Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I, Zombie

I, Zombie follows a variety of zombies through their everyday lives: shuffling around, attacking humans, rotting, and moaning. That doesn't sound too exciting, does it? This book has the only zombies I have ever seen that have fully conscious, normal people behind those vacant, rotting faces. Zombies are horrifying enough on their own (walking dead that want to eat us), but putting a person that can't communicate or control their actions inside each one makes the situation infinitely worse. The horror isn't just for the survivors; it's even more so for the zombies. They are a captive audience to every meal eaten, their bodies degenerating, and whatever action their body takes while experiencing it with all of their senses. Every wound is excruciating and they can't even make the slightest move to alleviate the pain.

Although the existence is the same with every person, their reactions, emotions, and experiences differ from person to person. One religious woman thought she was being damned for sins during her life and she continually reflected on her life. Another very old woman was elated to be able to move again and delighted in feeding off the young after she had been in a nursing home, immobile and waiting to die. A survivalist woman reflects on the irony that she was so prepared in her apartment for the apocalypse, but isn't even wearing shoes in her current existence. A drug addict suddenly realizes that his mother could still be there inside her wasting, unresponsive body and that she knew when he beat her or shot up heroin in front of her. Some wish to die, while others prefer to exist in some manner rather than be permanently dead. One even wanted to turn his friends into zombies, giving in to the uncontrollable urges of his body. The thought processes of each person were fascinating to read. Hugh Howey did a wonderful job of capturing the voices of vastly different people from Alaskan tourists to high powered business people to drug addicts. Each chapter changed in tone and completely immersed me in each character's story from their perspective.

This book is incredibly bleak. There is really no hope for anyone. The humans have no idea the zombies have any sort of consciousness left and are either eaten by them or kill them indiscriminately. The zombies know that other zombies are conscious, but are damned to be utterly alone. Each zombie is trapped in their own mind and realized what they should have done with their lives before it was considered a luxury to be able to move or scratch your nose or decide which direction you want to walk. They realize they were already zombies when they were alive, not doing the things they really wanted to do. The little things added up and take away what free will they had, like addiction, drive to fit societal norms, fear, boredom, and the comfort of familiarity.

I, Zombie is an amazing book that grabbed me right from the beginning. The disconnected narratives worked well in painting a horrifying picture from so many different perspectives. It's not for the faint of heart as there are a great many descriptions of eating people, rotting, and various bodily functions. I highly recommend this to any zombie fan looking for a thought provoking and depressing read.

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins

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