Note: We received a copy of the book from the publisher for review purposes.
I have been trying to come up with a way to describe this book in a few words and I think that I finally have it: ridiculously funny. The book is quite well written and even though beyond the dating zombies’ idea the plot is not exactly original, the story is so well presented that it makes the reading enjoyable. And last but not least, it’s refreshing.
It’s the year 2020 and twenty years ago a disgusting disease plagued the earth targeting the male population. But instead of killing them, they became zombies with purple skin, rotting limbs, mumbled speech and the compulsion of eating brain. The difference between these zombies and the “normal” ones that we are most used to reading about, is that for some kind of genetic reason these zombies go after animal’s brain, not human’s, and for that reason they live –or not die- among humans.
The virus turned 99.99% of the male population into zombies, so now, 20 years after the disease first appeared, we find a generation of women who only know not-zombie-men through movies, history and a vague memory of their childhood. There are a few men around -that 0.01% remaining- but they are mostly confined and living a privileged life.
Imagine a world where women run everything: the police, the Congress, hospitals, schools, the military, research facilities, everything. To that world belongs Hattie Cross, a really clever journalist with a wicked sense of humour and a distaste for her job. She works for a newspaper that she describes this way:
“Almost everything we cover evades hard evidence”…“If you can work in a genetically mutated evil doctor kitten from outer space, I can guarantee you the front page”
So yes, she is a little frustrated with her job but she has good friends there, and her work leads her to write a bestseller book: The Girls’ Guide to Dating Zombies. This puts her in the spotlight and her new fame helps her land a job writing a biography about one of the most important women alive who happens to be the CEO of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical. She's the leader of the scientific team producing a drug that could help zombies regain some brain function, and with that, the ability to perform simple tasks, like carrying a conversation and so on.
This part of the plot is fun to read, Hattie meets a man and her reaction is hilarious. It is predictable though, as you read about the pharmaceutical and the history of the virus the plot becomes obvious. It’s still entertaining but it lost part of the thrill. And the ending is predictable, I could see it coming and there wasn’t anything surprising about it.
You should know that this novel is presented in chapters telling you about the actual story, and chapters “extracted” from the Guide. So you get to read part of Hatties’ book in between her actual journey. I think this was original and enjoyable but beware, there are too many zombie-words: zombaceuticals, zombology, medicine called zombitrex, zombichol, zombacor, zomblosec, then there are boyzomb and Ztube.com and neurozombologists. For me this is a little too much and it can get annoying, but once I got used to it I didn’t have trouble following the story and stopped noticing. I mean, we are reading about a story set in a world where half the population is zombies, so it’s normal that the vocabulary should reflect this.
The other thing that could make you squeamish is zombie sex. Yes, there is some zombie sex, not a lot, but enough. I won’t get into details but I am going to quote a paragraph from the Guide that I think will help you prepare:
“If a zombie loses a finger or a toe during intercourse, stop what you’re doing immediately and fetch your zombie repair kit. Sew the digit back into place, wait ten minutes and resume previous activity.”
I think that part of the charm of the book if the idea of making zombies approachable. It’s something so inconceivable that reading a guide to dating zombies can’t be anything but hilarious. It also shows us a world without men, something that I seriously don’t even want to imagine.
My recommendation is a big yes to the book, go and buy it because it’s a light and fun read. Keep in mind that in order to enjoy the book you have to think that 99.99% of the men are zombies, if you do that, I can guarantee that you will enjoy the book. If you don’t, you will find the reading a little too ridiculous.
Review by Marie
Hattie Cross knows what you're thinking: Zombie sex? Ewwwww. But she also knows that since a virus turned 99.9999 percent of human males into zombies, it's statistically impossible to meet-let alone date-the remaining 0.00001 percent. So she writes "The Girls' Guide to Dating Zombies" to help her fellow single women navigate the zombie-relationship waters. Her practical how-to impresses the CEO of the largest drug company in the world, and before she knows it, Hattie, a reporter for a downmarket tabloid that specializes in conspiracy theories, is sitting down with the woman who single-handedly invented the zombie-behavioral-modification market. Granted access to the inner sanctum of zombaceuticals, she meets an actual, living, breathing M-A-N. Now Hattie, the consummate professional, is acting like a single girl at the end of the twentieth century: self-conscious, klutzy and unable to form a coherent sentence without babbling. Worst of all, the human male appears to have impaired her ability to think clearly. Because all of a sudden she's convinced a conspiracy is afoot at the drug company and it seems to go all the way to the top!
Potatoworks Press. February 5, 2012