Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues
Zombie fiction is easily one of the hottest sub-genres on the market. The success of books like World War Z and cable shows like The Walking Dead just underscore our country’s fascination with the living dead. But most of these stories focus on the still-living population and their survival in a world overrun with flesh-eating creatures. It’s much less common to get the zombie’s perspective on things. Diana Rowland swims against the stream with her White Trash Zombie novels, which feature a main character who turns her life around after death.
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“Angel Crawford is finally starting to get used to life as a brain-eating zombie, but her problems are far from over. Her felony record is coming back to haunt her, more zombie hunters are popping up, and she’s beginning to wonder if her hunky cop-boyfriend is involved with the zombie mafia. Yeah, that’s right—the zombie mafia.
Throw in a secret lab and a lot of conspiracy, and Angel’s going to need all of her brainpower—and maybe a brain smoothie as well—in order to get through it without falling apart.”
While I liked the first novel in this series, this second one felt like it had a bit more solidity. The first book was all about setting the scene, establishing the zombie “community” and laying down the rules for how zombies act and what they need. Now that the foundation has been laid, stories can be told that build on this framework. As with the initial novel, this story contains a mystery that goes deeper than the previous one.
I enjoyed the mystery, but I got even more enjoyment out of watching Angel’s personal relationships grow and change. Of course, the situation with her boyfriend Marcus, local cop and zombie, takes center stage. His status as her “maker” begins to get snarled up with his feelings for her, and it leads to some tension as Angel asserts herself as an independent person. But I really liked how much time was spent showing Angel rebuilding her relationship with her father. Rowland does an excellent job at portraying a father going from the overburdened and beaten-down man that he was, and turning him into a man who is not perfect, but is trying his hardest to be better for his little girl.
This novel retains the lighthearted sense of the first one, but here it relies less on silliness and more on the absurdity inherent in Angel’s situation. She’s a zombie working as a coroner’s assistant and her boyfriend may be part of some sort of mafia-esque organization controlling who gets brains. Even so, there are many moments of seriousness that dovetail nicely with the humor. There’s a good balance struck in this plot, and the novel maintains a steady pace because of Rowland’s skill.
Zombies aren’t the most palatable of main characters, but it’s impossible not to like Angel. She’s one of the more realistic heroines in urban fantasy, fighting her demons and growing up before your eyes as you read. Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues is a worthy addition to the series, and I look forward to seeing Angel’s further exploits.
This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on August 4, 2012.