Book: The New Dead

Although I've written countless essays about English literature and reviewed a couple of hundred horror movies and video games, I've never actually written a book review. Luckily for me, The New Dead was right up my alley and is exactly what I look for in a book.

I'm not the kind of guy who can read a lot of fiction unless it pertains directly to something I really like. Fortunately, I happen to really like zombies, and I liked 'em before they were cool (yeah, that's right). I'm a really busy guy. Between a full-time teaching gig, another part-time job and my dvd/game reviews, I don't have a lot of time for the written word (at least not for pleasure, anyway). I do love a good book though and when a book grabs me, I like to be able to blaze through it.

Rise From Your Grave!

This may be one of the reasons I loved this book so much. I truly dig and appreciate the anthology format, which syncs up well with my lifestyle. Any time I was in a long commute or had a moment to myself, I could crack this sucker open and rip through a tale. 

I have to give some real props to this book for selecting such different sorts of stories as well. I've read quite a few zombie books and stories and I was a little worried that an entire anthology would become redundant and trite rather quickly. I mean, how many different ways can you spin a zombie tale? Let me tell you- there are about 19 different ways you can do so and this one really lets the zombies run the gamut of emotions from laughs to anger and tears.

A Handsome Portrait!

It would be impossible for me to review all of the stories in this book, but I have to touch on a few. This book kicks off with a really heavy tale called "Lazarus" written by John Conolly, This one is a contemplative retelling of Lazarus' rise from the dead (for those unfamiliar with contemporary religion, it is said that Jesus rose Lazarus from the dead four days after his own death). It might sound a little far-fetched but the story is written very seriously and has a really dark and sad tone.

I absolutely loved "What Maisie Knew" by David Liss. It tells a story about zombies becoming mass-produced human servants. One man is telling his tale about how he bought a black-market zombie servant to cover up a past mistake. The story is thoughtfully written and has a fantastic twist that left me hungry for brains.

M.B Hombler checks in with another awesome tale called "The Zombie who Fell from the Sky". This one is a thoughtful piece that deals with Romero-esque human cruelty issues. A great companion piece to this story is "Kids and Their Toys", which comes off like a Stand By Me homage with zombies. The latter story really resonated with me and I thought it would make a great film. Really descriptive and involving stuff.

The last story in the book, “Twittering from the Circus of the Dead” by Joe Hill is a perfect closing piece that deals with a family that runs into an entire carnival of the undead while coming home from vacation. It's written in Twitter-ific style but serves as a great little slice of cultural zeitgeist both from technology and zombie standpoints.

Gunslinger Zombie!

This is a book that isn't written 'safely'. The New Dead isn't a jumble of lame stories tossed together to make a buck. Almost every story is worth reading at least once, and I read several a couple more times. For those familiar with Max Brooks, even he contributes a tale here (and if you're not familiar with him, he's the author of the kick ass novel World War Z, one of my favourite books ever). The stories are controversial, thought provoking, fun, nasty and thrilling. The book is thick, running 400 pages long and has a low price point which makes it a great value for your money.

Do yourself a favor- assume the role of your favorite zombie and tear this one's brains apart!

Grade: 3.5/4




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