Archive for February, 2013

I’ve just been doing a few searches to try and see what I can find out about BBC3’s new zombie drama – In the Flesh.

Here’s a trailer for it –

Looks good doesn’t it?

Basically it tells the story of zombie teenager Kieren Walker  and his reintegration back into both the local community and the heart of his family.

After his death four years ago, his friends and family thought they’d never see Kieren again. But then, shortly after his funeral, thousands of the dead were re-animated; and now, after months of re-habilitation and medication, the zombies are gradually being returned to their homes.

There’s a whole load of zombie resentment going on. Well who wouldn’t resent them after the bloody battles that ensued after the rising of the dead? Kieren is also getting flashbacks about what he did in his untreated state.

It’s a three-part drama and it looks like it start on Sunday, March 17 at 10pm.

I love the Government information film – Keep Calm and Avoid the Dead. It’s just how it would be done. THink about all those cheesy government information films we get about drinking too much, or not doing enough exercise. Here it is – In the Flesh – Avoid the Dead

Here’s the BBC3 page for it –In the Flesh

I can’t wait – what about you?

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After the ShockOK, I’ll start by saying this isn’t exactly zombie book. This is about ‘zapheads’. They are sort of zombie-like so I’m going with the flow on this.

It was on my Amazon Prime list and I’ve read a couple of books by the author so I thought I’d give it a go. I found the other books I read by the author, Liquid Fear and Chromic Fear, to be pretty fast-paced stories. I bought them as holiday reads and they worked perfectly for that.

Anyway, onto the story. I’ll try to keep it a bit vague and not to give too many spoilers. It starts a little while after an event which has affected the large majority of the population. There has been some sort of sun flash which seems to have zapped people’s brains, hence the name zapheads. These zapheads are roaming the streets and attacking and killing people. They seem to be full of hate and anger. It’s a similar type of idea to Haters by David Moody (now that’s a good series).

The story focuses around a couple of small groups and how they are surviving and how their paths cross. Rachel is one of the key characters and she’s on here own trying to get out of the city. We don’t know much about her but there are plenty of internal flashbacks to build her story. She meets up with another guy and the soon find a 10 year old boy in a hotel room. Their paths cross with a bunch of slightly insane military bods who seem to be doing just as much damage as the zapheads.

There’s also a couple of university lads trying to keep it together who meet up with another small group, who are having their own power struggles. Eventually all their paths cross.

There’s also a third storyline with and older survivalist kind of guy who takes in a mexican family.

Towards the end of the book it also starts to become apparent that the zapheads seem to be evolving and starting to sort of work together.

It’s a fast-paced book and some of the characters work really well. Everyone is dealing with the situation in their own ways. There’s not really anything new in this book, but it all fits together well and keeps you gripped.

It didn’t take too long to read. That’s the kind of annoying bit. The book ends, just as it’s starting to get going. The groups have met up, the zapheads are evolving and then that’s it. But, do you want to know the most annoying piece? I was reading it on my Kindle and the story ended while my Kindle was only on 89%. That drives me mad! The remaining 11%, yes 11%, was padded with info about other books by the author.

Clearly there’s a second book, called ‘After:the Echo’, but I feel like I’ve only read half a book anyway. I feel a little bit cheated as I think this is just half a book. I enjoyed it, but they might as well have joined both books together and charged one price…

C’mon authors, when a does a book get split into smaller books and become a series? I like a good series, but I also like to feel like I’ve read a whole book!

Rot and Ruin  This is another book that I picked up to read as part of the Zombie Book of the Month Club on Facebook. Everything that have selected as the book of the month has been great so I knew it would be a goodie.

It’s a YA (Young Adult) book but don’t let that put you off. If you’re into your post-apocalyptic fiction you’ll have no doubt read other YA books and really loved them. Think of His Dark Materials, The Hunger Games, Chaos Walking (The Ask and the Answer), Warm Bodies,  or even Delirium. Fantastic books that are written for a younger audience, but still pack a punch that an adult will enjoy.

Well, the first book, Rot and Ruin, was the book of the month, but as soon as I read it I had to download the next book, and then the next book, and so on. you know what I mean! Once I start a series, I have to finish it.

Here’s the list of the books:

  • Rot and Ruin
  • Dust and Decay
  • Dead and Gone (a shorter story, introducing a new character)
  • Flesh and Bone

Flesh and BoneNow, onto the story. It’s 14 years after the zombie apocalypse and Benny is just about to finish school and needs to find a career. He was a baby when the  first zombies started to rise (First Night) and was saved by his brother, Tom, but he resents his brother for leaving his parents. Tom is a bounty hunter and wants Benny to join the family business. The story introduces the world outside their town, the Rot and Ruin, and allows the poor relationship between Benny and Tom to blossom and grow as Benny understand more about what his brother does and what really happened on First Night.

