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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Jesse Petersen: LIVING WITH THE DEAD

Author: Jesse Petersen
Series: LIVING WITH THE DEAD  
Plot Type: UF
Ratings: V5, S3, H3
Publisher and Titles:
       Married with Zombies (2010)
       Flip This Zombie (2011)
       Eat, Slay, Love (2011)

     Petersen has also written the following e-book short stories, all of which are set in the LIVING WITH THE DEAD world: "Shambling with the Stars" (a single story, 2011) and "In the Dead" (a collection of nine stories, 2011).


     This blog entry was updated and revised on 10/31/11 to include the third book in the series: Eat, Slay, Love. That review follows this overview of the series so far:

     I'm not sure whether to classify this series as romance, horror, romance, or urban fantasy. It has a bit of all three.  Although the cover blurb for Married with Zombies calls it a romantic comedy, the comedy is darkly shaded, there's not much romance, and the ending is certainly not the usual happily-ever-after type that we generally find in paranormal romances. The premise of the series is that a zombie-causing plague hits Seattle, beginning with an accident in a scientific lab. The plague soon spreads worldwide (10 to 25 minutes from first bite to full zombification), with most of the population becoming zombies. Sarah and David are the protagonists, with Sarah narrating the story.  Luckily, the couple escapes the plague, but unluckily, they live in Seattle and must escape from the zombie-filled city. 

     Married with Zombies follows the couple as they leave Seattle and head south, battling zombies every step of the way. The plot is heavily influenced by the couple's troubled marriage. (They were on their way to an appointment with their marriage counselor when the zombie plague hit.) By the end of Married with Zombies, Sarah and David have been forced to work closely together and depend upon one another in many life threatening situations, so their relationship has grown somewhat stronger.  The dark comedy comes from scenes in which the couple's marital woes intrude into their zombie battles. For example, when David leaves the toilet seat up, Sarah is initially furious, but then the situation turns to her favor when she smashes the seat down on a zombie's head when it attacks her from behind the shower curtain. Since this is a zombie series, there are many, many graphic zombie-killing scenes with spurting brain matter, sludgy black zombie blood, and exploding body parts. 

     Flip This Zombie picks up a few months after book 1 ends. Sarah and David have made their way south and are in their first weeks in their new business: Zombiebusters Exterminators, Inc. They have become mercenaries who will wipe out your zombie infestation for a price. Oddly enough, their relationship is getting better and better—almost as if their constant togetherness and their finely honed teamwork have come together to strengthen their personal relationship. As the story opens, the couple is hired to provide a scientist, Dr. Kevin Barnes, with fresh zombies. As they begin to gather the required zombies, they discover that they are running into zombies who are much faster and much smarter than the average undead creature. In the meantime, Kevin starts to put the moves on Sarah, much to her delight and David’s displeasure. Kevin’s young son, Robbie, also gets involved with the zombie hunts. Eventually both the personal and professional situations come to a head, and Sarah and David must fight their way through a fierce battle with the super zombies. I guess it just goes to show that there is always a mad scientist mixed up in every single zombie plague? Since there are many zombie battles, blood and body parts and other gore are spurting in many of the scenes. The dark humor continues, although not as much as in book 1. Towards the end of this book, David has a terrible, life-changing experience that will affect the couple's lives forever.

      As Eat, Slay, Love begins, Sarah and David are in Oklahoma on their way East toward the Wall. They're not sure that the Wall actually exists, but they have heard rumors that the Eastern part of the U.S. (on the other side of the Wall) is zombie free. Their goal is to deliver their tiny vial of zombie-cure vaccine to the authorities so that the plague can be stopped. On the way, they pick up two travelers: first, Nicole Nessing, a stalkerazzi-type celebrity TV reporter, and, later, Colin McCray, a drugged-out, washed-up rock 'n' roll star. The couple is getting along fine, except that David seems to be getting stronger and stronger (lifting 350-pound weights) and he doesn't sleep very much any more. Oh, and the rhythm of his breathing has become very weird. Sarah tries not to worry about all this, but Nicoleever the sharp reporterpicks up on the situation and demands an explanation. Their trip is interrupted early on by a cult that kidnaps them and steals their supplies, but they manage to escape due to some miraculous work by David. When the group finally reaches the Wall, the situation is not at all what they expected. Needless to say, there are lots of soldiers on the East side of the Wall and even more zombies on the West side. I don't want to reveal any more details because it would spoil the ending for you. I will tell you, though, that this book is a great addition to the series, with action, angst, and heartbreak every step of the way. Petersen balances the blood-and-guts zombie battles with just the right amount of wisecracking humor. 

Click HERE to check out Petersen's "Zombie Top Tens" on her web site.

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