I am never a fan of putting a note to readers in my books, mainly because I just want the story and characters to be entertaining first and foremost. Many people just buy a zombie book to read about zombies, and that is totally cool, I do too. When I write, I try as much as I can to let you find whatever themes you might uncover for yourself, but only if you want to look for them. I don’t like to tell readers that they should be interpreting what a character says and does how I do, but to draw their own opinions. However, I felt with Return of the Dead that some of the information on what inspired the story and characters might add to the enjoyment for some readers, so I wanted to post some notes on my site for those that are interested. BUT, I highly suggest reading the book before you read these notes. Just enjoy the action first. Then, if you want to know more, read on.
There are two main conflicts in the story that should have hopefully been pretty easy to notice. The first is Scout’s struggle to rediscover her maternal instincts. After the loss of her children, Scout is pretty much at rock bottom in the beginning of the story. She blames herself and feels as though she failed in her motherly duties to keep her children safe. As a result, she has a hard time handling being around Stevie, who has lost his mother and looks to Scout for comfort. Scout is constantly pushing him away by reminding him that she isn’t a mother anymore, specifically not his mother, because she is not able to handle those feelings and accepting the role of being a mother again. However, she also feels strongly compelled to take care of him and keep him safe.
Scout’s character and her journey were somewhat inspired in part by the character Ripley in Aliens. Ripley discovers at the beginning of the movie that her child died while she was in cryostasis, and then comes upon Newt when she goes along to check on the colony. Throughout the movie, the child becomes Ripley’s reason to keep fighting and to survive. Even after losing her own child, Ripley eventually finds that is still a mother and her instincts give her the strength to do whatever is necessary to keep Newt safe. Ultimately her journey ends with Newt calling her mommy as Ripley embraces her.
The second conflict is between Scout’s group and Bishop. This is more of the political allegory aspect of the novel that represents the current dischord in our country since the past election. Lorento and Bishop represent the two potential leaders at odds with each other. Lorento and Bishop can not be seen as completely good or bad, but they have their own very different paths they see as the only way to try and fix the current crisis. They also both show little regard for the many innocent people they harm to get what they need. Other characters, such as Arkady, fill in a roll for other forces, like Russia. Fawn, Midhun, Schoenheim and others are all are symbolic of various groups or political concepts that have a role in the struggle. Scout herself would probably most closely represent the women’s movement in the country.
The only thing either side has done is to create conflict and division among the people in order to control them and get their way. Instead of fighting the zombies that threaten all of their lives, Bishop and Lorento spur innocent people to fight with each other in an effort to gain power. Everyone else is just a pawn, and they are all getting played and manipulated into a fight they don’t want to be in, and ultimately this struggle could lead to annihilation for everyone.
While I do hope some of these ideas are apparent in the story, I try my best not to bog down the novel with them. It is just a zombie book after all, and I hope that the fun ride is always what takes center stage.
Once more, thank you guys that have been reading and supporting this series so far. You made Return of the Dead possible. I hope you all enjoyed reading it and want to see what comes next.