Publisher: Severed Press
Publication date: November 14, 2013
Source: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. (And I will be completely honest, even though he sent me a signed copy! There's an author who understands a reader!)
Okay, the title throws you off a little bit. Jennine, who keeps distance from all things horror, is reviewing a zombie book? If you've been reading here or know me at all, you know that I would typically give an instant 'no' to a book that slightly sounds or looks like horror, monsters, etc. The year I finally read Twilight, it had taken my students that entire school year to convince me to even read the first page! It is the word 'gardening' in this title that made me stop and check it out before saying no.
My kids have a DS/XBox game called Plants vs Zombies. I've watched them play and it seems like a pretty decent game compared to all the violent and weird alternatives. Zombies are attacking a house, going through the backyard, and the only thing there to save the people inside are the plants and gardening tools, who fight it out with the zombies in the backyard. So, my mind immediately goes to this game and wonders about connections. Turns out that Zombie Gardening has a pretty similar idea, although it is nonfiction and completely useful with ingenious marketing.
The summary from Amazon, which is also on the back cover of the book, is too well written for me to mangle it in a summary of my own words: "In a post-apocalyptic world, food is scarce and most mammals will be partially consumed by the undead, leaving infected ravenous beasts waiting to make a quick meal out of any of your appendages. This is coupled with the uncertainty that the very meat that you hope to make your dinner may in fact carry the sickness, making you prone to infection. There is no doubt that the zombie apocalypse will complicate your evening dinner. But through all this terror, there are silent advocates for the survival of the willing. Only the ones that walk softly with purpose will see them. They are the plants that have been growing in the alleys, sidewalks, vacant lots, and backyards. They were here before the outbreak and they will be here long after. Zombies have no attention or interest in this detail. These small advocates for your survival will remain untouched and uninfected. This book will help you to better understand your neighborhood and all the botanical secrets that it holds, which are vital to your survival."
Ingenious right? A botanic book, of which there are many, but marketed to a specific audience - the Zombie Apocalypsers - that happens to be large and obsessed right now. (And if you don't know about these people, you need to crawl out from under your rock...although that rock may be a good hiding place when the zombies take over.) My first thought was, "My students will love this." Talk about coincidence...I just had a group of thirty kids who wanted to start a survival club, specifically designed to survive the zombie apocalypse. For a few reasons both obvious and not, they weren't able to, but zombie apocalypse or not, the survival information is a relevant skill. I recognized a number of plants in this book that have grown in my backyard all of my life, never knowing how useful they could be.
I recently acquired a book called Zombie Notes, which is a book of Cliff Note type summaries of classics, but with zombies added to the storylines. Students loved it. And look at the raging popularity of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. There's no doubt, zombies are the thing right now and Kessel found a great way to take advantage of it and in the process, possibly interest people in a topic of great value. I recommend it for any zombie/monster/horror lover in your life. Or even someone who wants a short and easy guide to plants useable as food and medicine.
Do you know your plants? Or do you know your zombies? I'm a plant person myself, but the first mention of zombies and I'm headed out to bunker down in WalMart!