Book Review: Sadie Walker is Stranded by Madeleine Roux

Hi all!

Yes, zombies are everywhere. But the stories that are the most compelling are of normal people facing extraordinary odds of survival. Whether you’re talking about The Walking Dead or Jonathan Maberry‘s Rot & Ruin YA zombie series or Sadie Walker is Stranded, it’s the “Average Joe” forced to step up in the face of certain doom that I want to read about. Sure, Milla Jovovich is stunning in the Resident Evil movies, but her character there is more a superhero than the girl next door. I’m much more likely to identify with the flawed heroes of The Walking Dead and Night of the Living Dead.

So back to Sadie… Author Madeleine Roux manages to capture the insanity and dark humor that may in fact make the apocalypse bearable, but does it so deftly that you only notice when she deflects a horrific event with a popular media reference or witty response to get a rise. Mix that with the fact that this is the first zombie book I’ve seen that uses a boat to great effect and you get great paragraphs like this: “Finding privacy on a sailboat is like finding a Starbucks in the desert. You might desperately want it to happen, you might wish upon a star, but you’re better off accepting that you’re going to die, and not with a soy latte in your hand either.”

I’ll be shocked if this book doesn’t get optioned for a movie within a year or two. It has a heroine who manages to be both brave and flawed at the same time. It involves hordes of the undead underwater and above it. And it details a world that seems much closer to the beginning of such an apocalypse than one that’s learned to live with it.

After the zombie apocalypse happens, graphic artist Sadie Walker finds herself living in a besieged Seattle, WA, trying to live a normal life and raise her nephew in relative safety and peace. Fate apparently has other things in store for her. When her nephew gets kidnapped by a radical group of “Repopulationists” seeking to repopulate the earth through copious copulation where children are prized above all else, Sadie goes off the deep end. She must fight her way to her nephew amid the chaos caused when a group of zombies breaks through the barrier around the city. Can she not only save the kid, but keep them both alive?

If I had to sum up the book, I’d say it’s a bit like Gilligan’s Island crossed with The Walking Dead, but with more references to popular culture and humor. Sadie Walker Is Stranded was a quick read and a glimpse into an interesting zombie-infested world. I hope Roux decides to follow-up with another book set in the same world. The book is in bookstores now and if you like a good zombie yarn, I’d definitely encourage you to check it out!

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

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Movie Review: Resident Evil: Afterlife (3D)

When a movie relies entirely on 3D gimmicks and action, typically there’s something missing. And though I love Milla Jovovich (and have since I saw her in The Fifth Element), good old Alice couldn’t even save Resident Evil: Afterlife.

Let me back up a bit here… The Resident Evil movie series started in 2002 and is based on a video game series that’s been around since the mid-1990s. The premise is that a global, multi-national organization called the Umbrella Corporation is doing genetic research when a scientist gets fumble fingers and releases a killer virus. The “T-Virus” infects people and starts rewriting their DNA – killing them in the process. Of course, death is just the beginning and the corpses reanimate as undead zombies bent on world domination…

So it’s one part conspiracy, one part warning against the dangers of unchecked science, and one part George A. Romero. Add to that the character Alice (Jovovich), who seems to be the only person who’s been infected with the virus and become stronger without achieving zombie status or going power mad and becoming a monster.

Through the next two movies (Resident Evil: Apocalypse and Resident Evil: Extinction), Alice finds some friends, kills a lot of zombies and T-Virus monstrosities, and continues her goal of stopping the Umbrella Corporation and the virus.

The film starts after the events of Resident Evil: Extinction, which left Alice heading off to get more revenge on the Umbrella corporation and Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) and the gang heading to the mythical “Arcadia” in Alaska that is promised as a virus free zone for survivors of the zombie plague. Of course, Arcadia doesn’t quite pan out…

Yes, Alice, Claire, Claire’s brother Chris (Prison Break‘s Wentworth Miller), K-Mart (Spencer Locke), Luther (Undercovers Boris Kodjoe), and all their friends manage to kick some T-Virus butt, but I was left wondering what exactly they were fighting for. Most of the population has been turned into monsters and the few that are left are being used as lab rats by Umbrella.

As for whether 3D made this movie any better, I have to say it may have improved a few scenes, but I’ve never actually seen a 3D movie that I considered boring until now. And when you add in the zombies and monsters, this shouldn’t be boring at all. It’s an action horror movie for Pete’s sake.

Though I appreciate the fact that they got to use James Cameron’s 3D camera setup from Avatar, what I found was a movie where I watched a few folks get up and walk out of the theater after 30 minutes and I was tempted to check the time on my cell phone about 6 times.

To provide an example, there’s a scene where an aircraft is about to plow into Mt. Fuji with Alice and the big bad guy Wesker (Shaun Roberts) on board… suddenly we’re in a 3D freeze frame traveling from the nose of the craft to the tail, seeing everything in painful slow motion. As I said before, I love Milla, but when we pause for what seems like forever for no good reason. In my mind, effects should be there to provide something to push the story forward. A glorified “pause” button doesn’t really help that cause.

If you’ve seen the trailers on television, you’ve already seen one of the better battles between the huge monster with the axe, Alice, and Claire in a prison shower. The big guy is impressive – a one monster wrecking crew. But I didn’t need to pay to see this scene again.

Ultimately Resident Evil: Afterlife was a major disappointment. I enjoyed the previous movies with scary monsters, zombies that were extremely fast, and Milla kicking some serious butt. Sorry Milla, but this one was a swing and a miss for me. I’d skip it.

[rating:1/4]

–Fitz

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Trailer Time – Resident Evil: Afterlife

Are we really ready for another Resident Evil? I mean, yes, Ali Larter and Milla Jovovich are beautiful actresses and deadly if put in the right set of fictional circumstances… but do we really need to to be in 3D?

Yes, I’m a sucker. I’ll probably go see it when it comes out September 30, 2010. 🙂

–Fitz

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