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Z: Zombie Stories by J.M. Lassen

Z: Zombie Stories

by J.M. Lassen

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This anthology is a compilation "young adult" stories of the undead. There are many kinds of stories here -- some apocalyptic, some not. There are several stories about survivors against the horde, and several about young people who either by choice or accident join the horde (there's an interesting theme of community in such stories, of loneliness and the need to be part of a group, even if the group is the dead). And many varieties of story in between. Here are a few that stuck with me:

This is the third (or fourth) time I've read "The Wrong Grave," by Kelly Link, in which a young man digs up his girlfriend's grave to get back his poetry, only to find he's dug up the wrong one. It's just as creepy and fun to read the third (or fourth) as it was the first.

Marie Atkins' "Seven Brains, Ten Minutes" has to be the most viscerally horrifying of the lot. In it a young man goes to desperate (and disturbing) extremes to rescue and impress a girl he likes, leading to an ending that is terribly and delightfully unsettling.

Like most of Catherine Valente's stories, "The Day's of Flaming Motorcycle," is hard to sum up, but it's certain intellectually fascinating in the way it approaches the zombie. The story of a girl living in a town full of zombies -- without much hassle -- is entertaining, but there's also an underlining sense that this story should be analyzed in more detail, because it means something.

Then there's "The Human Race," by Scott Edelman, which is so, so heart-wrenching. About a girl whose family dies in a terrorist explosion while traveling in London. While she's traveling there to identify and collect her family's remains, a worldwide zombie outbreak occurs. I won't say more than that, because it's really a beautiful story that deserves to be taken on its own merits.

and finally - SPOILER - Johnathan Mayberry's story, "Family Business," is interesting to me from a conceptual point of view. I like the idea of respect for the dead, even if the dead are trying to kill you. In it a boy learns the "hunting" business from his brother, who leads him beyond the fences of the community to hunt the undead. But it's shown to be more complicated than just killing zombs, as there is an emotional reality that lies behind the dead walking.

It reminds me of a scene in Walking Dead, where the survivors say, "We bury our own, and burn the rest," which is to say, we take a moment to respect those who meant something to us and give them proper burial. Mayberry's story makes it clear that every zombie belongs to someone (is someone's father, mother, brother, sister) and therefore deserves a respectful burial.

However, I'm not sure I'm in love with the execution of the story, as ever step of the hunting trip leads the character to this ultimate understanding. The problem is that I could feel the straight line of the argument that was being mounted (not just for the character, but for the reader, too), and so the effect came off preachy. So..., not my favorite of the stories, but still very, very interesting. ( )
  andreablythe | Mar 30, 2012 |
I got an advanced reading copy of this book through Netgalley(dot)com. This was an excellent collection of zombie stories. It started out really strong with some excellent stoires; most of the stories were well done and all-in-all it was an above average anthology of zombie stories. Most of these stories have appeared in other collections: the only story original to this collection is Deep Water Miracle by Thomas S. Roche.

The first four stories in the anthology were some of the strongest. Family Business by Jonathan Mayberry was so touching and creative that I want to go out and read his zombie series Rot and Ruin right now! The Wrong Grave by Kelly Link was a fun story and full of irony. The Days of Flaming Motorcycles by Catherynne M. Valente was beautiful and darkly sweet. The Barrow Maid by Christine Morgan was an interesting fantasy story with a very creative take on zombies; also exceedingly well written. My other favorite was The Human Race by Scott Edelman; this story was so beautiful and haunting just absolutely wonderful.

These stories encompass a wide breadth of new and known zombie mythology (to put it loosely). I think those who enjoy zombie stories and creative takes on them will enjoy these stories. The beginning of the anthology consisted of incredibly well done stories, I was very impressed. I like the collection of zombie stories in here much more than I liked the collection in Zombies vs. Unicorns.

Some of the stories are gory and most of them are a bit depressing (you know end of the world and all that) but they are aimed at a young adult level.

Overall this is a very solid collection of stories. Some of the stories in the beginning are especially remarkable. Fans of zombies should definitely check this out. See below for a full list and mini-reviews of the stories included.

- Family Business by Jonathan Mayberry (5/5)
A brother learns the family business of zombie killing from his older brother. A very touching story, very creative, and I absolutely loved it. This definitely convinced me to go and pick up the Rot and Ruin series by Mayberry. It's a great story.

- The Wrong Grave by Kelly Link (5/5)
A boy digs up his girlfriend's grave to get his book of poetry back and gets more than he bargained for. This was a super fun story and had some nice surprises in it. I enjoyed it a lot.

- The Days of Flaming Motorcycles by Catherynne M. Valente (5/5)
A beautiful and excellent story about a girl who learns that zombies can be sad. I loved how this story was written and loved the imagery in it. An absolutely terrific story.

- The Barrow Maid by Christine Morgan (5/5)
A Norse tale where an unkillable warrior is killed and then rises again to seek vengence on his enemies. A sweet tale, with some wonderful action and fighting, beautiful description too.

- You'll Never Walk Alone by Scott Nicholson (4/5)
About a country boy and his dad who run away and hide in a church during the zombie outbreak. The story is told from the son's point of view and is well done. It is a sad and distubring story and a bit ambiguous, but all in all I liked it.

- The Dead Kid by Darrell Schweitzer (3/5)
About a kid growing up who is trying to get in with a bad crowd. He ends up being saved by a dead kid.

- Seven Brains, Ten Minutes by Marie Atkins (3/5)
About a boy posing as a zombie who gets stuck in a brain eating contest and gets a bit carried away.

- The Third Dead Body by Nina Kiriki Hoffman (4/5)
About a young hooker who raises from the dead to find revenge on the man who killed her. Well done and creepy.

- The Skull Faced Boy by Daivd Barr Kirtley (3/5)
Two boys get into a car accident and turn into intelligent zombies. Okay story, but nothing super creative.

- The Human Race by Scott Edelman (5/5)
A girl whose family has just been killed by a terrorist attack wanders London only to find herself in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. Beautifully written, I loved this story. Edelman captured the depression and emptiness of the girl wonderfully. I love how through the mass death in London she finds the will to live her own life.

- Deep Water Miracle by Thomas S. Roche (4/5)
A couple of brothers outrun pirates and laughing zombies on a boat in the Gulf of Mexico. It was a good story. Well written and engaging. ( )
  krau0098 | Oct 4, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 159780312X, Paperback)

When the zombie apocalypse comes, it''s not just those crusty old folks who will struggle against the undead, it''s the young people. What happens when you come of age during the zombie apocalypse? Z: Zombie Stories has the answer to that question. Z: Zombie Stories gathers together some of the hottest zombie fiction of the last two decades, from authors including Kelly Link, Jonathan Maberry, and Catherynne M. Valente. These stories focus on those who will inherit a world overrun with the living dead: a young man who takes up the family business of dealing with the undead, a girl struggling with her abusive father...who has become a zombie, a poet who digs up the wrong grave, and a Viking maiden imprisoned with the living dead...

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:45 -0400)

Presents eleven short stories that explore how young people will cope with life after a zombie apocalypse.

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