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Live and Let Undead: A Zombie Anthology Paperback – January 2, 2012
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Though I am unfamiliar with some of the authors, I will gladly read any past or future work they produce. Likewise, I will also be up for anything edited by Hollie Snider. I assure you - they're all top notch. I can't pick a favorite story, since each story is special and deserves reading, and I don't want to summarize each story because it will ruin the surprise of the book for you. So, here is a little taste of all that's waiting for you...
I have vowed never to read another Suzanne Robb story while in the company of others. Like her other works, I find myself talking and laughing aloud while reading. I couldn't help but gasp at some of the situations she puts her characters in. It's also worth noting that Robb has a special knack for creating whole characters out of a few words or actions. She doesn't need to cripple her story with long character descriptions, she gets the job done fast while maintaining a good handle on the story. Her crisp and devious sense of humor is always a welcome addition to her stories, and "Dentists, Autopsies, and Nutritionists, Oh My!" is no exception!
Matt Adams had me nearly crying with "Sparky Save the World", in which a human shares a special bond with his zombie. Without being preachy, it quietly emphasizes the need to look deeper into situations and forget our prejudices. Sometimes we see only what we want to see, not what is truly there. The ending of this story has a strangely sad but uplifting quality to it that sets it apart.
Patrick D'Orazio's tale "Legacy" explores the zombie apocalypse from a point of view that I have not previously encountered. D'Orazio's strength is in his ability to slowly dole out clues to the reader as to what's going on, and let the reader slowly figure out the riddle. Let's just say that the meek will inherit the Earth.
Many of the other reviews have placed Live and Let Undead within the horror and sci-fi genres. I'm not sure I would make that distinction. Unlike most other anthologies that I have read, Live and Let Undead doesn't really focus on the zombies. Instead, there is a shared focus between the zombies and their living counterparts. I would say that the anthology is more about the process of living (or, the process of re-living) and what it means to be human. Live and Let Undead is deeply touching, as well as a wicked fun read!
DANCING WITH THE DEAD by Barry Rosenberg features undead created by too much fast food & video games. The zombies are used for domestic service, and this POV centers on a residents' home. It struck as being one of the more sci-fi stories.
MEMORIAL DAY by Mike Barretta tells the story of a young man who recognizes his undead dad working on a county project. With a sci-fi tone, Barretta reveals the son's plan to give his dad freedom. The social commentary is scary as hell.
LABOR RELATIONS by Steve Ruthenbeck is about a janitor discovering a morbid secret in a zombie facility, where the undead are used to produce energy, and he has to fight his way out of work. This was another story with sci-fi mixed in, but it was one of my favorites in the anthology.
INDUSTRIAL DISEASE by Brian Craig Johnson was hard to follow; I actually read it twice, thinking I must have missed a part. Some unusual zombie traits are revealed after a survivor discovers a newborn.
DEAD HEAD by Daniel R. Robichaud was a disturbing story about two guys getting high off the ashes of the undead, until they smoke the wrong person.
LUTHER'S LOVE SHACK by Jeff Chitty was a tale of zombie perversion that would put the movie Zombie Strippers to shame. This one definitely stood out from the others in the collection. Never a dull moment.
CULTIVATION OF THE DEAD by Keith Gouveia describes the way zombie poop is used as fertilizer. People who don't kill their undead loved ones are arrested & fed to the zombies. Kind of sci-fi in the concept.
THE KILLER WITH EYES OF ICE by HE Rouls is a sci-fi conspiracy about the undead, and another one with a storyline that I found hard to follow.
REBORN by Janet Tait featured scary religious people from the Church of Osiris, who put the Reborn to work. One woman who has left the Church does not want this fate for her late husband.
LEGACY by Patrick D'Orazio (author of The Dark Trilogy) had a twist that was so subtle, I almost missed it. Future generations use the undead for assembly line work.
DENTISTS, AUTOPSIES, AND NUTRIONISTS, OH MY! By Suzanne Robb (author of Z-Boat) centers on a newscaster that goes nuts on camera...lovely surprise at the end.
OPERATORS by AM Burns featured computerized zombies. It had a slow build-up, but I thought it was one of the best in the book.
THE POWER OF WORDS by Peter Giglio wrote the absolute best story in this entire anthology. It was the perfect zombie short story: a female zombie causes problems at the office for one of her co-workers. I've never seen this author's name before, but I would love to read more of his work.
SPARK SAVE THE WORLD by Matt Adams was another fabulous story that made my favorites list. An undead is trained to find security threats at a US port, much like a dog, but it goes above and beyond duty.
RETURN TO SENDER by Brooke Fabian was had a unique theme compared to the other stories: when someone dies unexpectedly, they return...supposedly to what they loved most in life.
A MILE IN HIS SHOES by Rebecca Snow (author of Sugar Skulls in Wake Up Dead) was a great crime/mystery zombie tale about a soldier accused of killing his family. It was far too brief -- I would love to see this story turned into a full-length novel.
Z-COMPANY by Eric Juneau tells the story of zombies to be trained as soldiers, but when the military's plans go awry, a horrible cover-up is revealed.
THE TOWER OF BABEL by JW Schnarr was a fantastic selection to end the anthology with. Christians and Muslims come together to use the undead to repeat a mistake of biblical proportions.
I like sci-fi, and I like horror...and I enjoy stories that blend genres, but some of the stories weren't necessarily the kind I'm interested in. I was a little surprised that most of my favorites were written by authors that I am not familiar with, since I chose to read this collection because of the authors I am familiar with. However, the majority of the stories were well-written & entertaining, and I think this is a good mix for a zombiephile collection.
There is a lot of anthologies out there and I definitely think this one is one to have a look at and added a large handful of writers for me to look into.
Longer review over at Bricksofthedead com