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Drop Dead Gorgeous Paperback – November 15, 2008
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Admittedly, I have never really gotten into reading the horror genre. The only experiences I have with zombies have been "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," and the Charleton Heston film "Omega Man," and so I don't have that much to compare "Drop Dead Gorgeous" to. This beats both of those experiences like an angry amputee wielding a broken appendage.
This book starts out with Star, a tattoo artist, whose client dies while being tattooed. She finished the tattoo, and then noticed everyone else in her parlor had similarly kicked off! She explores her surroundings in the center of Belfast, Northern Ireland, trying to make sense of what has happened to the general populace in her nihilistic way. She ends up in an anarchic-enclave in the bus station, with Sean the DJ, Tim and Caz the teen lovers, and Barry (the man with a sordid past). They go on loot, and have a grand old time in the finest hotel in Belfast, generally keeping to themselves.
Contrast this with Royal Irish Ranger Roy Beggs, who's collected followers on the road to Belfast the first night after the apocalypse. Roy has picked up Maraid Burns, who is a former IRA operative, and reluctantly entrusts her with a sidearm. They are holed up in an elementary school, where Sylvia Paterson plays the role of comforter, manipulator, and head cool-aide dispenser. The school seems like it will turn into an Irish Jonestown.
Not to spoil anything, but the book details what happens to both enclaves, as the Zombies emerge. "Drop Dead Gorgeous" is a fantastic read. It has language some people might find objectionable, having very grown up themes. This is not one for the kiddies.
To the participants of the Freedom Book Club: Many thanks for suggesting this book! It was select as the Summer Read for 2009.
My experience with Permuted Press up till now has been David Moody's Autumn Quartet and a slew of press releases about books that have made me say, every time, "man, I have got to read this." Oddly, I never saw a single press release for Drop Dead Gorgeous, the first novel from Irish novelist Wayne Simmons; I stumbled across it in my local Half Price Books. (There is a small-press horror fan in my area who routinely sells stuff there. Whoever you are, bless you.) I actually found three Permuted titles the same day and snatched them all up. I knew the other two (D. L. Snell's Roses of Blood on Barbwire Vines and Z. A. Recht's Thunder and Ashes) well by reputation, but this one I'd never heard of. So I cracked the cover on this one first. And after I'd finished it a couple of days later, the only word I could come up with was "DAY-um." This is not at all what I expected from the original publisher of the Autumn books. This is bloody awesome.
First off: ignore the jacket copy, which makes it sound as if the story centers around Star, the tattoo artist who graces the wonderful (if amateurish) cover. Instead, like the Autumn books, Drop Dead Gorgeous is an ensemble drama rather along the lines of Autumn but somewhat better-structured. We start off with the sudden and unexplained death of billions (once again hearkening back to David Moody and the beginning of the small-press zombie revolution) and a handful of survivors, including Star, who eventually find one another. But we also have a second storyline that runs parallel involving a former Orangeman and a former IRA member who are forced together in leadership positions with another band of survivors in a smaller town a ways up the highway from the first band.Read more ›
The dead are rising in Belfast City, and Simmons extraordinary characters all search in different ways to make sense of the aftermath. Simmons manages to write about characters as diverse as a university professor and an army officer with an attention to detail and believability that few in this genre can do.
This novel is brutal in its characterisations, real people with attitude, Simmons has taped into the soul of those on the sidelines of society and given them a voice, placing them in an apocalyptic scenario, with none of the glamour of the Hollywood blockbuster, this is what it would be really like to face the end of the world, its dirty, smelly and bad, and boy it is a really really good to read....
There is a large cast of characters, some of which don't make it to the end of the book, plus flashes of characters that don't play a pivotal part of the story. One that particularly sticks in my mind is the man who was in hospital at the time of the event - with no one to care for him, and being unable to move he slowly, and very painfully dies in his bed.
Of the characters that do play a big part in the book, the star of the show, tattoo artist Star is fantastically hard-core - with a murky past, a passion for tattooing and an up-yours kind of attitude, I thought she was an awesome main character.
But Drop Dead Gorgeous is more than just a blood-bathed zombie story - there's also two characters who should, and mostly do, hate each other with a burning passion - Mairead and Roy. I loved their dynamic, and their ability to come together and almost put their differences on the back-burner made for a unique twist.
Drop Dead Gorgeous moves at a fast pace, even during 'down periods' of establishing survivor communities and the flashes between one group and another are done well for the most part, although at times it was a little jolting. It's always harder to tell in an audiobook when the scene is going to switch, so I would think in the print version this isn't so much of an issue.
The ending did feel a little bit rushed after the long build up, but it was exactly what I want in a zombie novel - gory, gritty and more than a little bit shocking.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Coming across something new or even refreshing is difficult within a genre such as horror. Many filmmakers and even novelists plump for tried and tested ideas and the major... Read morePublished on November 4, 2012 by John Milton
Wayne Simmons has managed to create a new kind of zombie. Plus he has managed to write a novel that makes the zombies the nice people. Read morePublished on January 6, 2012 by Mr Dave Lightfoot
This book is very enjoyable, and as someone who likes horror books, but is fairly picky about them in general, it definitely lived up to my expectations. Read morePublished on July 8, 2011 by Alexa Macdermot
Another well done horror/zombie novel from an extremely talented writer. This book has a twist on the classic zombie tale which is quite refreshing. Read morePublished on April 10, 2011 by J. Sroka
I went into DROP DEAD GORGEOUS expecting a b-movie style slasher, and not much in the way of brains. This couldn't be further from the truth. Read morePublished on November 19, 2010 by Christopher Bowsman
So let me start of by saying, the first one hundred pages were tough for me to read. They were not bad just a lot of setup but once I hit page 101 wow, this book took off and... Read morePublished on August 31, 2010 by Richard
I didnt have any experience with Mr. Simmons work but I wanted another Zombie story when I finished my last book. Read morePublished on August 22, 2010 by Jt Bentzen
I don't entirely know what to write about DDG. On the one hand, I enjoyed the bejesus out of the book. It's a four-star review, of course I enjoyed the book. Read morePublished on February 3, 2010 by Thomas Brannan
It should be noted that I would give this work a 3.5 out of 5 if it were possible.
Drop Dead gorgeous is a rather interesting contribution to the hat of Zombie fiction. Read more