Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Book Review: My Life as a White Trash Zombie

Becoming a zombie has to be a horrible experience.  First you’ve got to contract some type of zombie mutating virus that turns you from living, breathing human being to rabid, foaming at the mouth, brain eating, fluid dripping, er--you get the point… contagious thing. This is the kind of virus you don't recover from.

As it takes you over, you continue to shuffle through life like, well... a zombie. Your motor skills are slow and so are your reflexes, but regardless of that fact, the only thing you can focus on is the next time you’ll get to viciously attack the next unfortunate soul that steps into your path and rob them of their brains.

Suddenly, people that were once your friends and family start to look like happy meals on legs.  The worse part is you have no conscious idea of when this change took place. The virus takes over your brain and starts thinking for you. It determines when you need to eat, where you go. It functions mainly on surviving long enough to keep the virus going.

Look at any zombie flick, TV show, video game, etc. etc.  and they’re pretty much the same. The zombies are always controlled by some type virus or parasite; destined to shamble around in packs attacking whatever living things moves towards them. Once you contract the virus you’re as good as dead.

Okay, now imagine that you were bitten, you became a zombie, but you managed to maintain everything about you that makes you human-- your conscious thought, the fact that you don’t look like you’re slowly rotting away most of the time. Now add in some bonus perks-- like the fact that you can run fast, have a keen sense of smell,  are invincible as long as there’s no hunters around with axes and swords to cut your head off, and you can lift 100xs your weight. Sure, there’s the pesky fact that you have to eat brains to survive but apparently you don’t have to eat the brains of another living being.

It’d be kind of cool, right?

Diana Rowland explores this idea in her newest book, My Life as a White Trash Zombie. Honestly, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the novel when I first picked it up. I sort of thought that it was going to be a romance novel involving zombies or something. (My brain is weird I know...) Maybe that had to do with the pinkness of the cover, but the cover art (Dan Dos Santos) looked cool enough so I gave it a shot and wasn’t disappointed. This novel will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about zombies.


Summary:

The novel follows Angel Crawford, a 21-year-old pill popping junkie who lives with her alcoholic father in Louisiana and the only highlight of her life is her on and off again relationship with her junkie boyfriend, Randy. Angel’s always been under the impression that she and her family will never amount to anything. She’s a high school dropout and can’t keep a job for more than a few weeks.
She’s been arrested before and is currently on probation for having a stolen car in her possession when we first meet her.  Her future doesn’t look good and it’s not surprising when Angel wakes up in the hospital with no recollection of what happened to her the night before. She apparently overdosed on pills and almost died. Only she doesn’t remember any of it.

It’s while Angel is in the hospital that she receives a cooler full of those Starbucks Frappucino like coffee drinks and an anonymous note that says that a job is waiting for her at the coroner’s office. Thinking that this was all set up by her probation officer, she goes to the job and is surprised when she skips the interview and goes right to the paperwork.

This isn’t the first strange thing that happens to her. Angel also quickly realizes that drugs and alcohol have no effect on her and food that she used to enjoy starts to seem secondary to another insatiable hunger that she just can’t seem to shake. To top all of that off there’s a serial killer on the loose…

Review:

While also making me shun coffee drinks for two weeks, this book was great in that it took an old concept—zombies--and put a different spin on it. That’s probably what makes this novel work so well; the fact that the zombies aren’t moaning and shuffling around aimlessly. Plus, if they eat when they’re supposed to they can go for a long time without being detected by humans.

Angel’s character was interesting, snarky, and flawed enough to become attached to. While Angel is not the typical urban fantasy heroine, you quickly find yourself rooting for her as she is given a second chance to get her life on track.  

There are actually three separate plot lines going on in the book, which Rowland pulls off well. Plotline one is Angel coming to grips with the fact that she is a zombie and now a member of the undead. Plotline two is Angel trying to find out who made her a zombie. Plotline three is Angel discovering who the serial killer is who is going around beheading their victims. All the plotlines start to fall into place by the time you reach the last few chapters of the book and come together nicely at the end.

The only thing I did have a problem with was that I wished Angel could have spent more time with some of the characters so we could get the 411 on the zombie condition in Angel’s universe. I really wanted to know how the whole virus thing worked. Was it a virus? A parasite? Or something completely different? But I guess that’s the point of it being a series. *sigh* I'll just have to wait...

After you read this book you may never be able to look at Starbucks bottled Frappucinos the same way again… or tapioca… or soup… or any type of food with chunky bits in it really; but just don’t think about it, close your eyes and eat really fast and you’ll be fine.

Rating:5/5

My Life as a White Trash Zombie is the first novel in Rowland's new White Trash Zombie series! Info about the second book coming soon!
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