The path is pretty rocky though and they encounter zombies and other bounty hunters, who run the Zombie Gameland. No, it’s not a nice place to visit. Also there’s the introduction of the Lost Girl, Lilah

The second book continues the story and has Tom, Benny, Nix, Lilah and Chong trying to find the jet that they saw fly over in the first book. The group end up getting split and find that Gameland has been rebuilt and things are worse than ever. There’s a pretty sad ending to this book, so be warned!

Dust and DecayDead and Gone is a shorter book and introduces Riot to the group of characters. It also brings in the Night Church and the Reapers.

Riot, the Night Church and the Reapers feature heavily on the 4th book. This one is a real page turner and expands the Rot and Ruin into other groups and cultures. Of course it ends with even more of a cliffhanger than the other books!

Now, the first book I really enjoyed. Benny was a bit annoying at the start as he was just so angry with Tom but had never discussed First Night with him in 14 years… By the end of the book I’d grown to like him more and loved the relationship with him and Tom. The second book for me was a not as strong, but still a great book. But this is often the case with a series of books. There was a good building of characters and Chong and Benny bounced off one another really well. Nix is quite annoying and the ‘anger’ seems to be firmly in her court in this book. The 3rd book (Flesh and Bone) is fantastic though. The addition of the Night Church and the Reapers pulls in a group that are more scary and dangerous than any zombie. By this book you know the main characters pretty well, but the introduction of new characters really adds to the book. This book also brings in the idea that the is a Sanctuary out there.

ThDead and Gonee is a further book scheduled which will hopefully tie up the loose ends. And there were plenty at the end of Flesh and Bone.

This is a fantastic series. Not the same level of gore as a standard ‘adult’ zombie book, but more focus on the character and relationships, and to be honest, the storyline (which can be missing from some blood and gore books).

Oddly enough, the only character I found was lacking in roundness as Lilah. In the first book there is a lot of talk about the ‘Lost Girl’ and all the myths that surround her, but when you meet here, there’s not a lot of depth to the character. Riot was a much more rounded character and only featured in the last couple of books.

It’s really just a minor quibble as the series really romps through. Every book is a real  page-turner, especially the last book, which has the focus on a character or a group for each chapter, so you’re dying to read the the next chapter. Very cleverly written.

This is prabably the first book I’ve read where you actually feel a little sorry for the zombies. The words of Tom echo through the books – ‘they were all once human’. Yeah, OK these are still zombies that will eat you and kill you, but they are pictured as more pathetic creatures who can’t really be blamed for what they are. This isn’t the namby-pamnby returning to humanity that you get in Warm Bodies, just a real sense of they are what they are, don’t kill them or torture them just for the sake of it. There’s more a dignity to them – when they aren’t moaning and trying to eat you!

Surviving the DeadThis book was recommended by Mark Tufo on his Facebook page. I believe that the writer is another self-published author, which always encourages me to try a new author. I’m glad I did.

I’ve read a couple of books in the series and I’m guessing that there are likely to be more. The first 2 in the series are:

  • No Easy Hope
  • This Shattered Land

It’s a really good series. Of course, like most post-apocalyptic books, there is a survivalist or an ex-Marine or someone who was trained and prepared for such an event. The interesting twist with this book is that the main character, particularly in the first book, isn’t the survivalist. He’s a pretty wealthy guy who’s best mate told him that the world was going to end. His best mate is an ex-marine and former mercenary.

Eric, due to some help from his friend Gabriel, is pretty well prepared when the dead start to rise, but after a while his stocks start to run out so he decided to go and join forces with Gabriel. This is mainly his story in getting there. The second book picks up from there and their journey from Gabe’s stronghold. The first book is mainly Eric, but I think the second book benefits from having Gabe headlining in the story too.

Survivng the DeadBoth books are real page turners and I really enjoyed racing through them . here were some pretty good, interesting characters – and of course a liberal sprinkling of bad guys. You really find yourself routing for some of the characters.

Although this is a zombie book, there’s not masses of zombie gore, which is fine and fits with the way the book is written.

I believe that there’s going to be a book 3, which I can’t wait to read. Bring it on Mr Cook!

Warm Bodies

I read the book. I loved the book. I saw the film. I sort of liked the film.

I’m terrible when I see the film of a book I’ve read. I constantly compare it to the book and point out all the bits the film has missed out or changed. Yeah, don’t come and see a film with me if you know I’ve read the book 🙂

The main things for me that are not quite right in the film are:

– R was wearing a suit and tie. He liked the plane because when he was alive he’d clearly spent a lot of time there. Also his pre-apocalyspe suit and tie made him stand out when he went to see Julie. Obviously the dirty hoodie and the hint at being jobless fit more with the slacker teenage audience…

– No time was spent exploring the zombie culture. The bonies had much more depth and held the zombies in fear in the book. I guess R having a zombie wife and kids doesn’t fit with the demographics for the film audience?

