Zombies, why can't I quit you?
I was all jazzed to write some massively immature pun-filled review of this book – you know, something along the lines of “Don't give me any static
about this, but I felt like King was really phoning
it in” – but now that I've actually read it, I don't feel up to it anymore. You won, Stephen King, you killed the fun of zombies for me. May they rise again to eat my brains another day. In lieu of a real review, I'm just going to do a lazy list.
1. Seriously, King? Hating on cell-phones? This has to be the longest you-kids-get-off-my-lawn tract I've read in a while. I mean, yeah, we all hate the braying jackass who telegraphs his self-important blather in public, but you can have my cell phone when you pry it from my cold, undead hand. There may be an age limit on the cell-phone love, but it seems to me that it gets older every year. My 92 year old Grandma had one. In 20 years, this book is going to be seriously quaint. We don't always have to be writing for the ages, and horror often functions best when it speaks to specific cultural insecurities, but this one's already past its sell-by date. What's next: “Rap Music: More Like Crap Music”?
2. Stuff that I would rather not see used as instant gravitas/metaphorical enhancement in popular fiction: 9/11, Nazis, and Jesus Christ. Simply referencing these things does not make your metaphor coherent or thoughtfully layered.
3. Omg, but maybe, like, we're
the monsters! Le sigh.
4. Neil Stephenson's Snow Crash
called. It wants its nam-shub back. (Maybe I'm feeling better now. Let the pun begin!) I wouldn't even mention this, but King name-checks Stephenson at one point, which made me remember Stephenson's idea of a technology that can hack the human brain and how Stephenson uses this to talk about the ways that the technologies we create mirror our essential humanity while sometimes reducing us to automata, which may kind of be our essential humanity. Or not. It's complicated. Snow Crash
does this WAY better. I want to stress that I do not care
about originality, and I think when assessing genre fiction, originality is almost an impediment. What bugs me is King uses an idea that I found compelling in Stephenson's work, and does not add anything new or vital to it, and in some places, makes it stupider
5. When I start flipping out about shambling corpses and planning contingency plans for the zombie apocalypse, my husband always chimes in with “but, physics,” by which he means that zombies violate the rules of physics, and I should stop worrying. (Yeah, dealing with my irrational fear with rationality – that's going to work.) King gets around this by making his zombies living people, capable of dying in the usual manner, etc. Then he completely hoses this by making them levitate, use telekinesis, and have psychic powers. I can't even stress how much I hate psychic powers. In addition to violating the rules of physics, rules that we all live by whether we want to or not, levitating using your mind makes you look stupid. It's worse than trucker hats. I realize this is an inconsistent set of opinions, but whatever.
6. No one is allowed to go cross-country anymore to find their kids after the end of the world. Except for maybe Dennis Quaid. But he has to ask me special.