Friday, 29 October 2010

‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Undead’ – Mark Twain & Don Borchert (Tor)

There are some things that you just don’t see coming and that includes my failing to make it all the whole way through a book about zombies. I didn’t see it coming either but sometimes life really is too short to persist with a book that just isn’t working... even if it is about zombies. That was the case with ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Undead’, a book that failed to hit the spot with me (after just over a hundred pages). There’s plenty more books on the pile to be read though! Here’s the blurb for ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Undead’...

Mark Twain once said “The rumors of my death were greatly exaggerat—BRAINS!!!!!”

Pulled from the grip of Mark Twain’s rotting zombie hands, is Tom Sawyer like you’ve never seen him before, in a swashbuckling, treasure-seeking adventure, spiked with blood, gore, and zombie madness. 
In this expanded and illustrated edition of Mark Twain’s beloved tale of boyhood adventures, Tom’s usual mishaps are filled with the macabre and take place in a world overrun by a zombie virus that turns people into something folks call “Zum.” The United States is infected with a plague of rotting, yet spry, Zum, searching for fresh meat.

In this world, there’s no need to whitewash Aunt Polly’s fence. Instead, Tom cons his friends into sharpening fence posts to lethal points to repel a Zum attack. To escape the boredom of civilized life, Tom and his pal Huckleberry Finn don’t have to fake their deaths, just pretend to be Zum. And instead of playing cowboys and Indians, Tom hones his fighting skills in a bloodthirsty game of “Us and Zum.” He always wins . . . until he bumps into the real thing.

When vicious, self-aware zombies evolve and threaten the town . . . what will Tom and Huck do to protect their loved ones, and will they live to tell the tale?

I’ve often found myself wondering if the whole craze for shoehorning something genre based into a work of classical literature (or around a historical figure, ‘Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter’ anyone?) has run its course. ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ did something new but everything else since then has just felt like a variation on the same theme. It is ‘Zombie Week’ here though so I put my misgivings to one side and resolved to give the book a go...

I think my issue with the book was that I never really enjoyed the original text that it was adapted from. I can’t deny its classic status but, for me (when I read it way back in the day), ‘Tom Sawyer’ was a book that just didn't grab me at all and I was pleased to put it down for something else.
The bad news, for me, this time round was that Don Borchert doesn’t stray far from the original text at all, to the point where I felt like I was just reading the original version. Zombies did feature, of course, but almost as an afterthought; like Borchert had forgotten to include the zombies on the first draft and had to quickly zip through and add the ‘Z word’ on the second time round. The end result for me was a book that I hadn’t really enjoyed the first time I read it coupled with a gimmick that never looked like it was ever going to gel with the text. I gave it a good shot but decided to put it down; I knew how the story was going to end and the zombies weren’t giving it the ‘spark’ that the book needed.

Ultimately, ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’ wasn’t for me but I could see you enjoying it if you either liked the original book or you’re a lot more into the ‘zombie classic’ thing than I am. Like I said though, not for me...


Harry Markov said...

Personally, as much as I enjoy the zombie craze, I cannot tolerate the make-overs classic works are receiving. I managed 40 pages into Pride & Prejudice & Zombies and I don't think that I'll enjoy any other book in this movement.

Mark Twain is my least favorite author and I think even zombies can't save this one.

Carmen Wing said...

I must admit I do have Pride & Prejudice and Zombies on my wishlist and am hoping I get it for Christmas (along with a load of other books *g*) and I just recently had Night of the Living Trekkies land on my mat which will be my next read and am so looking forward to it (not a twist on a classic but am thinking there will be humour) but none of the other twists like you say have tempted me in the slightest.

Another who's not a fan of the original Tom Sawyer here too :)

Kelly aka yllektra(I Work For Books) said...

Gosh, this sounds weird. I mean Tom Sawyer?
I have read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and it was very fun but now every single "classic" book turns into a Zombie book.
It is fun, but it is also kinda unsettling! lol

Anonymous said...

Here's what Hemingway and Faulkner said about Mark Twain - and I paraphrase:

"Before Mark Twain, there was nothing."