The year is 2012, and what starts as a pervasive and inexplicable illness ends up as a zombie infestation that devastates the world's population. Taking the form of an illustrated journal found in the aftermath of the attack, this pulse-pounding, suspenseful tale of zombie apocalypse follows biologist Dr Robert Twombly as he flees from city to countryside and heads north to Canada, where -- he hopes -- the living dead will be slowed by the colder climate. Encountering scattered humans and scores of the infected along the way, he fills his notebook with graphic drawings of zombies and careful observations of their behaviour, along with terrifying tales of survival.
Being a bit of a zombie groupie, I've been following the release of Zombies: via Don's Facebook page for a while now, so I was stoked to receive a copy on Saturday morning. And since I was home alone, I thought I'd just sit for a moment to flip through it while I finished my coffee.
It goes without saying that a refill and a sneaky bowl of Cheerios later, Zombies: had been suitably devoured. As the blurb says, the book takes the form of an illustrated, handwritten journal kept by Dr Twombly as he seeks refuge from the burgeoning zombie epidemic. It's a nice concept, written in a way that suggests an academic who's trying to hold it together while facing up to the bleak reality that he's one mistake away from being a takeaway. There are some interesting ideas, not least of which is the probable cause of the outbreak- an idea which, unlike some previous zingers from the annals of zombie history, has the bittersweet aftertaste of satirical truth to it.
Dr Twombly's horror at what is happening around him is nicely contrasted by the vestiges of his clinical training as he records his thoughts about the biomechanics of the infection while weighing up whether a shovel or baseball bat is more effective for personal defense. There's plenty of the good stuff you'd want from a zombie apocalypse- streets choked with zombies, survival nuts going mental, gnawed off limbs, ongoing decomposition, set against and balanced out by Twombly's horrified and reluctantly pragmatic approach to surviving the epidemic.
Chris Lane's illustrations provide some wonderfully coloured, gory punctuation to the story and have a rough edge to them that lets them blend in nicely with the concept.
Zombies throws out some good ideas and is a punchy, interesting read- and while fun, I reckon it deserves, and will be even better on, a second reading. Welcome to a permanent home on my zombie shelf, Dr Twombly.