This is an INCREDIBLY difficult one to review. Part of that is because I am being chased by T-rex riding nuns right now (long story). Mostly, though, it's because of the mixed feelings I have for this book.
I cracked this bad boy open and immediately fell in love. It was a different view of "the zombie story." Which is rare. Set in a post-zombie-apocalyptic world, the threat has been largely contained - even commercialized - by the world's most successful business venture, Zombie, Inc.
The tone of the book was great. Each chapter begins with excerpts from the ZI employee handbook, and they add a wonderfully satirical tone. The story itself follows the adventures of two ZI employees, Carl and his trainee, Dill, as they go about the daily grind of dealing with zombie problems.
It took a good fifty percent of the book for me to figure out what the "story" part of the story was, and I didn't really care. The tone and the setup was that marvelous. I was enjoying the ride for the ride's sake, and didn't care about the destination.
Unfortunately, however, the destination was, for me at least, extremely wanting. The book was a five-star book until the last twenty percent or so. Great tone, incredibly inventive. Lots of opportunity for adventure and social commentary mixed with extraordinary aptitude. And then....
Have you ever seen a relationship where one person just quit? Just threw up his or her hands and basically screamed, "I don't love you anymore!" and walked out for no discernible reason? I almost feel like that's what the author did here. There is NO question in my mind she is incredibly talented. The setup was all there.
But where it had been a tightly-crafted plot in a wonderfully realized world, the last fifty pages devolved into what I perceived as a Hollywood shoot-'em-up. And don't get me wrong! I like those movies, too! But this ending just didn't belong with this book. This book deserved another two hundred pages, I thought. The finale could have been an apocalyptic showdown, but the way it all went down just seemed to come out of left field.
Worse, for me it left me cold. The characters were ones I appreciated and enjoyed. But the way they were dealt with failed to resonate. It, again, turned from a tremendously inventive story into a paint-by-numbers ending. And I was irritated. Not because this author is a bad writer, but because I thought she was a GREAT writer. And by the end I expected MUCH MUCH more.
So a five-star book brought down to three stars by the last quarter or so.
Would I recommend it? I don't even know. I'm that conflicted. Great tone, great setup. A lot of fun, an inventive take.
And a story that fell apart.
Sigh. Why can't life be easy?
Still, I have to thank the author for the good stuff, and for showing that there are different ways to do the "same ol', same ol'."