– The zombies were just too ‘fresh’ and alive looking. It means that you really don’t see much of a transformation on-screen for when they start the change. Even when the make up is put on R, he doesn’t really look that much different.

– The ending. All those zombies and humans living and learning together? I guess they needed a happy ending with closure?

Warm Bodies - RAs a standalone film though it wasn’t bad. A bit too soft-soaped romantic Romeo and Juliette styled for me though. I don’t like chick flicks though. I though Nick Hoult was fantastic as R. He really raised the film for me. His mannerisms and facial expressions just added the right touch of quirky comedy to the film.

The bonies were pretty good although they did remind me quite a bit of the skeletons from Jason and the Argonauts!

All in all not too bad, if you forget about the book…

Last HopeI came across this as it was posted up on a Facebook page I like as being free for a few days. When I read the blurb for it I though it looked OK so I’d give it a shot.

The outcome? I really enjoyed it!

It’s one of those books that are a bit like a juggernaut and they rush you along for the ride. You get a few minuets here and there to catch your breath and then it’s off again. It’s a bit like reading a Simon Kernick book or watching a Die Hard film. You just have to jump on for the ride and hang on tight.

Anyway, on to the story itself. Budd Ashby is an American living in the UK. He’s a pilot, ferrying people and packages around for a big company. He drops off a scientist and as it’s an overnight job he gets to stop in London;s most exclusives and expensive hotel. It’s there he hooks up with a French pop star and they wake up to all the power in the hotel being off, and then realise it looks like the whole of London. When they eventually work their way down the hotel they realise there are a lot of dead bodies too. Finally they meet up with some survivors, a mix of staff and guests, all trying to work out what’s happening. That’s when things really take a turn for the worse. The dead bodies start to rise and attack the living.

It’s typical zombie stuff here. The living try to escape and fight off zombies and pick up other survivors on the way, and of course lose a few of the living to the walking dead.

I really like Budd. He’s an honest character, with plenty of background and flaws, and certainly doesn;t want to be the hero. He’s more than happy to let others take the lead. His relationship with the other character, especially Juliette, the French pop star. Some of the other characters didn’t build too well and I found myself getting them a little mixed up from time to time., but I prefered the fast-moving story to having lots of slowing downs explaining characters in more detail.

It’s pretty much written in the 3rd person, with the odd interjection here and there from Budd with his thoughts at the time. I’ve got to say that I did actually quite like the fact that he would sooner turn tail and run!

The only niggle I had was with the character from Yorkshire. All his dialogue was with the ‘the’ being replaced by ‘t’. Now coming from North Nottinghamshire myself I know that very often ‘the’ is completely missed from a sentence or sounds like it’s been shortened th ‘t’. But not every ‘the’. I found it irritating. I know Juliette was French and she used the title ‘monsieur’ all the time but her words weren’t chopped around to sound French. Likewise with Budd – clearly American from his phrasing and choice of words. Small niggle I know…

The story kept me gripped the whole time and I found myself constantly thinking “I’ll just read to the end of this chapter” and found that I still couldn’t put it down. I can’t wait for book 2!

Tankbread by Paul ManneringThis is an interesting take on the usual zombie tale. It takes place 10 years after humanity has lost the war against the zombie hoards. It also takes place in Australia, which makes it feel different.

What makes it an interesting take is that living people are kind of coexisting with the undead. It’s clearly an uneasy existence as many of the zombies are intelligent and they are ruling the roost. They are called EVOLS, which stands for Extremely Violent Lucid Organisms. In the surviving remnants of humanity are a bunch of geeks and they have stuck a deal with the intelligent zombies to feed them cloned humans – tankbread.

Our main character is a courier and is asked by the local head honcho zombie to go to the Sydney Opera house to pick up something from the geeks holed up in there producing tankbread.  Things start to go wrong when he gets there ans he ends up escaping with Else, who’s a clone.

The Story then follows them across a dystopian Australia, complete with pocket of the living who are worse than the undead.

It’s written int he first person and for me it was a little but like Sam Spade crossed with Mad Max. A mix that sort of worked. The added into the mix is Else, who is basically like a newborn and her growing knowledge is written very well.

The story moved fast, with lots of characters being introduced and lots of issues with the living and the zombie hoards. The first paragraph of the book will completely grab you – ‘The Asian across the table from me is tearing great gobs of warm flesh from his girlfriend’s neck. Tendons and tissue hang from his mouth in bloody spaghetti strands while his jaw works tirelessly to consume. He chews her like gum.’

The only issue with the book is the end. It was a bit of an out of character ‘monster’ end. It was a 5 star start and middle, but a 3 star ending for me.

I will keep a look out for the author though. He’s self-published, and I really enjoyed his writing and his characterisation.