Inquiry 2A, Zombie Genre Analysis by Lucas Moore

For Inquiry 2, I am choosing to focus upon the Apocalyptic/Zombie genre.  I looked through a selection of not only text items, but also movies, television shows, and even videogames.  The following are sources that I am looking at for this paper:

  1. The Zombie Survival Guide: This is a book that gives us a wide spectrum of different survival techniques for an impending zombie invasion.  The book not only talks about how best to survive, but how the outbreak could start, how the government might handle it, and what will become of society if this were to happen, and simply…what a zombie is.I feel like this fits into the genre of Zombie because it talks about ways to combat the hungering undead and survive a post-apocalyptic world.
  2. World War Z:  This is a collection of survivor accounts from a world that was once ravaged by zombies.  With different parts of the world being affected at different times and from different sources, such as hospital patients or deranged tribal folk.  This is the aftermath and a warning as not to let this happen again. This book fits into the genre due to it talking about first-hand encounters with the plague of the dead.  It mentions how we must learn from the mistakes of the elders, never to repeat the living nightmare that once threatened our species.
  3. Patient Zero: Is about a soldier who must combat the zombie invasion with a new squad and must find a way to stop it. The whole outbreak is being developed in the Middle East by a drug company and communist group in order to destroy American life. This follows the theme of zombies because it involves a sudden outbreak followed by panic and destruction. This story follows a group of military soldiers as survivors and takes us the possible end of the world.
  4. The Morningstar Strain Series (1/2/3): This series is about different groups of survivors coming from all over the globe to meet at a military/health facility. The group battles for survival as they find one member to be immune to the whole virus. This follows the cliché of zombie books by the survivors coming together in order to fend off the zombie invasion. One thing this book does have is someone who is immune to it while everyone else is susceptible, typically this is a videogame thing, and even then it is groups of people who are immune.
  5. The Walking Dead: This is a television series based off of a comic book series. It follows a group of survivors led by Officer Rick Grimes.  A different turn of events leads the group to make life or death decisions as they search for a cure or a safe haven from the bloodthirsty undead. This show fits the genre as it has a group of survivors battling against hordes of the walking dead.  While the group fights and survivors die, the realization that the end is near is all they come to know.
  6. Dawn of the Dead: This movie is a remake of an earlier version.  It starts with a normal day, a nurse returning home from work with weird things going on in the news. Next morning, utter chaos. A group of survivors from the first night barricade themselves in a local mall and try to hold out till help can arrive.  This works for the most part until they try and make a daring rescue of a man on the roof of a nearby gun shop.  Making their way through the hordes of zombies they search for a land free of the undead. This film fits the genre of Zombie Apocalypse due to the fact that this is about a group of survivors trying to survive the end of the world as they know it.  Struggling to make it through the plague, they do what they must in order to survive.
  7. Zombie Land: This movie is more of a comedy than a horror film.  This follows a socially awkward boy and a group of 3 other survivors he meets along the way. Giving tips on how to deal with a world run by the undead, they fight to survive in this new world. This somewhat fulfills the genre requirement because of the dead that rule the world, but it also fits into a comedy category. Fighting for survival while making jokes along the way is a good disposition to have, but may or may not keep it in the same genre.
  8. Left 4 Dead (1/2): An infection breaks out that turns humans into short tempered maniacs that attack normal humans on site. Coming into the story after the infection has spread and only the immune remain, you play as 1 of 4 survivors and fight the infected to live.  Fighting special infected which have mutated from the typical zombie makes this a much more challenging experience that the shoot and run game, making you think about how to deal with zombies that can think and plan. This meets the requirements for a zombie genre on the basis that you have to kill zombies in order to live.  Meeting that simple requirement and the possibility of death makes this a zombie game.
  9. Dead Island: This game places you on a tropical island where partygoers come to have a good time. One night, all hell breaks loose and zombies take over while your character recovers from a hangover. Stumbling into the newly zombie infested world you fight your way to a group of survivors.  Realizing you are the only one immune to the virus, you must complete different tasks in order to save others.  You travel from island to city and beyond. Just like the last game, this is your life or theirs.  Fighting for survival against the undead and finding an explanation for what has happened.
  10. Dead Rising (1/2): In these games you play someone who is hurdled into a community that becomes ravaged by the undead after unexplained virus spreads across the land.  The government seals off all traffic into and out of the community so you can’t escape.  You must solve the mystery as to why the outbreak occurred before you become another casualty. Like the previous two games, it meets the same basis and makes you test your wits against the undead.


