Inside Story on Zombie Books

Zombies have been used in literature for a long time and more recently in movies and computer games.  Some stories use zombies as metaphors for the decay found in society such as consumerism, sexism, racism, class structure.  Zombies also represent more personal fears such as the loss of control or individuality.  Zombie stories hold up a frightening caricature of ourselves: zombies are both us and a dehumanized monster,  making them both scarier and more comfortable.  Lastly, zombies dig right down to our most primitive subconscious, and expose our most basic fears and taboos: the inevitability of death, the instinctive revulsion of cannibalism and the visceral terror of being eaten.

A good zombie story, as any good story should, shows us the drama of people striving against extraordinary and overwhelming odds – people discovering the strength and ability, previously dormant in themselves and others, to survive and adapt to a world turned on its head.  It is this element, I think, that most appeals to readers of this genre – the ability to observe these extreme and frightening events from the safe distance of a reader, but also to share the triumphs of the characters.  Readers will often sit, warm and safe, and ask themselves:  What would I do …?

David Hills

Zombies in Literature from BGS Library


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