One of the fastest growing genres in literature, film and other mediums is that of the zombie. Popularized with Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, it has expanded into something more, some with multi volume series such as Resident Evil and 28…Later in film, as well as World War Z and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in literature, The Walking Dead on TV as well as a myriad of video games. However, one of the more interesting additions to the genre in recent years is that the book Zombie Apocalypse!, edited by Stephen Jones.

The book itself is unique in a few ways. First it is not a straight forward, perhaps, cliched, account of zombies taking over the world. A bunch of people don’t try to survive by hiding out in a mall. It is told through a series of emails, memos, letters, blogs, diary entries, tweets, texts, reports and other mediums and there are several different characters who each write an ‘entry’. As such the entire book is not written by Stephen Jones, rather he is the editor of the whole volume with 20 or so authors writing the ‘stories’. It’s an incredible unique perspective that has a heavy emphasis on the human cost of the zombie apocalypse.

The story starts out in London, where a troubled political climate has the British government on its heels. In order to turn away attention from the state of teh country, the government puts together the New Festival of Britain, a celebration of British culture and heritage. Of course, most people see through its facade for what it really means. During setup, excavation of a South London church unleashes The Death and everything goes to hell from that point on.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the book is that zombies are really supporting characters. The focus is on how people are reacting to this plague. Concerns over excavating a church with buried bodies prompt a doctor to complain to authorities, which ends up falling on deaf ears. She proceeds to go snooping and comes face to face with The Death. A report filed by a policeman which profiles the first sightings of these ‘zombies’ is particularly noteworthy because in describing what he’s seeing he’s not saying ‘oh there are zombies’. He’s struggling to understand something that is completely alien to him. He sticks to his training and protocol in the process. Perhaps one of the best sections are entries from the diary of a 13 year old girl. It starts out as a teenaged girl’s diary would, talking about cute boys, but as the story unfolds, she is forced to deal with something way beyond her comprehension, in which she grows up alot in a short period of time.

Predictably, The Death spreads beyond the UK and we get entries from people in New York and Australia. The constant switching of medium from letter to text to blog to email continues and keeps bringing in fresh takes on what is unfolding. Fact and fiction is mixed together well as people speculate on where The Death came from, with some saying it is similar to great plagues of the past. Towards the end there are predictably more individual accounts instead of ‘official’ ones. You’ll start to read several entries and humor and swerves may come out of nowhere, but that’s one of the book’s strengths.

Zombie Apocalypse! is a new take on a genre flooded with other examples. The choice, or choices, of a several different mediums packed into one book make it stand out more then anything. It’s such an interesting departure that you’ll want to keep reading to find out who gets their turn in the spotlight next. As stated before, the focus on people grappling with events that they could not possibly be ready for make the book even better. In the end, we could talk about how we would deal with a zombie outbreak, but when one actually occurs, we more then likely would do something completely different.