Finally! A different kind of zombie story!
Don’t get me wrong, I do love the zombie genre, but with the mass popularity craze for anything undead, it can be a little tiresome reading the same thing over and over again. They always seem to go like this: virus unleashed, people transform into zombies, zombies feast on all the humans, and a small group of people try their best to survive.
Well, The Last Zombie has all of that . . . and more.
The main selling point of this book isn’t just that it has zombies gobbling brains, but the story takes place after the apocalypse is over. In most zombie movies and books you’ll see a few survivors running off into the sunset to fight another day, but has anyone ever thought about what happens after that? What if the zombie plague had finally died out and the world was left in despairing chaos? That’s the exact predicament we find Dr. Ian Scott in.
Set approximately two years after the end of the zombie invasion, the world is in absolute ruins. Cholera, famine, bubonic plague, leprosy, dysentery, and outlaws ruling the streets are all that’s left for the survivors of the worst outbreak in the world. Basically, you survive being lunch for some undead, only to be brought down by either raiders or plague later. So why try, right?
Well, there are military bunkers throughout the United States where some of the survivors have gathered. The government seems to be rebuilt by the surviving government officials and soldiers–giving the civilians some guidance. For the past two years, Dr. Scott spent his days in a FEMA bunker working on creating a vaccine to cure the zombie infection. The best they managed to come up with wasn’t a cure but a vaccine that would delay the virus. At least you don’t have to immediately decay into a puddle of goo.
Everything seemed to be going like clockwork until a couple months ago when they began losing contact with some of the other bunkers. Of course the bunker that Dr. Scott’s wife’s been residing in is one of the bunkers not responding. The solution is to send out two teams to figure out why–and to gather some information while they’re out there. After pleading his situation with his superiors, Scott goes with them. Despite the harsh, post-apocalyptic conditions, Scott fights his way through–fueled by the love he holds for his wife.
The amount of suspense throughout the plot of the story is enthralling. Every couple of pages, something new is thrown in to twist the situation around even more. The Last Zombie is one of those books you’ll read and you just know something bad is about to happen–until the plot twist throws a proverbial wrench into the gears and your mind speeds off in another direction.
Suspense aside, I will admit to laughing a few times as well. Keene does a good job of throwing in some comedic moments to lighten the mood a bit. For instance, as a tank plows steadily through a group of zombies, one of the soldiers manning the gun on top is riddling their un-dead bodies with bullets while yelling, “Remain calm! All’s well! Please move along! There’s nothing to eat here!”
Or there’s another time when two soldiers are discussing wanting a “Moons over My Hammy” meal from Denny’s. Just little bits here and there that you can’t help but smile over.
The fact that the whole book was done in grayscale sets the tone for the story, too. Instead of a bunch of bright and cheery colors, the shades of gray give off a sense of seriousness and make the reader pay more attention to the details. The most noticeable aspect of the artwork is that everything’s done in sketch form. Instead of clearly drawn lines, there are scribbles and multiple outlines, but it looks good drawn in pencil. Everything has some blocky characteristics, you’re going to see that with sketches, but more importantly, everyone’s drawn realistically. Wight seems pretty consistent throughout the entire book from shading to facial features.
The font used was a little different because the letter “E” lacked a back mark, so it looked like a series of horizontal lines. That idiosyncratic font threw my head for a loop for the first few pages, but I eventually got used to it. Now I just consider it to be something special linked to only this story (since I haven’t seen anything like it anywhere else).
Overall, I was happy I took the time to read The Last Zombie. Not only did it make me think beyond what would happen during a zombie apocalypse, but it’s also an interesting tale of the trials a man would go through for love. It’s not an overly romantic story–mostly centering on the outbreak and the trip–but it shows a certain strength of character that Scott’s willing to face zombies, disease, and probable death just to find out if his wife’s still alive. It really makes you ponder what you would do in his situation.
I recommend The Last Zombie to anyone who likes a good post-apocalyptic read sprinkled with some good old fashioned zombie flavoring. For those of you interested in reading further, the story arc is continued in Inferno, which covers issues 6-10. Inferno #1 was just released 4/27/11.