Clearly inspired by Max Brook’s amazing World War Z, Zombie Apocalypse (hardly an inspiring title) tells the story of an outbreak that begins in South East London before spreading throughout the country and eventually the world. What makes this different to most is the format, as it’s a compilation of diaries, text messages, online reporting, e-mails and much more.
Stephen Jones has managed to come with an interesting take on the spread of a zombie virus. Dating it back to Bubonic plague (the Black Death) times and throwing in some supernatural/religious elements too. Here we see a UK government having cancelled the Olympic Games because of the cost and pushing heavy austerity measures on the people.
To try and placate the masses they plan to throw a week long Festival of New Britain but need to demolish longstanding buildings including a church in Blackheath. This church, All Hallows church has a rich history but it’s what is buried in the crypt that really gets people talking.
Anyway it’s not long before the dead are shambling throughout Greenwich and spreading the infection to everyone they meet. London is ill-prepared for this & the collection of notes we see here are a stark reminder of just how powerless we would be.
It sounds great but unfortunately it’s not.
There are numerous problems here with the most glaring being the length of some of the sections. Rather than being short, clipped pieces of information many of them are pages and pages of blog writings or police reports. I should never be bored reading a zombie story and here I found my eyes glazing over and having to re-read lines.
To make matters worse, a few entries are really difficult to read because of the hand-writing. As this is a compilation of people’s own stories throughout the zombie apocalypse, they have often used whatever they can find to write things and that has been reproduced here. It was not a good idea, it doesn’t feel anymore authentic, I mean, seriously…it’s a zombie story about a mad Satanist who believed the Bubonic plague would give ever-lasting life, the authenticity really doesn’t matter.
Many of the pieces are pretty stupid to read also with people still texting while having their insides eaten out etc. That kind of behaviour doesn’t ring true and comes across as bad writing. The final two parts, public announcements from the President of the US and the Queen of England are easily the worst though, embarrassingly bad.
It’s not all terrible thankfully, one of the lengthiest involves a young girl receiving her first diary for her birthday and writing about her pre-teen issues as well as the ever looming threat of the zombies. It’s one of the best (although again the hand-writing is suspect) in the book and actually creates some emotional impact.
There are some clever twists on the genre but with so many characters that mean so little every attempt at impact is lessened.
Zombie Apocalypse (Stephen Jones)