When I found out that Aleksandar Hemon was coming out with a new novel this year, I was thrilled. His book The Lazarus Project is one of my all time favourites. It examined a very serious issue--immigration and acceptance in America--and did a fantastic job of chronicling a part of history.
That is not what The Making of Zombie Wars is.
Joshua Levin is an ESL teacher in Chicago with dreams of becoming a screenwriter in 2003. He throws a bunch of ideas around his workshop, but the one that sticks is about a zombie apocalypse that he calls Zombie Wars (obviously.) He has a girlfriend who is much better looking than he is named Kimmy but finds himself very attracted to a Bosnian student, Ana. Meanwhile, he finds his very crazy, Desert Storm vet landlord, Stagger, riffling through his things in his apartment. Kimmy decides that it would be a good idea for Josh to move in with her.
At around this time, Josh learns that his father has prostate cancer and his sister's marriage is falling apart. Josh, of course, cannot resist the temptation of Ana, even with his wonderful girlfriend and her unrelenting support of him.
And so, Josh commences an affair with Ana. This is after he meets Ana's husband--an ex-military, quite probably violent Bosnian man named Esko. As can be predicted, mayhem ensues. And not just a little mayhem, I'm talking zombie apocalypse mayhem.
There is also a side story throughout the novel: the reader gets to feast their eyes on exerpts of Levin's script. As you may think, it's pretty standard for a zombie movie--certainly nothing revolutionary.
TMOZW is absurd and it's meant to be that way. It is extremely funny and is a very quick read. If you have never read anything by Aleksandar Hemon, you should know that English is not his first language (he left his native Bosnia during the war in 1992 and was stranded, making a new home in Chicago.) I say this because he has completely mastered in a way that would make anyone jealous. This book is no exception: as silly as it may be, it is chock full of perfectly worded metaphors and wondrous technique. Hemon is a gifted writer and I am happy to read anything that he's penned (in fact, his memoir is on my list and will be reviewed soon.)
As for recommendations go, let me get to it. If you are looking for something full of everything extreme (sex, blood, zombies,) this is the book for you. Also, if you want to admire the work of a master of the craft, give it a shot. If you're looking for something deeper, The Making of Zombie Wars may not be it.
But you already knew that from the title, right?
I really liked the novel. Hemon pushes the boundaries of normalcy and sanity into a rock'em sock'em orgy of fun--in the life-falling-apart way, of course. It's pretty refreshing.