Monday, September 15, 2014

September Zombies: End

I still had fun this year even though September Zombies was cut short. I hope to see you guys here next year for more zombie awesomeness. October still has spooky fun coming. :)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

More Zombies at Disneyland

Disney's California Adventure is once again home to a zombified band inspired by Alice in Wonderland called the Mad T Party. They sing covers and mashups of popular songs with a rock flair and they get festive for Halloween. As they perform throughout the night, each member gets more and more zombified until the last set which is full of spooky songs and Halloween fun. There are a few changes since last year and here are the songs they added.

1) In the Air Tonight/Sweet Dreams

2) Time is Running Out

3) Tainted Love/SOS

And after their final song, the always amazing Thriller, the Hottest Deck in Town Dancers have a special routine for Halloween that I somehow missed last year.

More zombies at Disneyland! Always fun. :)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sadie Walker is Stranded

A few months ago, the Outbreak happened and the dead rose and started eating the living. Nothing has been the same since. Sadie Walker lives in walled off Seattle and works as an illustrator just like she used to before the Outbreak. However, it doesn't support her as much as it used to since art is seen as a nonessential job when resources are scarce. Things aren't good, but the dead aren't banging down their doors until a fringe group called Rabbits who are intent on having as many kids as possible break down the wall. Seattle is overrun and Sadie escapes with a friend on a boat with a bunch of strangers. They lose their captain and a storm washes them onto a deserted island. How will they survive? What will they do next? What if the island isn't so deserted?

Sadie Walker is Stranded is a companion novel, but not really a continuation of Allison Hewitt is Trapped. The events exist in the same universe and the two books share at least one character, but Allison's story is done. Sadie Walker is directly influenced by Allison's blog that recorded her own account of the Outbreak. She saw it as inspiring and necessary for others to see stories of success during this time. Writing and art are seen as unnecessary during this time because they don't directly contribute to survival. Sadie makes her money creating cutesy and optimistic kid's stories to provide them an escape. In her spare time, she creates adult comics about surviving the Outbreak, but it's soundly rejected as being too depressing and too close to everyone's every day life. I like that this idea is explored because art is very important to humans in general. Just because it isn't needed physically for our survival doesn't mean that it isn't needed for our mental and emotional health. I've never seen the subject explored and it's nice to see someone fighting for it.

I enjoyed the first half of the story very much. Sadie lives a relatively normal life with her brother and her boyfriend. Then one day, everything goes to hell when the Rabbits break through the wall surrounding Seattle, letting all the zombies in. Not only that, but her boyfriend suddenly decides to kidnap her brother and attack her, but it goes wrong and he ends up dead. These scenes are very intense and the tenuous life they have all built after the Outbreak is shattered because of one fucked up cult. I wish Roux had explored this cult a bit more because I find them morbidly interesting. The Rabbit cult's goal is to have as many children as possible to repopulate the earth and of course it's powered by religion. Anyone can see it's insane since there aren't resources for that many newborns and people are just trying to survive at this point. I can't even fathom the amount of self absorption needed to destroy a whole city because they don't support your crappy religious views.

I didn't like the plot on the island as much. Sadie is pretty self absorbed and borders on Mary Sue territory when all the attractive men somehow go after her. One major plot point at the end just jumped the shark for me: a woman was able to manipulate zombies because she had briefly died. What?? I'm pretty sure zombies can still sense you're alive what with making noise, moving around, and doing unzombielike things. It doesn't make sense with the rest of the world building and honestly made me pretty angry since the first half of the novel was so good.

Sadie Walker is Stranded is half very cool zombie book and half not very good. I hope the series continues and goes more in the vein of Allison Hewitt is Trapped than this one. I would read other books by Madeline Roux, but many more like the second half of this and I would not.

My rating: 3.5/5 fishmuffins

Friday, September 12, 2014

Upcoming Zombies 2

1) iZombie on the CW

The DC comic iZombie is being adapted for TV on the CW. It will be a supernatural crime procedural featuring zombie Liv, Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti, and Detective Clive Babineaux as a detective team. Liv is a med student working in a coroner's office in order to have access to the brains she needs to stay human. With each brain she eats, she gains the knowledge and memories of the deceased that allow her to help the crime investigations. It looks funny and cute, a much different tone than The Walking Dead. It premieres during midseason, so keep an eye out!

