I thought we had an understanding. I thought I made it perfectly clear last time that I don’t…particularly…care…for…zombies! Yet here we are again: different day, same putrescent walking metaphor for vapid consumerism. This time, the kindly folks over at Innsmouth gave me the opportunity to review Paul Jessup’s novella, Dead Stay Dead. The publisher, Zombie Feed Press, should have given me a hint, but I took the bait anyway. After all, the book was billed as “what…you get when you cross Buffy the Vampire Slayer with equal parts Shaun of the Dead and MacGuyver.” The trouble is, in a zombie…er, consumerist society like ours, nothing’s ever as advertised. Here’s a fleshy nibble of my final take on the book:
The zombie horror subgenre has already been ground to dust beneath so many shuffling literary heels. While Dead Stay Dead offers no major innovations to revitalize it, there is a ghost of creative potential still clinging tenuously to its dull bones. However, the novella form is the story’s coffin, a restrictive space at which it scratches and pounds, but can never quite escape to stretch its pale limbs. Jessup has conjured up a small-but-enticing cast of characters from the loam, and the drama they enact strives toward the epicness of the better of Stephen King’s offerings. Unfortunately, too many limbs had to be lopped off to fit it within its narrow box; the chains that should have tied everything together are left dragging at the end. Dead Stay Dead is the skeletal cadaver of the epic novel it could have been, had it not been streamlined to death.
Read the full review here.