Saturday, 29 March 2014

Review || Undead on Arrival by Justin Robinson

Undead on Arrival by Justin Robinson ★☆☆☆☆
Glen Novak is a dead man. Unfortunately for the scumbag who killed him, Novak will keep on cracking skulls and breaking bones until he finds the piece of trash that set him up, or is turned into a walking sack of rotten meat. With Undead On Arrival, Justin Robinson gives us a hard boiled zombie tale, and one of the most brutally compellingly examinations of the living dead you’ll ever read.

No Cure. No Hope. No Mercy.

The first chapter of this book was unreal. I thought it was going to turn into a really cool zombie book and I was going to love it. And there are a lot of reasons why I didn't.

To be fair, this is probably more accurately somewhere in 1.5 star range. I didn't particularly like it, but some of it was ok. Which is the division between 1 star and 2 stars, so.

Listen, I get it. I don't mind reading books with swearing or explicit sexual content or super messed up things happening in them. I enjoy morally ambiguous characters and shades of grey and anti-heroes. I understand why your zombie apocalypse book would take the dark and gritty approach.

I really do.

But there is a fine line between doing all of those things because they are necessary for the narrative and being gratuitous about it. This book has no idea where that line is drawn and doesn't particularly seem to care. And instead of enhancing the book, it just made me roll my eyes.

That said, there were a few interesting gems here and there. The worldbuilding has been thought out. It put its own spin on the genre and I think that worked out well for it. There were also some interesting characters who were incidentally not heteronormative. The overall cast was racially diverse. And there were descriptions of people of a variety of body types.

But it was still a cast dominated by men. What little women there were to be had were treated appallingly by the narrative. Their dominant (and generally, only) role was that of sex object. If not that, then as a breeder to carry on the next generation. They were all framed in that context and at one point or another were all called varying denigrating slurs.

I understand that there's a difference between character perspective and author perspective. I do. But at the end of the day, the author is still making intentional choices about how that character acts and interacts with others.

Novak is not a good guy. And I get that too. It's part of what makes him interesting and, at times, compelling. But again, there's the line between necessity and gratuity.

I read this book in about 24 hours because I had a lot of sitting around and waiting going on in my day today. I finished it tonight because I was most of the way through it already. But it wasn't really enjoyable. And I wouldn't recommend you waste your time with it.