Authors: George A. Romero and Daniel Kraus
Publisher: Tor Books
Released: August 4th, 2020
Warnings: Typical zombie-related warnings
I received a copy of The Living Dead in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Most movie buffs – especially those that love zombie movies (and books) will happily talk about Night of the Living Dead. It started off the zombie craze, and left a permanent mark on our imagination.
After that, George A. Romero sat down to write a zombie novel. Sadly, he never had a chance to finish that novel, which certainly would have been as groundbreaking as his movies. Now, Daniel Kraus has picked up the task of finishing that very novel.
The Living Dead both is and is not a classic zombie story. The zombie apocalypse started small, but quickly grew to the devastating levels befitting our imaginations. Throughout this novel, the journey of several survivors is revealed. A teenager desperate to survive, a statistician who kept on going with her job, a medical examiner and his diener, they are just a few of the characters pulled into this tale that is larger than life.
“You have always been the living dead. You will always be. It was the coming of death that allowed you to live.”
Wow. If you asked me to leave a one-word review for The Living Dead, it would simply be: Wow. This book, as massive as it is (656 pages), is a thrilling read, one that demands you read on right until the end.
Zombie books have always been a bit of a soft spot for me, and I know I’m not the only one there (just look at the demand, and that much is clear!). So in many ways this book was always going to be a treasure for me. And yet, it still managed to surprise and impress me.
I sincerely cannot tell where George A. Ramero’s writing ends, and where Daniel Kraus’ writing begins. I think that is a brilliant sign, as it can be quite heartbreaking to see a novel picked up and finished in a way that did not do it justice (we’ve all seen it happen). I don’t believe that was the case here.
The Living Dead was a powerful and moving novel. It wasn’t just about the gore, or the violence (though there’s plenty of that). It’s also a study on human nature. The good, and the bad. The racism that is barely hidden in normal society bursts to life when faced with the unthinkable. A government that isn’t prepared to tell it’s citizens the truth. A plague on the earth.
The people rallying to provide each other information, shelter. The woman who continued her job for years, even when there appeared to be no reason to do so. The medics, the heroes. The pacifists. They all have a story in this novel, and it is shockingly beautiful.
That’s what really blew me away in The Living Dead. Not the zombies, but the people. It was not at all what I expected, but that made it so much better.
All of that being said, the zombie-centric parts of this story are every bit as thrilling, chilling, and gory as fans could have ever hoped for. If you ask me, this book delivered on all of the promises it made, and then some. Consider this my favorite zombie book of the year.