Book Review Friday: The Thirteenth Step: Zombie Recovery

 

The Thirteenth Step: Zombie Recovery

The Thirteenth Step: Zombie Recovery

We asked for zombie stories that showed humanity at its best, and Michelle Miller’s novel The Thirteenth Step: Zombie Recovery sort of fit the bill, but definitely wasn’t a friend of Bill. In Miller’s zombie apocalypse, the zombie virus reaches flash over proportions at the same time worldwide. As the zombies rend flesh and create new zombies, a select group of people are able to avoid zombie detection. Turns out they’re either drug addicts or they have the alcoholic gene. Bill, a PR person for the New York lottery, survives the initial slaughter as does Courtney, a Lotto winner whose dreams are dashed when zombies interrupt the check ceremony. As they fight their way to safety, Bill and Courtney slowly figure out the secret to their survival, and pick up a few other former alcoholics or children of alcoholics to round out their band. Bill, a true AA adherent who believes in meetings and fellowship, is at odds with Courtney, the bitter child of an alcoholic, who despises AA and everything it stands for. Definitely no love relationship about to brew there.

The group grows to include a drug dealer, a zombie aficionado, a middle-aged woman, a former addict now Ivy Leaguer, and an illegal immigrant. Each of these characters must come to terms with the guilt of surviving while their loved ones died, as well as battle their inner demons. Let’s be honest, in a zombie apocalypse who wouldn’t want to drink or drug? When you’re surrounded by 12 Steppers, though, any use of alcohol or drugs becomes a group discussion.

The wanderers do find a sanctuary of sorts, a gated community that runs by the rules of Alcoholics Anonymous. Here, everyone is in recovery and the leaders impose a multitude of rules to keep everyone on track. Up until this point, the AA story line referred to in the title mostly consisted of Bill singing the praises of AA and Courtney suspiciously eyeing everyone as if they were hiding bottles under their coats. Once the survivors arrive at the AA community, the tone shifts and suddenly AA is a cult with a charismatic leader and arranged marriages.  The New York group, uncomfortable with “AA fundamentalism,” decide to leave the community and continue their search for a safe place to live.

For the most part, this was an enjoyable read. The zombies were easily dispatched and posed no real threat to the survivors. Rising radiation levels were another obstacle that seemed easily surmounted and not a true threat. The danger in this story came from other humans and there’s even a reference to Jonestown in an attempt to heighten the danger when the New York group flees the gated community. Even so, this isn’t a book that will keep you on the edge of your seat waiting to see if our stalwart heroes make it to safety.

The only parts of the book that kept me guessing were whether this was an indictment of AA and other 12 step programs or a very awkward tribute and the ending which was both convenient and unexpected. Still, a happy ending in a zombie novel is what we asked for and The Thirteenth Step delivered. If you’re looking for something short on gore and long on feelings, this might be for you.

Buy it at Amazon

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Book Review Friday: Undead LA 1 by Devan Sagliani

http://www.amazon.com/Undead-L-Devan-Sagliani-ebook/dp/B00EW6S546/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1391265543&sr=8-1&keywords=undead+la

Undead LA 1, by Devan Sagliani, uses the landscape of sunny California as the epicenter of a zombie infection deliberately unleashed upon the inhabitants of Skid Row. The infection quickly spreads throughout Los Angeles and points beyond. Rather than focusing on assigning blame or following the narrative through the eyes of government or media, Sagliani employs a diverse range of 6 narrators who find their normal existence interrupted by the zombie apocalypse.

Each narrative is a self-contained story, making it easy to read one and ponder the what-ifs before turning to the next. The narrators include a burned out airline pilot reminiscent of Denzel Washington in the movie Flight, a police detective squaring off against a serial killer, and a terminal cancer patient living out her Make a Wish dream at the Emmy’s. Though there is plenty of blood and gore in each story, there’s also a strong thread of introspection and making amends as people face the inevitability of their death, either from the zombie hordes or from the government’s attempt to exterminate everyone rather than let one zombie break free.

The most gruesome story follows Detective Gary Wendell. Bitter and defeated after being outsmarted by a serial killer, Wendell discovers the zombie apocalypse is a perfect time to mete out his own brand of justice. The most hopeful story, Dogtown Locals Union, shows two surfing brothers as they attempt to survive in peace and harmony while still catching some waves. In between are all levels of hope, despair, triumph, and tragedy. Sagliani does an excellent job of showing a few of the millions of stories that lie beneath the surface of any mass disaster.

Undead LA 1 is a fast-paced, unpredictable adventure. Open it up and enjoy the ride.

If you like this, you might also like another book by Sagliani, The Rising Dead. Read our review here

Now, enough reading blogs. Time to buy a book. Undead LA is available at Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/Undead-L-Devan-Sagliani-ebook/dp/B00EW6S546/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1391267976&sr=8-1&keywords=undead+LA

Book Review Friday: Still Dying 2

Too distracted to sit down and read an entire zombie book this weekend? Good news. You can read Still Dying 2, an anthology of delicious zombie stories.

