First published back in September of 2010, Brooklyn freelance writer Mac Montandon’s book ‘The Proper Care And Feeding Of Zombies’ was yet another passionate tongue-in-cheek homage to the love of the zombie genre.  Indeed, over recent years, our undead friends have seen a massive sudden reawakening into almost mainstream popularity.

Clearly piggy-backing off the multitude of similar faux-zombie-guides which grew out of Max Brooks’ incredibly detailed and ingeniously inspired ‘The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From The Living Dead’ (2003).  Indeed, since Brooks’ debut into this pop culture-esque field, a veritable landslide of similarly themed ‘guides’ have emerged.  However, Montandon’s scientific take on the idea is as valid as the next publication and certainly deserves at least a perusal from any avid fan of the walking dead.

From the start, what automatically hits the reader is the book’s utterly in-depth examination of our principal subject matter at hand – the zombie.  Chapter by chapter Montandon dissects the realities of the living-dead from the entertaining (Max Brooks-esque) stance - that the undead threat does really exist.  Constant ‘fan-loving’ references to classic zombie movies are thrown around with reckless abandonment.  The references being used are further utilised as actual ‘evidence’ for the various characteristics that make-up a zombie.  And why the hell not?

However, Montandon makes the cardinal sin of getting too bogged down in the various scientific technicalities (however intriguing they may be) and annoying the hell out of any readers who actually have somewhat of a passion for zombies – by making some of the most basic genre-specific errors ever...over and over and over again!  Now I certainly have no intention of getting on any form of high-horse whatsoever, but mistaking the vampires that haunt the sun-less hours within Richard Matheson’s classic tale ‘I Am Legend’ (1954) for zombies is a bit of a massive faux pas within such a book.  The sheer volume of times Montandon refers to ‘I Am Legend’ (1954) as a modern day variation of the zombie, just rubs salt into the wound at each and every reference to it.

After all, this scientific study is supposed to be somewhat of an authority on the make-up of zombies (in a similar vein to how Max Brooks' books were on the survival of a zombie outbreak), yet Montandon's glaring I Am Legend error seems to miss the critical facts that the monsters tormenting Robert Neville not only breath, but are also pained by direct sunlight, garlic and holy water and can be killed other than from destroying or severing the brain - in a nutshell they're vampires squire! Alas, Montandon's school-boy error becomes painful every time it crops up in the book - which is remarkably and annoyingly frequent.

Again Montandon slips up with the references to Danny Boyle’s movie ’28 Days Later’ (2002), whereby the ‘rage-infected’ hordes are mistakenly referred to as zombies.  These terrifying hordes are no more dead than you or me!  They’re just infected with an uber-infectious and potent virus that acts like a pumped up version of rabies.  The very principles behind the scientific make-up of zombies being discussed forms the very backbone of the book, yet Montandon seems to forget the first rule of what makes a zombie – it has to be dead!

These two hideously annoying errors aside, Montandon continues to reference from only a handful of mostly modern or predominantly well-known zombie movies and seemingly ignores the huge array of zombie fiction out there in the form of literary fiction (other than the work of Max Brooks or Jonathan Mayberry’s ‘Zombie CSU’ (2008)).  Not even a glancing mention of John Russo makes it into the book!  The guide is very much geared towards zombie movie fans alone.

The main saving grace of the entire book is the incredibly witty writing style of the author.  From start to finish, Montandon’s humorous banter injects a much needed comical element to the scientific jargon that forms the main chunk of the book.  The result is a light-hearted and entertaining read that keeps the reader smirking throughout (although the constant side-tracking and wildly elaborate scientific theories do begin to get a little tiresome).

The book is split up into twelve principal chapters, which together dissect the entire scientific make-up of our undead pals.  These chapters are as follows:

1. Know Thy Enemy – What does a zombie brain look like?  The neurobiology of zombies.
2. Serve With A Chilled Pinot Gross – The benefits and hazards of an all-brain-and-human-flesh diet.
3. Earth Worms Are Easy – What’s really left of a dead body after a few weeks in the ground?  A lot or a little?
4. Sex And The Single Zombie – The undead are far from the only organisms that reproduce asexually, but are they the scariest?
5. Unsafe At Any Speed – Why zombies walk (and stalk) before they run.
6. What They Don’t Teach You In Health Class – How fast and how far will a zombie infection spread?  Is a zombie apocalypse truly possible?  The science of the infected.
7. Do Zombies Dream Of Undead Sleep? – Not only are zombies undead, they are massively unslept.  An exploration into the science of sleep.
8. Bee Afraid, Bee Very Afraid – Examining real-life parasites that turn their victims into mindless zombies.
9. Fear And Loathing In Zombietown – Mass hysteria, post-traumatic stress disorder, and the undead.
10. War Of The Weirds – How do the undead hunt?  How do humans flee?  What being attacked by a rabid dog and living life like a slave-making ant can teach us about surviving a zombie outbreak.
11. Attack Of The Mutant Zombies! – What can we learn from ghouls about mutation and radiation?
12. You Gotta Shoot ‘Em In The Head! – On ballistics, physics, recoil, zombies, and you.

The book also contains a brief ‘Zombie Quiz’, a ‘Zombie Food Recipe’, a ‘Seven-Day Zombie Workout’ and two rather bizarre make-your-own zombie scripts.  The book is illustrated throughout with amusing black & white illustrations by Albert Lee illustrating each one of the chapter’s subject matters.

The book runs for a total of 244 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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