Book Review: The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks

For a guy who spends most of his days commuting reading things like The Economist and Scientific American, it felt somewhat strange pulling out a book whose subtitle is Complete protection from the living dead. Yet here I was, reading just that book, on a recommendation by an old friend, Mr. Vikar (who knows a good book when he reads one)… and enjoying every minute of it.

The Zombie Survival Guide is the work of Max Brooks, son of comedian/writer/director Mel Brooks (the brains behind of one of my all-time favorite movies, Blazing Saddles). In it, the author takes us on a journey that describes, as only a self-help survival guide can, how to survive a zombie invasion.

Everything zombie-related is covered, including their physiology (they’re dead) and psychology (none); their source (a virus, Solanum); and, of course, an in-depth education on how to identify them, kill them, and survive in a world where there presence is rare to common.

What’s most interesting about the book is that you’ll not just be entertained by the amount of thoughtfulness that went into it, you’ll actually learn something by reading it. There are a few underlying themes of zombie survival:

  • know your enemy’s — and your own — strengths and weaknesses;
  • keep your cool; and
  • be prepared.

No doubt, such a book would have pleased Sun Tzu.

This book certainly isn’t for everyone. If you can’t suspend disbelief and accept the fact that you’re reading a book that is clearly made up but written as if it’s absolutely real, and if you’ve got a problem reading books about the living dead, move on. But if you enjoy novels of the horror genre, and get a kick out of guys like Bear Grills and shows like Survivorman, you’ll no doubt enjoy this quick read.

Besides, you never know… there just might be some truth behind the fiction.

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