2) The Walking Dead spinoff  show

The show will take place in the Walking Dead universe with all new characters. It won't be tied to the comic books in any way, so they have the freedom to do what they like and open the scope of the show. It will take place in a completely different place than the regular show and none of the Walking Dead characters are expected to make an appearance. Here's a list of the main characters.

3) Zombieland 2

After the disastrous attempt at a TV show continuation, I though Zombieland 2 would be dead in the water. Just a few days ago, articles came out that the project got a new writer, Dave Callahan, to work with Ruben Fleischer, who also directed the first movie. No word on if any of the stars, who are all quite busy, will return, but it's nice to know we might actually see this film someday.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Strange and Ever After

Eleanor Fitt is reeling from the many losses she has experienced because of an evil necromancer named Marcus who inhabits her dead brother's body. She and her band of misfit spirit hunters follow him to France only to find a huge horde of the undead and her friend Jie compelled by a spell. They then travel to Egypt to find the Old Man who is they key to raising a powerful creature who endows eternal life and untold magic onto its controller. Eleanor has to put aside her differences with her group and her unresolved drama with Daniel and Allison in order to work together and beat Marcus. She also has to come to terms with her dangerous powers and choose wisely when to use them.

This is one of my favorite zombie series and I'm happy to finally find out what happens, but sad that it's ending. Eleanor is the character I love to root for despite all her flaws. Her temper gets the best of her and she pushes her close friends away despite them being the ones who can best help her. Her temper wouldn't be so bad if she didn't also control very powerful necromancy that can lead to some really rash decisions. Eleanor has to learn that her power isn't the answer to everything and to listen to her friends with cooler heads. She made some decisions I didn't agree with, but learned from her mistakes and grew as a person. Even her most rash decisions stem from her drive to protect the people she loves. She gets very vengeful at a point and loses sight of the big picture, but it's understandable. She's lost almost everything and her grief, anger, and frustration build up. She's only human and I related to her completely.

I loved the journey to Egypt and the setting there. It gave this book a flavor so different from the other books that took place in the United States or Europe. Ancient Egypt has always been a fascination of mine and this book melds it with the Victorian era, zombies, and magic. This amalgamation makes the book come alive. The action is amazing and has more than the first to books combined. Marcus appears in the most unexpected places and they have skirmishes all over. The final battle is amazing. It took my breath away. So much power comes from both sides that I was seriously doubting which side would be victorious. I loved the ending and appreciated that despite the magic that flows throughout these books, death is final.

The only part I didn't really like was how hot and cold Daniel was throughout the novel. One minute he would be compassionate and understanding and then the next he would be super angry for very little reason. Other than that, I wish the series would go on, but the ending is satisfying even though it's sad. I am excited for whatever Susan Dennard writes next.

My rating:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Plague World

Ashley Parker is a wild card, infected by the zombie virus but immune with some enhanced abilities. She and her team of others like her have been fighting zombies, but rival organization bent on spreading the disease has kidnapped both her boyfriend Gabriel and Dr. Albert, the doctor close to finding a cure for the zombie virus. Her group follows the bad buys to San Diego in an effort to get their people back, but the virus has gone airborne. Zombie outbreaks are happening around the world and it seems like no corner of the world is safe.

Dana Fredsti is amazing and I will now read anything she writes. This whole series has been an amazing ride. I read this book in a couple days because of the breakneck pace. Just as with the first two books, the pop culture references abound and include everything from Firefly to Doctor Who. Although the poppy dialog is the Buffy-like humor throughout the novel, this installment is much darker than the first two books. Ashley is still snarky and fast witted, but more subdued and introspective due to the losses she's experienced. While Ashley is tough and kickass with her swords, she sympathizes with people and will go above and beyond for her friends. Her friends and even her enemies are also portrayed well. Lil has bipolar disorder and no longer has medication. Her behavior is erratic, but she isn't insane. The disorder isn't overexaggerated or treated as something she can just get over. The team (mainly Ashley) gets her the medication she needs and works to help her instead of dumping her or dismissing her mental illness.

