Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection and Running from Infection: A Book Review

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Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection is a short novel from author Don Roff in persona as Dr. Robert Twombly, which released in October, 2009; the many illustrations are presented by noted California artist Chris Lane. Both of these creators live on the westcoast of the US and this first person account of a global zombie apocalypse adds a few twists and turns into this horrifying literature genre. A biologist takes on a world of the undead, while documenting his bloody journey in a bird watching journal. This book reviewer could not stop turning over a hundred pages of this novel, until the final mysterious conclusion. Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection will entertain readers with new zombie behaviours, while alluding to food contamination as the source of infection.

This illustrated novel begins with the central character and biographer Dr. Robert Twombly seeing a fatal infection spread firsthand in a Seattle based hospital. Staff and patients both succumb to a debilitating disease, whose source is later discovered to be C-88 (a food additive). Soon the infected die, only to be resurrected once again. Their new slightly dead state leads them to pursue and infect others. Soon, 5 billion people are sent scouring the countryside in search of ever more victims. Can Dr. Twombly stop the infection, or at least slow it down? The ending leaves one believing that this desperate doctor is remedied of the confines of life through death, but others will have different interpretations.

Not all the intriguing details will be given away here, but some stalwart groups of people manage to survive the first wave of infection. Dr. Twombly's journey from downtown Seattle to Bellingham and farther north into Strawberry Ridge, Saskatchewan is a tale of caution and danger. Along his journey, Twombly meets other survivors. Some are more congenial than others, with some recklessly conflicting against the undead swarms to poor results. All seems hopeless when a farming community is overrun, until word of another human encampment in Churchill promises further, yet temporary, shelter.

There are no page numbers in this short novel, as it is meant to be presented in journal form. Instead, there are pictures of the zombie apocalypse, in full colour. Survivors are given detail in drawings and the narration keeps the interest focused, while Dr. Twombly's journey moves ever closer to its tragic conclusion.

Especially interesting are the new skills associated with zombies. Zombies, in the novel, can open doors with tools, some hold onto behaviours of the past, while groups of zombies form to take on guarded human settlements. Although the undead are far from brilliant, these new strategies show how a zombie infection could spread. The end results favour those who are infected, rather than those immune or unexposed, as Roff would have one believe.

There really are few flaws to this reading, except for the lightness of the material. This cautionary story of foodstuffs contaminated by bio-engineering can easily be read in a single sitting. So, the final words and journal entries will likely leave some, like this reader, wanting a little more. However, the material that is here is compelling and the lines will quickly be devoured by zombie literature fans.

This novel was released in October of 2009 and still sales are strong for Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection; there is a reason for this. This novel is an enjoyable time, both visually and in story. This beautifully illustrated paperback is recommended for zombie enthusiasts and developing zombie hunters. Check this one out for a harrowing story of a zombie apocalypse, set less than a year in the future!

Overall: 8.25 out of 10 (-1 for shortness, -.5 for not enough technical medical explanations of the infection, he is a doctor, no? -.25 for an open ended conclusion, which will hopefully be given treatment in a follow-up - well done overall).

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This zombie manual is a mandatory read for those looking for first-person accounts of roaming zombie hordes. The others listed will supplement your investigations:

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