I could think about that, or I could dance.

Good lord, I heart this cover.

Good lord, I heart this cover.

So.  The truth is that The n-Body Problem kind of broke me.  I finished it on Wednesday morning and since then have started and put aside 4 or 5 other books because I just couldn’t get into them.  I re-read Wizard’s Holiday with Heather and thought maybe that’d fixed me, but then I proceeded to abandon 3 more books just because I couldn’t bring myself to care.

Bluh.

I was ready to throw in the Zombruary towel.

Scrolling through the shelf again, I decided to try Maureen F McHugh’s After the Apocalypse, cos even if I wasn’t feeling it, it was a book of short stories, so I wouldn’t have to feel like I’d accomplished NOTHING when I gave up on it.

I.  Fucking.  Loved.  This.  Book.

As can be inferred from the title, all are apocalyptica of some sort.

How do you want the world to end?

Bird flu?

Zombies?

AI?

Dirty bomb?

Chicken McNugget?

You’re covered here.

I won’t even pretend that I understood the point of a few of them, but each one kind of quietly wrecked me.

I can’t even pick a favourite, although I will say that my husband walked by as I read the last few sentences of “Honeymoon,” and heard me sob under my breath and thought something was wrong.  I had to explain that it was just this girl.  This girl.  I can’t even.

Read “Useless Things” here, let it devastate you, then go buy the damn book.

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I see a tee shirt on a chair. Brown not orange.

Tn-BPI think that in order to read Tony Burgess, you have to be comfortable with not knowing what the actual fuck is happening for LONG STRETCHES of time.

My brain is already wired this way due to my love of PKD, who is a master of mindfuckery. I’ve talked about it before, and how I call it the Dick Click, where after 50-100 pages, everything is suddenly in its right place and you’re left reeling with the implications and possibilities.

Of course, Dick Click w/r/t The n-Body Problem verges on spoiler territory, so I’ll shut up about that now.

The problem with The n-Body Problem is only a problem if you’ve never read Burgess before.  I’m trying to imagine someone enjoying it that is not prepared for the sheer amounts of splatter they’ll encounter and I’m failing.

This is a summary of my thoughts as I read this in (mostly) one sitting last night.

Oh, gross.

Gross.

Gross.

GROSSSS, ZOMFG.

Oh, that’s funny.

No, THAT’S funny.

Gross.

WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK IS GOING ON?

Gross.

That’s hot.

Wait, what did I just think?

No, srsly, what is my problem?!

HAHAHAHA!  Wait, why did I just laugh at that?

Gross.

Gross.

Gross.

Wait, it’s over?

…and I think that’s pretty accurate.

I went from dry heaving to worrying I might wet myself laughing to being kinda turned on to dry heaving again, all in the space of about 30 pages.

The n-Body Problem would like you to think it’s about what happens to us when the dead keep moving after they’ve died (no, they don’t eat anyone, just just never. stop. moving. [which, in itself I found rather terrifying]) – how do we dispose of the bodies?  LET’S SEND THEM INTO SPACE, good idea, high fives all around!

But it’s not.

And I don’t even know how to tell you what it ACTUALLY IS about without spoiling it for you.

You probably shouldn’t read this book.

No, wait.  READ THIS BOOK.  But don’t blame me if you wake up on trash day babbling about WasteCorp and leading your significant other to wonder just what the fuck is wrong with you.

Not that that happened to me, or anything.

Tony Burgess?  Let’s not be best friends, ‘kay?  You kinda scare me, even while I think you’re fucking brilliant.  I love you, I just don’t want to actually know you.

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*  Oh, and the title is the moment that had me sitting slackjawed in horror, staring at the sentences on the page, wondering WTAF.  YMMV, though.

Long Live the King, Motherfuckers

This Dark EarthSo far in my life I have 3 people whose recommendations I trust absolutely. Not just in steering me towards books I will like, but also in saying “Nope, *I* liked this, but you’ll fucking hate it.”

These are the people that have never let me down, and when I decide to read something they’ve warned me against, I usually regret it.

One of those people is Ceridwen, so when I asked you guys to help me pick my next reads for Zombruary, I’m not gonna lie – her answer carried a little more weight than the rest of yours (sorry, dear Snobbits, I still heart you).

I picked up John Hornor Jacob’s This Dark Earth based on the cover and blurb (come ON, “wetwork in the murderhole”??  WHAT IS NOT TO LOVE?), then let it sit on my reader like the hundreds of other books I’ve bought but haven’t gotten around to yet.

The blurb (much like the cake) was a lie. And I was *almost* disappointed.

This Dark Earth isn’t really a straightforward narrative like the blurb would have you believe. Instead it’s a series of seven vignettes, all loosely centered around Gus (who is ten when the shit hits the fan), his mom, Lucy (who might as well be the last doctor on earth) and Knock Out (a long distance trucker that stops for Lucy when she’s trying to escape the initial outbreak).

You guys? This book has your zombpocalypse needs fucking covered, yo. Gross out squelchy moments? CHECK! A return to feudalism? CHECK! Innovative places to reclaim a bit of humanity? Motherfucking check.

Oh, and this bit, which (not gonna lie) gave me a bit of a lady boner.

There are times and things you can never forget. Your first kiss with someone you love. The first time you have sex. Your first broken heart.

And then there’s the first time you ride a steam locomotive through a horde of zombies.

I’d rank it up there with my first kiss. Maybe even sex.

