Discussion: Your Favourite Zombie Version

This one is a little bit of an unusually specific discussion for me, but I think we’ve pretty much all been exposed to zombies in popular culture, including through fiction.  I was personally terrified of zombies until I actually began reading zombie fiction and while they still have that ‘uck’ factor I don’t have nightmares any longer.  There is no standard type of zombie, though.  The portrayals vary from author to author and when you read a lot of zombie fiction it’s interesting to see the sheer variety.

Mira Grant’s zombies, for example, are similar to the slow-moving ones of popular culture.  They have one important aspect, though: they have a hive mind.  One or two zombies aren’t a danger to any physically fit human, but as Shaun and Georgia find out a pack of zombies can display hunting tactics from ambushes to cutting off all available routes of escape.  This is in contrast to humans, who seem to utterly lose all common sense when in large crowds.  (Yes, I know, I’ve studied way too much psychology.)

Another fascinating zombie type for me are the ones in V. M. Zito’s The Return Man.  Marco, the main character, lives in the Evacuated States and hunts zombies for a living.  People pay him to put down their relatives so they know they’re not suffering as a zombie.  How the heck do you find one zombie in an area that makes up most of the US?  Well, emotional geography is how you do it.  Zombies in Zito’s world have some trickle down from the neocortex into the reptilian brain that controls them and this trickle down mainly consists of powerful memories.  Zombies will go to where they spent a lot of time in their lives such as at work or at home.  Maybe they’ll hang around the restaurant where they met their beloved wife or the hospital where their first child was born.  But either way, if you know enough about a person you can be sure to find their corpse wandering around somewhere.

These are my favourite zombie versions.  What I want to know now is this: What’s your favourite version of zombies?  Do you like the traditional George Romero style ones or the fast-moving zombies?  Does a particular author portray zombies in a way you like?  (Please, no major spoilers if the truth about the zombies is main plot point, as in the case of The Scourge by A. G. Henley.)

11 comments

  1. Thomas

    I love how you bring up Mira Grant – her series is the first that comes to mind whenever anyone mentions zombies in fiction. I’m not sure if you’ve read This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers, but I appreciate how she portrayed zombies in her novel too. For me, it’s not so much the attributes of the zombies that matter as much as the author’s ability to include them in their works in a way that meaningful either to the characters or the plot. Great post!

    • Carrie Slager

      Thanks! And thank you for the recommendation as well. I’ve kind of had my eye on Courtney Summers’ book for a few months so maybe now I’ll buy it. I do love my zombies. 🙂

  2. patricksponaugle

    I think I’m more of a fan of the slow, shambling horde zombies, than the fast, adrenaline horde zombies, since the slow type leads to more interesting stories. A thoughtful and prepared protagonist has better chances in dealing with slow zombies, so in case where they are in danger , it’s usually their fault. Fast zombies are usually just unfair to everyone; I can’t enjoy how a character’s flaws led them into danger since they have such little chance to begin with.

    • Carrie Slager

      That’s definitely an interesting way to think of it. In Feed the book opens with the main characters in just such a situation (only the really fresh zombies can run, most shuffle) because they were filming in a quarantine zone. It’s an important part of their characterization because we learn Shawn is reckless and Georgia is at least a little more cautious than her adopted brother. Slow zombies are my favourite.

    • Carrie Slager

      I don’t really know much about Warm Bodies but I’m not sure how I like the idea of zombies evolving back into humans. You think of zombies as rotting, shuffling corpses and once flesh has rotted or died you sure as heck aren’t coming back. If the zombies in Warm Bodies don’t rot I think if it’s handled well it has tremendous potential. But if it’s essentially Twilight with zombies then it may as well not have been written. So basically? I think it’s interesting but it would have to be done well.

  3. literaryvittles

    this might be cheating a bit since the zombies aren’t from a book, but my favorites are the ones in 28 Days Later. That’s just a horrifying film overall. As for zombie lit, my favorite is the Walking Dead comic series, 100%.

    • Carrie Slager

      The ones in 28 Days Later scared me so bad the first time I watched the movie! I can see why they’d be your favourite. The ones in The Walking Dead are interesting too (the ones in the TV series, I haven’t read the comics yet).

  4. Elizabeth

    I honestly don’t do zombies very often because I get nightmares REALLY easily (in fact I typically get zombie apocalypse ones ever couple weeks haha), but I have to say that Mira Grant take on zombies was AWESOME! For me the interest in zombies is often more about how they are created and how they evolve, so I LOVED how Mira Grant explained everything! And I really liked the Zombie-ish things in Ann Aguirre’s Razorland series, they’re actually probably my favourite – although I say this not having read the last book yet. (And I have a lot of other issues with the books, just not the totally awesome zombie bits)

    • Carrie Slager

      Yes, Feed by Mira Grant was pretty much the book that helped me conquer my zombie fears. I actually haven’t read the Razorland series but I’ll definitely look into it. Have you read the whole Newsflesh trilogy?

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