Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Zombie Attack!: Rise of the Horde review

    Young Adult Zombie Apocalypse.

    Adults would balk at this concept the same way they would at all the violence in so many other recent works. Many concerned parents are wondering about our poor children's minds and how they're being exposed to all this post-apocalyptic fiction.

    They forget they, at least the boys amongst them, were watching R-rated movies like Robocop, Aliens, and Terminator 2 at age thirteen to fourteen. Indeed, R-rated movies of the time were deliberately marketed to that demographic and that's why you see Edward Furlong's John Connor in the last.

    Red Dawn, I can assure you, was the coolest thing ever when you were a child of the Eighties. You totally wanted the Soviets to invade so you could start gunning them down and living John Milinus' nihilistic anti-communist fantasy of Nietzschean sacrifice.

     Young Adults and early teenagers are those who are starting to think seriously about their coming responsibilities as adults. They romanticize what it's like to be someone who is independent, struggling against the world's problems, and being someone who has to deal with things their parents can't (or won't) protect them from. As such, they not only want and will expose themselves to darker material, they should be exposed to it.

    It's a rite of passage.

    So what does this have to do with Devan Sagliani's book? Quite a bit. It's the book I'd happily buy for my thirteen-year-old nephew who thinks being sixteen during the end of the world would be the coolest thing ever.

    This is somewhat cozy depiction of the apocalypse versus, say, The Walking Dead. There's still electricity in many places, power structures, and people surviving but it's also the early days of it too. It reminds me a bit of Zombieland where they can take the time to watch Ghostbusters (or play Guitar Hero in this case) while mourning the loss of their hometown.

    The premise is Xander and his surrogate adopted brother Benji go looking for the former's actual brother Moto in the wake of the military base they were hiding on getting overrun. Along the way, they meet ex-reality TV show/Miley Cyrus stand-in star Felicity Jane. The three of them deal with Neo-Nazis, outlaw bikers, religious wackos, drug abuse, and, of course, the undead.

    The book is well-written with Xander being a realistic mixture of teenage arrogance, stupidity, tongue-tied awkwardness around girls, and being a little [insert profanity]. Xander's instincts about people are usually right but he doesn't make any friends, either, and is too-confident about his ability to take care of the group. Felicity, by contrast, seems to be far smarter in other ways and I sometimes wished she took a more proactive stand in leading the group. Then again, it's only three people so we might need to wait for the sequel.

    The action in the book is good, there's no profanity, and while it addresses several adult issues like drug abuse--it is done in a way which is both mature as well as sympathetic. About the only objectionable part of the book is Xander seems rather hostile to the concept of religion in general rather than just the weird cult they find themselves dealing with in the end of the book. Even then, Xander seems to believe in the concept of heaven and is just hostile to people in general. At least, ones who aren't his brother or famous.

    In conclusion, this isn't going to be a classic must-read for those who embrace the darkest of the dark in zombie fiction but it's a decent read for those who want "light" zombie apocalypse fair. As mentioned, it's about as serious as Emma Stone and Woody Harrleson's Zombieland, which is pretty enjoyable by itself. I recommend it for both adult fans of the genre as well as those who are smart enough to realize their kids or younger relatives will start craving darker fair regardless of their wishes.


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