Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dead of Night by Jonathan Maberry

I got an advance copy of Dead of Night: A Zombie Novel through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. I've been a fan of zombies ever since I was a kid and saw Night of the Living Dead on latenight TV.  These days though, it seems like everybody is writing a zombie novel or making a zombie movie. This makes it hard to tell a good zombie story, because it's all been done before.

Maberry has managed to tell a good story. The key to doing this is having an interesting plot and interesting characters. The plot doesn't have to be original. There's only so many ways a zombie story can go, just like with a love story, or a mystery, or an alien invasion, or any other kind of story. The key is to take the story and make it your own.

The plot isn't  what I would call original, but Maberry makes it his own, and that's what makes it good. It's basically a standard zombie outbreak; a corpse wakes up and attacks someone, who becomes a zombie. Then that person becomes a zombie, and pretty soon things spiral out of control. The few people who are aware of what's going on aren't believed until it's too late. There's a lot of blood and gore and violence.

It's the characters that really make the story. You've got a seriously messed up police officer and her partner and her ex. I felt enough for these people to be rooting for them the whole time, even when I knew their actions were putting the whole world at risk.

The only thing that I found at all annoying about the book is that the word zombie wasn't even used until halfway through the book. Even when characters saw dead people walking and feasting on the living, they never called them zombies and it took them way too long to figure out they needed to aim for the head. The only thing I can figure is that this story must be set in some alternate reality where George Romero never picked up a camera, and consequently the modern flesh-eating zombie genre never existed. Even so, this is a book all zombie fans will enjoy.

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