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Cracked Spine Book Suggestion: I, Zombie

August 9, 2012 at 10:58 am by  

Here, Now — Back in June I gave you a preview of Hugh Howey’s upcoming book I,ZOMBIE. Since I am a very important man, I got a beta version of the book to read and it was better than I expected, and I already expected it to be good.  I’ve already reviewed Hugh’s best-selling WOOL series, giving it 5 stars, and it looks like I am giving him five more. Here’s the synopsis:

This book contains foul language and fouler descriptions of life as a zombie. It will offend most anyone, so proceed with caution or not at all. And be forewarned: This is not a zombie book. This is a different sort of tale. It is a story about the unfortunate, about those who did not get away. It is a human story at its rotten heart. It is the reason we can’t stop obsessing about these creatures, in whom we see all too much of ourselves.

I won’t be spoiling anything when I tell you that I,ZOMBIE is about a zombie outbreak told from the point of view of zombies. The living normally see the walking dead as rotting, mindless, nightmares intent on nothing but the consumption of human flesh. But in Hugh’s book, walking corpses are far, far worse. The rotting body making its way towards you actually contains a fully conscious owner whose body has betrayed them in the most heinous way imaginable. The previous owner is trapped inside, fully aware and screaming in silence as their bodies act on their own accord — forced to watch as they tear into their loved ones and eat their flesh. Even though they want to, they cannot gag on the feces filled intestines their mouth is chewing, they cannot shout out and beg someone to shoot them, they cannot even direct their eyes away from their carnage.

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It’s a pretty good twist on a popular, tired genre that makes turning into a zombie even more horrific than I thought possible. I had always assumed that a zombie was just a re-animated body and that the person it once was was long gone. But thinking that a zombie has a fully conscious owner just adds an entire new layer to the zombie that still fits into the “zombie canon” detailed in the popular films and books. Mentions of zombies mimicking activities from their past lives have always been sprinkled throughout zombie related media, but I,ZOMBIE adds a complexity to that phenomena by revealing zombies are the same people they were before they were infected, they are just imprisoned inside their corpse. The ones mimicking activities from when they were alive aren’t remembering past activities; they are finding the ability to regain some control of their body to perform them.

As an avid horror fan, I didn’t find anything too gross in the book (unlike Hugh’s wife who is having issues reading it) as I have read or watched similar gore before. But if you are not a horror fan and are diving in because you are a fan of Hugh’s past works, be warned that I,ZOMBIE doesn’t pull any punches and reveals the twisted side of Hugh I know and love. Everything is fodder here, even children, and Hugh does not skimp on the details. I found descriptions surrounding zombie bodily functions particularly entertaining. So if you are reading for the gore, you won’t be disappointed. It’s not quite splatterpunk, but it’s pretty close.

But don’t let that turn you off as this is not a gross-out book. If you are a fan of Hugh’s books, then you read for the story and the interesting characters Hugh uses to make personal observations about politics, religion, and society in general.  I, ZOMBIE has all of this and like any good horror it leaves thinking about what you read long after you have put the book down. Most zombie related material  have always been about the living characters with zombies being the backdrop; the conflict that intrudes on the living, human dynamic. But with I, ZOMBIE, Hugh successfully brings the zombies into the fold and adds an entirely new, interesting angle to a genre that already seemed to have every angle covered.

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Being able to read the tragic stories from the thoughts of the “dead” themselves allows Hugh to speak more about the human condition than I think any other zombie tale has done before it. From NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD to THE WALKING DEAD, zombies are often used as a broad brush to point out society pratfalls and how the living commit atrocious acts of their own free will, the one thing a zombie is lacking. Hell, our site alone makes anything a zombie would do seem as terrible as petting a puppy. I, Zombie goes a different route by using a more finite brush. By having you ride along with the zombies and experience what they experience, it really hammers home there really isn’t much difference between the living and the walking dead. Beneath the blood and guts, I, ZOMBIE contains a a message that will resonate in most who read it.

An easy five stars [rating:5/5]

You can pick up a copy of I, Zombie on August 15 when both the paperback ($12.95) and Kindle edition ($4.99) will be released at the same time. Be sure to stay up to date with Hugh Howey’s other projects at HughHowey.com, or his Facebook Page. Kudos, brother. My favorite book of yours so far, and not because of the gore or zombies.

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