Pros: Absolutely loved this no-holds-barred wild tale of a vampire forced to protect humans from zombies in order to preserve his food supply
Cons: Some zombie apocalypse tropes, but they’re given enough good window-dressing that I really didn’t mind
Rating: 5 out of 5
Disclaimer: I consider Chuck an “internet friend”, so I might be biased. But I try not to be.
Coburn’s never had much of a conscience to interfere with his vampiric proclivities. He’s perfectly happy seeing people as convenient food supplies. Unfortunately for him, he got sloppy—and wound up “asleep” for several years after being attacked.
It’s amazing what can happen during that time. Certainly he never imagined he’d wake up to a zombie apocalypse, with delicious warm-blooded humans few and far between. He might be smart, he might be super-fast and super-strong, but the zombies are legion—not to mention inedible.
So it is that Coburn eventually finds himself forced to protect humans rather than wantonly prey on them, shepherding his little group toward a supposed safe-haven and happily eating any bad guys they come across along the way. Unfortunately for him, even during a zombie apocalypse there are serious threats to a vampire’s existence…
I downed all of Chuck Wendig’s Double Dead in one sitting. If you don’t like foul language, don’t read it. If you don’t like violence, don’t read it. If you don’t like vicious anti-heroes, don’t read it. But if you want a new twist on the zombie apocalypse theme and think you’d enjoy a wild, rollicking slam-bang ride filled with dark humor and plenty of action, Double Dead is a great choice.
Coburn is, let’s face it, despicable. Humans are nothing more than food to him, and he’ll be as cruel as it takes to keep his little flock in line. However, he’s written well enough that you can see how it makes sense given what he is, and you can see where for him he starts to change, just a little, here and there. Little enough to be believable, but enough to make him an interesting main character. He also has a ton of personality to go around, and can pretty much single-handedly carry the story.
There are some tidbits in here that come out of apocalypse-tale and zombie-story tropes, but Wendig gives them new life. There’s the grasping pretty girl who has the older man by the ‘nads, but she develops some interesting details later on. There’s the Mad Max-like “kingdom” that has sprung up in one locale, but the folks running it are really such wanna-be’s that you just have to laugh, and it gives the whole thing a new air. The Sons of Man (part cult, part monster-hunters, part new kingdom) have a rather interesting tale, and some of them come from blue-collar backgrounds that are often under-represented in such plots. There’s the teenager who takes on a major role in things, but she’s a bit different than the average horror story kid.
Most interestingly, Wendig comes up with some great ways to actually make life difficult for a vampire who, by all rights, should easily be at the top of the food chain. The zombies are slow and stupid; he should be able to wipe them out with no problem. The humans who remain should be relatively easy to pick off one by one. Instead, I almost have to feel sorry for Coburn as scenario after scenario goes terribly wrong for him.
It’s an adventure tale, it’s a horror story, it’s a zombie fiasco, and on top of all of that it has some great plot twists. What’s not to love?