Monday, September 27, 2010

Review: Zombie Felties

Nicola Tedman & Sarah Skeate, 2010, Penguin Australia

As a bookseller by trade, I can confirm that instructional books on creating Felties - cute little dolls (generally finger-sized) made from felt - are the in thing at present with folks who enjoy handcrafts. That said, even as one of the True Believers in zombie pop-culture, I would not have predicted the publication of a book such as Zombie Felties. And yet, here it is. And, I have to say, it's lots of fun.

In addition to providing clear, idiot-proof instructions (fortunately for negatively-skilled folk like myself) for the creation of each of the sixteen zombie felties described herein, the authors of this book have been extremely creative in their approach to materials (looped red thread for spilling guts; pink sequins for exposed brains), as well as in the range of suggested figures, which include such gruesome delights as the Zombie Bunny, the Mexican-style Day of the Dead Zombie, the Classic Zombie, and the 'Thrilla' Zombie (guess who?).

At the risk of undermining my well-deserved reputation as a macho he-man (no laughing at the back, there!), I had a great deal of fun putting together my Zombie Pirate feltie, and the construction of the Zombie Surfer kept my zed-obsessed son occupied for several blissful hours during the current school-holiday period, which - in my book - makes Zombie Felties an absolute winner.

Review: Ex-Heroes

Peter Clines, 2010, Permuted Press

Folks had really only just come to terms with the existence of genuine superheroes when the dead began to rise. Now, Los Angeles is a wasteland. Thousands of survivors shelter in a converted film studio, under the protection of the remaining superpowered individuals, while millions of hungry ex-humans roam the streets. Now, however, there's something worse out there than the zombies. Across the city, another group of survivors has grown and gained power. And they are not heroes...

If ever there was a novel that I'd give just about anything to see turned into a movie, Ex-Heroes would be it. The plot - which, far from rehashing Marvel Zombies territory, offers a fresh and engrossing take on the superhero/zombie mash-up - storms along at white-knuckle speed, boasting a superb blend of action, intrigue and survival horror, while somehow finding breathing-room for some major character insights and development. The superheroes (and humans) of the tale are all wonderfully flawed, in ways that generally serve to drive the plot rather than simply complement it, and the reader is constantly reminded that human nature doesn't always vanish with the onset of superpowers, for better or worse. Add to the mix Clines' ability to create stunning visuals in the mind's eye of the reader through masterful use of prose and dialogue, and the resulting package is one of the very best zombie novels I've yet to read.

Ex-Heroes is a must-read for genre fans who demand so much more than just another zompocalypse. Hell, I'd read Clines' laundry list if that happened to be the only other thing he ever wrote, but I'll hold out hope for another novel, and soon.