Plague World ventures into some very dark territory. Interspersed with the story are vignettes of zombie outbreaks around the world. Each one is different and they vary in how detailed and long they are. The zombie virus is now airborne, so it spreads much faster. These little mini-stories gave the reader a good idea what the rest of the world outside of Ashley's story looked like without taking away too much of the tempo and momentum of her story. A very creepy character from one of the previous books comes back and it's frightening. I still get chills thinking about that part. The ending is not completely shiny and happy and I appreciate that. It would be out of place and unrealistic if it were. However, if it's the end of the series, it's not super satisfying. It's a bit rushed and definitely still open for more books should Dana Fredsti choose to revisit it. I really hope this isn't the end for Ashley and I would devour every book. Regardless, Dana Fredsti has made me a fan for life.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Life After Beth

Zach is devastated. His girlfriend Beth tragically died from a snake bite while hiking by herself. He befriends her grieving parents and they find comfort in hanging out and reminiscing until one day, they won't answer the door. Zach bursts in to find that Beth mysteriously reappeared and her parents are acting crazy. They are convinced it's a miracle and it's nice to have Beth back, so Zach goes with the flow. At first, their relationship is just as he remembered it: perfect and happy. Then, her behavior gets more and more erratic and cruel as her physical appearance also deteriorates. How long can they live with undead Beth and pretend she's normal?

Life After Beth is one film in a growing subgenre: zombie romantic comedy. It's light on horror and heavy on comedy, but still has some zombie carnage near the end when everything goes crazy. The overall concept is delightful. The zombism is a metaphor for a decaying relationship, where the couple stays together even though the relationship just isn't the same and they are only hurting each other by not breaking up. In the film, the relationship seems like roses and rainbows after Beth comes back and Zach is incredibly happy. Then, Beth starts to mentally and physically deteriorate. She becomes cruel and misanthropic in addition for her penchant for eating people. Zach feels obligated to stay with her, but, especially after meeting a charming and very much alive girl, it becomes clear that he's been keeping alive a relationship that will never be the same.

The zombies are flesh-eating, but appear normal until they rot and lose their mental faculties. For some odd reason, they really like smooth jazz and attics. It's never really explained and put in to be quirky or cute, but it's simply arbitrary and is used to get a few weak laughs. Aubrey Plaza was funny as Beth, but the role was very straight-forward and one note without any real nuance. I loved her parents, played by John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon. They insisted her return was a gift from god, proved by the Bible. Their dedication to her was sweet and unwavering, even as she became more and more zombie-like. Anna Kendrick is amazing as usual even in such a small part as the girl who makes Zach realize just how horrible his relationship is.

 Although I like the concept and the acting is pretty good, the execution overall was meh beyond the aforementioned performances. Dane DeHaan isn't the most sympathetic character and seems a bit smarmy and off-putting. I think maybe I haven't forgive him for Amazing Spiderman 2, the only other film I've ever seen him in. The laughs were few and far between and it didn't bring much horror at all. It seemed like long stretches of time would go by without much happening. The ending is predictable. All of the dead returning near the end of the film doesn't seem to mesh with the original concept. I thought it would have been better if the couple rotted together as they struggled to make their relationship work and then got better when they broke up. I would suggest to give it a watch because it was entertaining, but don't set your hopes too high.

My rating: 6/10 fishmuffins

Monday, September 8, 2014

Working Stiff

Bryn Davis was honorably discharged from the military after 4 years in Iraq and now seeks employment with  funeral home. It may not be glamorous, but the work is steady and she's good it. Then she discovers her boss might be a drug dealer after hours. Turns out that he is reviving people from the dead with a drug called Returne and then charging those people exorbitant fees to continue the treatment that keeps them alive. Bryn tries to escape, but her boss kills her. She's then revived by Pharmadene, the pharmaceutical company that created the drug, to find out where the leak in their company is. Unfortunately, if she doesn't complete her task, they see no value in keeping her alive. Can Bryn figure it out in time? Will they even keep her alive if she completes the task?