If you’re one of the people who read my review for Zone One and found it wasn’t for you (which, I warned you), check this one out instead.

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(oh, and Chris and Kat are my other two go-to recommenders, in case you were wondering.)

Hippie Vegans Shall Inherit the Earth

single girl'sI don’t even know what led me to request JT Clay’s A Single Girl’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse on NetGalley.  Actually, that’s a lie.  I totally requested it because I knew Zombruary was coming up and I went through NetGalley like a crazy person requesting everything that had “zombie” in the title.

So, I requested this and was kind of surprised when I was approved.  But I added it to the list.

It wasn’t terrible?  But it also wasn’t…y’know…good.

Quentin is a teacher’s aide for a kindergarten class.  She’s obsessed with the idea of the zombie apocalypse; playing all the games, reading all the survival manuals, learning (and teaching) all of the martial arts.

Her best friend is Hannah, one of the six year old students in her class.

She has few social skills, failed the Army’s psych test (twice) and all of her other friends are online.

One day, Rabbit shows up to sing some songs to her Kindy Koalas.  Rabbit is a “hippie vegan” lawyer and Q is instantly smitten.  So much so that she doesn’t immediately notice the lyrics to New MacDonald (which is making the littlies cry).

Example:

At birth their babies are all killed,
Ee-i-ee-i-oh.
Their horns are docked, with drugs they’re filled,
Ee-i-ee-i-oh.

Yikes.  He disappears before she can get his number, and the first 30-40% of the book is basically her whining (to a SIX YEAR OLD) about being unable to find him so they can spend the rest of their lives together as they are obviously meant to do.

She ends up stalking him at his place of employment and joins various hippie vegan groups (the best being Friends Unite to Create a Karmic Transition to Restore Earth’s Ecosystems and Sustainability – the acronym really made me laugh) hoping to run into him.

Eventually she does and I guess that’s when the story really starts.  In an attempt to spend time with Rabbit, she signs up to go on some sort of silly hippie vegan retreat for the weekend.

This is when the zombies appear.  FINALLY.

Too little, too late, though.

I really didn’t care about Q’s romance.  I didn’t give a shit about Pious Kate (Rabbit’s ex-girlfriend, VEGAN SINCE BIRTH).  I don’t necessarily like when the zombies are explained (really, the explanations are always super disappointing) and somehow this story managed to feel too rushed AND too long at the same time.

Also, the title is terribly misleading.

I can’t actually recommend this to anyone, but at least it’s better than Warm Bodies, which I ragequit the same night I started this.

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She has stopped being useful to herself.

pontypoolPontypool Changes Everything is my lone re-read this Zombruary.  I read it last year (also for Zombruary) and kind of loved it, but felt a re-read was warranted cos it’s the kind of book that you can’t entirely get after just one reading.

This book…I don’t even know what to say about this book.  It is so incredibly fucked up, but it’s also got this sort of pure beauty in its violence, and it’s funny as hell, too.

Reading over other reviews, it seems this is another that you will love or hate.  Few people seem to be in the middle.  Most of the “hated it” reviews call Burgess pretentious, and generally when I disagree with someone else’s views I’d be tempted to tell them they have no idea what the fuck they’re talking about.

But it’s kind of like with Zone One and The Flame Alphabet, I’m pretty sure the detractors went into this book expecting something different.  Maybe they’d seen the movie first, maybe they just wanted boring prose with lots of zombie attacks, I don’t even know.

There ARE lots of zombie attacks in this book (the virus in this instance is spread by language), and it’s definitely gory as hell, but the words used to express that violence?  DUDE.  [sigh]

It’s hard to gush about a book the author wishes he’d never written, though.  So I’ll just leave you with a few of my favourite passages and you can maybe decide for yourself whether this is something you’ll be interested in.  I’m not crazy enough to believe that just because I am fucked up enough to enjoy this (and giggle while singing Ted, Just Admit It...to myself) that anyone else is.

A giant goldfish, in fat flames, appears below. The boy catches his breath. The carp is almost as big as he is. The two creatures hang in the air marvelling at their equal volume, sharing the suspension, the yellow light of gills and the white ring of an ankle. The carp leans off the surface and carries its glow to the bottom, disappearing from the boy, who looks up at the seagulls that have brought their paper flight to within feet of him. He thinks that if clouds could shit they’d shit seagulls.

and

An Underground that knew all about this, knew all about Les, was preparing to wake up the world and invite it to a Canada’s Wonderland made of bodies. Giant bloodslides. Houses of torture where children’s kidneys are twisted like sponges in the fat hands of musclemen. There would be buns crammed with the cooked knuckles of teenagers, and a king, sitting on a mountain of kings, eating his own shoulder.

and

The child in the back window of the car ahead is not a weapon of war, but he bears the mark; his parents, though, might just be slack-jawed cannibals looking for a parking lot to pull over in so that they can twist off his little blond head and share his face.

and

As he says this to himself Mendez knows that in two million years another species will unearth the skeletons of human beings. And then they will begin a great pastime. What broke all their necks? Did they build their ceilings too low? Did kick-boxing aliens once visit this planet? Did a meteor fall from the sky and whip around the globe at shoulder height?

going mad gif

I’m happy I read this again.  I’m glad I read this with Heather.  I’m THRILLED she liked it, too.  I did a happy little dance when she texted me today to let me know she hadn’t stopped thinking about it since we finished it yesterday.

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