Monday, August 29, 2011

You Might Be A Zombie If...

Zombies Don't Cry
~Zombies Don't Cry~
A Living Dead Love Story
Book 1

By Rusty Fischer
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks
Zombies Don't Blog

Maddy Swift is just your average high school junior. Good grades, but not too brainy. Preppy, but not obnoxiously so. And definitely not buying this whole "Cursed Home Ec Class" theory her best friend's pushing on her. Sure, three deaths in three months is tragic, but her dad's the coroner and all of them were ruled accidental. End. Of. Story.

Besides, who can worry about curses when there's a new transfer to drool over? Stamp Crosby is currently the most sought after guy in the school, so Maddy's a little more than surprised when she's able to snag a private conversation twice in one day. And she's downright shocked when he goes so far to ask her out. Hey, she may not believe in curses, but no one said anything about knocking good luck!

Thing is, there may be something to this curse thing. Cause if getting a bolt of lightning to the skull and waking up without a heartbeat is normal... But if coming to terms with her new undead status wasn't enough, Maddy's got a father to fool, a Zombie apocalypse to prevent, and a date to find before the Fall Formal! What's a Zombie to do?

It's a habit of mine to search my library for new authors as soon as I learn of them. When Rusty contacted me to review his latest e-book, Ushers, Inc., I performed my traditional search and was surprised and excited to see a book in the system. Zombies Don't Cry was currently on-order, but after reading and loving his last book, I had to get my hands on this one ASAP. And I'm glad I did.

Fischer's writing is as fun, witty, and relatable as ever. The chapter titles are to die for (See what I did there?). They're so clever, I even used one for the blog title. Then there's the story itself. Written in first-person present-tense, Maddy's narration not only covers her actions and thoughts of the moment, but also quips and questions the reader like you're right there with her. So not only is the action right in your face, but you also feel the emotions and drama right alongside the narrator-turned-friend.

Speaking of turning, I was fascinated by this book's zombie lore. Some stories have zombies as mindless, drooling, stumbling reanimated corpses. Others might have them originating from living people infected by a virus, and more intelligent, nimble, and rabid. Zombies Don't Cry took it in a completely new (to me) direction that felt not only plausible, but logical. I mean, you hear of people getting struck by lightning and surviving, but now you might wonder just how 'alive' they really are.

Whether they were alive or undead, the characters were pretty amazing. Maddy may not be the smartest, most assertive, or bravest heroine overall, but she definitely had her moments. She's got a lot of snark, even if she doesn't always say everything out loud (though, most times she does), it's a lot of fun being inside her head. Some of the secondary characters (like Maddy's fellow zombies) were a bit dry at first, but eventually I warmed (or cooled) up to them. The villains gave me just enough mystery to make me want to know more, enough creepiness to make me want them nowhere near me, and enough action to make me believe they were a real threat, all without being over-the-top.

Really, the only character I was disappointed with on the whole was Stamp, which was a bit unfortunate since he's a good chunk of the romance. He was pretty great to start out with, but Maddy's zombification takes over for a good chunk and Stamp becomes overshadowed. So I guess I'd say the romance isn't the book's strong point. I mean, yeah, there's a lot of pining over the guy, and caring what he thinks, etc. etc., but there's not really much 'action' in the romance department, if you know what I mean. So anyone with aversions to zombies making out, I wouldn't worry about that for this book.

As with any book, yes even ones I love, there were some things I didn't like. This book had small things here and there that I found slightly distracting. Like there's one time where she says she's been a zombie for only 48 hours (pg 167), but it's only the next afternoon, so 16 hours tops. 48 hours is 2 whole days. And there's this huge deal made about needing to meet with the Zombie Council guys within 24 hours of being turned, which they do, but she's still reprimanded... Why?

Then there were the Zerkers. As with any villain, you need an origin story, and to a point I could follow how Zerkers in general came to be. An electricity-born Zombie (First Degree) bites a Normal (alive human) and passes on some of their electric charge, making the victim a Second Degree Zombie. Now, this is where it gets's not clear if all Second Degrees (and any of their victims down the line) are automatically Zerkers, who hunt fresh human brains, or if they have the choice to follow The Rules and be "normal" Zombies. This becomes especially confusing in the later parts of the book...

Oh, and as I advised with Ushers, Inc., the prologue shouldn't really be read first. I mean, okay, I read it first and still enjoyed the story, but around chapter 4 I was able to accurately predict the ending. Cause the prologue takes place at the end of the story. In fact, the epilogue picks up exactly where the prologue ends, it just adds names where the prologue omitted them. So, unless you need any more reassurance that Zombies Don't Cry - A Living Dead Love Story does in fact contain zombies and romance, I think you'll be fine skipping the prologue until after the story proper.

But besides the disparities with time those couple chapters, some unclear Zerker info, and a slightly spoilerish prologue (and those might just be because I'm detail oriented and over-think things), I really didn't have much to complain about. If anything, I just want to know more!

I don't know if this planned as a series-starter or if it's a stand-alone novel. Without the prologue and epilogue it works really well by itself, but the epilogue, especially, draws out the possibility (and for some readers, a NEED) for a sequel or two. Personally, I'm for a continuation of Maddy's story, but I know the author has a lot of other works on his plate, so I don't know if a sequel is in the cards. I'll be sure to update once I hear differently.

Overall, I'd recommend Zombies Don't Cry for any fan of romance and/or zombies, or someone looking to break into either subject. Girls will probably find the book a bit more relatable, but I think even guys will find Maddy's humor irresistible. Language and sex aren't issues, but violence and mild gore (come on, it is zombies we're talking about) are prevalent, so probably no younger than middle school, but more relatable to high school readers. In short, anyone with a brain should check out this book. ...Brrraaaaaaaaaiiiiiinnnnssssssss.

Approximate Reading Time: 5 hours