I found this book in a used bookstore and thought I'd give it a try. I'm glad I did because Bryn is an amazing character. She faces impossible situations and works through them. She's strong, yet human and still feels emotion. I can't help put root for her even though her situation is pretty bleak. I did wish her military training would have been utilized more because she was quite passive at times when I was infuriated and wanted to punch other characters in the face. The zombies are pretty much like people on borrowed time. If they are not administered Returne, they will slowly and painfully decompose while alive over the course of about 5 days. They are very resilient and can withstand a lot of damage, especially if more Returne is administered.

I had a few problems with the book. There were so many squicky issues and villains that it was a pretty bleak read. Here are our villains: the funeral director who extorts grieving families, the gross mortician who sexually harasses and tortures women, and Pharmadene the company who puts their own profits over lives. The good guys are few and far between. I don't mind depressing books, but this is marketed as an urban fantasy romance that doesn't really deliver on that. The romance is lacking as well. The situation is so bleak with all these bad guys and the lead character, despite being pretty awesome, has next to no autonomy. I literally would not have been surprised if she decided to kill herself.

Working Stiff is well written, but had a lot of problems. I might try to continue the series, but I hope it gets less super depressing.

My rating: 3/5 fishmuffins

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Waiting on Zombies

Upcoming zombie projects!

1) Maggie

I posted about this film last year, but details have finally come out about it. Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as a father who struggles to care for his daughter Maggie (Abigail Breslin) as she slowly succumbs to the zombie plague. Wikipedia says it will be released early 2015 with Lionsgate as distributor. The film has a small cast and a low budget, but since the film focuses on the characters and seems to be more personal, this isn't necessarily a bad thing.

2) Patient Zero

I just found out Jonathan Maberry's book was being adapted for the screen and it announced today that Natalie Dormer (of Game of Thrones and The Tudors fame) will be joining the cast. Stefan Ruzowitzky is set to direct and I hope it's going to be good.

3) Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

This film has been in the works since the book came out 5 years ago. After both Keira Knightly and Natalie Portman were supposed to star at one time or another, Lily James is finally cast as Elizabeth Bennet. Sam Riley (who was awesome in Maleficent) also stars as Mr. Darcy. Lena Headey and Charles Dance from Game of Thrones have also been added to the cast, but their role hasn't been revealed. Matt Smith is Mr. Collins, which should be fun. Can't wait for this movie to finally come out!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Zombie Stuff

Regular objects are made much more remarkable with zombie themes!

* Zombie bowl

Instead of eating cereal out of a plain boring bowl, why not eat it out of a zombie's brain cavity instead? Now breakfast is no longer a dull chore. Now you can gross out your family and friends by thinking of the most disgusting things to eat out of it. (The site suggests soggy shredded wheat, spaghetti with tomato sauce, or beef stew.) Zombies eat us all the time, so it seems only fair to do the same. ThinkGeek has this delightful bowl for sale.

* Zombie slippers

Instead of having boring old slippers to warm your feet, now you can have slippers that look like zombie heads than nom on your feet. These look super comfy and they are interchangeable, so when I'm all groggy in the morning, it won't matter which feet go where. Many of us are quite zombie-like in the morning, so why not make it more obvious? ThinkGeek also has these slippers.

* Zombie ear keychain

Add some zombie grossness to your keychain with this detailed, realistic zombie ear. It's 3D sculpted and hand painted, so each one is unique. You get all the benefit of having a zombie trophy without actually having to carry around a stinky, rotted human ear.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Last Bastion of the Living

* spoilers *

The last remaining humans are gathered in one place, the Bastion. The undead Inferi scourge has taken over the rest of the world and humanity is left to struggle with rolling blackouts, food shortages, and overcrowding. Maria Martinez grew up there and dreams of more. She barely survived a previous battle with the undead and came through scarred and missing an organ or two. When the government handpicks her to be part of a secret mission to destroy the Inferi, she enthusiastically jumps on the opportunity. Unfortunately, not all the details were divulged to her and the scientists perform an experiment on her. In her altered state, Maria vows to see it through to the end and do all she can to help humanity. But if the government is willing to keep things from her, who knows what else they are keeping under wraps. Maria and her crew venture out into the Inferi wasteland as humanity's last hope.
I very much enjoyed most of this book. Rhiannon Frater knows how to craft a book and succeeds in creating a unique and vibrant world. The Bastion is the last hope for humanity, but space and resources are limited. Life barely resembles the past despite the more advanced technology. The valley that provided sources food, energy, and water is now overrun with zombies. The Bastion plus the barren valley of zombies makes for a bleak setting. Even bleaker is the government. They completely manipulate their people in this enclosed setting by withholding information and spreading their own propaganda. Unfortunately, many of the government officials were one dimensionally evil. The zombies were more interesting. They are unique in that they don't decay past their death. They appear as wounded people in need of help instead of the shambling cannibalistic corpses they are.

