Matilda meets Walking Dead

girl_with_all_the_giftsRemember Roald Dahl’s Matilda? A sweet little girl with a heart of gold who teaches us all the wonderful lessons of life? In M.R. Carey’s The Girl With All the Gifts, Melanie is a lot like Matilda. She’s brilliantly smart, super sweet and practically worships her teacher Ms. Justineau.

But Melanie is a zombie.

Well, she’s half zombie… actually she’s full blooded zombie but also pseudo zombie. Her zombie senses don’t come to light unless she smells human flesh. So the remaining humans keep her in a prison-like lab for research with Ms. Justineau teaching them. That is, until a series of events that lead the pack into the zombie infested neighbourhoods of England.

I couldn’t put this one down. It was heartwarming, smart and horrifying in all the right places. The ending will haunt you and the characters (even the hardened prison guard Sargeant) will worm their way into your heart like a virus determined to turn you into the undead.

Uncommon to action-packed stories of the zombie genre, there is a lesson to be learned here. Highly recommended if you love scary reads or zombie lit — and even if you normally don’t, this one is worth the time.

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Lessons of an Icestorm

icestormIt’s been a stressful few days for the Toronto area. The icestorm has turned my neighbourhood into a scenic Christmas card with icicles forming on every surface imaginable. But what looks pretty is in fact pretty dangerous. I spent the whole night listening to big old trees go “thud” as they hit the ground. Then the power went out for 24 very cold hours.

Then I got really cranky. I slept poorly because my face kept getting cold and because the rest of my family slept even less. My office had power so I went to work just so I could charge my cellphone. I felt crummy and grimy all day because I hadn’t showered.

That is to say, I had it good because some people still don’t have power and it’s only getting colder. Bah humbugs! But bad circumstances have brought out the best in people so I guess it’s not all bad.

It also brought to light our reliance on our devices. There were people lining up at the mall to charge their phones and tablets. TD Bank branch turned into public charging stations as well. Lots of people took to Twitter to yell at their hydro companies as cellphone coverage remained eerily untouched by anything.

Quick: In the event of a zombie apocalypse, what three items would you bring?

The answer is: your cellphone, your cellphone charger and maybe a tablet. Because face it, a zombie apocalypse is going to be filled with lots of down time. There will be scary moments of battles with brain-eating zombies BUT there will be many more moments of silence — in which, you will want to stream Orange is the New Black on Netflix.

Watching World War Z

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I caught a matinee showing of World War Z today and I actually really enjoyed it. This was a nail biter that had me on the edge of my seat. The action scenes were incredible and I was impressed by the mass hoards of zombies. My favourite scene was Brad Pitt fleeing Israel. I never stopped freaking out during this movie. It was thrilling to the very end.

Is it true to the book?

WWZ_bradNot exactly. If you’ve read the book, you’ll know how hard it would have been to recreate the world traveling anthology. I’d pick the book over the movie a billion times so ahem, Read it 1st.

Also, the movie changed the origin of the zombie plague in order to appease censors in China. In the book, the disease starts in China but in the movie, the plague starts in — wait for it, Taiwan. Too bad the Chinese censors still rejected it. In short, the movie probably covers 20 pages of the book. This is very much an adaptation.

This wasn’t my favourite zombie movie (28 Days Later was way scarier) but I did appreciate its entertainment value. Brad Pitt is believable as a father figure. The major downfall was the zombies themselves. They seemed to resemble snapping turtles more than the living dead.

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World War Z gave me nightmares

WORLD_warzSo I finished reading World War Z the other night, turned off the lights and closed my eyes. And then I heard a creak. And then a thump. Another creak. I got up, checked the bathroom and made sure nothing was there. Went back to bed. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

I live in a condo building so creaks and thumps at night are common. But you see, I had to check for zombies. And Quislings. And feral children.

World War Z is one scary zombie book. The book starts off by telling you that after the zombie war ends, the world is in a dismal state. The author has been asked to write a UN postwar report but the stories, personal effects have been chopped. So he’s publishing them in his own book so we can learn what really happened. This starts a series of personal stories and interviews with soldiers, civilians and experts around the world.

It makes for a choppy storyline but it’s also magic how author Max Brooks is able to build suspense. Its documentary style and numerous details make this cautionary zombie tale scarily believable. The start-stop-start-stop storyline may drive some people crazy but it makes World War Z easily digestible for those with short attention spans.

WWZ_signIt’s also easy to see how World War Z was made for a movie (trailer!). There’s lots of gory details, plenty of heroes and it genuinely is terrifying. The zombies are hard to kill and completely fearless. Then there are the Quislings — people who have gone nutters and have decided to become faux zombies. And children who have lost their parents become feral living in a state of wilderness. It’s a dangerous world out there.

Perhaps what makes it most believable is that human greed makes a zombie war possible. The fact that we’ve become mindless consuming idiots makes it hard for us to defend ourselves in this zombie invaded future.

After a whole night of tossing and turning, I woke up feeling like sh*t. I looked in the mirror and finally found my zombie. Very clever Brooks.

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Photo credits: funnystuffforyourday.blogspot.ca, verybadfrog.com, theteewarehouse.com

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