Friday, January 21, 2011

Review: Zombie Apocalypse!

Ed. Stephen Jones, 2010, Scribo Australia

In near-future London, construction work on an old church releases a plague that turns its victims into flesh-hungry ghouls. As 'The Death' begins to sweep across the country, and then the entire globe, civilization collapses. Told through a series of interconnected eyewitness narratives - text messages, emails, blogs, letters, diaries and transcripts - Zombie Apocalypse! is an epic tale of a world plunged into chaos as the dead battle the living for total dominion...

Comprising dozens of individual pieces contributed by many talented authors (credited only at the back of the book, to emphasise the 'found footage' nature of the anthology), Zombie Apocalypse! details the titular event from seemingly-innocent beginnings to ultimate end, with often-understated evidence of bureaucratic bungling, governmental cover-ups and military failures contributing to the atmosphere of dread and impending doom that builds throughout. While some of the more irreverently light-hearted pieces seemed a little out of place against the overall darkness, most contributed strongly to the overall story. It's been a long time since I've been genuinely frightened by a zombie tale, but several pieces in Zombie Apocalypse! (such as Paul Finch's deceptively dry policeman's report of the Night From Hell) were so effectively disturbing that - I'm ashamed to admit - after reading this anthology in a single sitting, I was reticent to leave the safety of my brightly-lit lounge room and traverse the darkened house to go to bed.

Shared-world anthologies can often be a mixed bag, but Zombie Apocalypse! offers a wonderfully cohesive, engrossing, and truly horrifying vision that should keep most readers turning the page into the wee small hours of the morning. A great, if disturbing, read.

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