Hope comes in with Maria Martinez, kickass soldier. She knows what she wants and will make it happen no matter what. Even after the government violated her with an unwanted experiment, Maria sees that their goals align with hers and she chooses to go ahead with the plan, but makes sure all the other participants know what they are getting into before they agree. I found this admirable. I would have probably told them where to stuff it and left, but she improved the situation for others while still agreeing to help humanity on a larger scale. Despite her fears, doubts, and insecurities, she prioritizes humanity over her own needs. Dwayne, Maria's boyfriend, is also pretty cool. He is one of the best love interests I've seen in a while. While Maria is off on her secret mission, he is gathering as much information as he can to relay to her and trying to help on his end. Even after he finds out about the experiment, he doesn't burst him to save her like a white knight because he respects her decisions. He trusts and believes in her and doesn't make rash decisions because he thinks he knows best. This was so refreshing after the typical alpha male love interest that is so prevalent recently.

The last quarter of the book is where I had major problems. It's revealed that Maria received a different strain of the zombie virus and she eventually completely heals and turns human on her own. Even her missing organs grew back and then she became immortal. What??? The virus actually came from space and that makes it ok to use as a deus ex machina to do whatever the author wants. It doesn't really make sense that it creates zombies on one hand and then creates immortality on the other. No explanation is given. It's just something that comes at the end so ham-handedly and it completely ruined the book for me after all the fast paced zombie killing action, futuristic bleakness, and pretty awesome characters. I honestly wouldn't want to read the sequel because it will inevitably be about immortal Maria and immortal Dwayne (because of course the immortality is contagious) having immortal babies everywhere. Just not interested in that.

My rating: 3/5 fishmuffins

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Eat Brains Love

At the beginning of the day, Jake and Amanda could not have been further apart. At the same high school, they are part of vastly different groups: Jake with the burnout stoner crowd and Amanda with the popular crowd. Then the playing field is leveled when they are both attacked by and turn into zombies. After eating a bunch of their friends and classmates, they escape the carnage together and try to survive. The media says they shot up the school, but are in custody, so they have no idea what's going on. On the other side of things, Cass is a telepath working for the government in the Necrotic Control Division to contain zombie outbreaks. This isn't her first rodeo and, despite her young age, she is one of the most powerful telepaths they have.  Her interaction with Jake and Amanda have her suddenly wondering if maybe zombies don't deserve to be hunted down and killed. Unfortunately, the leader of her organization has other plans.

I liked the slightly different lore than usual in Eat Brains Love. This zombie virus is a sexually transmitted disease, so a bite, no matter how bad, will just hurt.These zombies are not brainless all the time. When well fed, they are perfectly normal people with working systems and beating hearts. When extremely hungry, they turn into the zombies we are used to: shambling, brain hungry monsters. They have no control over their actions until they return to their well fed state. These changes added a lot to the story, especially because one of the narrators was capable of thought and speech. There is quite a bit of zombie carnage, but it doesn't generally disrupt the light tone of the novel.

I enjoyed Jake's narrative the most because of his budding and sweet relationship with Amanda and the excitement of their journey. I also found him likable and really sweet despite his slacker/stoner attitude. He feels really bad about the people he killed, but he accepts that's just how things are now. He tries to make the best of it with Amanda and their evolving relationship is my favorite part of the story. Cass is an interesting character with telepathy, but I found her narrative less compelling. The telepathy was pushing it for my suspension of disbelief, but it didn't bother me that much in the long run. Her story is less light with a government agency headed by an unscrupulous person who doesn't think twice about using people. She started to realize that full zombies are just like regular people, but then was shocked when they ate people still to stave off hunger. I thought she was a bit naive and annoying, especially when she became infatuated with Jake after seeing into his head so much like a creepy stalker.

