Posts Tagged ‘Zombies’

Best New Books of 2013: Keith H’s Picks

December 16, 2013

Hi! My name is Keith and I’m a children’s librarian who enjoys scifi and fantasy books that straddle the line between adult and teen fiction. Some of my favorites of 2013 were:

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
I was initially standoffish because Sanderson is most famous for his Mistborn fantasy novels and finishing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.  My high fantasy days are mostly over. But, the synopsis drew me in since it reads like a comic book plot. Steelheart is set in a world where an event has given some humans super-powers. Unfortunately, everyone who gains these powers becomes criminal sociopaths, known as Epics. The story focuses on a young man named David whose father was killed by an Epic named Steelheart. Steelheart is impervious to physical attacks and has declared himself Emperor of Chicago. David joins a resistance organization working to free the city from Steelheart’s tyranny. This book reads like a blockbuster  movie, deftly moving from one action packed scene to another. I couldn’t put it down and ended up finishing it in a day.

Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi
I love the teen novels of Bacigalupi – gritty dystopias with strong characters and no romance! When he released his new book, Zombie Baseball Beatdown, it was marketed towards middle-grade readers from 5th to 8th grade. This threw me for a loop.  Judging it by its cover, it appears to be a book about members of a sports team who must destroy some zombies with their baseball bats. And it is…but it is so much more. You get an inkling of this when the main character declares his hero as Spider Jerusalem from Warren Ellis’ Transmetropolitan, a very adult graphic novel.  The protagonist is an Indian-American  middle-schooler named Rabindranath Chatterjee-Jones, called Rabi by his friends. Rabi and his friends fight against the havoc wreaked by industrialized corporate meat, immigration law, and racists. Oh yeah, and in the process they seriously beat down some zombies.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
“After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.” The story begins with a teen named Cassie trying to survive an earth that has already been devastated by alien invasion. Most of the planet’s population has been eliminated, and the few humans that are left are hunted by strange beings which appear in human form. So Cassie has trust issues… The only person she trusts is her little brother, who she will protect at any cost. Be warned, there is a goofy love triangle. Fortunately, there are enough firefights, explosions and plot twists to forgive that.

Saga: Volume Two by Brian K. Vaughan
(I’m kind of cheating here because you wouldn’t want to read Volume Two before reading Volume One, which was actually published in 2012.) Saga is the award winning science fiction graphic novel series written by Brian K. Vaughn (Y the Last man, Pride of Baghdad). It has been described as “Romeo and Juliet meets Star Wars meets Game of Thrones”. This is one of those comics that is a good entry point for readers who are curious about comics, but don’t feel compelled to read super-hero stories. Saga is the story of mixed-species couple who meet as a guard and prisoner in a P.O.W. camp. Alana and Marco fall in love, have a baby, and go on the run…but not necessarily in that order.  They are chased by a multi-limbed female humanoid/arachnid assassin and a bounty hunter with a cat partner that says, “Lying” when someone is not telling the truth. It all sounds insane, but has a very cool storyline and some pretty innovative storytelling. The artwork by Fiona Staples is beautiful. If you enjoy science fiction and/or quirky romance, give it a try – just be prepared for some adult content.

Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang
Set at the turn of the century during the Boxer Rebellion, these two graphic novels offer different perspectives on a tumultuous time in China’s history.  Boxers follows Little Bao, whose village has been invaded by a brutal priest and his enforcers. Bao tries to stand up against the oppression of the Christian missionaries by gathering an army of peasants. They learn to use kung-fu to channel the power of Chinese deities to defend their culture and religious traditions. The companion volume, Saints, tells the story of Four-Girl, an unnamed fourth daughter in a family that doesn’t want her. She is baptized by the same priest from Little Bao’s story. Four-Girl embraces Christianity and finds acceptance from fellow worshippers, who give her the name Vibiana. Visions of Joan of Arc and Jesus give Vibiana the strength to stand up for her right to practice the faith of her choice. One of the interesting things about these two books is that both main characters, Little Bao and Vbiana, are compelling and sympathetic. Each one has a very direct connection with their respective faiths. Put together, the stories of this National Book Award finalist offer a well-rounded take on a historical period I knew little about.

Zone One by Colson Whitehead

October 30, 2012

On September 26, 1983, the end was nigh.

Lieutenant colonel Stanislav Petrov was the duty officer at the command center for the Oko nuclear weapon early warning system, when the system reported that the U.S. had launched all its Minuteman missiles against Soviet Union. In other words, Petrov’s native country seemed to be under a massive nuclear assault. But the lieutenant colonel did not act on the data. He judged it to be erroneous. If he had shared the report with his superiors, it would have been their duty to retaliate, which would have meant the end of the world as we know it.

Today, perhaps partly because of the end of one millennium and the beginning of another, end of the world scenarios are abundant, and the writer Laura Miller has suggested that, at least in the American imagination, it “is a wish disguised as a fear. [—] Having run out of space, and constructed an overwhelmingly complex, sophisticated and often decadent society, we can only make our way back to the frontier […] by wiping the slate clean in the place where we already live and starting over. Zombies serve as non-human humanoids who can be slaughtered, without a twinge of conscience.”

In Colson Whitehead’s novel Zone One, published in October 2011, mankind seems to have dodged the end of the world in the shape of a zombie (or zombie like) plague. Mark Spitz, the narrator, works as a sweeper and clears lower Manhattan of leftover living deads. The main part of the book takes place during three dreary days, mostly inside the head of Mark Spitz. And his commentary is bleak: the fallen world order that he is helping to resurrect is deemed a mental and cultural junkyard – nothing in it has any transcendent value.

Zone One is much like the Cold War that Stanislav Petrov prevented from catching fire – it’s like a cold, wet towel on your head on a chilly and rainy October day. The novel may ask, What’s the point in saving this world? And the reader, staring at the zombies that hide in the book’s pages, may come up with surprising answers.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog

Still Dead edited by John Skipp

October 27, 2010

We would be remiss not to feature some top quality horror this close to Halloween, so today’s selection starts us off with a title featuring creatures that are all the rage right now. Zombies have always been popular, but they’ve only recently become fashionable. Some of us have been fans since we first saw the original George Romero films, while some of you are just johnny-come-lately posers who act like zombies are all new and stuff. In fact, I’ve started liking zombies less now that they’re so trendy. But as a token of my magnanimity, I will do you the service of drawing your attention to a title that has fallen beneath most people’s radar because it was published before the current zombie craze.

Still Dead anthologizes a dozen or so zombie stories by various authors of the horror genre. Each story takes its inspiration from the Romero films, so there are no “zombie romance” or “zombie high-school” tales; these are vintage Dawn of the Dead gorefests that submit the human body to every possible form of degradation. Like the films, the stories make you question who the real monsters are. The living can seem even more subhuman than the undead, and the lines between the two factions are often blurred.

Zombies are fun. They’re gross and evil and hungry, but you can’t help but love them. If the world ended, and there was no one else alive but me, I would become a pizza zombie. I would get fat, stop washing and stumble from town to town looking for pizza parlors and just help myself. And perhaps therein lies the appeal of these stories.

Devour it here!

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