Check It Out: Prepare yourself for the zombie apocalypse

Once a fringe genre, zombie fiction and movies have certainly been on the rise.

From the classic slow-moving, shambling horror of George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" to the fast-paced, rage-filled terror of Danny Boyle's "28 Days Later," the theme of pandemic doom is inherent in almost all zombie literature.

The genre can be light-hearted and fun as in Edgar Wright's "Shaun of the Dead," or filled with dark humor, as in Michele Soavi's "Cemetery Man." The undead are typically shown to be a pale reflection of our lesser selves: unthinking, unfeeling members of a fading civilization.

One series that has quickly taken off is "The Walking Dead" graphic novel collection by Robert Kirkman. Now a highly-rated television series on AMC, "The Walking Dead" follows a small band of survivors following a zombie outbreak. As the story develops, Kirkman uses the zombie backdrop to portray what happens to morals, ethics, laws, relationships, and many other human elements in the midst of a breakdown in society.

"World War Z" by Max Brooks is another genre favorite, soon to be a motion picture. The storytelling is done in a narrative format — a collection of personal accounts from survivors from the epidemic. The action seems closer and more realistic, with a fair amount of political and social commentary mixed in.

The series of books "Monster Nation," "Monster Island," and "Monster Planet" by David Wellington introduce many new and different elements to the zombie genre. Under specific circumstances in this world, consciousness can be retained even while the body decays giving birth to the thinking zombie. Some characters also exhibit supernatural powers. The world portrayed by Wellington is bleak, grim and terrifying but also filled with detail, friendships and the need to survive.

Another new direction for zombie fiction is the reimagining of literature classics … but with zombies. A prime example would be Seth Grahame-Smith's "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" (or, the graphic novel adapted by Tony Lee). Not only does the Regency-era populace have to contend with the living dead, but with pirates and ninjas as well! Similarly, with "Zombie Notes," author Laurie Rozakis presents a parody study guide to many world classics such as "Romeo and Juliet and Zombies," and "A Tale of Two Cities Overrun with Zombies."

In any good post-apocalyptic scenario, you have to have a plan for survival. Try Max Brooks' "Zombie Survival Guide." Brooks maps out every element of how to survive in a doom-filled world overflowing with zombies. From weapons and combat to home defense and fortifying public places, Brooks seems to have thought of everything.

A similar book is "The Zombie Combat Manual" by Roger Ma. Ma not only evaluates weapons, but discusses their uses, and need for maintenance. Ma also painstakingly instructs in strategy and technique in combat methods against the living dead!

All of these books and more are available at the Newport Beach Public Library, online at Use the library catalog to search, read reviews, and place holds on the genre of your choice!

CHECK IT OUT is written by the staff of the Newport Beach Public Library. All titles may be reserved from home or office computers by accessing the catalog at For more information on the Central Library or any of the branches, please contact the Newport Beach Public Library at (949) 717-3800, option 2.

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