A Confession: I don't understand the Zombie Genre

by Rachel Baker on August 13, 2013

I must confess: I do not, for the life of me, understand the draw to all things Zombies, and recently, I’ve been actually trying to figure out the popularity.

I recently read Apocalypse Z (borrowed free on Amazon’s Lending Library), and previous to that I’d read Stephen King’s Cell: A Novel.  I loved Cell – that said, though, I really didn’t view it as a Zombie novel as much as about the love of a parent for his child and going against the odds to rescue said child from a horrible, horrible situation. I have never watched The Walking Dead except for maybe two episodes. I have asked my young family members what the attraction to the Walking Dead, as well as the video games Dead Island and Left for Dead, and I’ve watched game play for both Left for Dead and Red Dead Redemption Undead Nightmare.   I enjoyed the movie 28 Days Later, but I have to ask myself, am I stupid because I didn’t realize it was a re-imagining of “the zombie movie“?

I’ve been thinking about reading Max Brook’s World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, but only because the movie comes out on DVD on September 17th. I think its quite possible that someone in my household may want to watch it, and I sort of think maybe the book has a better chance of being read prior to me watching the movie.

I found this article on Wired.com I think may help me decide whether to buy the book or not. It confirms to me that the genre has changed with time and it makes a lot of sense the change often happens when things shift socialogically, politically and scientifically. It seems like a Zombie apocolypse is more about a crisis of faith (maybe not just a religious one) than about anything else.

I get the idea of group survival, etc., etc., – all things I like to see in a good novel, but for some reason…I just don’t understand the zombie monster. I get monsters like Frankenstein being the social commentary on why medical advances may not be as great as we think they are in the beginning. I think its that I don’t understand what the Zombie is a symbol of, and why it frightens and thrills so many people. The genre thus far has done nothing for my imagination, and even if there’s probably little likelihood that I will like it, I want to at least understand the draw.

All that said, I know I am no where near well-read enough to understand, but I’m trying.

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