First published back in July of 2008, ‘Zombie Haiku’ formed Ryan Mecum’s debut release.  The collection of haiku poetry tells a story of an unfolding zombie epidemic, all through the medium of haiku poems (three simple lines composed of five syllables, then seven syllables, and then finally another five syllables).  The end result is a truly original and inventive method of delivering a classic zombie story.

DLS Synopsis:
Chris Lynch is now alone, locked away in an airport toilet, with hordes of the undead outside, hungry to devour his brains.  As he faces his unavoidable fate he looks through the one item that has found itself now in his possession.  A small notebook of haiku poetry that was clutched in the hand of a zombie before the whole arm was ripped off when Lynch slammed the door to the toilet shut.  As he reads through the poetry, a personal story of one man’s transformation into a flesh-hungry zombie is revealed.

Through the medium of haiku, the poetry tells the story of a man who suddenly finds himself knee deep in a violent world of rampaging zombies.  Climbing up an advertising billboard sign to escape the flesh-eating hordes of the undead only makes him more trapped.  His decision to leave the elevated safety of the billboard sign results in a savage bite to the neck.  A bite that will eventually bleed out and bring the end to our narrator.  A bite that will start the inevitable change in his life.  For when his last breath is exhaled, a new existence will be ready for him.  An existence as an ever-hungry, unrelenting zombie...

DLS Review:
Okay, so the first thing that jumps out at you when you first pick the book up is the level of quality in the presentation of this fictional poetry notebook as well as the glorious attention to detail that Mecum and the publishers have put in.  Each glossy page is printed in full colour, with blood splatters, maggots, Polaroid photos, ripped out teeth and gaffer-taped excerpts making for a unique scrapbook effect.

The actual story detailed in the poetry is quite a straight forward run-of-the-mill zombie epidemic storyline, written from the perspective of a man (who we learn is the author Ryan Mecum) who becomes a zombie quite early on.  Choosing to adopt this behind-the-eyes-of-a-zombie perspective allows Mecum to deliver a barrage of gore-tastic poetry whilst getting into the head of a forever hungry walking corpse.

The tale itself is littered with inspiration taken from, and homages to, a variety of zombie classics.  The story begins with a very ‘Shaun Of The Dead’ (2004) style of premise.  From here, once the mayhem has commenced, the zombies that Mecum depicts reveal themselves to be the more comical ‘Return Of The Living Dead’ (1985) type of zombies who are predominantly craving “Brainssss”.

I really need blood.
Moaning “brains” is hard to do
With a dried out tongue.

Mecum maintains a comical approach, with such grin-inducing scenarios as a wheelchair pile-up during a nursing home zombie massacre.  Indeed, Mecum is happy to savage any victim and turn his zombies to anyone’s flesh as long as it’s drenched in black-comedy and has plenty of visceral gore involved.

However, by far and away the biggest nod to anyone else’s work is undoubtedly that of Romero’s ‘Dead’ series.  We’ve got our zombie pals hording around a shopping mall ala ‘Dawn Of The Dead’ (1978), a particularly ‘Night Of The Living Dead’ (1968) isolated rural house, not to mention the inclusion of the immortal tag line within one of the haiku poems:

A man starts yelling
“When there’s no more room in Hell...”
but then we eat him.

Oh yes…it’s homage a-go-go throughout the length of the book.  It’s as clear as day how much Mecum loves his zombies.  How much admiration and passion he has for the likes of Romero.  His utter enjoyment of zombies shines through the book from the outset.  However you quickly get the impression that it was probably more fun to put together than it is to actually read.  Nonetheless, this is still a fun quarter-of-an-hours’ worth of zombie reading.  Its originality is what makes it what it is.  The poetry itself is far from breath-taking.  It’s more an alternative means to getting a zombie story down.   Or at least that’s how it seems.

To be honest, I enjoyed the book.  Obviously, for its true effect it’s one that needs to be read from start to finish.  You can’t exactly pluck the poems out at random and expect much from them (other than a comical helping of blood splatter).  But I very much doubt that I’ll be returning to the book anytime soon.  Its overall appeal is quite limited and short-lived.

For some light-hearted zombie fan’s comic relief, you can’t go that far wrong with the book.  It has its moments, but does get a tad tiresome after a while.  But for its originality and creativeness, Mecum should be applauded.

The book runs for a total of 140 pages.

Due to the book’s relative success it spawned a series of similarly horror themed haiku tales all written by Mecum – ‘Vampire Haiku’ (2009) ‘Werewolf Haiku’ (2010) and ‘Dawn Of Zombie Haiku’ (2011).

© DLS Reviews

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