Customer Reviews: Flesh Eaters
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on April 28, 2012
... what zombie stories should be about.

This story is not about zombies. It's not about blood and guts, it's not even about a devastating set of storms that flood southern Texas and reshape the Gulf of Mexico seaboard. It HAS all those things, but it isn't ABOUT them.

What it is about, first and foremost, is people.

Far too many writers of horror in general, and zombie stories in particular, think that the horror comes from the situation, and so they splash gore and foul language and viscera about with abandon, never understanding that horror only succeeds when it is happening TO someone that the readers care about. Joe McKinney never makes that mistake. In this unflinchingly terrifying book, the zombies are merely one more in a set of terrible obstacles that face both families and villains, heroes and scum. Indeed, even without the zombies this book would have been frightful, because the reader is made to understand what makes the characters tick, and then McKinney slowly puts those characters through purposeful paces. Some of the people unravel, some of them rise above tragedy to blossom into beauty. But the reader CARES about all of them.

This book is also horrifying in its scope. Though rooted in the experiences of certain individuals and groups, it is a truly apocalyptic tale. Like King's THE STAND and McCammon's SWAN SONG, the book is one about an entire world entering a serious and permanent change. It is the kind of book that puts you into its situations so fully that you find your heart racing, your breath coming in shallow gasps as you become an eyewitness to a paradigm shift in culture, in geography, in civilization itself. You can't help but wonder if you would be a survivor in such a scenario... or if you'd even WANT to be one.

Though there is gore enough to satisfy any zombie aficionado, though ribs snap and blood flows, though teeth gnash and chomp on innocent and guilty alike, the visceral thrills are handled carefully - even clinically at times - which only serves to intensify the fright as the reader is forced to participate in imagining what it would be like to live in (and hopefully through) a zombie apocalypse.

As a horror writer myself, it's doubly hard for me to just sink in and enjoy a good scary book, because all too often I am admiring (or irritated by) the author's words, the author's style, the author's particular voice. In this case, I simply forgot myself in a great tale, and spent a few long nights cramming in "just one more chapter."

All in all, this is a wonderful book. McKinney won a Bram Stoker award for Best Novel in 2012 for FLESH EATERS. For my money, it was well deserved.
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on February 22, 2012
It started well, and I was completely engrossed in the story when it suddenly fell flat with the introduction of the bank looting sub-plot and our heroine somehow feeling compelled to pursue her fellow Cop looters for their crime. In spite of the apocalypse, and at the expense of her family`s safety, she opts for this ambiguous moral high ground. In the end, amazingly, she winds up taking the money for herself and her family. Without a qualm, she becomes the filthy looter that had so offended her from the moment she learned of their plan.

Without this duplicity, I believe the looting of the bank could have been, integrated into the plot and made an interesting part of the story.

The plot lapse gives the reader too much time to ponder the weird nature of the McKinney zombies. Throughout his three zombie novels McKinney has insisted that his zombies are alive, and more than once he has invoked the old, "what will kill us kills them" saw.

Maybe he feels that this gives his zombies more believability, but their rotting bodies, and the failure of multiple center mass rounds to kill them, quickly dispels any believability. The occasionally injected ability to drown or strangle a zombie does noting to restore the believability, in fact it only reminds the reader of this silliness, which might otherwise be overlooked, as I did in his previous novels.

Maybe he feels that being alive, on some level, adds humanity to his monsters and allows us to somehow feel empathy for them. Sorry, this also fails. I believe a dead zombie deserves the same sympathy as a live one.

McKinney is a decent author but he needs to get on board with the genre, or move on to crime novels.
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on August 14, 2013
Joe McKinney does it again!

Such a fantastic read, high paced and detailed beyond what most books in the genre offer. The character development was top notch, drawing a clear and precise background for everyone involved. Each scene drew me deeper into the story line, and kept me clutching the pages in anticipation of what would come next. As much as I enjoyed the first two books in the series, Flesh Eaters blows them both away.
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on June 9, 2013
I don't like the zombie craze in general, but I met this author at a conference and really enjoyed his talk--so I bought a book. I stayed up all night to read it.

The female main character, policewoman Eleanor, was strong, gutsy, and all about saving her family. Her husband was a real life man, just a little jealous of his wife, but he shows his own type of strengths that make them a good match and even ends up saving the daughter.

The other characters, the bad guys, racing around to get money, are fleshed out as a very dysfunctional family. I find it sad how it ends, with the man that I thought was only sort of bad going full fledged pyscho (I hope I didn't give anything away), but it felt real.

The strength of Joe Mckinney is in his characters, his understanding of human nature (probably from being a cop so long), and his intimate knowledge of how the government and other agencies would react in a natural emergency such as this. It makes for an interesting and BELIEVABLE read. I so hate books that are supposed to be happening now where the authors mistake an elected official for an appointed on or other such gross mistake--but I digress.

Overall this book is about the people--not the infected--their struggles with a world gone mad and trying to keep both morals and sanity when everyone is losing theirs.
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on November 25, 2012
I loved every page! This series has me hooked! I get to the last few chapters and feel a sence of sadness that its almost over and then I'd have nothing to read till the next book arrives. Bravo Joe McKinney! I am officially a fan that starts to read slower during the last few chapters while waiting impatiently for the next book.
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on August 27, 2012
Another really good story. It really frustrates me not to be able to give that extra 1/2 star. 5 stars are just not enough of a range to rate these books. I did like Apocalypse of the dead a little better than Flesh Eaters, but just a little bit. This was a really good story. The characters were great, the plot was intriguing, and the twists and turns kept you on your toes. I don't generally like a series that doesn't pick up where the previous book left off but when it's done well it is a good thing. These books are a series, no question of that. They belong together. I think I can say, without it being a spoiler, that part of the horror for the reader, would be the thought of being stuck behind that wall and trying to survive. When I could finally keep my eyes open no longer, right before I went to sleep last night, I found myself laying there with that going through my head. Talk about Hell on earth! And if you had a loved one with you, especially someone weaker and dependent on you, what a horror that would be in the truest definition of the word.
It is a really good book. READ AND ENJOY!!
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on June 19, 2011
I get what McKinney is doing. He's writing about what he knows. But it's really getting tiring. Every book is centered around a hero cop saving the world. Each of the three books deals with the floods in Houston creating the zombies. This book is an explanation of how it first started.

The bank robbery part was a good sub-plot, and overall it was a good story. But after 3 books all revolving around the same 'hero cop' doing things that no 'civilian' can ever do is getting boring and overplayed. It's time to branch out and actually be a writer.....Don't just make the main character a version of yourself. Do something DIFFERENT and original.

Yes it's a good read, especially if you haven't read the other 2 books. But I really hope the fourth, if there is one, is something different then the same old song.
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on July 19, 2014
Great read from Joe. All of his stories are good, the characters are believable and the situations plausible. It makes for some good reading. You get drawn into Joe's Zombie Novels much the same way you do Mark Tufo's only with less emphasis on humor. It's good stuff.
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on January 13, 2014
Once again Joe Mckinney keeps the reader on the edge of their seats. Never a dull moment in this series, always twisting and turning. Always rooting for the good guys and hating the zombies, and bad guys. Wish he'd come out with more. Couldn't recommend this series more!!!
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on April 21, 2016
I am so glad I took the deal to get my first book by Joe McKinney. I have now purchased & read 3 of his books & they are fantastic. Be careful- if you read these books you can't put them down! Excellent charactors, plots that pull you directly into the story, making Zombies totally believable.
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