E.R. Vernor,
Zombie Nation: From Folklore to Modern Frenzy
(Schiffer, 2013)

I have high standards when it comes to my zombies.

E.R. Vernor's Zombie Nation: From Folklore to Modern Frenzy gets points for appearance -- the blood-spattered inside pages is a nice touch, E.R. -- but overall, it's a weak addition to my library of zombie lore.

For one thing, Vernor could have used a good editor to catch some of the typos that slipped through -- describing a hot patch of land as a "dessert" and a crime scene as "grizzly" even though there were no bears involved are particular peeves of mine -- but mostly this book fails by being dull.

Vernor, who also writes under the more pretentious pen name of Corvis Nocturnum and who is an advocate of the Church of Satan -- no, I'm not kidding -- has basically tossed whatever he could find into the blender in the making of this book. You don't usually see Frankenstein lumped in with zombies, for instance, and the author spends too much time on all-too-human serial killers who, while their crimes were horrific, don't qualify as zombie slayings.

He also goes on a screed against fluoride in the water supply. Whether or not you're an advocate of dental hygiene, a zombie book is neither the time nor the place.

He includes a few Q&A-style interviews with people who are marginally more famous than he is, but they're largely uninteresting and more about self-promotion than education. He's a bit starstruck about meeting actor Chandler Riggs -- Carl from The Walking Dead -- at a convention, although Riggs declined to be interviewed. Vernor also cites an idea first posed by zombie writer Max Brooks, then says that Brooks "echoes my thoughts" as if to suggest that he, Vernor, came up with the idea first.

A big chunk of the book is devoted to zombie movie reviews -- Vernor loves the Resident Evil series and spends a lot of time on Shaun of the Dead -- which, I agree, is freakin' awesome -- but mostly Vernor writes spoiler-laden plot summaries, so don't read that chapter if you're planning to watch any zombie movies soon. He seems about to embark on a similar journey through zombie fiction but, after a brief Q&A with an author I've never heard of, he trots into the subject of zombie art -- again, a Q&A with someone I'm unfamiliar with, and then some self-promotion about his own art, written as if Corvis Nocturnum is some other guy and not, y'know, Vernor.

And there's stuff about zombie bullets, zombie targets and stockpiling supplies in case of the apocalypse, and a section about applying your very own zombie makeup, and oh god is this book done yet?

book review by
Tom Knapp

9 November 2013

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