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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Proper Care and Feeding of Zombies - book review

Sara Ross

A fair warning up front: The Proper Care and Feeding of Zombies is not your typical “Run-from-the-zombies-taking-over-the-world” book. There is no story line involving the last humans on earth trying to avoid being turned, nor any tales of zombie brains being blown out. In fact, The Proper Care and Feeding of Zombies is not really a typical anything book…it stands unique in its content and appeal in terms of the zombie chronicles. From practical information about a zombie’s diet to how to get the zombie “look,” and from recipes to mad libs, Mac Montandon has created a resource that is simultaneously informative, funny, entertaining, and plain old weird.

Don’t plan on grabbing a snack while you sit down to read this book. Even if the topics you will come across don’t curb your appetite, you will be too busy turning pages to worry about eating. Make sure you read the introduction (really…don’t skip it…it’s just three pages). In addition to a cute story about Montandon’s daughter, these few paragraphs provide a poignant reminder about where the passion for zombies originates, and why zombie love is all-or-nothing. Or maybe, just all…

With that grand picture in place you are ready to begin the quest for learning all things zombie. Warning: there is a test. Not at the end of the book, but right at the beginning. Since I am really not the biggest of zombie fanatics, I was worried I would fail miserably. I apparently know enough random trivia (and figured out the common sense answers; hooray for freebies!), so I made it past the quiz. Phew! Then, it was on to the good stuff, nicely divided into manageable chapters that could be read one or a few at a time, much like a zombie munching on lobes of a brain….um…yeah.

Montandon has such clever titles for each chapter in his book that it’s hard to know where to start. “Serve with a Chilled Pinot Gross,” or “Sex and the Single Zombie?” Perhaps “Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?” No matter where you jump in, you will find very serious (but witty!) examinations of such questions as the rate of decay of a dead body (exactly when after death does that transformation to zombie become complete?) to the caloric content of a brain (does it have the nutrients needed for a healthy diet?) to how long exactly a zombie infestation would take to reach an apocalyptic state. In other words, all the things you really, really (seriously!) wanted to know about zombies but were afraid to ask the neuroscientist next door.

Mac Montandon had me alternating between laughing out loud and pausing from reading to ponder deep thoughts about the undead. The Proper Care and Feeding of Zombies was definitely my type of book—nitty gritty details, scientific evidence, and the whys and hows of all things zombie. Even if you don’t go crazy poring over data, this book can be read on many levels and should appeal to lots of audiences. It can be taken lightly and read easily, skimming past all that research and factual stuff, to focus on the fun aspects of zombies in pop culture. Or, you can slow down, grab your highlighter, and dig in to a detailed, scientific read (Endnotes! Citations!). I would definitely recommend The Proper Care and Feeding of Zombies to all sorts of readers—pick your reading style and level of interest, set at the book with that mindset, and enjoy!

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