Typical themes that arise from these stories are ones of death, destruction, the end of the world, and …oh yeah, the undead. Most stories follow a group of survivors as they try to make their way through the endless hordes of zombies till they all die or find a place of safety.  The topic of survival is one of the main one’s in this genre.  How will they survive? Will they be able to kill off the invading hordes? Just questions that go through the survivors as they hack, slash, and shoot their way through the walking corpses.  Another main issue that arises is the possibility of a cure.  In these stories, people travel all over the country or even the world to find a cure or safe zone from the undead.  Risking their lives for a sliver of hope, breaking humanity down to it’s core and forcing people to resort to selfish acts or selfless acts in order to survive.

Rhetorical Appeal:

Most zombie books or other forms of media draw in an audience fascinated by horror and apocalyptic situations. One thing people are interested in is death…for centuries people have always wanted to know how the world will end or what their final moments will be like.  People pay good money to ‘psychics’ to read their future or predict things such as catastrophes. The zombie virus is something that science has proven a possible threat with viral or parasitic with cross-species mutation, and it makes people start to think. Being something that would be easy to fend from in small numbers or with good tactics, people create games as to what they think a zombie take over would be like to see if they could pull through.


I’ve read a small sample of zombie books, but the ones I’ve read all seem to be structured a bit differently.  Most of them follow a group of survivors through the wastelands of the zombie-infested earth. Books are typically structured in chapters like any other type of book, but some that I have read are broken into sub-chapters or have small exerts in them.


Again, most are written with that horror aspect or with a sense of what would the reader do?  The books are written in a way to make the reader frightened that this could or will happen someday and make them wonder how they would deal with the situations, if put in the characters shoes.

Common Terminology:

The most common term is ‘Zombie’ or ‘The Undead’ which is a reanimated corpse, brought back to life by an unknown cause. Zombies attack either any living thing or just humans in order to spread the infection, virus, or whatever the cause is.  Another common phrase is ‘Survive’ or ‘Survivor’.  These are the people who have yet to be turned undead or are immune to becoming a zombie.  Groups typically travel together in order to survive longer, but when groups run into one another they may fight to the death or work together to strengthen their numbers. ‘Cure’ is another word tossed around, for the survivors are continuously looking for one. In order to combat the infection, experiments must take place or someone with immunity must be found. ‘Aloof’ is another thing the survivors must become, cutting ties to their friends and family in order to survive.  When worst comes to worst, it’s you or them…no other options and if you don’t fight for your life, others will.



Some of these things are written from a post-apocalypse view while others are during; some even include a time before the epidemic occurred.  While some follow a first person others follow third person omnipotent; some don’t even have a point of view as they only talk about techniques or recorded attacks.  One main difference or even a discrepancy is how would the zombies behave? Most agree that a shot to the brain is the only way to kill them…or total destruction of the body, but how smart are they? What are their physical limitations, such as strength or speed?


Typically, these types of books are found in a more dark or scientific setting, being mostly horror or sci-fi books. It would be out of place in any setting with happy endings or romance novels, seeing as these books tend to be about death and destruction.

Who Writes/Reads:

Typically ‘Nerds’ or ‘Geeks’ are the stereotype for this genre.  Writers come from all types of backgrounds; one such is Max Brooks who is a ‘Zombie Expert’ and writer.  As for readers, many different groups read zombie books.  It’s the thrill of death and that slim chance of survival that captivates people into reading these things.  How will it end and how will they survive?


The type of relationship I believe that is being established is fan based and shared common interest in the undead.  Most people read these books or watch shows/movies due to their love to the undead.  Establishing that common relationship of interest is a good start for any author.


The purpose of this genre is to satisfy people with an alternative for the end of the world.  People have always been fascinated with death and the end of the world, and this genre just gives another alternative that many say would be more of an exciting challenge than a real danger.  Pitting yourself against an undead horde with nothing more than what you can carry and your wits.  This also satisfies the horror and sci-fi aspects if people are into those types of books as well.


What can I draw between these books and society? Possibly the fact that this can relate to peoples fascination of the end of the world and religion. The apocalypse has been something that people have been wondering and planning for many centuries.

Why is this a significant genre? Again, for the above reasons…it shows how people deal with life and death situations and how they treat religion is one aspect.  Society debates what will be the downfall of mankind or even just America this again provides one alternative. This genre also offers the alternative of imagination of how one would live in a world ruled by the dead.  Surviving the apocalypse and then getting through the days while fending off hungering undead.  This is something a lot of people like to imagine they would be very successful at.