Still Dying 2, a zombie anthology worthy of your weekend reading

Still Dying 2, a zombie anthology worthy of your weekend reading

The first story, “How Me and Bozy Became Dads” is an excellent example of an author who knows who to write dialogue and dialect. The title characters, two convicts unlucky (or maybe lucky) enough to be on work detail when the zombie apocalypse starts, provide a down and dirty view of what happens when the shit hits the fan. It also totally slaps down the stereotypes of criminals as self-centered losers, out of touch with the world and the people around them. Not so in this tale, the men with balls and heart turn out to be the ones we least expect. One of those stories that make you want more. Hopefully the author, Patrick C. Greene, is hunched over a laptop at this minute writing a full length zombie novel with Randall and Bozy.

Armand Rosamilia contributes “Dying Days: Television” which is a cautionary tale about relying too much on reality television and not enough on reality. Patrick, a city living hermit who has multiple televisions, DVR’s and a generator, dedicates his life to never missing a television show. To him, the zombie apocalypse is another scripted series and he sees it as an opportunity to be on television instead of watching it.  Rosamilia quickly had me hating Patrick as much as any reality TV star, but instead of riches and fame, Patrick gets what he deserves.

The other stories in Still Dying 2 are just as inventive and interesting. There’s a great mix of characters, and a healthy blend of the worst and best of humanity. I recently complained there wasn’t enough zombie fiction that celebrated the part of us that banded together in times of crisis and helped each other out. Still Dying 2 tells these stories, most notably in “The Old Man And The Apocalypse” by A.D. Roland. Roland did an excellent job of showing the fine line between preserving your life and preserving your humanity. I hope in a zombie apocalypse there are plenty of old men left.

Still Dying 2 will satisfy your craving for zombie destruction and make you check your moral compass. Check it out at Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/Still-Dying-2-Days-ebook/dp/B00H4HHALO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390528474&sr=8-1&keywords=still+dying+2

For All the Zombie Authors Out There

Today’s post is a plea to zombie authors everywhere.

Please consider writing about the good side of the zombie apocalypse.

Signs of the zombie apocalypse

Signs of the zombie apocalypse

I know that a world covered with hordes of shuffling, brain-eating, slobbering, mindless idiots makes us think about purchasing firearms, stockpiling food and water, and, if we are lucky, shooting our way to the top of a new world order. Thinking that the police and our armed services will totally fall apart in a battle of these proportions and that only the heavily fortified and amoral will live is a tempting thought.

In a zombie apocalypse, anyone could be the next President.

But ponder the shift that has taken place around the idea of being overrun by intelligent beings from other planets. Movies like “Independence Day” and “Men in Black” show that we aren’t totally outmatched in a battle against superior beings, so why would be outclassed by zombies? Stupid, slobbering, brain-eating zombies. It doesn’t make any sense.

There have been a few zombie novels that have attempted to show an alternate vision of the zombie virus. Brains by Robin Becker, Raising Stony Mayhall by Daryl Gregory and Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion all find the humanity in zombies. They look deep into the abyss and return with a message that mankind will be okay if we just stop trying to kill that which we don’t understand.

Perhaps we spend too much time focusing on the downside of the zombie apocalypse, and not enough time imagining all the good that might come of it. There will be bravery. There will be sacrifice. And, at the end, I believe there will a kinder, gentler society.

I’m probably in the minority on this one.

Still, I challenge zombie authors out there to show us a different side of the apocalypse. Stop relying on blood and  gore and sex and if you must show us the worst in people, show us the best too.

If this idea intrigues you, and you’re not sure it will work, I invite you to watch this short (7 minutes) film that hauntingly portrays all we are capable of.  Warning, kleenex may be necessary.

 

Book Review Friday: Braineater Jones by Stephen Kozeniewski

This zombie hardboiled private investigator works for booze.

This zombie hardboiled private investigator works for booze.

“I woke up dead this morning,” begins Braineater Jones by Stephen Kozeniewski.  Jones is a zombie, yes, but he’s an intelligent zombie. Well, maybe more like he’s a street smart zombie who is still able to ask those important questions like “who am I?” and “why am I dead?” as well as “who killed me?” Set in the 1930’s, Braineater Jones evokes fond memories of the hardboiled sensibility of Sam Spade and the Nazi complications of Indiana Jones.

The story line is simple. Man is killed, returns to life as zombie, retains the ability to think, yet remembers  nothing about his past. Instead he finds himself in a world where zombies live in an uneasy truce with the breathers, doing the dirty work and keeping their brain-eating under control.  Jones gets a crash course in zombie-breather politics as he maneuvers his way around the Mat, the zombie section of town.

And there are politics. This isn’t a zombie world of shuffling, moaning, people-eating decomposing corpses. These zombies hold jobs (but not very good ones), mourn the lives they left behind, and drink copious amounts of alcohol to keep themselves from turning into brain-eating monsters.  Jones’ benefactor, Lazar, is a mysterious, maybe-zombie who lives with the breathers.  Jones’ sidekick is a wise-cracking zombie head by the name of Alcide. The boss of this underworld is an aborted fetus who lives in a jar of Old Crow whiskey and dreams of a day he can have a robotic body courtesy of the Nazis. Yeah, even zombies have dreams in this novel.

