OK, first of all, can I just say, “EWWWWWWWWWW”.
And also, “BWAHAHAHAHA”.
That’s my whole book review, basically. What follows is just filler.
Married With Zombies opens, as so many magazine columns have, with the question, “Can this marriage be saved?”. Sarah and David are totally sick of each other. He fills the CD changer in the car with Whitesnake, and she hates Whitesnake. She argues with him about everything, and he just wants to be left alone. Fortunately for the marital relations of our bickering couple, it turns out that a zombie outbreak has taken over their town (Seattle). Hilariously, their first real clue is when they find their marriage therapist eating her previous patients. Sarah and David quickly discover that the relationship rules they had gathered from self-help books and their now deceased therapist come in handy for surviving the zombie apocalypse.
This book is hilarious, particularly in the opening chapters. Each chapter starts with relationship tips, for example, “Put the small stuff into perspective. It’s better to be wrong and alive than right but eating brains”. I love the way the dissolving marriage consists almost entirely of irritation. Sarah, the narrator, describes this stage: “By the time we were driving…toward Dr. Erica Kelly’s tidy, sterile little office, I was just going through the motions of therapy and making a mental list of all the things I didn’t like anymore about my husband”. By itself, that line is so sad, but in context it just cracks me up – haven’t we all caught ourselves doing that? No? Just me? Oh, oopsie, let’s move on. As the book progresses, the joke wears off a bit, but those first chapters are great, and so is the discovery of what zombies do for fun in Las Vegas.
Be warned – the novel is also oh, so, disgusting. I guess having a tidy zombie story would be as deeply wrong as a story in which vampires sparkle in the sun instead of bursting into flames. Still, there’s only so much gore I can take, and I reached my quota by page 18. If you are a zombie fan, this will be nothing new, but ew, ew, ew. There’s not much sex in the book, which is a relief, because what with all the blood and vomit and slime there is simply no room for any other bodily fluids. This is the least erotic romance novel I have ever read. To be fair, the spine of the book lists it as “fantasy” and Borders and Barnes and Noble both carry it under “science fiction/horror”, so my expectations may have been unrealistic. So – gore, yes, sexxoring, hells no.
Married With Zombies is tightly written, entertaining, and fast-paced, and worth a read just for the great opening chapters and the chapter titles. But it fails to really dig in to the relationship between the protaganists. We really never know that much about Sarah and David and don’t have a real reason to root for them to stay together. In fact, what we do know of them is annoying. Sarah is self-centered and obsessed with clothes. David pouts a lot and wants to be taken seriously, or something. They grow as a couple in that David acknowledges that his career choices have placed a huge burden on Sarah, while Sarah stops second-guessing David and lets him take over in alpha-male style. Disclosure – I can’t stand books where the couple survives because the woman lets the guy revel in his alpha-ness. The book is built around their relationship, but since it never really fleshes out the relationship the story falls flat.
The other problem with the book is that it is built around one joke – surviving the zombie apocalypse is like surviving marriage. It’s a great joke, and it starts strong, but it doesn’t really take off enough to sustain the whole book There’s something very darkly satirical about the notion that “the couple that slays together, stays together”. As the book progresses, the focus becomes less on the satire and more on the running around and surviving. I never felt that the book really followed it’s premise as far as it could go. It’s fine light reading, but it could have been so much more.
Ah, the conclusion. I love reading and I love writing, but I HATE assigning grades. I might hurt the author’s feelings! I might mislead the reading public! Oh, God, the pressure is intolerable! This is a fun, light read for fans of Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead. You’ll enjoy it while you read it and completely forget about it five minutes after you finish. Like the afore-mentioned movies, Married With Zombies uses the zombie apocalypse to say something about relationships and society, but unlike the movies, it fails to fully explore its premise. In terms of romance, there’s not a lot exciting go on in terms of character or chemistry. I have fond feelings towards this book because the promotional quiz says that my marriage will survive the zombie onslaught, at least until I am eaten, which seems probable since I am slow and uncoordinated. So, since it wavers between a C+ and a sold B, I’m gonna give it a B- with a “mileage may vary” waiver attached. Have fun, and don’t eat spaghetti during the read or expect to get turned on (unless there is something very, very wrong with you). You have been warned.