Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Taking on the Dead by Annie Wells
Author: Annie Wells
Publisher: Create Space/ Independently Published
Original Publication Date: 2012
I have substantially pondered the rating I would give to this book with finality. First because this is an independently published book, a fact that should always be afforded respect if not praise for it is no mystery both to writers and even to non-writers like me how hard it is to establish names in the market, more so to move beyond great names in the myriad of genres like Tolkien, Lewis or Le Guin in Fantasy, or of Asimov, Clarke or Heinlein in Science-Fiction (or of Max Brooks in the Horror-Zombie Genre?). Second is that this book has claimed (this word is most appropriate as will be discussed later) to be under the proliferating Horror-Zombie genre. However, it is a greater sin to rate this with something it does not deserve. If a book should break those veils Tolkien and the likes have unconsciously erected albeit in a successful and (portentously) ageless manner, it should be by its merits alone, and by merits alone that this two star rating is founded upon.
The Zombie Factor
I am a fan of the mindless, flesh eating, human craving zombies. Somehow, in this fictional setting, a thinking, evolving, zombie is untenable and its essence against the basic tenets of the zombie horror genre. Why? The appeal of the zombie genre has been anchored upon the story of survival of humanity, but this story of survival undeniably comes hand in hand with the zombies. This survival has two faces, the possibility of extinction on the one hand, and on the other, triumph over this fictional anathema. Put a thinking zombie in here and the balance tilts to either what is called human extinction removing the conspicuous appeal of human triumph and power or could either be a book, meant more for humor or for the YA shelves of romance. Enter Taking on the Dead! Where there is no need for a zombie literary pundit to tell that zombies are either subplots or plot devices. It is a subplot because the book is not about survival but of personal feelings, specifically the female sexual feeling of the main character. It is a plot devices because zombies momentarily appear to further personal (sexual) relations of the female protagonist with the numerous male characters. The middle of the book is solely dedicated to romance of the female protagonist.
I don't know how the author has visualized the main character, it turned ultimately as an in inconsistent persona. The author wanted to paint a protagonist who knows how to survive in the post-apocalyptic world by saying that she had resource materials, can jack a car and survived alone for four years since the outbreak. For all that, she turned out to be stupid, real stupidity or forced stupidity, i don't know, all that matter is she is stupid. (e.g. Who takes a bath in a lake fully naked unarmed?)
The men are all objects of the pent up libido of our main character, that is all I can say.
The supporting cast is the literary embodiment of racial stereotypes. The asian-american as practitioner of martial arts, the african-american as the street gangster/rocker type.
The writing is, like most YAs, (drumroll) in the prevalent stream of consciousness occasionally interjected with conversations. So it is an easy read.
There are a number of awkward passages within the book. Like this:
"Ice seemed to spread through me."
Better Fit for the YA Romance than the Zombie Genre
I fault myself for not taking caution after reading the prologue:
"Sometime later, we got off the Ferris Wheel, both heated, clinging to each other, and ready for another tryst when we went off the beaten path to use the foul port-a- potties. When I think about it now, I know the outbreak began early in the day. We passed several wrecks, heard many helicopters and sirens, and probably saw a few zombies, but were too wrapped up in ourselves to notice. I blame it on being in love, but I swear to myself now if I saw a person walking down the street covered in blood or eating someone, I would have paid attention. Maybe."
The paragraph was portentous. It had the picture of a romantic, sexual, stupid oblivious makings of the book. I mean come on, who ever you are, however in love you are, you can't be oblivious to several wrecks, helicopters and sirens. That's just being plain stupid.