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Zombie-esque

Zombie-esque

I finished reading Monster Nation a while ago. I’ve got to say that while I didn’t really get into it right away, it did a really good job of picking up steam as it went on. It’s not a huge book, so it’s a little sad that it took me the better part of a month to get through. But you know, video games.

Anyway, it’s a super awesome zombie novel, and a prequel to Monster Island, which I read years and years ago. Being that it belongs in the same series, it explores the initial outbreak of what is referred to as The Epidemic. It also takes a different view on the thing that differentiated Island from most other zombie media: people who manage to retain their minds after zombification.

The series explains the ability to be dead but not a zombie by keeping the characters in question hooked up to machines that keep oxygen pumping to their brains. Gary, the not-zombie from Island, was a med student who hooked himself up to a ventilator and then jumped into a tub filled with ice. Nilla, Nation‘s sort-of-zombie, stumbled into an oxygen bar and put a mask on after she was bitten. The second scenario seems a little less likely to have worked, but whatever. They’re zombie novels, I’m not going to pick at what’s medically plausible and what isn’t.

I’ll summarize before the spoiler line, just so nobody has to venture in to read my full impressions: I enjoyed Monster Nation at least as much as its forebear. Maybe even more. I’ve said it to everyone I’ve ever told about these books: They need to be turned into movies! For the hundreds of crappy zombie movies that get made every year, don’t we deserve at least two (probably) exceptional ones?

SPOILER ZONE! Don’t go any farther if you’re actually interested in reading these books.

Okay, back to my previous train of thought…

They may not been seen as such, but the real main characters of these books are the zombie-esque characters. Gary and Nilla are handled very differently, and as such are two entirely unique, compelling characters that share the same unfortunate condition. Gary gets pissed off when he gets shot by one of Island‘s protagonists and uses dark zombie magic to lead the braindead zombies and become their zombie emperor. Nilla, though she suffers just as much, tries her damnedest to stay on the side of humanity. Of course, she ends up waffling a bit, but who wouldn’t? People hate you, and you have awesome zombie powers. Are you really not going to eat a few of ’em? Anyway, the ending leaves her story open, so I’m hoping she gets picked back up in Monster Planet, the final book in the trilogy. Nilla is a much cooler and more complex character than any of the others in Nation. Plus, she’s the only major character that survives. Well… sort of.

Both novels deal with magical stuff, and I read most of the second half of Island with a cocked eyebrow (Telepathic Scottish bog mummy. ‘Nuff said), it all kinda came together once Nation finally reveals the source of The Epidemic. In the end it was just a dude trying to save his dying wife from cancer by essentially tearing a huge gash in the world’s life force reservoir. Turns out the road to Hell on Earth really is paved with good intentions. I really like when stories use the “to save a loved one” plot device, because it’s absolutely something I can sympathize with. No, I’ve never had to watch someone I love die, but I’m pretty sure that in that such a situation I’d do everything in my power to save them. I’m terrible at coping with loss, and I could definitely see myself ripping space-time (or whatever) a new one if I were placed in the situation presented. I am the crazy dude who would sacrifice the world for one woman.

It’s a tragic ending. You’ve got this one man, who brought about the destruction of the world just to save his wife, and he wasn’t even really able to do that. Yes, he kept her alive, but at the cost of turning her into a horrifying tumour beast. Not much of an existence. And then Nilla… Well, that part I don’t want to spoil. Let’s just say she gets a little angry when she learns that it is physically impossible to save the world.

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