The thing I loved about this book was the uniqueness and poignancy of it. It was also thought-provoking, moving, creative, interesting, horrifying, amusing, and compelling. Maybe if I just keep tossing out adjectives, I’ll eventually feel like I’m accurately describing the feeling this book gave me throughout the first half.
When R was explaining and showing what life was like for the zombies, how simple yet kind of sad and meaningless their lives were, those were the parts that were moving and thought-provoking.
Getting to see things from a zombie POV, especially Isaac Marion’s version with the whole little zombie society they had and the way these zombies worked, that was the creative and interesting part.
I would be laughing one moment at the absurdity of something, like R’s zombie wife leaving him for another man while he was taking care of their adopted zombie kids, then I’d suddenly be frowning and sad a moment later, like when Julie asked him, “This doesn’t bother you?” and his response was:
I think for a minute. Watching my wife fade into the distance, I put a hand on my heart. “Dead.” I wave a hand toward my wife. “Dead.” My eyes drift toward the sky and lose their focus. “Want it . . . to hurt. But . . . doesn’t.”
Other times I’d be both amused by the creativity but also completely horrified all at once, like when R took his kids to the zombie school—an enclosed space where they trapped live people so they could teach the zombie kids how to attack and eat them.
I haven’t seen the movie for this book, but I can’t imagine it would even remotely compare because the beauty of this book was in R’s emotions and thoughts and perceptions, the sadness and the void in him as a zombie, and what it was like for him to be living in a way but still dead.
Also, I was worried that it wouldn’t make sense how Julie could be interested in the guy who killed her boyfriend and that the only reason R would be interested in Julie was because of Perry’s memories, but those things actually worked out in a believable enough way.
All that being said, the one major complaint I have is that the book was slow and easy to put down. I never had this, “I have to know what happens next!” feeling.
My second biggest complaint is that the paranormal aspects (like how R was changing, the way Perry somehow communicated with R, and what happened to the Boneys) felt kind of random and deus ex machina.
Oh, and while I’m on the topic of paranormal, I felt like this was a more fantasy than sci-fi take on zombies. I’d consider it sci-fi because it was still post-apocalyptic, but I’d also consider it paranormal/urban fantasy and even metaphysical & visionary because of how it delved into human consciousness and potentially spiritual stuff.
I was also bothered by the invasion of privacy every time R experienced one of Perry’s memories. Not only was it an invasion of Perry’s privacy, it was an invasion of Julie’s too since he experienced memories of intimate moments (I think even sex, but that wasn’t shown in the book) between Perry and Julie. I know that was the premise, and it was a cool concept, and I didn’t blame R for eating the brains since they gave him life in his otherwise dead world, but the fact that R then went on to be friends with Julie after seeing her in moments when he wasn’t supposed to was still unsettling for me.
But overall, as I said, though I found the book slow and had a couple issues, I also found it creative, compelling, and poignant at times and am glad I finally read it.
Anyone looking for a creative, paranormal/metaphysical take on zombies and a compelling, poignant read and who likes/doesn't mind slow-paced books.