Amongst the ruins of an abandoned city, R meets a girl. Her name is Julie and she is the opposite of everything he knows – warm and bright and very much alive, she is a blast of colour in a dreary grey landscape. For reasons he can’t understand, R chooses to save Julie instead of eating her, and a tense yet strangely tender relationship begins.
This has never happened before. It breaks the rules and defies logic, but R is no longer content with life in the grave. He wants to breathe again, he wants to live, and Julie wants to help him. But their grim, rotting world won’t be changed without a fight…
I hate posting negative reviews, so before I get down to the nitty gritty let me talk about the better parts of this story.
I’ve seen the movie, so I’m fairly aware of many of the differences between the book and the movie. However, I truly enjoyed R’s accounts of life among the dead. From the Boney’s church and devotion to his short-lived marriage, his descriptions and inner thoughts about the day-to-day events at the airports leave you intrigued and at times highly amused. I mean, who doesn’t love the imagery of two zombies trying and failing to have sex.
“There they were, naked, awkwardly slamming their bodies together, grunting and groping each other’s pale flesh. He was limp. She was dry. They watched each other with puzzled expressions, as if some unknown force shoved them together into this moist tangle of limbs. Their eyes seemed to ask each other, “Who the hell are you?” as they jiggled and jerked like meat marionettes.”
I actually enjoyed much of Perry’s memory being relived through R as he devoured his brains. It was a great way to get some much needed insight into Julie and her life. However, they lost me when Perry and R basically began conversing back and forth.
Now to the bad: Julie is the classic troubled teenager from her past with drugs and alcohol to the telltale signs that she’s a cutter. She’s such a cliche that you can’t help but wish one of the dead does decide to rise up against the “new evolution” that is occurring and just rips her throat out. She’s either “too damaged” or “too perfect” to be realistic. Everything about her leaves you rolling your eyes and completely grateful the author chose to never put you into her head.
Since Nora is several years old than Julie, her quick acceptance of Julie and R just seems extremely immature and unrealistic, considering they have been living in a post-apocalyptic world for years. Especially once it is revealed that Nora’s background includes surviving by herself for years with walking corpses hiding behind every corner waiting to devour her. After that kind of experience, I’d expect her to be less accepting and more mature.
And the final knife that guts what could have been a truly enjoyable best read: the moral of the story. At the core of it all, brainless Julie realizes that it wasn’t a virus or some government engineered project that started the onslaught of the zombie apocalypse. No, instead it was the greed and selfishness of humanity. I’d expect this kind of explanation for most apocalyptic stories. But for one that is about zombies? There’s just no need for this kind of cliche. Heck, it would of have been better to not explain the source of it all. The idea of zombies evolving is interesting enough without taking a jab at how humanity’s presence on Earth is like an infestation of cockroaches in the New York Housing Authority buildings.