Monday, March 17, 2014
My Life as a White Trash Zombie
Reviewed by Carol
★ ★ ★ 1/2
Braaaains. Hungry for braaaaains. Brains NOW!
At least, that's the call of the American Zombie, genus and species unknown (human? bacteria? virus?) Rowland does something unusual in My Life by creating a protagonist who undergoes a traumatic experience and gradually realizes she's one of the living dead. Even though she feels almost normal. Except for those pesky cravings. And that body odor. A fan of the genre in general, I couldn't resist giving this a try after seeing how many of my friends enjoyed it. Thanks, friends!
Angel is a young woman who wakes up in the local emergency room. Her last memory was of a violent, bloody car wreck, but the nurse tells her it was a drug overdose. It seems she must be right, since there isn't a scratch on Angel, even though vividly recalls a gash across her abdomen and her femur bone sticking out. After a brief police interview, she's discharged to her home with a pile of clothes, a six-pack of coffee-mochas and a note telling her to report to a new job at the coroner's office the next day. Home is an old trailer she shares with her alcoholic dad. Although she takes one of her secret stash of pills to help her calm down and sleep, she soon discovers pills aren't working. When she shows up at the coroner's office the next day, things start to get even more interesting, especially her fascination with brains during an autopsy.
Narrative is done first person, giving insight into Angel's discoveries as well as her self-deceptions. Language is well done, keeping in tone with her drop-out status yet not so simple in structure or vocabulary that it became boring.
Angel's characterization is well done, initially capturing the tone of an immature, hopeless young person embarking on a journey to self-discovery and greater self-confidence. The people surrounding her were less developed, but I felt it was consistent with Angel meeting a wide variety of new people, reacting to them with old assumptions, and gradually realizing they were more complex as well. I found myself rooting for her, surprisingly emotionally engaged for a book I had expected to be a easy-breezy read.
It's a solid three and a half stars. A fast read, with unexpected plotting and surprisingly touching human drama. Recommended for all zombie fans.