This year I finally made it across to Clunes for one of their annual Booktown festivals.
Clunes is a small town in country Victoria with a lot of bookshops, and is the first Booktown in the Southern Hemisphere to be recognised by the International Organisation of Booktowns. Instead of explaining the origins of the Booktown phenomena, I’m going to pop a few links below for interested parties. For everyone else, what you need to know is that in addition to the six or so permanent bookshops in the town on the festival weekend they close off a few streets in Clunes and booksellers from around the country set up stalls and take residence in the town hall hall, bank, garage and other assorted areas to sell their wares. There are book signings, author talks, performances, discussion panels, and of course plenty of plenty of books to be seen all around. Continue reading
Zombies, zombies, zombies. The literary world may be overrun, but personally this is the first young-adult book I’ve read featuring the bitey undead. I must say, I liked this take on the trope. Benny Imura was barely a toddler when the world ended. His first memory is of his now-zombie father going after his mother, while his half-brother just runs, carrying Benny away forever. He hates them both: the zombie monsters, and the coward brother. When Benny turns 15, his rations will be cut in half if he doesn’t find a job. Finally, exhausting all other options, Benny has no choice but to apprentice in the family business: zombie hunting. He loves the idea of killing zombies, but isn’t keen on doing it with his brother – both attitudes which are soon put to the test when he has to face the realities of life outside the protective walls of the town.
Maberry’s zombie-mythology is absolutely brilliant, and though the zombies never lose their inherent danger or scariness he allows the reader to pity the creatures for the humans they had once been. This is a crucial part of Benny’s growth as a character as well, and though the novel is action packed, it really is about his emotional journey and the choices he makes about the kind of person he wants to be. To get back to the action though, there were some really dynamic scenes, with my favourite being the horse charge – from my experience you don’t often get them in zombie stories and it was just one of those small things which add to the uniqueness of the novel.
Were there some aspects of the novel I thought could have been executed better? Definitely. For instance, a clear idea of Tom’s age earlier in novel would have eased confusion over why Benny was so convinced he was a coward for not saving their mother. What flaws the novel does have are easily overlooked though, and I enjoyed the read very much. I’d certainly recommend it for anyone looking for a mixed-genre adventure.