Thursday, March 3, 2011

Apocalypse Wow

I’m right in the middle of reading a book which takes place just a few years after a series of apocalyptic events on the planet. To be honest, I've read a few novels about *the end of the world as we know it* and even list one as my all time favourite books (The Stand), but soon into this book I realized that not only was it an apocalyptic book but it also has zombies as the bad guys. Sigh. Why is it that authors feel the need to add zombies to stories? To be sure I’m not that much of a fan of zombies but okay if you feel the need to add a raft of zombies into the mix and you can sort of semi explain the reason people turn into them, well okay I guess I will buy into it for the sake of the story.

So there I am reading about Armageddon zombies and I’m willing to make the deal with the author about her rules for this particular world, even though I am feeling a tiny bit ripped off because the book jacket didn’t mention zombies, if it had I probably wouldn’t have bought it. But hey if I stopped reading every book after the first couple chapters which didn’t quite jive with me, I may have missed out on some really good books in my life. Anyway, the way I see it is that it is the author’s job to write the rules of the story, and it is the reader’s job to accept the author’s vision in order to make the reading experience valid. In my mind its kind of like a contract. So I’m reading away when suddenly the author sticks a repeat line into the book and I realize that she has just reneged on her side of the contract. Here’s what I mean, at the beginning of the book the protagonist is trying to get some sleep beside a road when she sees a guy walking with a pack, suddenly he is attacked by the zombies and he runs faster than she had ever seen anyone run. Then a few pages later she sees a dark haired girl in a dirty white shirt who is sprinting toward her at a speed that she could not imagine anyone moving. Then a few more pages and the zombies are moving faster than anything she had ever seen. See what I mean. The author broke the rules.

I was willing to accept that she was writing about our world sometime in the near future where different countries have been attacked with biological weapons and governments have fallen apart, where starvation is just a day away, where bad people do bad things, where people are turned into zombies by eating genetically altered plants, etc. But I was unwilling to accept that this person keeps seeing people (and things) move faster than she has every seen anyone, or thing do before. So because of this one particular repeat fancy of the author the story suddenly no longer was cohesive for me, and within moments I had gone from an accepting reader of this novel to someone who was just looking for all the faults within it.

I guess that this was a bit of an epiphany in terms of how my mind works when I am reading. As a reader I am willing to overlook a lot of scientific inconsistencies, plot concerns, timeline considerations, and many other issues, but give me something like this, which sticks out like a pimple on the Mona Lisa's nose, then, BOOM, I’ve just been blasted out of the imaginary world of the author. As an author, “Note to self; no matter how much you love a description of an event, do not work it into your story over and over again.”


  1. I would've stopped at the first Zombie. I am NOT a zombie loving girl. Please tell me the title of the book so I do not make the same mistake!

  2. Oddly enough although I'm no big fan of the Zombie Movie (with the excpetion of the awesome 'Shaun of the Dead') I've read a couple of Zombie apocalypse books lately. One which was silly and fun and one which was perversely compelling.

    Trek nerds just might enjoy 'Night of the living Trekkies' because it panders to us.

    'World War Z' is a great exercise in Sci-Fi 'how the world might be'. Not really a novel but quite a decent exercise in writing.

  3. Oh my Dog! Just finally finished the book, and yup you guessed it, it finishes with her running faster than she has ever run in her life. Sigh. Why do I put myself through this kind of crap?