bought a ticket to see a zombie movie, though I admit I did catch part of one on TV once. I don’t watch the currently popular Walking Dead. Yes, it’s true I downgraded my satellite TV package to the lowest I could get, but even if I had that channel, I don’t think I would watch. However, for some reason I enjoy zombies in YA dystopia books.
It may not be the zombies themselves, if it was the creatures I would watch zombie movies or I wouldn’t make a face when people in Seattle talk about Zombie Days where locals for some inexplicable reason think it’s fun to dress and act like a zombie with other people for the day. I just don’t get it.
I think I am only liking zombies as part of dystopian fiction because there have been some kick ass YA authors including them in their books. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan reads like a lyrical poem to me and filled me with a drowsy sadness like a watercolor painting dissolving. This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers fascinated me because it is the only YA dystopian novel I have found yet in which the protagonist is missing a strong survival instinct, well it’s not just missing, she wants to die even if by means of a horrific zombie death. Now I just finished Jonathan Maberry’s Rot & Ruin, another so-called zombie book which really has very little to do with zombies, and much more about people and our humanity.
Benny, only a baby when the zombies arose, lives what appears to be an almost normal teen life. Unlike the heroes in my post-apocalyptic novels he actually lives in a house, has enough to eat, goes to school and hangs out with his friends. Yeah, ok he lives with his older half-brother who is a zombie bounty hunter and the community he lives in is fenced in to keep the zombies away and no one uses electricity anymore in a backlash against the modern ways and technologies that superstitious people blame as part of the cause that turned people into zombies. However, this book is not nearly as grim as so many others of its kind as Benny doesn’t have to constantly fight hunger and monsters to survive. I think that’s one of the things I liked about it, the shades of normalcy and even some pop culture references that lulled me as a reader into thinking that the world he lives in is pretty safe. However, zombies are not the only horrors that fill this world, what Benny quickly learns is that there isn’t any malice in the zombies who attack because of a deep seated hunger, but not out of malice. Instead people it’s who are truly vicious because when they act badly, it’s done with forethought and emotions. This is really the story of a boy who matures into a man as he begins to believe that everything he has believed in may not be the actual truth.