25 April 2011

Post 375: The Cellar

The Cellar by A.J. Whitten. ISBN: 9780547232539 (eGalley - publishes: May 2, 2011).

So, I love zombies, but not like that.

I do appreciate that the zombie wasn't automatically made sexy, but instead used glamour (magical Haitian zombie is magical). Because rotting flesh is not typically appealing.

So why zombies? Why do I like them, why do so many other people like them?

For me, there is no monster that so accurately depicts something that humankind is afraid of. We are all afraid of death in some form or another. We are afraid of growing old, we are afraid of not growing old, we are afraid of what will happen to us when we're gone, and nothing could be more terrifying (at least to me) than finding out that not only is there a life after death, but that it involves me uncontrollably eating people until I rot away. The only saving grace behind this fate is the idea that my brain/soul/cognizance goes away and the only thing left is my animated corpse.

However, an ambulatory corpse is no picnic for the living either. We have a set order to things in our mind. People who die stay in the ground and get eaten by the things that eat things in the ground that have died. They're not supposed to become eaters themselves. And what's frightening is that there doesn't seem to be a reason for them to eat in most cases. If they don't eat to sustain themselves that puts them doubly out of the natural life cycle (both of staying down when dead and eating when hungry).

Ultimately, this is the real appeal of monsters, any monster, to me. When you strip away the flesh, what you get is probably the best representation of what we are actually afraid of. Zombies=death, werewolves=animal nature of humans, vampires=lust (for blood and sex), Frankenstein=what man can/will do with science. The fact that we can give these fears literary form in order to defeat them is possibly the great invention of mankind. By doing so we not only put our fears to rest, but actually create something in the process. These stories may not completely allay our fears, but they do give us a sense of control over them and how we deal with them in our daily lives.

Just whatever you do, don't fall in love with the monster. You might find yourself living with fear.

My review can be found at Goodreads.
LibsNote: Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.


  1. This is exactly why it was so crushing when Buffy's mom died! Because she spent her whole life fighting fear and mortality in the form of demons, and then a very formless, non-corporeal, human cancer just sneaks in and takes her mom down, and there's nothing she can swing her fists at. Tragically beautiful (in a story-telling sense)!

    Sorry, I just re-watched that episode a couple days ago. :)

  2. (I guess it's corporeal in the sense that it is some sort of cellular malignancy, but not in the sense that Buffy can punch it. Or stake it, as it were.)

  3. Oh god, that would be a terrible way to perform surgery. "Hi, my name is Buffy, and I'm going to punch the crap out of your cancer."

  4. Hm, think Joss will give me the rights to allow me to write the script, or think I'll have to come up with a loosely based character? I like the idea of calling her Judy and Punch(ing Cancer).


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