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Zombie, Illinois: A Novel Paperback – October 1, 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews
Book 2 of 3 in the Zombie Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Political reporter Ben Bennington, troubled inner-city pastor Leopold Mack and defiant punk-rocker Maria Ramirez take on marauding zombies and crooked Chicago politicians in this wickedly satirical page-turner by Kenemore (Zombie, Ohio). Knowing where the bodies are buried is integral to the power struggle that ensues after a resurgent Al Capone devours the mayor on television, an effectively gory scene that hints at Chicago's buried past coming back to light. Ramirez's father is next in line to be mayor , but amid the zombie chaos, some conspire to usurp his power. In the ensuing melee, Kenemore steers our sympathies: "...zombies are more a force of nature than a sentient, evil entity.... The humans are the ones with murder in their souls." Nevertheless, both are lethal, and Kenemore creates an authentic sense of place and character in ravaged Chicago as well as wittily sustained tension throughout. Pastor Mack's statement that they " start by taking care of each other" invokes atypically hopeful sentiments for a zombie-genre offering: the self-reliance of the poor may set the stage for a renaissance of city spirit. This blend of idealism and wry political commentary infuses new meaning into the zombie ravages portrayed so graphically here.

From Booklist

One thing’s for sure, you won’t be thinking: ho-hum, another book where the mayor of Chicago gets eaten by a zombie Al Capone. That’s one of the highlights of this follow-up to Zombie, Ohio (2011), in which a college professor survives an attempt on his life, only to discover he hasn’t really survived at all. But this isn’t really a sequel: it takes place at roughly the same time as the earlier book but in a different location and with different characters: the drummer in an all-girl rock band, a church pastor, and a newspaper reporter (in one of many of the book’s in-jokes, the paper he works for is called Brain’s). The reporter has the hots for the drummer, the drummer hates the pastor (whose daughter also plays in the band), and all three of them soon run into some shady politicians who are determined to use the zombie apocalypse to gain control of the city (one of the politicians being the drummer’s father, whom the drummer also hates). Did we mention the zombies? They’re crawling out of the cemeteries, they’re lurching out of Lake Michigan, they’re attacking and chomping and tearing the living apart. Fans of zombified mayhem will not be disappointed. If Zombie, Ohio was at its heart a noir with zombies (man tries to solve his own murder), this is a political thriller with zombies (good guys try to stop evil politicians from taking over the city)—different in tone from Ohio, but in its own way just as good. It’ll be interesting to see what story the author tells next. --David Pitt
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing (October 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616088850
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616088859
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 5.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #551,803 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By T. Young on October 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
Zombie, Illinois has all the things you want from a zombie story: well-drawn characters working their way out of tight situations, people killing zombies in innovative ways, and gory deaths meted out to the unjust. Where it surprised me was the extent to which the setting mattered. This book is basically a big bloody love letter to the city of Chicago. Kenemore has taken the time to really think about which institutions and communities are best equipped to survive a zombie outbreak beyond the genre staples of military bases and boarded-up farmhouses. I didn't just learn about the best ways to defend a fixed position against hordes of undead, I learned about how the Chicago system of political patronage works, about a semi-legendary network of coal tunnels under the city, and about South Side churches and aldermen and their wards. About a culture of political corruption so resilient that even a zombie apocalypse can't shake it. This level of detail didn't take me out of the story; it enhanced it. Kenemore's appreciation for Chicago made me see the city in a new way: rough, beautiful, darkly hilarious, even exotic.

I can't think of any other zombie story, be it movie, book or comic, that takes its setting so seriously, which is precisely what gives the book such a powerful verisimilitude. Frankly, most others feel like fake, bloodless, stumbling clones by comparison. Ultimately, perhaps the highest compliment I can give this book is that I think it's a horror tale that Mike Royko would have loved. FIVE STARS FOR SCOTT KENEMORE!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Zombie Il is a book about corrupt Illinois politicians with a few zombies thrown in. I think more people are killed by bullets and boredom when the author is droning on and on and on about the alderman's and mayor and politics than are killed by zombies.

A few things worked, the way Pastor Mack, Ben, and Maira's lives kept intertwining felt more believable than contrived. I loved the part where Pastor Mack is talking about the parts of the bible where it's not so comforting about the dead and the afterlife. Who Maria is and why that involves them in the political mess is good.

There are a lot of F-bombs, including from the pastor. After awhile they stop being effective and just get gratuitous.

I thought I was buying a book about zombies, not a diatribe about Illinois politicians with a few zombies thrown in.
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I read this book pretty much straight for two days. Its very good, especially if you know / live in Chicago, and have an appreciation for the culture and the city. I didn't find it to be too much of a travel-log, but it did not ignore the city at all. A perfect balance.

The author has a knack for writing good dialogue from multiple points of view. Anyone who loves Chicago, and likes Zombie stories, would probably enjoy this book.

I'm kinda sad that I finished it. Scott, you should write more stories around this plot line in Chicago. But only if it interests you. Its obvious that a lot was put into this, and that you had fun writing this. I had fun reading it! Thank you!
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Interesting story. I like the multiple POV aspect, although it did get a bit jumpy towards the end. My first zombie novel, not counting King's Cell.
The title of my review would've been a better title for the book, since there's much more to Illinois than Chicago and virtually the entire story takes place there.
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By sandie on January 16, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is nowhere as good as Zombie Ohio. I laughed through the Ohio book. Funny funny funny, Not Zombie Illinois. Not like the other book. Sorry, I really wouldn't recommend this book. Now to be fair, I was looking for this book to be written like the Ohio book. It almost seamed to be by another author.
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I like the schtick that Scott Kenemore has going here, and I love the ways in which it is unfolding. I loved Zombie, Ohio so much, I was almost embarrassed to have paid a pittance for it in an Amazon Kindle deal. So I was very willing to lay out a whopping $7+ to read the next book, set a couple of states to the west. I had no idea if it would be a continuation of the first story, or -- well, it was Something Completely Different.

Zombie, Illinois tells the tales of three survivors interlinked by fate (and deft storytelling), each in first person and in turn. The chronology is the same as "Ohio", but other than a global zombie apocalypse beginning in winter, there is no direct correlation. In fact, the style and tone of each book is very distinct. "Ohio" has a black comedy flavor, and catches you up with its unique and very engaging, deeply, ironically-flawed narrator. "Illinois" is a much more straightforward adventure novel, which works because it is so well-written, about true-to-life characters whose skills and knowledge and instincts probably echo your own. A nice, healthy racial and sociological mix, a sinister dose of Chicago politics and plenty of Oh Yeah! Zombies!

For it's genre it should probably get 5 stars, but I withhold one because it isn't a book that everyone MUST read. It's just a hella lotta fun. Also, my Kindle Edition -- full price, remember -- is filled with typographical and formatting errors which made this pleasant book a real chore to read. Toward the end (I haven't read other reviews, so I may be repeating info) several entire chapters are repeated, a very disconcerting thing! This doesn't detract from my rating of the book, but I hope an update is in the offing, and I hope the paperback doesn't have the same flaws!
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