Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “Zombies”

Robert’s #CBR4 Review #13: My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland

My Life as a White Trash Zombie

My Life as a White Trash Zombie

Angel Crawford is not what you would consider a sympathetic hero. She’s a drug addict who dropped out of high school to enter the real world but can’t even hold down a simple retail job long enough to move out of her alcoholic father’s house. Her boyfriend is involved with a whole lot of criminals, including the guy who sells Angel a stolen car that sends her away on federal charges. As if life wasn’t bad enough, she’s turned into a zombie after a bad car wreck.

My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland is another urban fantasy book that changes the rules of what it means to be a zombie. So long as the living dead feed on brains every couple days, they pass as living humans with all their faculties in tact. The difference from other modern romance/horror/urban fantasy books is that Rowland’s mythology is well-developed and works for the story she’s telling.

Read more…

Malin’s #CBR4 Review #100: My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland

So it’s no secret that pretty much everything I read consists of genre fiction, mostly paranormal fantasy, or romance (sometimes either of those genres aimed at young adults) or a mix of all of the above. So Felicia Day’s Vaginal Fantasy Hangout was pretty much made for someone like me. Now, for most of the time the group has been running, I’ve read at least one, if not both of the books featured as Reads of the Month. However, this month (November), they feature zombie books, with at least a bit of a romantic element to them.

I’m not going to lie, I’ve read books with vampires, werewolves, all sorts of other kinds of shapeshifters (including dinosaurs, so thanks, VFH ladies!), ghosts, demons, angels, fairies, dark elves, you name it – I’ve probably read some variation of fantasy/romance where this was a feature. Until now, I’d drawn the line at zombies, however. My husband reads, and watches The Walking Dead, and I’ve caught the occasional episode. I watched Shaun of the Dead. I don’t like horror, though, in any genre, so zombies tend to be something I avoid. I certainly don’t see it as a successful starting point for anything with romantic elements. Clearly popular culture disagrees with me, though, as Warm Bodies was a huge publishing success and now looks like it’s going to be a really rather entertaining film.

One of the reasons I join online book clubs, and browse review sites, and book blogs and participate in the Cannonball Read is to discover new things. So while I was initially reluctant, I decided to give zombie fantasy a try. My Life as a White Trash Zombie is the story of Angel Crawford, who wakes up in the hospital after what appears to be a drug overdose. She was apparently found stark naked on the side of the highway, on the same night as there was an accident not too far away, and the driver of the car was found decapitated. With the head missing from the scene of the crime. Angel has no memory at all of how any of this came to pass, but is relieved that the police only question her, as a drug overdose is in violation of her parole.

She’s given a bag of clothes and a letter from one of the nurses, where she’s told to show up at the parish morgue for a new job, and she has to hold down the job for at least a month, or the police will be told about her OD, and she’ll end up in jail. She’s also given 6 bottles of some mysterious liquid, and told to drink one every other day. The letter also states that if she were to end up in prison, she’d be dead before long, so Angel is too scared to refuse the job offer.

At the morgue, she discovers that she’s not only expected to drive a van and pick up corpses, she’s also meant to help the morgue technicians with autopsies. Previously, Angel’s not been able to see anything even vaguely gory without throwing up, but she now seems to be able to handle all sorts of disgusting smells and sights without so much as a dry heave. Strangest of all, the sight and smell of dead brains seem to drive her wild. Before long, Angel realises that she actually kind of likes her job, and wants to prove that she can stick with something, no matter what her deadbeat on again off again drug addict boyfriend or drunken father says. She just needs to figure out why she has an unnatural craving for brains, why dead bodies keep showing up decapitated, and who got her the job at the morgue in the first place?

For the first couple of chapters, I wasn’t sure about Angel as a protagonist, and her no ambition deadbeat attitude. By the time she starts her job at the morgue, I was starting to warm up to her, and I’m very glad that I kept going with the book, as it turned out to be both a fairly exciting page turner, and lots of fun. Once Angel gets developed more as a character, and starts building her self esteem and accomplishing things, I really enjoyed her and her rather snarky wit. I wish she’d wised up about her abusive, drunken asshole of a dad, and extreme loser boyfriend sooner, but we can’t have everything, now can we?

The way zombies are portrayed in the book is also really well done. Angel can pretty much survive any injury or damage as long as she ingests enough brains, and while she no longer feels the effects of pills or pot, she can eat human food as well, so long as she consumes brains every other day or so. The more energy she expends, the more often she has to have a brainy snack. Her job at the morgue is obviously perfect, and once she faces up to the fact that she’s now the walking undead, she tries to research her “condition” as best she can, and gets on with things without complaining.

