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Double Dead (Tomes of The Dead) Paperback – November 15, 2011
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About the Author
Chuck Wendig is a novelist, screenwriter and self-described 'penmonkey.' He sold his first story when he was 18. After working in the computer and role-playing game industries he began scripting TV and film projects, including a horror film script which won him a place at the prestigious Sundance Screenwriter Lab 2010. He currently lives in the wilds of Pennsyltucky with a wonderful wife and two very stupid dogs.
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That's the premise. You'll know going in whether a story like this is going to work for you. If it does - and boy howdy it did for me - then Double Dead delivers on its promises. It's a brutal post-apocalyptic road movie featuring the usual ragtag band of survivors - the overbearing dad, the manipulative bitch, the psychic teenager (and a couple of other characters vying for the opportunity to be the first one to be killed off). Think of The Walking Dead, but with slightly less ghastly humans.
Then there's Coburn. He's selfish, he's cruel, he's completely unrepentant about his decades of debauched self-indulgence and murder. He's only using his vampiric superpowers to protect the others so he can feed from them. Or so he tells himself, until he realises that there are many far more awful horrors - people and otherwise - out there in what remains of the world. As he and his `sheeple' lurch from one over-the-top, action-packed crisis to the next, Coburn realises he has more at stake than his next meal.
Violent, hilarious and horrific by turns, this book does just what it says on the box. There's dismemberment, bad language and misuse of firearms. There are cannibals, monster hunters, ultrazombies and juggalos. The action is fast-paced, the explosions are frequent and the bloodletting is plentiful. Yet for all the mayhem, Double Dead is a book with heart and brains. The characters are all touched by tragedy, even its monster protagonist, and it never lets you forget that all this horror and insanity is happening to ordinary people.
This is a grotesque, ballsy and confident first novel from rockstar penmonkey Chuck Wendig.
First, the good stuff. I liked that it delivered on what you expect from a zombie novel, but it had some great twists. The (spoiler) faction was hilarious and a great touch, and so was the other (spoiler) faction. It was cutting satire, and felt not entirely unrealistic, too. I also loved that someone finally addressed the whole zombie/vampire thing, and also touched on what happens with a character who is (spoiler). I mean, people forget about characters with certain problems during apocalyptic scenarios, so this was a great change. Also, I loved the relationship between a couple of characters--it felt like a great solution to the human-vampire dynamic and I liked that it didn't involve (spoiler).
I will admit that the prose wasn't as lush and beautiful as Wendig's other works, and there's some head-jumping, but it wasn't a serious drawback.
All in all, I really dug this, and I have to recommend it, especially if you want a far above-par zombie novel. This, and not World War Z (which sucked, and I will fight you on that) should have been given the silver-screen treatment. It's as good as Breathers, another fantastic novel in the subgenre, and actually delivered on horror. As I said, buy it, read it, love it.
This ain't Twilight, folks. Only way Coburn glitters is if he kills and eats a stripper.
Then maybe my TL;DR review will:
In case that's not enough, here we go. I generally like my horror to be subtle these days. I enjoy the sorts of creepiness that happen off the screen or in my imagination. Reading this blood soaked carnival ride from Hell is one the occasional exceptions. Why is that? One word; characters.
If you're going to send me through a dark world where some people have turned to cannibalism to survive and the body count on the page is high, you have to give me characters with some depth. While Coburn is the blood fueled terror that I believe vampires should be, there's more to him than that. He's not tortured by what he is, at least not at first. It's not until he meets an odd little family of survivors and a girl who refuses to be afraid of him that he starts to wonder about his own past and his new role as protector of humanity. The conflict Wendig wrings out of that is delicious.
Okay there are actually more words. Wendig knows how to use humor to lighten up the bleakest story (CREAMPUFF THE WONDER TERRIER). He does things that surprise me (Insane Clown Posse loving despot). He takes the most basic tropes in the horror genre and infuses his own madness into them (mutant zombies, a unique cause for the zombie outbreak, a dying girl that may be the key to unlocking a cure to the whole mess).
The book isn't perfect. There are a few characters that fall flat. Once or twice he pulled things out of his hat that were over the top even for a book like this. All in all though, if the premise and my above words are enough to make you want it, then go buy it!
I give it four and a half fangs.
This is not a vampire story in the traditional sense. It is a story about a vampire who wakes up to find that his food supply (humans) have largely bean replaced with the walking dead. The hunter must now become the protector, and the struggle that Coburn (the vampire) has with this change in his lifestyle plays out awesomely across the two Double Dead books (both of which you should read).
Coburn and his flock run into a range of awesome post apocalyptic characters, and battle it out with zombies and super zombies (the origins of which you learn about early on in book one).