Eat Brains Love is a cute, fun zombie novel. The different zombies and the love story sets this apart from other zombie novel. There's nothing revolutionary here, but I would definitely read the next in the series, Undead with Benefits.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Zombie Songs

More tunes about the living dead!

1) Zombie Delight - Buck 65

This song isn't my favorite style, but the lyrics provide invaluable information during a zombie apocalypse. Don't drink contaminated water. Important during an apocalypse situation. Don't reason with zombies. This may be obvious, but so many people are fooled by their own friends and family as zombies as if they would get better if you just talk to them. This is how many people in zombie movies get bitten. The song also has other basic zombie information like transmission and how to recognize them that would be better for those less familiar with zombies. The lyric video is unique and well designed and makes for a fun zombie song. 

2) Zombie - The Cranberries

Despite the title, this isn't really a song about zombies. It's about The Troubles in Ireland and specifically regarding the Warrington bomb attacks. The zombies could refer to the IRA members doing the bombings, simply following orders and not thinking about the devastation they are causing to their own people. Just another way that zombies can be used as a metaphor for something more meaningful. 

3) Iced Earth - Among the Living Dead

While this is another song whose style is not my favorite, the lyrics are like a poem about the undead. It's descriptive and even a little hopeful until the crushing defeat at the end. The frenetic momentum of the guitars and drums really drives the song and makes it effective. I love the bridge and when the band sings a little more lyrically. It's an epic song and encompasses the enormity of the zombie apocalypse.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

How the White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back

* spoilers *

Angel Crawford has grown a lot. She's self sufficient, off drugs, and even thinking about college. She's also gone through a lot recently what with the flood that destroyed her home and everything she owned plus the Saberton corporation killing people left and right. That evil corporation rears its ugly head again and kidnaps key members of the group she affectionately named the Zombie Mafia. One of these members is a doctor tht gave her and a fellow zombie an experimental treatment that is now causing them to rot despite a steady supply brains, If that weren't enough, there is clearly an informant in her trusted circle of friends and she doesn't know who to trust. Angel chooses to trust the Zombie Mafia group that's left, but is it a horrible mistake? Will her condition be cured before she is too far gone?

I've enjoyed the series so far and this installment brings a lot of awesomeness. First, Angel breaks up with Marcus. Finally! He's nice but oh so very controlling. The most recent incident involved him telling her they were moving without even discussing it with her first. She recognized that they are in a rut and will have the same arguments over and over. When she ended it, I cheered. The split was amicable and low on drama. Jane Pennington, mild mannered congresswoman, proves to be a crazy awesome badass that had some of the best lines in the book. I thought she was a minor addition to the last book, pleasant but forgettable. She is anything but here and I can't wait to see more of her. The overall plot was good and kept me turning the pages. One particular reveal had me abandoning real life duties to read what happens. This book also got a bit darker than others, which I enjoyed.

While I did enjoy the novel, this is the worst of the series for me. I usually read them within a couple of days, but this one took me 2 weeks. Angel has gone through a lot, but she cried through most of the novel over trivial things. I don't mind emotion, but the constant whining and crying grated on my nerves after a while. The rotting issue was pretty overlooked and wasn't treated as critical as it was presented. It just muddied the plot. My biggest problem was that a momentous zombie ability was revealed so late in the series. Pietro, being a very old and powerful zombie, can eat someone and adopt their appearance. First, it's annoying that this was never mentioned before. Second, it just seems cheap and gimmicky. It doesn't make sense in the world and no other zombie power is even remotely like it. My suspension of disbelief found its limit and dampened my enjoyment of the book.

The latest White Trash Zombie book is another success, but has some significant problems that classified it as the worst book of the series. Considering how much I enjoyed the rest of the series, it's not that damning of a title and I will still continue to read the series.

My rating: 3/5 fishmuffins

Monday, September 1, 2014

September Zombies 2014!!!

It's that time of year again! All zombie all the time here at Fishmuffins of Doom. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of time to write this year because I just got my teaching credential and I'm looking for a job. So I will post about these beloved, rotting creatures when I can and keep sane with zombies.