There are a lot of zombie novels out there. I can’t read and review them all, nor would I really want to. However, there are a few I read that I’ll quickly review for you in an opportunity to get them out there so you have other zombie books to read now that AWESOME-tober-fest 2013 has got you hot for zombies again.
Let’s begin with the novelization of the original Romero classic, Night of the Living Dead.
George Romero’s 1966 film, Night of the Living Dead, is a classic in the horror genre. While attending college in Pittsburgh in the 60s, George Romero and John Russo developed a horror script. They pitched it to a film company, received funding and created one of the most important genre-defining pictures of all time. This book is the novelization of that script. Surprisingly, the book wasn’t released until 1974, a clear six years after the release of the movie. Which means that it wasn’t based on an original draft of the script, it was just a page one copy of the movie. I didn’t realize that before I started reading. So, if you’ve seen the movie, you’ve essentially read the book. Except, the movie is actually better. The book is slow and a LOT less interesting than the movie. I don’t know if it’s the way Russo writes or what, but I had a hard time staying awake while reading plus there’s not really any new story information you get for reading. You may as well just watch the movie again.
In 1978, after Russo and Romero went their separate ways, Russo decided to write a sequel to Night of the Living Dead. He called it Return of the Living Dead. This book has nothing to do with the 1985 horror comedy of the same name other than it inspired that movie. Russo wanted this book to be the movie and wrote it as a screenplay, but Dan O’Bannon disliked Russo’s story and did a page 1 rewrite. This book was Russo’s attempt to continue the story they began in Night of the Living Dead. It’s boring, uninspired and will immediately put you into a reading coma before you finish the first page. It’s not even worth reading as a novelty. As a matter of fact, just skip both of these books. Watch the original 1966 Night of the Living Dead movie and the 1985 Return of the Living Dead movie. They are much more enjoyable and you’ll get more out of it.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith – This is sort of the grandaddy of the outlandish classic fiction category that has become all the rage the last few years. Stuff like Android Karenina, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter all began with this book. All the zombie/ninja embellishments were written by Seth Grahame-Smith who also wrote Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, that Johnny Depp Dark Shadows movie and he helped create and write the MTV TV show The Hard Times of RJ Berger. I read this book several years ago. It’s actually very entertaining. I thought that the structure would be 1 chapter of Austen/1 chapter of Smith. However, it isn’t. Smith manages to deftly combine zombies and ninjas into every aspect of this story. The lines have been blurred and it’s really hard to see where one story ends and the other begins. It’s actually quite amazing how well this book works. I can’t speak for the other quirky classic makeovers I mentioned, but at the very least, this deserves a read. I think you’ll like it. FYI, a prequel was written by another author called Dawn of the Dreadfuls, but I haven’t read it.