ZOMBIE HAIKU by Ryan Mecum

Zombies have provided the inspiration from horror to social commentary (Dawn of the Dead), action (the remake of Dawn of the Dead), and even comedy (Shaun of the Dead). The shambling undead brain-eaters have now inspired something else: poetry. Zombie Haiku by Ryan Mecum documents the early days of the zombie outbreak, from both the survivor and zombie viewpoints, in five-seven-five syllable entries.

Zombie Haiku adopts the format of the found journal; this one is found, quite originally, in the arm severed from a zombie. The anonymous author of this journal sets forth the goal "to capture the beauty which can be so overwhelming that I sometimes feel like I'm going to burst open." The journal changes direction quitr quickly, from the unknowing descriptions of the zombie outbreak ("As I start my car/my neighbor ust keeps starng/and dosn't wave back") to his own horrifying transformation into an undead monster filled with insatiable hunger ("she's in the kitchen/scared and screaming her lungs out/which I will soon see").

Telling the tale of a witness-then-zombie in haiku format is certainly a unique way of approaching the zombie genre. Mecum supplies plenty of gore -- notably when the narrator feeds and thinks of feeding -- but there's also dark humor, allusions to Night of the Living Dead and Shaun of the Dead, and even moments of the zombie's memories of being human ("for the next few days/we watch groups of what we were/living how we lived"). The number of syllables are off now and then; still, poetry has never been the forte of the living dead. And while many zombie tales provide numerous viewpoints from the human suvivors -- World War Z provided different points of view with each chapter -- Zombie Haiku only provides those of a generic person (not much of the poet in the early entries except for the haiku format) and a generic zombie.

Zombie Haiku is a quick read and an enjoyable addition to the body of zombie literature. Part horror, part horrific (going home to eat has never been so twisted), part comedy, this book is a dark walk through the shoes of a protagonist who both flees from the horror -- and shambles as part of it.

Overall grade: B
Reviewed by James Lynch

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