Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Book Review: Zombies vs Nazis: A Lost History of the Walking Dead

Since I thoroughly enjoyed my first foray into the writing genius of Scott Kenemore - Zombie, Ohio - I thought it imperative to read more great stuff from this author who has immersed himself in the world of the undead. Next on the list was Zombies vs Nazis: A Lost History of the Walking Dead, and though I much preferred Kenemore's writing in novelization, this book was no doubt a joy to read as well.

What COULD have happened at the end of the book.
The story is told in a series of letters, or reports, to SS Obergruppenfuhrer Reinhard Heydrich by three Nazi officers sent to Haiti during WW2 to research the possible existence of zombies and to harness the secret for creating these monsters to make an army of Nazi zombies. These three characters are Gunther Knecht (the leader of the three), Franz Baedecker, and Oswaldt Gehrin.

Though not technically a narrative book, Zombies vs Nazis does read similar to a novel, as each letter from the three Nazi inspectors tells a story of their progressing findings about zombies. They meet a zombie, meet several Bocors and Mambos - priests and priestesses with the power to raise zombies - and eventually learn and participate in the ritual to create a zombie. I don't know how much, if any, of this is part of actual Voodoo mythology, but it makes sense for the story.

I was immensely pleased to find that Zombies vs Nazis contained the same dry/black humor that made Zombie, Ohio such a joy to read. In this book, the humor comes with a bit more subtlety, like the perfect English and big words the inspectors use to describe the ridiculous situations they are in. Personal parenthetical comments given by Knecht were perhaps the best ones. I especially like the part where Father Gill (a clergyman working in Haiti) has introduced Knecht to the Bocor named Grandmarnier, like the "libation," and Knecht says "Though this surprised me at the time, in retrospect, I should have known that a drunkard like Gill would naturally associate with people bearing a relationship to alcohol in one way or another."

Author Scott Kenemore
The entirety of "Communication 10" from Inspector Baedecker to Heydrich, however, is the highlight of the book. Nothing to do with zombies, but it is freaking hilarious when read in the context of previous chapters. Read the book and you'll know! The personalities of each character are cleverly laid out in the missives in the way each person writes and the things that others have to say about them. This chapter in particular is more than an indication of Kenemore's talent for the hilarious and obscure.

The illustrations in the book by Adam Wallenta, albeit a bit sparse, also add to the humor and overall tone of the book. I love the style of the drawings, with the subtle detail and thick black outlines. The zombies look both gross and very, very funny. Page 204 is probably my favorite! In fact the overall look of the book is part of the appeal, because aside from the illustrations, the pages containing Knecht's letters are splattered with blood.

Perhaps it was just an unfortunate consequence of the style the book was written in, but I was a little disappointed at the lack of bloody zombie action! It's the gorehound in me, I apologize. When looking at the story as a whole, though, I can't help but love what Kenemore has presented here. I also can't help but believe that this book would make a fantastic zom-com film. I'm thinking actors like Alan Rickman, Gary Oldman, and/or Harvey Keitel for the main roles. Somebody get on that, right now.

As far as I'm concerned, the self-proclaimed zombie expert Scott Kenemore has done it again and delivered a comical zombie tale that shows the disastrous side of people's attempts to control zombies or otherwise mess around with the walking dead (Day of the Dead, anyone?). Zombies vs Nazis: A Lost History of the Walking Dead is a fun, fast, and immensely entertaining read for anybody who loves zombies and the hijinks they can create.

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