One of the things I always enjoyed about vampire movies is that the vampires had to follow a (somewhat flexible) set of rules. It’s comforting to know that if you haven’t invited a vampire into your house then he cannot enter it, and you are more-or-less safe.
Then filmmakers and authors began to play with these rules, and this too was interesting. Charlaine Harris’s vampires, for example, have a blood substitute available so that they do not have to use humans for their nutritional needs.
Zombies also exist within a fairly tight set of rules. They typically crave brains and thus try feed off humans, they can survive loss of limbs and other severe bodily damage, they don’t sleep or breathe or feel pain, they do not remember their previous lives, typically they moan but do not talk, and they are strong but slow moving. The standard method of dispatching a zombie is to destroy its brain.
Zombie infestations are generally caused by objects from space, chemicals, or disease. If a living person is bitten by a zombie, he or she joins the ranks of the brain eaters. Most zombie stories feature groups of the living trying to survive zombie attacks and to wipe out the zombies.
So what fresh zombie twists have been unleashed on our zombie-hungry nation?
In Handling the Undead by John Ajvide-Lindqvist, strange weather causes the dead to come back to life. In addition to your typical zombie mayhem, the author examines the psychological side of the undead.
In Dead Mann Walking: a Hessius Mann Novel by Stefan Petrucha, a criminal is executed, exonerated, and then brought back to “life” as a zombie. This story looks at the details of zombie life, culture and slang.
In My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland, Angel Crawford dies in a car crash and then comes back as a zombie. In life Angel was a drug addict, but in death her only addiction is to brains. Fortunately for her, a local serial killer seems to prey upon a victim whenever Angel craves brains.
In The Zombie Autopsies: Secret Notebooks from the Apocalypse by Steven C. Schlozman, a medical team studies zombies in an attempt to find a cure for the zombie epidemic. This book details the unique biology of zombies and includes anatomical drawings.
Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament by S. G. Browne is a romantic zombie comedy that details the day-to-day life of zombies.
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks tells about the zombie wars as if they were an historical event. Included in the text are interviews with survivors of the zombie apocalypse.
In I Kissed a Zombie, and I Liked it by Adam Selzer, a high school student starts dating a zombie without realizing that he is undead. When she does find out and tries to break up with him, things do not go as easily as planned.
In My So-Called Death by Stacey Jay, a freak cheerleading accident leaves Karen undead. She is sent to a boarding school for the “death-challenged” and discovers a mysterious plot that might bring about the end of all the students.