March 4, 2011

Rabid Reads: "Zombie, Ohio" by Scott Kenemore


Zombie, Ohio
by Scott Kenemore
Skyhorse Publishing (2011)
240 pages
ISBN 9781616082062

What does an author have to do to breathe a little life into zombies these days?

In Scott Kenemore's case, he focused a little less on the zombie hordes and keyed in on just one member of the undead, and told his story. Peter Mellor wakes up with amnesia inside his car, which has been in a serious accident. He wanders his way back into town to find everyone else is dealing with a crisis of their own--a full-blown world-wide zombie apocalypse. As for Peter, amnesia is the least of his worries. After a rather blood-soaked demonstration of how to exterminate zombies outside a compound in town, he discovers while cleaning himself that there's a chunk of his skull missing from under his cap. Oops, Pete's a zombie too.

From there, Peter tries to hide his affliction from everyone, but it's an impossible task as his body is starting to decompose just like every other zombie walking around. Only, he's the only one that is sentient. Things become even more complicated for him when he realizes that his car accident wasn't an accident at all--his brakes had been cut. And with a huge chunk of his memory missing, figuring out who would want to kill him is not going to be easy.

With elements of horror, comedy, mystery, and even a pinch of romance, Kenemore does a really good job in finding a balance. The story flows fairly well and feels like a genuine blend of genres, though there is a bit of a speed bump in the pacing about midway through, that's carried by a very likeable and sympathetic character in Peter. Pete's no paragon of virtue though, as he discovers the complications and advantages of being a sentient zombie, as well he is brokenhearted to find the very few people in life he does hold memories of are falling victim to the catastrophe that's befallen them. The mystery surrounding who killed him felt a bit tacked on at first, but through the whole of the novel is works and winds up being one of the key undercurrents to the novel.

Even though I'm not as well read in zombie fiction as the more ardent fans of the genre, I do believe I've hit a kind of saturation point. A motley crew of flawed characters battling a relentless horde of the undead isn't going to hold my attention the way it would have a few years ago. I need something that walks to the beat of a different drum, and that is certainly what Kenemore's novel does. The zombies are slow, shambling creatures and don't set themselves apart from any other Romero-esque monster, except for Peter Mellor of course, but the story in which they populate does feel original as it journeys through familiar territory.

My main criticism of the novel stems from Peter's journey through the countryside as a zombie, after removing himself from the human side of things, hunting down humans he considers bad people like a man he stops from abducting a young girl early on. The trek from town to town, killing people and learning the zombie way drones on after a while, causing me to count the pages until the original story jumps forward again. It's interesting to see things from the zombie horde's point of view, like a Gorillas in the Mist for zombies, but it felt a bit too long for my tastes.

If you're a zombie fan, you're definitely going to want to get your hands on this one. If you're not a zombie fan, you might still want to give this one a chance. Peter Mellor came across as an interesting and genuine character set in extraordinary circumstances. It all depends on how much of the walking dead you can tolerate in your reading, I suppose.

5 comments:

  1. I don't much in the zombie genre--not sure if the Pride & Prejudice & Zombies book--but this sounds like one I would probably like. Thanks for the comments and the follow on my blog--I'm here to return the compliment.

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  2. I may check it out the next time I go to the store...maybe read a few pages of it to see if it's something I would like. Thanks for the review.

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  3. Peter - Thanks. It is.

    As the Crow Flies - It's not run-of-the-mill, certainly.

    Cate - Neat.

    Ryan - Always a smart move.

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