6. Monster Planet – David Wellington
In the end, basically nobody wins. That’s the main theme of many, many, many zombie stories. But not all of those zombie stories are technically detailed with interesting characters who don’t solely talk about survival all the time. The “Monster” series is a little wacky in scope, but it can also be slyly funny, it has a Druid…, and it has way better female characters than several other zombie-oriented books I’ve read (and that includes some famous comics that had their female characters improved exponentially when it was made into a TV show airing Sunday nights on AMC). The female characters are especially important in Monster Planet, Sarah and Ayaan are serious, resourceful, and basically act like real ladies would for the most part. This series is definitely one of my favorites and I like it better than Wellington’s vampire novels, even when it gets a little wacky.
Murderface and Duncan, also staunch and resourceful, ladypigs.
29. iZombie I: Dead to the World- Chris Roberson & Michael Allred
30. iZombie II: uVampire- Chris Roberson & Michael Allred
32. iZombie III: Six Feet Under and Rising- Chris Roberson & Michael Allred
33. iZombie IV: Repossession – Chris Roberson & Michael Allred
My issues with the iZombie comics are basically the same issues I have with the depiction of female main characters by male writers occasionally – overly sexualized drawings (Such a comics norm, but, is it really necessary to have so many skin tight outfits in a non-superhero or athletic setting? Must one be aerodynamic to be a zombie? Who is this for? I miss Daria. Tangent.), seeming agency revealed to be influenced mainly by dudes (Daria squint. I really do miss her.), and of course, that female main character must be sacrificed (and she’s nude…because she becomes a Grow Monsters- those are heroic tits I guess) in order to save the world. Gwen seems nice, has some quirks, and barely felt real to me. Why did she like that Horatio guy exactly? Sometimes vampires aren’t necessary. Why does she call Scott “Spot” if he’s really her friend? He didn’t seem to need his self-esteem lowered any further. How many characters do we need in this story? Really, Amon? REALLY? What a dick.
Reading the comics just made me feel like I missed something. I loved Gwen’s Halloween costume in the first issue (Shaun). I like the idea of a were-terrier. I thought Dixie seemed like a pretty cool diner owner and needed some more scenes, maybe a spotlight issue, and after a little research I see the series was ended after 28 issues due to low sales. That makes some of the plot line drops and the wrap up make more sense. I can’t help but wonder if maybe Gwen’s choices weren’t as a result of a dude-issue (whether it’s Amon or Horatio) it might have found a female audience just a bit more solidly. The agency and dude influence issues are definitely something I don’t notice as much when watching the iZombie television show. Also, Liv Moore wears a lab coat a lot of the time. Doesn’t seem to make her less of a zombie or solid heroine. All I can say is, the show better not specifically end with Liv becoming a Grow Monster to eat an alien entity bent on devouring the world. Although if it does, it will just be one more reminder of what women won’t be able to get any credit for after that disaster of an election. If they go that route, maybe she’ll just let the alien eat us. I think we’d be better off…at the least it would be unexpected and it’s not like we’ll get equal pay or recognition before I’m dead anyway.
Now is the time on Guinea Pigs and Books where I brag about how Rose McIver liked the postcard I gave her of this painting . She asked me if she could keep it, which was the sweetest possible thing she could have done. Rose McIver is excellent and very small, not unlike Ozma, the guinea pig playing her in the painting.
Thankfully, the very small Ozma will never have to worry about any of the things I get to worry about or becoming a zombie.
Filed under art, Review, Writing
5. The Zombie Whisperer – Jesse Petersen
Sarah and Dave return to Seattle to conclude the Living with the Dead series. I really enjoyed this entire series. It means a lot to me to see other writers working with horror tropes allowed some damn humor. I see no reason to try to survive in the zombie apocalypse if I’m just supposed to talk about surviving all the time. Recently, I did admit at a Torchy’s Tacos that I do not want to live if the zombie apocalypse were to happen. I think my massive problems with allergies are enough reason to just wait to be eaten. I don’t want to be around when the air conditioning stops working or when everyone who was enjoying some nice Torchy’s Tacos suddenly starts eating each other instead. Not for me. Sarah and Dave survived, they kept their marriage together, they can make survival tacos out of canned black beans and re-populate the world in my imaginary memory if they must. They’ve certainly taken up the torch of sarcasm in the post-apocalypse and for that I salute their story and heartily give up the idea of having my own.
Anyway, as a whole, I’m keen on this series as I said. On its own, The Zombie Whisperer is a bit weak for reasons that seem unfortunate. There’s just a smidge too much crammed into a small amount of space with some scenes that seem like they’re the correct length and others that felt rushed and although it makes sense, the couple-based complications of the last one are a little too on the nose for me. I definitely know that when ending a series things get complicated and I’m glad the action returned to Seattle, a nice full circle works in its favor. There is a bit of a scattered feeling to it for me, and I’m not sure that’s not influenced by the reading it as an ebook in Courier type… I have to say I’m also disappointed in the publishers for not giving the series a proper end in print. Tangential short stories only in eformat? Fine. But the end of a print series should be in print with the same cover style, out of respect for the series and its author if nothing else.
