THE WALKING DEAD: Compendium One by Robert Kirkman [Book 48 of 2010]

Okay, I lied when I said that I wouldn’t be reviewing any more graphic novels this year. THE WALKING DEAD on AMC made me so mad that CH ordered the compendium of the first eight volumes for us to read and discuss — like a husband/wife book club. More about my disdain for the TV show on Thursday when I name it my Worst Show of 2010 over at Fierce and Nerdy. Until then, here are my thoughts on THE WALKING DEAD: Compendium One by Robert Kirkman.

Why I Decided To Read It: My husband started reading the compendium on our recent cruise to Mexico, went into complete book thrall, then all of sudden put it down, because something so bad had happened that he “needed to take a break.” So having observed this three days worth of behavior, I picked it up, determined to see what shook him so badly.

What It’s About: Zombie Apocalypse … you know the drill.

What Makes It Different: Basically while most Zombie Apocalypse stories are about action and survival, this turns out to be a story about civilization and survival (two of my favorite things!). It really made me gain a new respect for my African and caveman ancestors a like.

What I Loved: This is where I have to talk a little about the show, because sadly the AMC version leaves out much of what the book gets right. Every non-zombie character in this book is rich and complex — even the POC. There are no completely good guys or bad guys, just three dimensional humans dealing with a completely horrific situation. These characters are so gotdang good, even when I wanted to completely emotionally disconnect from them, because anyone could die at any moment, I had a hard time doing so. Also unlike the show, this compendium does not drag, not even for a minute. It was so compelling that I ended up finishing what had to be at least 1,000 comic pages in under three days — it would have been less, except twenty-four hours into my own read, my husband guilted me into giving the compendium back to him, until he had to put it down again, when something even more awful than the first truly awful thing happened.

Speaking of which, I want to warn you that this story is haunting — truly haunting. If you are depressed, don’t read this as you will only become more so. If you, like me, are prone to nightmares, be prepared to have a few of them, while reading and a few afterwards. This is what I call “true horror” — a story that really makes you feel that you are inside of it as opposed to merely observing.

What I Didn’t Like: No page numbers — WTF??? If you lose your place — say your 18-month-toddler comes along and slams the book closed on you as she does whenever you attempt to read in her presence — then you’re effed and have to risk some pretty significant spoilers to get back to where you were. Seriously, do not try to face down this massive story without a bookmark at the ready.

Survivalist Lessons Learned:

Canned food and books will be the new gold. As my husband discussed HERE, we have a pretty significant amount of emergency rations just in case of an earthquake, nuclear attack or … (ahem) zombie apocalypse. This story made me want to add way more canned food and physical books to our collection. Since…

In the case of a zombie apocalypse, you should either stay exactly where you are with your family or keep on moving with a community. This sounds contradictory, but in the case of staying where you are, you’ll need plenty of supplies and you’ll also need a plan for securing your perimeter and creating the kind of place in which you could live for years while waiting for the zombies to turn into skin and bones. In the case of moving with a community, you’ll need to find a bigger space, which you can keep secure, and farm. So if you have a black thumb, like I do, plan for the former.

Drills aren’t just for kids. For the most part, I hesitated to call any of the characters’ actions stupid, since I have no idea how I would react to a zombie apocalypse that killed most of my loved ones. But the lack of Plan Bs really upset this dedicated outliner. These people were constantly letting their guard down and then having to scramble when they got attacked. The first few times I understood, but by mid-story, I was like, “Ya’ll need to come up with some Plan Bs and Cs and start running worse-case scenario drills.”

Befriend a gun nut. And know how to get to his or her (but let’s face it — probably his) house without a Garmin.

To Whom Would I Recommend This Book: Survivalists, Gun Nuts, Ashton Kutcher, Anyone Who Suspects That They Could Be Survivalists Or Gun Nuts Under The Right Circumstances, Steven Barnes, and Ryan Dixon