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The Zombie Survival Guide
Max Brooks
Three Rivers Press, 288 pages

The Zombie Survival Guide
Max Brooks
Max Brooks is the author of The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. He lives in Los Angeles.

Max Brooks Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

Past Feature Reviews
A review by John Enzinas

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The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks was an Xmas gift from a friend of mine who clearly wanted to help ensure both mine and his survival in the coming Zombie Apocalypse.

It's an interesting piece of "Non"-fiction. The first section details the nature of the undead. In this world, it's caused by a viral infection. The book talks about the effects of the virus and what this means for the zombies it creates. From there, it transitions into how to kill zombies and what are the best tools to use.

Next up are the various survival scenarios such as how to defend your home or where to go if your home is indefensible, the best means of transportation for both escape and going on the offence plus tactics for survival while alone, with a group or while on the offensive. The final survival section of the book details how to save your particular cluster of humanity should the undead overrun the living.

The book ends with a catalogue of known Zombie attacks from early pre-history (60,000 BC) to the modern day.

It's clear that Mr. Brown has given a great deal of thought to his scenarios. Given zombies of the type that he describes, his methods make sense and are really the only sane and rational means of saving yourself and your loved ones from the undead hoards.

He also put a great deal of effort into designing his zombie. These are the classic slow zombie, shuffling along, driven only by their insatiable hunger. They are truly mindless, capable of doing nothing by moving toward their target. If there is a barrier between them, they will surmount it only if there is some way to push through or spill over due to their mass or sheer numbers.

It is unfortunate that even with such careful thought, there were a number of things about his creature that just didn't make sense to me. The biggest one was the discussion of the Zombie senses and how the virus kills all nerve receptors but also somehow still allows the infected brain to control necrotic tissue and have every sense heightened, save for touch which is completely gone. The old trope about humans only using 5 percent of their brains with the virus activating some long lost 6th sense did not help make his zombies more believable.

There was also a short mention the superiority of the Japanese sword which always raises my hackles but I was able to get around that as the overall advice regarding hand weapons was quite good.

In short, if you are faced with the living dead and wish to make good your escape and plan for your survival, this is the book for you. If you are picky about your biology and have some concerns at the limited nature of the undead described, then perhaps not.

Copyright © 2009 John Enzinas

John Enzinas reads frequently and passionately. In his spare time he plays with swords.


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