I love Zombie novels and in general apocalypse novels. I love to see how people react when society breaks down, and I like to see them survive. Hope is a big aspect of these stories, and they often leave me reevaluating my own troubles. It’s hard to read or watch one of these stories without thinking, “What would I do?” Typically, it’s a safe read, and you don’t get too sucked in to the possibility of it because Zombies are kind of bogus monsters—I am pretty confident there isn’t much possibility of a Zombie apocalypse ever taking hold.
It’s more the robots I worry about.
As I was thinking over the recent obsession people seem to have with zombies, from games to books and movies, one thing in particular did come to mind as an explanation for it. I think in many ways our love of the zombie apocalypse stems from the over domestication of the modern man. It reminds me of why I loved Fight Club so much (the book, though the movie was decent too). In Fight Club, the main characters are rebelling against what they consider the feminization of man, which results in things like the Ikea nesting instinct, where comfort and the things you own define you.
Just like those men who signed up to follow Tyler Durden, a zombie apocalypse presents a stage where men can be men, where everything goes back to its basest levels of survival. One could even say that society would revert to a time when life was meaningful, where survival and procreation depended on skill, and the raw power and intelligence of an individual. This would be a huge change from where we are now, with everything we encounter in life being “user friendly” or “idiot proof,” and rather than concern over the continuation of the species, we hear daily about the horrors of overpopulation and the need for more birth control. Just think about that phrase a moment, “Birth Control.” Birth, alongside death, is the most natural thing in our world, and yet we find ourselves in a time when it is necessary to control that, to defy our very nature.
When the apocalypse comes, and our numbers have dwindled, sex, and everything that comes with it, will once again be a necessity…not a vice. These natural instincts to hunt, to kill, to fight and forage and fuck, will have great value again, where as now they are viewed as the darker side of humanity. A side that, intellectually, we’ve determined to be detrimental to modern society. Apocalypse stories allow us to romanticize and indulge in the very behaviors we start learning to suppress as early as kindergarten.
I have to admit, there is a part of me that enjoys thinking about how survivalists, soldiers, game hunters and those others on the fringe of society who have been told that their way of life and proclivities are counterproductive to society, would fare compared to the tender hearted and liberal minded. I think at the very least, I would get on a lot better than the targeted audience of most infomercials.
That said, I enjoyed reading World War Z, but I don’t know if I would classify it as a novel. There wasn’t a central plot, no character arcs, just the stories of those who survived. The problem with a story told after the fact is that any sense of immediacy or danger is removed. There is no suspense. What it offered in exchange, however, was realism. Politics aside, it was well researched and thought out, and seemed very much like true accounts. It almost made me think of an epilogue to all the zombie stories that are floating around today—a deep step back to see, not how a small cluster of humans survived, but how the world survived. I loved that! In all the zombie movies I have watched, and the books I have read, I was always left wondering what was going on in the rest of the world? Where was the government involvement, and most importantly, what came after? WWZ answers a lot of those questions in a highly insightful and wholly satisfying way.