Written by Paul Martin
Illustrated by Manu Boisteau
AGE RECOMMENDATION: (9-12)
5 / 5 zedheads
Eye-Gore was a zombie. A real, honest-to-goodness, stinky ugly zombie. His brother, Steve, was a zombie, too. They were harmless, but they could be very grouchy and looked pretty scary. Which was why Eye-Gore got to play his music as loudly as he wanted.
Martin and Boisteau's Runaway Zombie! is a delightfully goofy and quirky zombie-centric addition of their Monster Manor series. Each book in the series focuses on one of the monsters that lives in and around Mon Staire Manor in Translyvaniaville (located just outside of Nerdburg, apparently).Residents include the skeletal Femur Family, Wolfman Stu, Count Snobula, the Swamp Horror, Professor Von Skalpel and his creation Frankie, and Eye-Gore and Steve, the zombie brothers.
Like most brothers, Eye-Gore and Steve squabble and fight, in this case over the Eye-Gore's love of metal music, which he plays so loud it makes Steve's limbs fall off. Unlike most brothers, Eye-Gore and Steve live in a crypt, however, and are barely tolerated by the rest of their monstrous neighbors. They're shunned for their filthy habits and the mouldy food they eat. Eye-Gore and Steve are gleefully gross and lovingly depicted in the art by French cartoonist Manu Boisteau who sketchers their goopy faces and loose eyes hanging out of their sockets on thin cords of optic nerve. Because zombie brothers are without manners and social graces, when Steve is suddenly kidnapped, few people are willing to help rescue him. That means it's up to his brother Eye-Gore to save him!
Eye-Gore's adventure leads him to the General Pollution Corporation where Eye-Gore and Steve's shocking origins are discovered, makeup is worn, a feisty crayfish name Soizic becomes a hero, more than one person loses his or her head, and a surprising new use is found for mouldy toxic yogurt. We also get to see a very fun reversal of the "zombies attacking people inside a house" scenario.
The book revels in its weirdness and definitely plays up all the fun to be had when one's dead and tromping around through sewers and toxic waste. When they are treated as heroes, one of the reasons zombies are so appealing is because they allow us, especially kids, to indulge our anti-social tendencies and delight in all things messy, squishy, groady, gooey, slimy, and rotten.
But there's nothing rotten about the humour. Sharp and full of life, Monster Manor: Runaway Zombie! is a clever little book kids will enjoy. Some parents who enjoy weird things may like reading it more than their kids do.