Monday, July 4, 2011

Red, White and Zombie Goo

By Meghan B

Sarah and David are back in the third volume of Jesse Petersen's sharp and quirky zombie apocalypse series, Living With The Dead. Hilariously tilted as "Eat Slay Love", this volume follows our brave and snarky married couple as they continue to drive across the country to find safety. It's chocked full of the zombie killing we've come to know and love from Petersen, but this volume had a little bit extra too.

What is great about these books is how quick they are to suck you in. This one picks up only a month after the events in "Flip This Zombie" and you are immediately in the action. As with all the other volumes, the book continues to follow Sarah's POV and she doesn't hold back with clever asides and pop culture references. Her husband, David, keeps up his end too with quips and jokes made at the expense of the zombies they fight.

This volume focuses more closely on David and what happened to him after the events of the second volume. Here there be spoilers! Find the spoiler-ific review under the cut!

In "Flip This Zombie", David was bitten by one of the undead. He was saved at the last second by Sarah and a zombie cure made by a very mad scientist. With the last vial of zombie cure around Sarah's neck, the couple keep moving east to find civilization. Sarah slowly starts to realize something isn't right with David. He's become much stronger, barely feels pain anymore and breathes funny as he sleeps. She knows something happened to him because of the cure but isn't sure what.

This volume does what no other has and introduced two "side kick" type characters into the mix. While the first and second book had another character show up every so often, they usually didn't last too long. This one gives us the character of Nicole, an entertainment gossip show reporter, and Colin McCray, a junkie British rockstar. Both end up sticking around with Sarah and David until the bitter end. McCray is especially funny and I enjoyed him greatly. Nicole bothered me a little. She had been an Entertainment Tonight-like gossipmonger and was using her "feminine wiles" to get what she needed in the zombie badlands. She also pulled out her video camera to record everything the group did. Lady, it's the zombie apocalypse, this is no time to make a documentary. 

Sarah and David marginally put up with both newcomers and the focus of the story does stay on them. David's condition gets even weirder. In one tense scene, the group is taken hostage by a crazy community of survivors and they find out the hard way that David is suddenly immune to zombies. They ignore him and act as if he isn't even there. It's a harrowing scene that makes you really wonder what is up with him.

The book has all the requisite zombie killing as well as more human kind of terrors. I will admit, the zombie killing never gets old or feels overdone. It always feels scary, even though you know our heroes will prevail. What is even scarier than the zombies is the big reveal at the end of the book. The good old American government has covered what happened in the zombie badlands and walled off part of the country. No survivors can get back in to the walled area. If they try, the government kills them. It's a chilling realization but it only makes sense, really. Is it wrong that I totally buy that the government would turn to extreme censorship and violence after zombies pop up?

I won't spoil the ending of the novel, but it felt anticlimactic. Sarah and David simply shrug at their fate and misfortune. They just head out and continue doing what they've always done; travel around and kill zombies. While the novel ends with a hint of hope, it doesn't have a real firm conclusion. It feels as if there could be many more volumes after this one since there are so many unanswered questions left. What really is happening with David? What happens to Nicole and McCray?  Sadly, on Jesse Petersen's Twitter,  she said her publisher has not ordered more books in the series. Heartbreaking. I definitely believe Sarah and David have more stories to tell and the unanswered questions really bother me. Don't leave me hanging!

All in all, "Eat Slay Love" is a hellishly fun read. Sarah and David are captivating characters and the zombies never fail to amuse and terrifying. It's definitely a great summer read.

"Eat Slay Love" by Jesse Petersen is out now and sold in all major bookstores (as well as available as an e-book for your godless e-reader devices).
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