Z is for Zombie: An Illustrated Guide to the End of the World takes readers through the zombie apocalypse using the letters of the alphabet. But in those letters it paints a pretty complete story, from A is for Apocalypse, the very beginning when you don't quite realize that anything is wrong, to F is for Fighting Back, all the way to the very end when you get bitten and Z is (finally) for Zombie.
It's dark and twisted and hilarious. I especially love how it plays with genre conventions by applying heavy doses of reality to things we take for granted in zombie stories. Yes, in the real world Zombie Apocalypse, even George Romero isn't safe. As the writer says: "what, you thought they'd treat him with professional courtesy?" And there's the hero, the backbone of the group, who always miraculously survives and saves everyone else on top of that. In the real world when he gets just a little bite, you don't cry, you leave him behind! But my favorite part is W is for War, when the last group of survivors make their final stand. It rips into the part of movies (and books!) where the group of heroes is about to make their final stand knowing they will probably die. Somebody always makes a speech at this point, but as Castro points out: "Anybody in the ranks who hasn't figured out what's at stake probably shouldn't have made it this far."
At first I wasn't sure how I felt about the illustrations--at times they're pretty gruesome. But they grew on me and after I finished reading, i went back through the book again just to look at the pictures. I especially loved P is for Putrid which featured two survivors puking off a rooftop from the smell of rotting zombies instead of fighting back. The artwork complemented the story while having it's own kind of fun with the subject.
Long time zombie fans and anyone interested in genre will love this book. I read an electronic copy received from NetGalley. It comes out February 8th.