Pros: Funny, touching, sobering, thoughtful, inventive, delightful!
Cons: Make sure it’s the kind of zombie novel you’re looking for!
Rating: 5 out of 5
Review book courtesy of Penguin Group
Angel Crawford is a pill-popping, beer-swilling, high school dropout who lives with her alcoholic dad and can’t keep a job to save her life. She even managed to blunder her way into a criminal record. In short, she’s a loser—and she knows it. Then one day she wakes up in the ER after an apparent overdose, even though she’s sure she remembers being in some sort of accident. She receives an anonymous letter telling her she has a job waiting for her at the county morgue, and that if she screws it up before a month is out, she’ll end up in jail.
She’s determined to make that month work, but it certainly isn’t easy. One of her co-workers is an arrogant jerk, but that’s nothing next to the fact that she seems to be developing an overpowering craving for brains! Add in a bunch of headless corpses courtesy of an apparent serial killer—just when she’s hungriest, naturally—and Angel’s going to have to think fast if she wants to keep her job, keep her new lease on life, and maybe, just maybe, catch the eye of that cute deputy she likes!
Diana Rowland’s My Life as A White Trash Zombie is definitely an eye-catcher, whether you’re checking out the title, the cover image, or the premise! Rowland superbly balances the comedy of a redneck zombie trying to make a life at the county morgue, the tragedy of a not-so-bad girl who caught some seriously bad breaks in life, and the intrigue of a mystery.
White Trash Zombie isn’t a gore-fest, horror-fest, or action-heavy book, which is the sort of thing one tends to assume when one sees zombies, so make sure you’re getting what you want. That said, I thought the balance of it worked perfectly. It’s much more about people than it is about monsters—although it’s also a bit of an exploration of what it really means to be a monster.
I loved the way Rowland handled the subject matter; Angel’s voice comes through loud and clear, and she makes a hysterical, touching, sympathetic, fabulous narrator. The other characters fade into the background slightly in comparison, but it’s more fair to say that they’re simply more subtle than Angel’s brassy self. The exploration of zombie “society” and how zombies get along in the world is also fascinating and well-thought-out.
There are plenty of grotesque bodies—to be expected since Angel works in a morgue—but no explicit sex. There are also some adult themes of domestic violence, but they’re handled superbly. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a better treatment of the topic. It has all the depth and lack of easy answers you could hope for, while retaining just enough optimism to keep it from turning a darkly humorous book depressing.
If you enjoy the current spate of humor blended with zombies, but want something with more depth than some of the quick offerings out there, Rowland’s My Life as a White Trash Zombie is an excellent choice!