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Book Review: The Zombie Survival Guide (2003)

The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead offers practical advice for a satirical premise. It might have been source material for the World War Z movie, because it explicitly describes zombie-ism as being caused by a virus, and lists amputation as one way of preventing the spread of the infection (although severing the affected limb rarely works, apparently). It’s definitely the parent of the World War Z novel, which is basically an extension of The Zombie Survival Guide’s final chapter.

The survival guide contains six sections of distilled anti-zombie wisdom. First, it talks about Solanum, the zombie-spawning virus. Next, readers learn about the abilities and behavior of the various types of undead. The rest of the book helpfully provides recommended weapons (primary: carbine; secondary: hand gun; hand-to-hand: crowbar) and combat techniques. The author then outlines places of safety and the most effective ways of surviving in a zombie-infested world. The guide concludes with accounts of zombie encounters throughout history.

This book is your comprehensive guide not just to the threat of the zombie outbreak, but also the very real possibility that your government does not prioritize your safety (gasp!) and that your fellow humans may be even worse than the undead. Author Max Brooks seems to have the most fun methodically detailing the pros and cons of defensive terrain, especially when he states that inner-city high schools would be ideal because they’re built like fortresses. It’s funny because it’s true. Brooks also keeps reminding readers to be mindful of legalities when, say, buying property/land in preparation for living in isolation with a group of your most trusted family and friends.

The final part of the book is the best read, because it throws in all the humor, conspiracy theories, insights into human nature, and faux historical documentation into a series of entertaining vignettes of zombies in our midst, from the ancient world to the present!

While the chapters about preparing for the coming zombie apocalypse tend to get tedious because of all the detail, all in all, The Zombie Survival Guide is a fun read, and readers may find themselves nodding in agreement at many places in the book. Kudos to Brooks for taking his Romero-inspired zombie love and creating this valuable work. I am prepared.

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