Original Release Date: September 1, 2008
2008 doesn’t seem like that long ago. Yet in the world we live in, one of instant gratification, media-on-demand, technology that’s outdated by the time it hits the shelves, and a constant worldwide demand for the “next big thing” to be and better and grander in scope than anything that has come before, you’d better believe that three years is an eternity in the entertainment industry.
That’s why I was shocked, truly shocked, to recently have cracked open my copy of “Zombie CSU,” the first Jonathan Maberry book I ever owned, and see printed on the “legal” page that this book was first printed in 2008. It feels like I’ve had this book for 10 years and must have read it at least as many times. I guess it just goes to show that even your friendly neighborhood horror critic loses track of some of the more important statistics sometimes!
“Zombie CSU” is a meaty book, filled with a copious amount of information about zombies, their history, the scientific aspects of their condition, the legal and psychological approaches to dealing with the undead, and so much more. It features tidbits and contributions from more “zombie experts” than you can shake a stick at, and is filled with lots of great trivia and humor to boot. It’s what I like to call a “bazaar book” – it’s got lots of different stuff inside, easily a little something for everybody.
The book gets infinite credit from me for a number of reasons: first and foremost, it was a non-fiction book centered on the living dead in a time when other zombie-specific non-fiction works were almost exclusively focused on zombie cinema. Quite frankly, no one was doing what Maberry decided to do – take a pseudo-serious non-fiction approach to a very fictionalized subject – and in the time since “Zombie CSU” was published, there has been an absolute avalanche of zombie non-fiction books about a variety of subjects. From interacting with zombies in the workplace to zombie combat manuals to the finer points of zombie economics, these types of books are everywhere these days, but it’s pretty clear that Maberry was one of the first and helped open the floodgates for this sub-genre (for better or worse, depending on how you look at it!).
Secondly, Maberry already had a whopping ten books published before “Zombie CSU” hit; they are a mix of fiction and non-fiction works, and not all of them deal with zombies – Maberry’s first few books were actually written about martial arts, and he’s actually an 8th-degree Black Belt and a member of the International Martial Arts Hall of Fame! Sounds like a handy guy to have around when the inevitable zompocalypse finally does happen, eh? But I digress: as a writer myself who has equal projects of fiction and non-fiction in the works, Maberry has provided me with direct inspiration that the successful crossover between the two realms is an achievable goal, and one he has made seem very effortless!
Let’s Score it up:
G: General Entertainment – As mentioned above, “Zombie CSU” is filled with such a variety of content that an extremely varied selection of types of reader will be able to enjoy the content. Whether you like to geek out over the more scientific and “factual” aspects of the undead, prefer in-depth discussion of hypothetical and “what-if” scenarios surrounding a zombie uprising, or just like a little humor and artwork mixed in with your talk of revenants, the book can meet the needs of just about every category of its target audience. 8/10
O: Original Content – Also as I mentioned previously, this book was released well before the deluge of “informative/expert” books having to do with “real-life” issues surrounding the living dead. This is one of the first books to foray into the zombie genre and effectively blur the lines between fiction and non-fiction, and for that, it earns a high score as a trailblazer in the market. 9/10
R: Realism – Obviously a high score here, as the book was created with the specific purpose in mind of giving some real-life credence to the finer points of our favorite monsters. While some of the content does seem to take things a little too far in terms of the hypothetical conversations, on the whole the book is a great source of information that could be functional in a world where the living dead are real. Honestly, with chapter titles like “The Crime Scene Unit,” “On the Slab,” “Law of the Dead,” and “Zombie Self-Defense,” how can you go too wrong? 8/10
E: Effects and Editing – I appreciate the “segmented” nature of the book, with many sidebars and images dotting each chapter, to help keep things from getting too tedious and textbook-y. At 402 pages long, the sheer size of the tome may scare away the average reader, but it’s important to note that the book is largely encyclopedic in nature, and wasn’t designed to be (and certainly doesn’t have to be) read in one sitting. 7/10
TOTAL SCORE: 8/10
Looking back at the other books that have received The G.O.R.E. Score treatment, “Zombie CSU” ranks right up there with “The Zombie Survival Guide” (reviewed exclusively in Vol. 1 of “The G.O.R.E. Score book series) as must-own non-fiction zombie resources (along with the aforementioned “The G.O.R.E. Score” books series, of course *cough cough*). It’s a book that you can come back to again and again, and it can come in handy during a “lively discussion” amongst you and your friends about “undead realism” or any potential zompocalypse survival scenarios. Maberry has hit a home run with “Zombie CSU,” and it’s any good zombie fans’ duty to make sure they have a copy handy when the inevitable zombie uprising does occur.
And now, my friends, you know the Score!
Read this one shortly after it came out and enjoyed it a great deal. Have to admit I enjoyed the sidebars by the various zombie experts the most, since they were mostly a bit of lighter analysis. This book was great, but it is a bit heady, and it is for the seriously devoted fan and not someone with just a passing interest in zombies. Mayberry is very thorough with this one and it is a great reference source.