Twiglet knows how important it is to end a series right. It is just as important as knowing how to pose on top of a pumpkin, a skill Twiglet mastered in mere minutes.
59. Undead Much? – Stacey Jay
Undead Much? was a cute piece of teen rom-zom-com fluff when I read it and I bet it hasn’t changed. It’s the sequel to You Are So Undead to Me, another cute piece of teen rom-zom-com fluff revolving around Megan Berry, zombie settler – and I don’t mean pioneer-style settling. The most interesting aspect of it for me was that there is actually a dead guy involved in the romantic triangle. Well, mostly dead.
Pickles Pickles Pickles! She looks so incredibly cute on the pumpkin that Murderface is trying to leave the photo.
Filed under Books, Review
5. Monster Nation – David Wellington
Now that VH1 has mined the first vestiges of nostalgia for 2000-2009, I can move back to books I read back in 2010 and muse a bit. When I cover a series of multiple books I always assign a guinea pig to be pictured in the reviews and this series’ mascot is my little Duncan. I started this blog and said assigning procedures well after Duncan died (she died Dec. 22nd, 2009) at nine months old, but basically right after my little Twiglet died at one and a half in 2011. My review of the first book in the trilogy that I also read in 2010 – Monster Island – is one of my earliest reviews on this blog. And when I think about it, 2010 was basically one of my best years in terms of guinea pigs and reading. None of my family of pigs died during the entire year and I’ve had at least one die each year since then, which is pretty damn depressing but strangely unavoidable. 2010 was also the year I decided to start keeping a list of what books I read and that encouraged me to read more. I’ve always enjoyed reading, but occasionally I’d forget about it completely for a while and now I do not have that problem because I’m always trying to read more books this year than the previous one. This year I’ve even decided to focus my reading habits and try to read more of what’s been published in the genres I like by female authors. There are just so many male authors. And I have noticed some trends amongst what’s been allowed to be published by female authors. But I shant get into any of that now. Musing over.
As for Monster Nation, I enjoyed it. I did not like it as much as Monster Island because I don’t quite like the way the supernatural causes of the plague and the extra-supernatural powers of certain zombies were handled, but Wellington’s zombie trilogy is better than most of the zombie trilogies in existence, so that’s okay.
This is the picture I manipulated into being the cover of Day of the Robots. That cover is meant to look like a 1990s CD. I wish I had more pictures of Duncan.
47. Hater – David Moody
David Moody is a hit or miss author for me thus far. I was totally underwhelmed (“if that’s a word, I know it’s not ’cause I looked it up,” hee hee, Sloan) by Autumn and so I chose not to read the rest of the series. It probably got better. Hater and Dog Blood were both recommended to me before I knew that they were by the same author – and I have to say, I was much happier with the pacing, the characters, and the setting of Hater and its sequels. There’s an end of the civilized world for everyone. Some of them are more interesting than others and more action packed.
I’ve read that Guillermo del Toro has the rights to Hater, although not much seems to be happening with it. The recent World War Z adaptation made me think of what would happen if you forced the Haters from this series to mate with the dead on a global scale, and I’m not sure that’s necessarily good. World War Z was all right, as nearly the universe is aware by now; not much like the book I love so very, very much, but tense to watch and it followed an interesting journey. It was actually kind of nice to see so many location changes in a zombie movie, especially when each one was ruined in short order. I guess the global scale was the part of World War Z the film writers thought was useful.
Belvedere was really, really good at biting people in places where there wasn’t much between skin and bone. He’d be good in a epidemic biting plague.
20. You Are So Undead to Me – Stacey Jay
This is for teens and it shows. It’s cute and focuses on dances and dating and girl-on-girl bitchiness and the recently deceased returning to life. And I have to say that when tackling similar topics, Ms. Jay did a much better job than the dude behind Zombie Blondes. If your story is going to stay mainly on the surface, it’s best to have a solid surface. Narrator Megan Berry was a little irritating for me, I did want to ask her to get off my lawn at one or two points in the book, but she tries hard and was realistically portrayed. Sometimes her focus was in the wrong place, she seemed mildly uncoordinated, and she had a hard time dealing with her, um, responsibilities (to not give anything away, there’s some clever concepts in the book) – totally teenager.
Pickles is on the prowl for the unsettled. Murderface likes to cause the unsettling. It’s a tumultuous relationship.
Filed under Books, Review
18. Eat. Slay. Love. – Jesse Petersen
Sarah and David finally reach the Midwest! And there’s a wall. I was reading Jesse Petersen’s blog and there was mention of another Sarah and David book…eventually… I find that both maddening and something to look forward to. Not unlike the somewhat mystifying possible future of Ugly Americans, a show I enjoy with zombies and my favorite character, Doug the Koala-man aka Cesar the Murder Bear. At least I know there will very likely be another Living with the Dead book. I don’t know what will happen to Doug. I just don’t know.
