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The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks by Max Brooks and Ibraim Roberson

01/01/2012. Contributed by Tomas L. Martin

Buy The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks in the USA - or Buy The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks in the UK

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pub: Duckworth Overlook. 144 page illustrated enlarged paperback graphic novel. Price: GBP12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-7156-3815-6).

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Max Brooks’ ‘World War Z’ was a fantastically written book that was published at just the right time to catch the rising zombie zeitgeist. The genre has really made a grand reappearance over the last few years thanks to films such as ’28 Days Later’, ‘Dawn Of The Dead’ (a re-make of the original George Romero version), ‘Zombieland’ and most recently, the excellent TV series based on the graphic novel, ‘The Walking Dead’.

‘World War Z’ was an excellent take on the zombie format, using the literary equivalent of the fictional documentary style filmmaking that has become a well-used tool in film to bring a real life feel to impossible events. Using a style reminiscent of a popular historian or journalist, Brooks reported the events of a global pandemic of the zombie plague, starting from the earliest historical outbreaks through to a vast war across continents against the undead horde.

I felt like Max Brooks’ first effort in this vein was excellent, but his follow-ups have been a bit lacklustre, tie-ins for the sake of tie-ins. The non-fiction tongue-in-cheek self-help ‘Zombie Survival Guide’ was amusing in places, but felt a bit too much like a quick attempt to get into a bunch of Christmas stockings.

Confusingly, also titled ‘The Zombie Survival Guide’ with the sub-title ‘Recorded Attacks’, this graphic novel returns to the fictional depiction of undead attacks, this time in illustrated form. Brooks takes us on a tour of zombie incursions from Ancient Rome, the plains of Neanderthal Africa, the ‘slave revolt’ of St Lucia and WWII.

The storytelling style of the graphic novel continues in the journalistic language used in ‘World War Z’. I don’t think it’s as effective here and serves to limit the connection to the humans we see only very briefly during their struggles against the zombie uprising. There’s little emotion to grab onto and although the historical detail is well done, I felt a bit flat reading this.

The artwork is fantastic and Ibraim Roberson has done a fantastic job of illustrating the many humans and zombified humans across a number of different epochs. The zombies are gruesomely depicted and the action is visceral and alarming. From the art point of view, there’s little to criticise. I just feel like whilst the objective narration of a zombie holocaust worked well the first time, it’s perhaps getting to be a bit of a one-trick pony and if this book is expanded into a series at a later date, it would be wise to focus more on the human survivors for the drama of human beings forced into unfamiliar and deadly situations is one of the main reasons why the zombie genre is so compelling.

Tomas L. Martin

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