Sunday 24 May 2015

Dark Book Review – Undead Obsessed: Finding Meaning in Zombies

Dark Book Review – Undead Obsessed: Finding Meaning in Zombies

Written by Casey Douglass

If you have any awareness about the state of modern entertainment, you will almost certainly have noticed that zombies are definitely a thing again. We had our Twilight and True Blood vampire thing, now the flesh dripping shambling undead are the darlings once more. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder! Jessica Robinson's book Undead Obsessed: Finding Meaning in Zombies looks at why we find them so fascinating, what this says about us, how realistic our fears are and how we might best survive a zombie apocalypse. What more could you want from a book?

Blurb: Jessica Robinson's obsession with zombie films started when she was in junior high. Horror films are a great lens to examine concerns society has about modern science. Let’s face it, when it comes to horror movies, science has a bad reputation. Blind ambition, experimental serums, and genetic experiments are often blamed for the giant monster terrorizing the city or the reason aliens are taking human prisoners or the cause of the dead rising from the grave to consume living flesh.

Using film, literature, and interviews with experts, Robinson examines how zombies portray real-world fears such as epidemics, mind control, what may or may not exist in space, the repercussions of playing God, and the science behind the fears. Robinson's goal is to explore how zombies become a metaphor for our fears of science and what could happen if science gets out of hand.

Jessica begins by detailing how her obsession with the undead began, before moving onto the more complex than it sounds issue of what an actual zombie is, and various cultures’ takes on the matter. I found this section particularly enlightening and enjoyed reading about the various kinds, their supposed powers and abilities, and the ways the suffering populace in the area were best advised to take them down. She also explains how science is nearly always portrayed as the scapegoat, the ineffectual scientists not helping in an outbreak or even worse, causing it by their meddling with nature.

The reader is then taken through various scenarios or methods of transmission if a zombie contagion was really out there in the wild. This includes a visit to the water treatment facilities and Jessica’s asking of an expert on his opinion of the threat. This pattern continues for the next sections of the book, raising an issue such as biological weapons, science running amok etc. and then looking at the possible ways that these things could really come about.

This all might sound a little dry to anyone who isn’t a die hard zombie fan but Jessica does a great job of presenting the information in a way that almost anyone will be able to relate to and understand. She does this by utilising films. Have you seen World War Z? The Crazies? Night of the Living Dead? These are just some of the films Jessica uses as a means to exploring the particular issues they might contain, and it is very effective too. It’s one thing to talk about panspermia but quite another to read about it in relation to Night of the Living Dead.

One thing that I didn’t particularly like about the book was the way Jessica referenced previous chapters in an almost essayist way. If you have just read a chapter on a certain topic and moved on to the next, it feels a little strange to come to a piece of text which then tells you the chapter that the topic came from. I feel a little mean picking on this but it made the book feel a little like a group of essays that were put together and it just felt odd to me. I can’t fault much else in the book so maybe that's the only reason I have found something that comes down to taste rather than a more objective issue.

Undead Obsessed: Finding Meaning in Zombies is a very easy read and Jessica has a great writing style. I’m familiar with more than a few zombie philosophy issues, and I still learned a good deal about some of the issues around the topic. If you are a zombie fan in any shape or form, I recommend Undead Obsessed: Finding Meaning in Zombies, I don’t think you'll regret it! I rate it 4.5/5.

Click here for more info about Jessica, her book and ways to contact her.

Title: Undead Obsessed: Finding Meaning in Zombies
Author: Jessica Robinson
Publisher: Booktrope Editions
Published: 28 Oct. 2014
Pages: 202