There’s some pretty cool supporting characters as well (not the drunken dad or pothead boyfriend), and a subplot involving Angel’s continued crush on one of the deputies who arrested her a while back. The book is not a romance, as such, but it looks like the romance angle might be stronger in the sequel (which I’m now pretty excited to read). So I still haven’t had to face an actual main story romance where one or both of the characters is a zombie, and guess that’ll have to be next on my list.

Cross posted on my blog.

Caitlin’s CBR4 #44: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Zombies are on the loose in 1800s Pennsylvania. Poor Eleanor Fitt starts off trying to find her missing brother, but ends up in league with the Spirit-Hunters, trying to fight necromancer-influenced zombies. All this while having to deal with a spend-thrift mother who wants to marry her off to any rich man that moves, and the tortures of a corset.

You can read my full review here.

P.S. This has another great trailer:

Siege’s #CBR4 #39: Night of the Living Trekkies by Kevin David Anderson

In which Siege admits an embarrassing fact and enjoys a really good parody.

Bothari’s #CBR4 Review #17: Monster Island by David Wellington

Finding a zombie book at the library book sale on half-price day is excellent, even if the zombie book doesn’t end up being very good. This one was pretty good. The zombie apocalypse has already happened when the book starts, and it dives right into the action. It never really explains “the Epidemic,” but lets the reader know that the more populated an area, the faster the devastation hit. Most of the survivors are from third-world countries, where humans were scattered enough to slow down the spread of the zombification.

One of the main characters is Dekalb, a former UN employee who makes a deal with a Somalian warlord named Mama Halima: he will travel by boat to New York City to raid the UN building for AIDS medications if Mama Halima will keep his seven-year-old daughter safe, and take him in when/if he returns. Dekalb is from New York City, and is understandably horrified by the change he sees when he gets there. Even the pigeons are flesh-craving monsters.  The hospitals have been raided, the cupboards are all bare, and the dead are everywhere. He travels carefully through the dead city with a small troop of teenage girl soldiers who are willing to die to give their leader, Mama Halima, the chance to live and rule longer.

The other main character was completely original and creative. Gary was a med student who decided to take matters into his own hands when he saw death was inevitable. He hypothesized that lack of oxygen to the brain between death and reanimation was what made zombies slow and stupid, so he hooked himself up to a bunch of life support machines before he died, and presto! A zombie who can think and talk! Totally cool. And it’s interesting to watch him struggle to remain himself and human while the zombie within fights to take control.

Gary and Dekalb are both fighting to survive, both trying to find the new ‘normal.’ Dekalb and his group of girl soldiers stumble on a small band of survivors, and Gary also finds some unexpected allies. Things get a little weird from there.

I really like the unexpectedness of this book. The writing isn’t tremendous, but there were enough new and interesting things to keep me happy. I’ve seen a looooot of zombie movies, and it was great to encounter a story where human doesn’t automatically equal good and zombies aren’t automatically evil. Monsters, yes, but as Gary says, “I have a right to exist!”

CommanderStrikeher’s #CBR 4 Review #9: World War Z by Max Brooks

I loved this book. I didn’t think that I would. I am sick to death of zombie-mania. This isn’t a zombie book. Well, it isn’t just a zombie book, and there are certainly a few, “Run, Bitch, Run!” moments, but it is so much more. From a sociological standpoint, I felt that this book realistically captured what would happen if a world-wide epidemic broke out. This book was smart. Seriously.
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War is the story of how the Zombie epidemic began in rural China and how it spread across the world. Different governments denied or covered up the existence of the epidemic until it was too late. Instead of just telling the story from one perspective, the author uses several dozen different points of view, so it’s almost like reading a short story anthology. There are narrators from every viewpoint one can think of: government officials, scummy businessmen, army soldiers, and chubby internet nerds. My only complaint is that some of the stories were just too short. As soon as I got attached to a character, their segment was over.
Brooks seriously considered all of the possible differences in fighting an army of re-animated corpses. For one thing, they don’t feel fear, so fear-based weapons are useless. As are smoke bombs, and to an extent, nuclear weapons. The most fascinating aspect, however, was the different governmental reactions to events. North Korea disappeared. They pulled all of their citizens into underground bunkers, including many who were probably infected. One narrator stated that there are probably millions of North Korean zombies just waiting to come out and re-infect the world. Creepy.
5/5 Stars.

Baxlala’s #CBR4 Review #14: Zone One by Colson Whitehead

If I had to sum up Zone One in one word (which I definitely DON’T but I’m going to do it anyway), it would be: MEH. I finished it last week and have been putting off writing this review because I just don’t have that much to say about it. To be completely honest, this probably isn’t going to be a very fair review because for the first half of Zone One, I thought I was reading Warm Bodies, which is the book I MEANT to check out of the library, but I was checking it out on my Kindle and I wasn’t paying very close attention SUE ME. Warm Bodies is (to my admittedly limited knowledge) about a zombie who falls in love with a human and protects her or something. While that’s even more unbelievable than the idea of a zombie apocalypse (which, I will argue, you should still totally prepare for no matter how unbelievable you think it may be), it still sounds better than the book I actually read.

