SBD: zombies

SBD, a day late.

Over the weekend I read Sean Kennedy’s novella,I Fell in Love with a Zombie.

Jay didn’t expect to be one of the very few survivors of the virus that decimated the country, leaving shambling, ravenous zombies behind. Fighting for his life amongst the dead, he keeps moving until the day he’s surrounded and facing his bloody end—and shockingly, another zombie saves him. But not just any zombie… it’s Dave, the first man Jay ever loved, and there’s something special about him even now, in the midst of the horror around them.

At some point in the near future, a pandemic strikes, rather like the swine flu. Except after burying those who succumb, which is a great deal of the population, some of the dead rise again.

For the better want of a name, they were called "zombies". That only contributed to the panic, even though they were really nothing like movie zombies. They didn’t want to eat our brains; they tended to raid garbage cans, homes and stores. That’s why nowhere was safe: the zombies would break in anywhere, and if you got in their way, you likely wouldn’t survive.

With the population reduced first by illness and then by the violence of the zombies, the country (Australia) falls into chaos. The narrative begins with Jay determining that it is time for him to escape the city; even though he’s been holed up, sooner or later he’ll be found, he figures, and it’s safer to be on the move. Jay’s lover, Mike, died early in the epidemic but is not one of the unfortunate undead, because Jay had him cremated. What follows is Jay’s narration of his escape from the city and trek out. His plan is to avoid urban areas, because by avoiding places that used to be populated, he’ll avoid potential zombie hot spots. He doesn’t have a specific destination in mind, it seems, other than away from zombies and danger. Along the way, Jay becomes a bit of an opportunist and survivalist, doing things that he would never have dreamed of in his earlier life. During the journey, Jay breaks down in Drake, where The One Who Got Away was living at the time of the outbreak.

The title and blurb make it fairly clear what happens next: Jay falls in love with a zombie. Or rather, someone he already loved has become a zombie. In Dave’s case, though, the zombie-fication has not been complete: he is capable of recognizing Jay and of speaking with great efforts. What follows very briefly is the two of them struggling with Dave’s work back to humanity (or at least to not become a complete zombie), and also working their way toward whatever remnants of civilization may remain, uncertain of their welcome. You could say that they are HFN with each other (really, how long with a zombie and non-zombie be able to work things out) and in the broader scheme of things.

What did I think of the book?

I enjoyed the writing style and narration. The language is rather spare, not particularly descriptive, which suits the POV and content. Would a narrator struggling for his life spend a lot of time describing details or look at the big picture? I also liked the way Kennedy shows Jay’s isolation and longing for human company, even company that he normally would not care for.

Although I appreciated the different take on zombies, the underlying rules or reasons for the zombie illness seemed vague. A bit more world building there would be nice. The story also suffered because of its brevity, which is a general complaint of mine for nearly every novella I read.

Keep or pass on?

It’s an ebook, and thus non-transferrable, so I’ll be keeping it.

Recommend to other readers?

I’d recommend it to readers who are interested in a slightly different take on zombies, yes.

Read other work by this author?

Absolutely.  Although I’d prefer no zombies, please.

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