Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Review: Married With Zombies

Jesse Petersen, 2010, Simon & Schuster

Sarah and David are on the verge of divorce, and of the opinion that their weekly marriage counselling sessions simply aren't going to save the relationship. Today, however, they've noticed a few odd things on the way to their appointment: the lack of cars on the highway; a missing security guard; the fact that their counsellor is eating the previous client... Now Sarah and David are fighting for survival in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. But just because there are zombies, that doesn't mean your other problems go away, and if the zombies don't get them first, there's still a very real chance that Sarah and David are going to end up killing each other...

Married With Zombies, which is billed as 'a romantic comedy with braiiins', is an enjoyable romp. While the plot largely comprises a list of standard apocalyptic set pieces, the novel overall is raised well above the same-old by some extremely empathic protagonists, not to mention snappy dialogue that recalls the style of Buffy or Gilmore Girls. Although clearly aimed at a Paranormal Romance readership, the tone of the novel - while lighter than most zompocalyptic tales - is certainly darker than that of the average rom-com, and Petersen never undermines the bleakness of her protagonists' situation (including the state of their relationship) with flippant humour.

Even if you're no particular fan of romantic comedy, paranormal or otherwise, Married With Zombies has sufficient depth, drama, and zompocalyptic mayhem to satisfy even the pickiest zomfan on a whole bunch of levels. A worthy read.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Review: Rot and Ruin

Jonathan Maberry, 2011, Simon & Schuster

Benny Imura was only a toddler on First Night, but his last memory of his parents is tainted by the image of them becoming zombies, and he blames his older brother, Tom, for not saving them. Now Benny is fifteen, and Tom wants them to put their difficult relationship behind them and work together in the 'family business': as zombie killers. It's the last thing Benny wants to do, but he needs a job and thinks it'll be an easy ride. But when they head into the Rot and Ruin that surrounds their township, Benny soon realises there's more to the job than just killing the undead. And, as he's confronted by the grim realities of the world around him, Benny makes the most terrifying discovery of all: that sometimes the worst monsters you can imagine are human...

In this Young Adult expansion of Maberry's novella 'Family Business', which appeared in Christopher Golden's brilliant Zombie: An Anthology of the Undead, Maberry once again demonstrates why he's deservedly regarded as one of the greats of modern horror fiction, and especially of zombie fiction. His plotting maintains great momentum, navigating various twists and turns, to deliver a tense, atmospheric and action-packed post-apocalyptic 'coming of age' horror tale. The characters all elicit a great degree of empathy, if not necessarily sympathy, demonstrating a range of complex emotions, motivations and flaws that readers will immediately recognise and identify with. Maberry is also a master at using the blank canvas of the zombie hordes (thematically speaking) as a means to highlight aspects of human nature central to the plot.

Rot and Ruin is a fantastic read, and one that will appeal to both YA and adult readers. Expect an Australian release in early April.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Music: Aaron Stoquert

From musician Aaron Stoquert comes the haunting EP, Run For Your Life, featuring five acoustic songs sung from the perspective of the walking dead. The EP is available for download from Aaron's website, and we at NecroScope would urge you to visit, check out all the tracks, and think about purchasing a copy.

(With thanks to S. G. Browne)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Review: Passing Strange

Daniel Waters, 2010, Simon & Schuster Australia

Karen DeSonne always passed as a normal teenager. And now that she's dead, she's still passing - this time, as alive. But when her dead friends are accused of a high profile murder and forced into hiding, it's up to Karen to prove their innocence. Which means doing the unthinkable, and becoming the girlfriend of bionist zealot Pete Martinsburg, who she suspects of framing them. But if Pete finds out who - and what - Karen really is, the consequences could be far worse than death...

Passing Strange is the third in Daniel Waters' series of YA zombie-themed books - beginning with Generation Dead and Kiss of Life - and is an absolute cracker, building on all that has gone before, and upping the ante as the plot races towards what might well be the conclusion of the trilogy. The change, from previous installments, from a living third-person viewpoint character to a dead first-person POV, provides a great deal of uncertainty as to where the narrative might be heading, and - for all that the book is aimed at a YA readership - Waters certainly doesn't shy away from addressing some extremely dark themes, such as religious, racial and sexual bigotry, human rights abuses, and the nature of hatred and fear in general.

Passing Strange is an excellent addition to an excellent series; a truly gripping read, and one that can be enjoyed equally by teens and adults. A brilliant addition to the 'zombies as the disenfranchised' subgenre.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Pop Culture: Interactive Zombie Movie...Pizza Ad?

There are some things that just naturally go together: fish and chips, bald spots and comb-overs, pizza and...zombies? At least, that's what New Zealand's Hell Pizza chain figured, and who are we to say they're wrong? Check out the following awesome interactive movie/ad from Hell Pizza, and tell us it doesn't make you want to order a meatlovers straight away...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

News: Dymocks Southland Bestselling Zombie Titles for Feb 2011

February was a slow month for zombie fiction (no pun intended), although - as always - key titles moved strongly throughout the month.

1. Pride & Prejudice & Zombies - Austen / Graeme-Smith
2. The Proper Care and Feeding of Zombies - Mac Montandon
3. The Walking Dead Compendium #1 - Robert Kirkman
4. The Walking Dead Book #1 - Robert Kirkman
5. Warm Bodies - Isaac Marion
6. World War Z - Max Brooks
7. Marvel Zombies: Dead Days - Robert Kirkman
8. Generation Dead (series) - Daniel Waters
9. Night of the Living Trekkies - Anderson / Stall
10. Zombies: Encounters With the Hungry Dead - ed. John Skipp

New arrivals include Apocalypse of the Dead (Joe McKinney) and Hungry for Your Love (ed. Lori Perkins), with the next few months promising a bumper crop of zombie goodness, including new works from Mira Grant and Jonathan Maberry, the long-awaited local release of S. G. Browne's Breathers (hurrah!), and Madman Entertainment and Hachette picking up local distribution rights to The Walking Dead and Marvel Zombies graphic novels, respectively.