My Life as A White Trash Zombie
After a long time of trying to resist the glut of zombie stories that are coming out thick and fast, I finally broke down about a year ago and read a few. There have been good ones and bad ones, and some just plain gross ones. Thankfully, Diana Rowland’s new novel, My Life as a White Trash Zombie, falls into the “good” category with a tale of humor and the craving for brains.
(Description nicked from the publisher’s website.)
“Teenage delinquent Angel Crawford lives with her redneck father in the swamps of southern Louisiana. She’s a high school dropout, addicted to drugs and alcohol, and has a police record a mile long. But when she’s made into a zombie after a car crash, her addictions disappear, except for her all-consuming need to stay “alive”…”
It’s getting more popular to write a zombie novel that is from the point of view of the zombie. Most of the ones that I’ve seen thus far have gone the somber route, using the zombie’s condition to reflect on the ills of society and such things. And while there is some of that in Rowland’s novel—Angel has multiple issues, not the least of which are drug addiction and an abusive father—the author mostly attempts to keep the tone light. Admittedly, the humor can be a bit morbid at times—Angel’s frustration at bodies showing up at the morgue without their brains is both nauseating and comical—but gallows humor does work, especially in a story of this kind.
And speaking of “nauseating”, readers should be forewarned that there are some fairly graphic scenes in this book. Angel works as a morgue tech, and of course there’s the whole “eating brains” issue, so parts of this novel are not for the squeamish. Personally, although I found the concept interesting, I waited a bit before reading this novel, because it’s not a good idea for me to read gross stuff when I’m stressed! However, brains and blood aside, the icky scenes aren’t lingered over and so shouldn’t cause too much distress.
I liked Angel as a character. She doesn’t deny or try to gloss over her issues, and it takes the entire book for her to really start making changes in her life. Rowland portrays Angel as a young woman on the very edge of losing everything—health, sanity, even her life—and having to pull herself back from the brink. She may be named Angel, but she’s no angel! She’s a down to earth young person with very real problems, but she never flings around an overabundance of angst. Rowland found just the right balance between a bad kid and one trying to turn things around.
I wasn’t quite as enamored of the murder mystery that interweaves through Angel’s storyline. I’m not sure why, but I think it was because I got the sense that Angel’s community wasn’t all that large, and a small community shouldn’t have quite as many deaths (and unusual deaths) as you see. But this is a small quibble in an otherwise well-written novel. Everything ties together in the end, and if Rowland doesn’t write any more about these characters, the book still comes to a satisfactory end.
My Life as a White Trash Zombie isn’t your normal tale of the undead. It’s sharp and fresh, with a fast-talking and savvy heroine who practically grows up before your eyes. If you’re looking for something funny and a bit off the beaten track, then this novel is for you.
This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on August 29, 2011.