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Allied Zombies for Peace Paperback – October 1, 2012
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Craig Nybo is the Norman Rockwell of gory monster adventure fiction.
I've read two of Craig's novels (his earlier foray into similar space -- "just your average zombies versus the KKK story," as he likes to say -- was Allied Zombies for Peace, a breakneck 42-minute romp through a small town holiday parade that goes to hell with the throwing of an anarchist's bomb and ends up with divisions of WWI vets, WWII vets, Vietnam vets, zombies, and the Ku Klux Klan going to the mat in real time), and here's what I think the Craig Nybo, Novelist, brand is:
Nybo likes small American towns and small-town institutions (diners, parades, sheriffs, local papers), almost to the point of being cliched. I don't view that pressing against the boundary of the hackneyed as being a bad thing, actually -- I think Nybo knows what he finds evocative and powerful and he goes for its heart, willingly taking the risk that a reader might say "aw, I've seen this before."
Except that the reader hasn't seen this before, unless he's been watching a lot of B monster movies and re-imagining them into the settings ofGoonies or Doc Hollywood. Nybo's newer novel (I think a third may be imminent, and the teaser at the back of Small Town Monsters suggests that Nybo's continued to put down roots in his brand) is set in rural Montana, and follows an ensemble cast (though principally the Chief of Police, relocated from California and constantly butting up against small town secrets and prejudices, and a young woman with a brutal father and a need to get out of town) through their scrambling reactions as the town experiences the return of an old nightmare it had thought dead and buried: werewolf killings.
It would be easy to turn his small town settings and characters either into cynical critiques of America or shiny two-dimensional posters inviting you to go fishing in the Big Sky Country, and it is to Nybo's great credit that he does neither. Like David Byrne at his best, Nybo seems to contemplate America with pleasure and, at the same time, an awareness of imperfections. That combination of affection and realism keep the stories gripping and fresh and prevents them from feeling like some kind of moralistic attack on the American small town.
I can't wait for the next one.
From the Author
I am thrilled to announce the audiobook release of my novel, Allied Zombies for Peace. When I set out to write this book, I wanted to do something unique. The entire story takes place in 42 minutes. But it took me just over 8 hours to read it as an audiobook.
Allied Zombies for Peace is about an undead civil rights group who marches for the 4th year in a row behind the KKK. Zombies of the AZP find this disconcerting because they have been fighting for enfranchisement for years. When they march behind the Klan, their goal of awareness for zombies who are committed to peace is foiled. The Klan marchers rile up the crowd and at least some of that resentment spills over onto the zombies. The whole situation blows up into an out-and-out brawl. And this brawl only takes 42 minutes to run its course.
The story of zombies vs. the Klan by itself doesn't take 8 hours to tell. There are other factions in play. Allied Zombies for Peace takes place in 1968, a year when America seemed to be coming apart at the seams.
- 1968 featured the following events:
- The Tet Offensive in Vietnam
- 3 college kids killed at a civil rights protest in Orangeburg, South Carolina
- Militant activism protests at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
- Martin Luthor King Jr. Assassinated
- Robert F. Kennedy Assassinated
- Black militants shoot it out with police in Cleveland, Ohio
- Police battle against protestors at the Democratic Convention in Chicago
What better place and time to place a zombie civil rights massacre than in the 1968 Veterans Day Parade in Columbus, Ohio? In this book, along with AZP demonstrators, tension also exists between Vietnam War protestors and recently returned veterans. Even further, the Columbus Police Department has its own problems. A recent internal affairs investigation has caused a rift in politics that blights the police's ability to respond to a full-scale riot. There is further tension between micro factions within the Klan. Some believe the Klan should become legitimate and less violent while others call for mass-scale violence.
All in all, when I wrote Allied Zombies for Peace, I had to break the overall 42-minute event into sub-stories, police against protesters, Nam vets against protestors, zombies against KKK. I hung each story on a few representative characters within each faction and wrote them somewhat autonomously. Once I had all of the stories written, I worked them together into more or less chronological order.
This wasn't easy. I had to manage a lot of characters and try to make them memorable for readers. I had to juggle several stories and keep them all interesting. I had to resolve every point of conflict I opened up. In the end, I am pretty proud of this book.
The zombies are somewhat marginalized and play second fiddle to a larger story. I like that. I didn't want to use zombies as a gimmick so I created very human versions of them.
I had fun reading this novel into audiobook form. I hope you enjoy it. Be sure to leave an honest review at Amazon and Goodreads. It means a ton to me.
See you on the next adventure.
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To start into this novel, I will have to say it is a bit rough around the edges. But do not take that as a bad thing: This would be like angrily storming out of an Iggy Pop concert only to complain, "That didn't sound like Beethoven!" Having a Master of Arts in English degree, I have a firm understanding of the difference between "classical" literature and "punk rock" literature. I enjoy both for what they are and avoid criticizing the one for not being the other. Ultimately, bad writing is bad writing in any genre. Nybo, while giving us a "punk" novel, delivers a satisfying assault of refined pandemonium closer to Kathy Acker's "Blood and Guts in High School" than Virginia Woolf's "To the Lighthouse."
"Allied Zombies for Peace" is a work of historiographic metafiction that places zombies, nearly discreetly, at the center of a Veterans' Day parade. Nybo judiciously utilizes a fragmented non-linear narrative to cover the scope of the mayhem as the novel spirals into a balanced miasma of violence, plot, and commentary. It is a re-imagining of Romero's "Night of the living Dead" rewritten by William Faulkner (possible title: "As I lay Undying").
Where the zombie genre has been represented, nearly ad nauseam, in film, the literature renaissance is in its infancy. It has come a long way since William Seabrook's 1929 travel novel "The Magic Island," but is still finding its voice. Recent works by Seth Grahame-Smith and Max Brooks have been huge steps forward for the zombie literary movement and "Allied Zombies for Peace" shambles somewhere between "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" and "World War Z." It is entertaining, violent, and referential to the society that spawned it. "Allied Zombies for Peace" is everything I could ever ask for with the printed undead.
In the beginning, the pace was very well set, building up to the main action that did not disappoint, and dissipating in a decent amount of time. However, I did have a few personal pet peeves. Nothing that would seriously take away from the novel itself, more like small kinks really.
Firstly, The buildup was very well set up, but I don't particularly enjoy when its too drawn out. And I would say 14 chapter ending in vague, prophetic sentences was about 7 too many. I understand that the author needed time to set up the characters, and the scene itself. I did enjoy how he presented it, but after about 10 chapters I couldn't help rolling my eyes.
Secondly, and this ones just silly really, I personally don't enjoy when authors repeat words a lot in a story. Some of this author's favorites include "cacophony" and "verbing the noun to hamburger." Again, this is just a personal tick, and doesn't take away from the story, rather it paints an excellent story. There were also a few glitches in the audio tape, simple things like repeated words, and the only major flaw being around chapter 54 when it repeats nearly the entire chapter.
In summary, I would just like to say that I loved the story and would highly recommend it to anyone who loves a good zombie story.