This book has it all.  A great pace, a fantastic story line, cool zombies, and a zombie world that is unlike any other I have entered. Braineater Jones is a refreshing find in a genre that too often follows a predictable pattern heavy on blood and gore.

As of 1/16/14, Braineater Jones is available on Amazon for 99 cents, an absolute bargain. Pick up a copy today and you’ll join me in asking the author for a sequel.

http://www.amazon.com/Braineater-Jones-Stephen-Kozeniewski-ebook/dp/B00FRT4CD0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389925676&sr=8-1&keywords=braineater+jones

You Have Questions, We Have Answers

Our mailbox overflows with questions from people curious about specific aspects of the Zombie Emergency Relief Organization. Today, we will answer some of those questions.

Question Mark Graffiti
Question Mark Graffiti (Photo credit: Bilal Kamoon)

From George in Idaho: Why do you feed the children cow brains and how many brains do you go through on a yearly basis?

Dennis,  please refer to this link: http://feedthezombiechildren.org/2012/10/30/i-feed-zombies-so-you-dont-have-to/ for the full story on how we came to our decision to use cow brains. As far as how many we go through on an annual basis, each full-grown cow brain is a little shy of 1 pound. Our nutritionists have carefully calculated that zombie children need approximately 1/2 pound of brain per day to keep them active and healthy. Therefore the amount of brains depends on how many children we have on-site. With 200 zombie kids, we need approximately 36,500 pounds annually or 16 1/2 metric tons.

From Caroline in Seattle: Are there any plans to make your zombie kid restraint devices available to the general public? It seems they would come in handy for people who are keeping their zombie kids at home.

Caroline, handling zombie children is best left to professionals. Our team of zombie happiness engineers work to ensure each restraint is as humane and pain-free as possible. Unfortunately we feel making them available to people without the proper training and support would only result in tragedy. On the advice of our legal team, there are no plans to market our devices.

Restraint Chairs
Restraint Chairs (Photo credit: j_bary)

Rex from the Florida Panhandle: In my area, many people die while waiting for organ transplants. Can’t the zombies be put to use for spare parts?

Rex, ethically we can’t condone using zombies as “spare parts.” Additionally, zombies exist in a chronic state of decomposition. Transplanting a zombie organ into a live human wouldn’t help the human as they’d now have a totally non-working organ which would hasten the death of the recipient.

English: Dr. Ehtuish Preforming An Organ Trans...
English: Dr. Ehtuish Preforming An Organ Transplant. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Scott from Cincinnati: Are there any plans to open up your zombie preserve for hunting opportunities?

Scott, if you can look at the faces of our kids and want to shoot them, there is too much wrong with you to address in this post. Please contact a mental health professional and get the help you so desperately need.

Delilah from New Hampshire: I’ve heard airlines are planning a rule change to prohibit transport of zombies. Are you opening up additional havens for zombie kids in the Midwest and West Coast?

Deliliah, we’ve been in contact with airline executives about this troubling rule change. Our preferred method of transport is through our underground zombie railroad (read the post at http://feedthezombiechildren.org/2012/10/15/the-zombie-underground-railroad/), but in some cases we’ve been forced to rely on air transport. Currently we can fly zombie kids in hardcover golf club cases as checked baggage for a reasonable fee. If this practice is stopped, it will negatively impact our ability to take zombie kids from the West Coast. Though we have no plans to open any additional facilities, we’ve recently added a Washington lobbyist to our staff and hope he can resolve this issue to our satisfaction.

Carousel 4
Carousel 4 (Photo credit: gloom)

Sandra from South Carolina: I’ve heard that zombies eat fire ants. Can I rent a zombie to make my yard a fire ant-free zone?

Sandra, yes, we have discovered that zombie are naturally attracted to fire ant nests. Researchers at our preserve estimate one zombie can clear a half-acre of fire ant nests in one day. Currently we are sponsoring a study to find out why zombies are impervious to the bites and venom of fire ants.  As far as renting a zombie to clean your yard of fire ants, the answer is no. These are children, decomposing children, but children nonetheless. We do not rent them out.

And our last question is from Jacques in Montreal: Since your move to South Carolina, have you noticed the warmer weather hastens the children’s decomposition or retards it?

Excellent question, Jacques. Our patented brining process keeps our zombie children in good shape by preserving, or curing, their skin. Unfortunately proper curing must take place in a narrow temperature range to be effective. Too cold or too warm will result in improperly cured skin and lead to quicker decomposition. We’ve adjusted by creating a curing room which is kept at a steady 38 degrees and holds ten children. Ask for a tour next time you visit our zombie habitat!

Do you have a question? Send it to us at feedthezombiechildren@gmail. com for an answer. Remember, we feed the zombie kids so you won’t have to.

Zombie Emergency Rescue Organization