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Literature / Diario de un Zombi

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Diary of a Zombie (or Diario de un Zombi, in its original Spanish version) is a horror novel by Sergi Llauger about Erico, the world's only thinking zombie, a lonely and self-absorbed 23 year old (or 1 year old, depending on if he's feeling more zombie than human) who is unliving out his days as the last conscious resident of a post-Zombie Apocalypse Barcelona. It's not all bad though, despite his slow and decaying body and lack of intelligent company he has the run of the place; he has personalized theater showings, all the books he could want, and no one trying to eat his face off... again. His world is eventually intruded upon by a chance meeting with the city's last two living survivors, Annette and Paula, a researcher trying to get her eight-year-old ward from Bacelona to the French Alps so her immunity to the zombie virus can be researched into a cure.

He reluctantly agrees to help them get out of the city, which is easier said than done since the city is still crawling with zombies and the relentless Archangels, biomechanical juggernauts that incinerate anything and everything that moves. The book deals with the tension of Erico's dual nature as a thinking and (somewhat) feeling human imprisoned within a decaying body with a slowly growing Horror Hunger, and his healing of his atrophied humanity through a growing friendship with Paula. The story is fleshed out with flashback of Erico's childhood in Italy and his life before dying. The impossible journey is filled with tense encounters with zombies out for Paula's blood, hardened bands of surviving humans, and the terrifying Archangels.

Sample chapters of the English edition can be read at Goodreads. Sample chapters of the original version in Spanish can be read in the official website.

This book provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Annette. She rigs her safehouse with explosive to escape ambush, is skilled with a crossbow, can easily disassemble a gun and pick locks.
  • Actual Pacifist: Erico, who actually values (or perhaps more accurately, doesn't hate and even empathizes with) zombie "life" on philosophical principle.
  • Coat, Hat, Mask: Erik.
  • Cool Mask: Erik the hallucinatory venetian masked dancer. Who only appears whenever Erico's grip on humanity loosens.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Annette.
  • Cult: Not religious, more of a cult of personality around Antares.
  • The Dead Have Eyes: Zombies have a very acute sense of smell and, considering Erico's incredible range, hearing.
  • Duality Motif: The cultist Antares has differently colored eyes.
  • Enemy Within: Erik is a hallucination that only appears to Erico when he's highly emotional, and is a literal sign of his slipping grip on humanity.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Zombie: Only Erico, and not forever. Everyone who finds out he's not flesh craving and can talk is horrified. Except for Antares.
  • Helpful Hallucination: Played with Erik. He leads Erico to Annette and Paula, but is also a sign of his impending unthinking fate.
  • Horror Hunger: The zombie thirst for living flesh. Erico gets by on insects at first, but eventually Warm Bloodbags Are Everywhere... and they're his friends.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Antares is not only unfazed at Erico's zombie-ness, but talks to him almost seductively once captured.
  • The Immune: Paula towards the zombie virus. Erico to a lesser extent, allowing him to stay conscious.
  • Implacable Man: The Archangels, crossing into Super-Persistent Predator considering they can't reason.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Paula and Erico.
  • Just Toying with Them: The Archangel Annette collapsed her building around. That just made it angry.
  • Lightning Bruiser: The Archangels. Huge and lumbering, but able to run fast enough to be a threat to humans.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Erico to Paula once Annette dies and he risks his life to save her.
  • Living MacGuffin: Paula, who is the key to rebuilding the human race in the face of the zombie menace.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: Wax masks worn by the men in Antares' cult.
  • Misanthrope Supreme: Erico, somewhat. For much of the story he simply doesn't care about human life, and though (as a zombie) he heard human screams for a good while, he never helped or did anything other than watch dispassionately.
  • Monster Lord: What Antares thinks Erico is by (un)holy anointing. Sad truth is zombies are too dumb to be led.
  • No Zombie Cannibals: Erico's main asset when moving around and helping the girls. Though zombies are rock stupid, and can attack him if riled or confused into thinking he's human.
  • Not So Stoic: Paula, whenever it seems Erico is dead or going to die.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Though not by much, they're actually very close to the common B-movie type of zombie seen in Night of the Living Dead (1968). They're spread by a virus, but are otherwise completely dead bodies. They don't sleep, don't need to eat, can't really think, don't run, and don't say "Braaains!, and eat basically any exposed flesh.
  • Perpetual-Motion Monster: Zombies and Archangels are mostly this. Zombie are very slow to decay into a non dangerous state, and Erico thinks they may last decades before they finally truly die. They even have a comalike state to avoid wasteful movement. Erico himself however is rapidly wearing himself out due to exertion from the voyage. Archangels don't eat, sleep, or recharge.
  • The Reveal: Behind his mask, Erik is Erico as he looked alive, and rather than representing an impending inhumanity, was a figure of his remaining connection to humanity.
  • Stages of Monster Grief: Erico gravitates between acceptance and defiance of his nature, and started out in denial.
  • The Stoic: Remarked on quite a bit regarding Paula. She's covered in the scars from when her parent's died and tried to eat her, is a trooper for most of the journey.
  • Super-Senses: Smell.
  • Wasteland Elder: Sam. Though he's not old, he's the rock for his community of survivors.
  • We Can Rule Together: Said by Antares to Erico, who almost burst out laughing when he mentally added "I am also your father!"
  • You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry!: Archangels get this way if you have the audacity not to die and escape them.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Pretty much 99% of the world is dead; the epilogue reveals that once Paula's blood was researched and an antidote/vaccine is developed, humanity managed to rebuild to the level of having cities in 20 years.