Zombies: The Recent Dead, Edited by Paula Guran, Part 3

ZOMBIES: The Recent DeadFormat: NOOKbook
Publisher: Prime Books
Publication Year: 2010

When you’re a kid a lot of things are scary, so by telling his story “Naming of Parts” from the perspective of a 12-year-old named Jack, Lebbon reminds the reader how disturbing things that go bump in the night can be for a pre-teen. Jack lives in a rural part of England with his Mom and Dad. His sister Mandy moved out a few years earlier, but she impressed upon Jack that he can overcome fear by listing the things that make up whatever he is afraid of. That practice has served Jack well, but it is put to the test when one night he hears cold dead fingers against the glass of his bedroom window. As you may have guessed, the dead have risen and Jack must flee with his parents in hopes of finding someplace safe from the zombie plague. In Lebbon’s take on the phenomenon, it’s not just people who are reanimated, although humans seem to be the only ones who come back with a taste for flesh. Plant life is affected too, with trees, grass, and entire crops drying up overnight, rendering the British countryside a cold and colorless wasteland.

The author of this story Tim Lebbon also penned a novel called Berserk which presented a new take on vampires but only once (if memory serves) actually used the “V word.” The word vampire has a lot of history and cliches associated with it, so the moment it is used the author and reader are saddled with over a century’s worth of preconceptions. Similarly, Lebbon never uses the “Z word” (or the “Zed word” for us Shaun of the Dead fans) in this story, making his walking dead seem more like a nightmare than a horror movie staple. The story starts strong and creepy and for the most part keeps the reader’s interest all the way through. “Naming of Parts” runs a few pages too long, and the number of times Jack invokes his naming of fears ritual could have been halved, but overall I’m three for three with this book.

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