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Book & App Review: The Brain Eater’s Bible

By J.D. McGhoul with Pat Kilbane
Mythodrome, Inc. ©2011 | Hardcover 160pgs

For those who find themselves unexpectedly among the undead in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, The Brain Eater’s Bible: Sound Advice for the Newly Reanimated Zombie is a must read. Written from the perspective of J.D. McGhoul, an unusual zombie specimen who has retained both his mental faculties and physical agility, the book guides those new to the ways of the walking dead through the ins and outs of zombiedom. The brainchild (mmm, brains) of actor Pat Kilbane (Mad TV, Day of the Dead), this full-color tongue in cheek treatise is chockfull of practical advice, dark humor, detailed diagrams and delightfully gruesome photographs featuring stellar creature designs by special effects pro Dean Jones. Throughout the book, the cold, hard facts of the undead existence are intermixed with excerpts from McGhoul’s diary, which chronicles his personal zombie journey. His private thoughts, revelations and musings will be quite comforting to anyone who has woken up looking “like the ass end of a rotten pizza.”

Addressing the elite class of zombies who, unlike the typical “slow movers”, have retained their intellect, McGhoul begins by discussing the prime walking dead directive of eating live human brains. Each brain that a zombie eats increases it’s strength, so he outlines the different types of brains, the best ways to penetrate a human or “freshie” skull to get at the soft, gray goodness inside and gives nutritional ratings for each part of the brain. The frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex rates a 10 on the nutritional scale, though the zombie sensei warns that brains are not doggie bag suitable. Alas, there is no possibility of setting aside some parietal lobe for a midnight snack, as brains must be eaten while the cells are still living.

J.D. McGhoul

McGhoul then moves on to explain the “new you” and goes into particulars about Postmortem Ambulation with Cannibalistic Encephalophilia or the PACE virus, which started out as a stem cell research project. “Unfortunately, it is also highly contagious, 100% fatal and turns the expired host’s body into a sentient, undead man killer. Oops.” He also delves into zombie biology, explaining the encephalic node (E-node) and intraosteal fiber (IOF) network that work as the undead brain and structural support. This section is a bit dense, so non-science minded zombies might be tempted to skim through it. But, McGhoul’s main goal is always to inform, and inform he does with numerous facts, diagrams and photographs. Don’t worry, he circles back to the good brain eating stuff again.

The ghoulish guide devotes a couple chapters to combating freshie foes, laying out various tactics for pack hunting with slow moving brethren or ambushing prey solo. Zombie advantages in battle are highlighted; the undead never tire so in any test of endurance, a human will lose. Different attack techniques are also suggested, depending on whether or not the enemy is armed. Quite a few pages focus on the wide variety of man-made weaponry the walking dead can expect to be assaulted with. Those whose interests veer from ballistic topics may find their E-nodes wandering through the extensive guns section. But, you have to give McGhoul credit. The dude is one thorough zombie, listing the name, caliber and number of shots for each firearm pictured. The motley assortment of handheld weapons featured and described would thrill even the most discerning ax murderer.

Zombie self-defense instructor, Kessul is enlisted to demonstrate several defensive techniques in hand-to-hand combat. In step-by-step photographs, this undead Mr. Miyagi, shows different options for disarming freshies. Each technique ends with a bite, the zombie coup de grâce, that disables and infects prey. Other battleground techniques such as combat positioning, camouflage and destroying confiscated assets are touched upon. This is a war after all and even the undead can suffer a permanent death if struck in their Achilles’ heel, the E-node. Small hints about McGhoul’s pre-infected life are given throughout his journal entries. At the close of the book the reason for his singularity and intelligence is revealed, as he calls to his zombie brothers in arms to take up the fight for “the brain-eating lifestyle” and help build a sentient undead army.

This irreverent manifesto is no Art of War, and will probably not be inducted into the literary cannon anytime soon. However, it does provide valuable, possibly life saving, information to the newly walking dead. The odd freshie who happens upon this book will be surprised and amused by the wit and wisdom of its zombie narrator, as well. Overall The Brain Eater’s Bible is a fun read with several chuckle-worthy moments that will appeal to fans of the science fiction and horror genres, whether they are living or undead.

The Brain Eaters Bible App

Developer: Zentro Media

In conjunction with the release of the The Brain Eater’s Bible hardcover book, Pat Kilbane worked with the team at Zentro Media to create a companion multimedia iPad app. Along with the entire full-color 160 page eBook, The Brain Eater’s Bible App incorporates a wealth of interactive material including 18 video clips of McGhoul’s helpful hints, hundreds of zoomable and/or animated photos and diagrams and bonus journal entries. Viewers can read the eBook by holding the iPad in the portrait orientation and access interactive materials by turning the iPad to the landscape orientation.

The art direction of the app, like the interior of the printed book, is very well done. Top-notch artists and illustrators have created the artwork, and the quality shows both in print and on screen. All of the photos of Dean Jones’ amazing creature designs can be enlarged, so that every ghoulish detail can be enjoyed. Oddly enough, the actual book jacket art is the weakest of the bunch and does not do the rest of the book and app design justice.

Kilbane did extensive research for the project, interviewing experts in the medical, firearms and military fields. The information he gleaned from these skilled professionals adds a little meat to what is basically a diverting romp through zombieland, and makes the supplemental multimedia material more interesting. When McGhoul discusses the difficulty of making a headshot on a moving target in a video clip or references stem cell research in a supplemental journal entry, he comes across with the gravitas of a zombie who really knows his stuff.

Almost every page of the eBook has additional interactive material in the app, threaded through with the zombie guide’s sardonic quips. It is both funny and disturbing to learn that a girl with cortical tissue protruding out of her forehead turns a zombie on way more than any amount of cleavage ever would. These comical little nuggets, along with all the multimedia bells and whistles, really enhance the eBook’s content. Whether enjoyed as a companion to the printed book, or as a stand-alone iPad app, The Brain Eater’s Bible delivers a fiendishly entertaining user experience that will hold readers’ interest for hours.

See clips of J.D. McGhoul’s expert zombie advice.

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