September 30, 2009

Zombies for Zombies (Review)


Zombies for Zombies:
Advice and Etiquette for the Living Dead

By David P. Murphy
Illustrated by Daniel Heard

Sourcebooks: 2009

RATING: 3.5/ 5 zedheads

So, you've been bitten by a zombie. Bummer.

Remember in the film Beetlejuice how new ghosts received the Handbook for the Recently Deceased to help them adjust to being dead? Well, ghosts aren't the only dead folks who require self-help. Zombie life is rough, you know. There are numerous guidebooks available for consumers eager to learn the best way to kill, maim and decimate zombies, but what exists to help the zombies themselves? Into this void in the publishing market comes a new motivational book to teach zombies how to resist turning into just another mindless member of The Horde. I'm talking of course about David P. Murphy's amusing new book Zombies for Zombies: Advice and Etiquette for The Living Dead.

Zombies for Zombies (Z4Z) reads like an artifact from a weird parallel dimension in which a zombie virus (the Provo virus) has ravaged the world, yet corporations (such as the fictional QualiCorps) have stepped up to restructure society into a series of safe zones. As part of this restructuring, researchers and marketers have discovered and trademarked a slew of pharmaceutical, dietary, and motivational techniques for helping zombies maintain some civilized levels of humanity (i.e. consumerism) that prevents them from devolving into the completely feral zombies of The Horde. These civil zombies are branded with the PC term "Post-Lifers" and shipped off to The Scarlet Shores, a series of secure post-life beach resorts. On the Shores, post-lifers can mingle, moan, drink, eat brains, and enjoy a series of recreational activities specifically designed for people with all the physical durability of a moldy peach.

Equal parts healing and marketing, Z4Z is a motivational guide for newly-bitten individuals beginning their exciting and putrid transformation into post-lifers. Written in a very accessible style that melds quasi-textbook content with off-the-cuff asides and amusing references, Z4Z manages to work as a parody of self-help guides like the ...for Dummies series and as a unique comedy book in its own right. As a guidebook, however, it doesn't make for the most compelling reading. While amusing and charming, its structure doesn't encourage sustained reading. It's a book you can pick up and read in installments and then come back to three weeks later without feeling you've missed anything. More than sometimes, Murphy will stretch a joke too far or make too obscure a reference, but the majority of the time the book's sense of humour nibbles directly on the funny bone.

What the book may lack it makes up for in scope and art. Z4Z is incredibly comprehensive, covering etiquette, diet, religion, fashion, and even zombie sex. Yes, zombie sex. Looks like stiffs can still be stiff in all the right places according to Z4Z's tongue-in-cheek take on the Karma Sutra: the Koma Sutra. Everything you could ever want to know about preparing for the rigors (mortis) of post-life can be found in Z4Z. Each chapter begins with solid-looking art by cartoonist Daniel Heard. Most of the pictures feature a character we see slowly decompose over the course of the book who also looks similar but legally distinct from the guy on the ...for Dummies book covers.

5 Things I learned from Zombies for Zombies

1.) A good recipe for Scrambled Brains N' Eggs includes 1lb of chopped cow or sheep brains. And here I was using rat.

2.) While Romerin®, the heart-shaped pill, may improve brain function, it also gives one a longing for library paste.

3.) Shuffleboard is a competitive sport for not only the nearly dead but also the living dead.

4.) The Virgina Surreal is a dance move as confusing as its name.

5.) 21-30 hours into Provo Virus infection, uvulas burst and ear hair grows exponentially.

All in all, Zombies for Zombies is a fun read. I felt at times that it would be more interesting to read a fiction novel set in the world Murphy has created rather than read a fictional guidebook from that world, but the book works. Among the other faux-serious zombie guidebooks that can tend to be a bit dry, Zombies for Zombies is a welcome diversion. Zombies for Zombies is now available in bookstores and online. Check it out.

For more information:

Zombie for Zombies official website
Zombie for Zombies Youtube Channel