Zone One is about zombies (so at least I got that part right), a subject about which I keep reading (and watching) even though the very idea of zombies scares the ever-living shit out of me. The story follows a man named Mark Spitz (but not THE Mark Spitz, the main character gets this nickname in a way I’m certain the author thinks is much cleverer than it actually is) as he patrols an evacuated NYC, ridding the city of any leftover “skels” who were missed during the initial zombie-cide. They encounter very few actual walkers zombies skels; the ones they do find are called “stragglers.” These are individuals who didn’t quite get through the zombie transition properly (slackers) and who are now stuck, all catatonic-like, in one position, performing some mundane task for the rest of eternity (or until someone puts them out of their misery).

My main problem with this book was that I didn’t care about any of the characters. I didn’t care if they lived or died and, in fact, often wished that one of them would be eaten by a zombie just so something would happen. Funnily enough, I’ve often wished the same thing while watching The Walking Dead. Zing! Anyway. Another problem I had was that the entirety of the novel took place over the course of (I think?) three days, with a few flashbacks. I realize this is just my personal preference, but BOOOOOOOORING.

Stuff started happening eventually, but it was too little, too late, and with way too much description. We get it, Colson Whitehead, you can write (because damn, he can write). I hesitate to say this was a terrible book, it wasn’t, it just wasn’t what I wanted to read. I wanted more story, especially about a brief interlude Mark Spitz had with a woman in a toy store. Someone write that story! I’ll totally read it.

PS: Also! I didn’t have ONE ZOMBIE NIGHTMARE as a result of reading this book. What the shit is that?

llp’s #CBR IV Review 3: World War Z by Max Brooks

I have been reluctant to read this book, despite all the recommendations that I have had, because zombies are my weakness. I know they are kind of ridiculous (notwithstanding the inevitable invasion), but nothing gives me nightmares like zombies. I love and own Shaun of the Dead, but have not been able to rewatch it, and the 2004 Dawn of the Dead movie still gives me night terrors. That little girl in Sarah Polley’s bedroom on the first morning, and then the escape through bathroom window, gah. ANYWAYS – it was kind of great.

Siege’s #CBR4 #14: Zone One by Colson Whitehead

In which Siege is pleasantly surprised by a zombie book unlike any previously read.

BoatGirl’s #CBR4 Review #07: Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

Boneshaker, written by Cherie Priest, is steampunk fiction set in an alternate 1870s universe in which the Civil War has dragged on for well over a decade and Seattle is being poisoned.  Steampunk has never been my favorite genre, primarily because all that I had read was so dark and depressing (I’m looking at you China Mieville), but this book has me reevaluating my position.

The protagonist, Briar Wilkes Blue, is the widow of a villain and the daughter of a hero.  Her husband was invented the machine which split open the earth under Seattle, letting poison seep out to make zombies, and her father saved jailed prisoners from the poison.  Fifteen years later, Briar is struggling to survive with her son Zeke outside the walls that surround poisoned Seattle.  Zeke takes off into the walled in section of the city to see what he can find out about his history so Briar must follow to save him.

To me, there were echoes of mythology (Orpheus/Eurydice or Demeter/Persephone) in this tale of a mother following her son down into the tunnels of hell to bring him back out.  Much of the tale takes place in underground tunnels, while zombies (or ‘Rotters’) roam the streets above.  Chinamen pump clean air into sealed off areas and folks live a precarious existence, under fear of Rotter attacks.

The inhabitants of the walled Seattle have a love/hate relationship with the mysterious Dr. Minnericht. The women in this story were really kick ass, from Briar who goes in search of her son with a mask and big gun, to Lucy, the barkeep with no arms, to Angeline, the aging Indian Princess and angel of death.

The society seems to function through a sort of sailor mentality: the ocean is really dangerous, I could be in a sinking ship tomorrow, so I better save someone in a sinking ship today.  Clean air and clean filters for masks are shared because to do otherwise is death.  The reason I didn’t find the book dark despite all the tunnels, poisonous air and zombies was because of the humanity of the inhabitants.

My only quibbles with the story were the sort that come up whenever you deal with a fantasy: well why didn’t they just plug up the hole the gas was seaping from or kill all the Rotters, cause there can’t be too many of them left.  However, if I’m going to go there, I may as well also ask how Harry Potter’s broomstick can fly and I’m not going to.

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