Monday, November 22, 2010

The Loving Dead by Amelia Beamer (Book Review)

Zombies are nothing new, of course. From the seminal Night of the Living Dead and its many imitators to more recent reincarnations, in film, books, and video games, including Shaun of the Dead, the Resident Evil video game and movie series, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and Zombieland, zombies resonate strongly with readers, gamers, and movie-goers today, as much as any other horror figure, even the vampire.

To this tradition, you can add Amelia Beamer's entertaining and hip The Loving Dead. The novel achieves that all too rare measured treatment of subject matter that too often ends up over the top. A modern retelling of the zombie apocalypse, The Loving Dead starts off as an ordinary, plausible story about young people in San Francisco and then shifts when one of the characters gets sick and turns into a zombie. As the infection spreads and more and more people become zombies, Beamer keeps the focus on a small group of characters, who head to Alcatraz in a desperate effort to get away from the zombies that are multiplying throughout Northern California.

I would recommend The Loving Dead for anyone interested in an original horror novel. In some ways, it reminded me of Peeps by Scott Westerfeld, although I'm not sure if that's a well thought-out comparison. If you're thinking that you don't read books about zombies, well, neither did I, until I read this. Give it a try.

One other note about how I discovered the author and the book as this was a true social media success story. I first heard of Amelia Beamer when I read a piece about the book on John Scalzi's blog. My interest picqued, I subscribed to Amelia Beamer's own blog and followed her on Twitter. For a time, she was posting whole sections of the novel on her website for sampling and still has the first four chapters online. After I read a bit, I knew I would enjoy the book, and I did.

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