Anyhow, this series showed me where the witty people of the post-apocalypse ended up, it has enough pop culture references to keep a reader like me happy, snappy dialogue, and enough gory action to work within the zombie canon. Sarah and David moved beyond whinging about the loss of humanity and stockpiling canned goods long ago, which for me is really the direction the zombie canon needed to go. It was just so refreshing to read a few zombie books without a grocery store confrontation or some arbitrary rape or the serious seriousness of Serious Falls. Thank you, Jesse Petersen, now please write at least one more with Sarah and David. They’re more fun to follow through the zombie apocalypse than most characters and that means a lot to those of us who have senses of humor and love plagues.
Murderface and Pickles did not come up against the Midwest Wall. They came up against a much greater obstacle: the edge of the bed.
Filed under Books, Review
58. The First Days – Rhiannon Frater
This book reminded me greatly of another zombie novel – Autumn by David Moody. If you liked Autumn and its inability to bring anything new and/or interesting to the world of zombies, you will enjoy The First Days. Oh look, it’s someone who is a tad shellshocked (and her name isn’t Barbara) and wearing inappropriate clothing for running away forever (she may or may not be missing her shoes). And there, over there, it’s someone who lost their girlfriend and watched her re-animate and come after her! They make it to a sporting goods store run by totally not the couple from Tremors because the wife is a former sniper, what a shocking development. Shock me shock me shock me with that deviant storytelling. Wait, are they going to adapt and yet make terrible decisions to retrieve people who should be left behind and then find a group of survivors trying to build some semblance of a protective society only to be slightly undermined by some random power struggle and some dude going nutballs? Nnyayybe. Sometimes, there are novels that seem to prove that nothing more can really be said about rising plagues of the undead. I do believe and wish upon a star that I will find more zombie stories that deviate enough to achieve greatness, perhaps Jiminy Cricket will help me out when he stops helping that jerk Pinocchio. I hate Pinocchio. I even read the book and I still hate it.
Anyway, I didn’t start this to discuss Pinocchio, who sucks. I started this because The First Days includes people who’ve lost loved ones, as all zombie stories do, and two of the methods of coping with losing loved ones – shock and moving on. I lost my little Belvedere this past weekend and I am a little angry with myself for choosing the moving on option. He had a saucy combination of everything that killed his two sisters and I did every possible thing to make him more comfortable while I didn’t know exactly what was going on. I gave him all of the treats that he wasn’t supposed to have repeatedly in the three days before he passed as well and I guess that’s part of why I can move on. When you do everything you can and you know you’re not half-assing there’s nothing to regret. I miss my little man and these are my first days without him and they do in fact suck, but checking out mentally is not going to help my living piggies. Bel lived his entire life with me and I’ve always been super proud of his slightly vindictive nature.
Say goodbye to the little Bel tree.
My favorite photo of Bel and his glorious sister Pickles. What’s a little face-nibbling between siblings?
One of the few photos where the little siblings were getting along – Morty using Duncan as a head rest, Pickles, and Belvedere and his little white pants. My little family, minus their mother Murderface, who finally got a chance to relax.
Filed under Books, Review
13. Feed – Mira Grant
As I have mentioned before, I like reading about ladies who know things. The lead character of Feed, Georgia Mason, is definitely a lady who knows things about blogging, about how servers and websites work, and who can wield firearms and sunglasses simultaneously. She is definitely an impressive character. She does have a totally creepy relationship with her brother though. Do they really prefer to sleep in the same bed? Really?
I also think I read this book at the wrong time. Reading about newspeople following a political campaign after living in Iowa during several election years and kinda still watching The Killing regularly is like hitting yourself in the face and asking yourself to quit hitting yourself while listening to a recording on your answering machine of yet another ridiculous political message – convoluted, yes, but also basically an accurate depiction. Politics can be very not fun. And I’ve found that the more informed I am about what’s going on in my country politically, the worse I feel about the possibilities. Some people don’t want anyone like me to have a future because I’m a lady and I’m educated (but not in business, man, not in business) and I don’t care about religion. I care about respecting other humans more than I care about money or religiousness, even though I don’t want to care because I abhor working with the general public. Anyhoo, the political campaigns in Feed seem to be just as ludicrous as those in real life and that shit just got too real at times.
Also, I got tired of the jargon and the specifics of blogging. Sometimes when people do research on their topics, it’s easily integrated. Sometimes it’s not. In this case, it’s usually relevant information but that doesn’t make it any less boring for me to read. I read Moby Dick, I skimmed a tad of the whaling descriptions. This book calls for the same treatment if you aren’t completely interested in electronics, servers, and people being on their computers and capturing footage and uploading and whatnot. I usually look forward to the zombie apocalypse because I dislike the sheer amount of technology required to be a normal human these days. I’ve got a tape player in my car and I like it that way. I wish I could go back to having a landline and a handset heavy enough to kill someone with. Telling someone to “pick up the phone” has a lot more meaning with a handset (Andy D has been stuck in my head for days, damnit, Tina!) I had a rotary phone in college (well, it was my housemate’s, but I had access and was totally unable to “push one for English” when using it).
Baby Duncan does not have to vote or experience the zombie apocalypse and the apparently inevitable rise of the bloggers – she could start a zombie apocalypse, a small, furry one, and I would be glad to see her.
Filed under Books, Review