Sunday, May 15, 2011

Review: Dead Set: A Zombie Anthology

Ed. Michelle McCrary & Joe McKinney, 2010, 23 House Publishing

We were once a race seven billion strong. But today, our world has become a wasteland overrun by the living dead. Rivers of zombies flood the streets. They never rest. They never relent. Their hunger for the living is insatiable. And with every careless mistake we make, their numbers swell.

Dead Set comprises twenty original tales of the zompocalypse, the running order of which loosely charts the event from origin to end. As with many zombie anthologies currently available (apart from a few notable exceptions) the quality of the individual tales is a little mixed. Specifically, a number of offerings felt more like vignettes from some larger work than stories in their own right, lacking the punch of a strong central plot or conclusion; not terrible, by any means, but somewhat unsatisfying.

That said, there were certainly some gems also: 'Biting the Hand that Feeds You' by Calie Voorhis vividly takes the reader into the mind of a 'turning' zombie, as does David Dunwoody's 'Ruminations from the Tri-Omega House'; Joe McKinney's own offering, 'Survivors', deals effectively with the theme of survivors' guilt; 'Recovery' by Boyd E. Harris uncomfortably poses the question of whether the rehabilitation of zombies is necessarily of benefit to anyone; Nate Southard's 'In the Middle of Poplar Street' delivers an original take on the 'man's inhumanity to man' theme; 'Inside Where It's Warm' by Lee Thomas is another emotive tale from (ultimately) the zombie's POV; and Mark Onspaugh's 'Good Neighbour Sam' reminds us that there's still a place for a world overrun by the living dead.

Overall, Dead Set is an extremely worthwhile anthology, and a fine addition to the genre. Definitely one to add to the home library.

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