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[Book Review] “The Living Dead” by George A. Romero and Daniel Kraus

by April Carvelli
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The living dead

It begins with one body.

A pair of medical examiners find themselves battling a dead man who won’t stay dead.

It spreads quickly.

In a Midwestern trailer park, a Black teenage girl and a Muslim immigrant battle newly-risen friends and family. On a US aircraft carrier, living sailors hide from dead ones while a fanatic makes a new religion out of death. At a cable news station, a surviving anchor keeps broadcasting while his undead colleagues try to devour him. In DC, an autistic federal employee charts the outbreak, preserving data for a future that may never come.

Everywhere, people are targeted by both the living and the dead.

We think we know how this story ends.

We. Are. Wrong.

George A. Romero is best known for zombie movies, but for years he has spoken about a book that would go along with his zombie theme. “The Living Dead” is that book, unfortunately he died before he could finish it.

After his death Mr. Daniel Kraus, a long-time zombie fan and author in his own right (Trollhunters, The Shape of Water, The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch), was contacted to collaborate on the book and finish it in a way to make Romero proud.

I am a huge Romero fan, so “The Living Dead” was something I was definitely looking forward to reading. I found it a little ironic that I received this book and started reading it right at the start of the COVID lockdown in the U.S. Perhaps it would be prophetic?

When I first heard about this book, I thought (or at least hoped) this would be the missing chapters of one of the movies, possibly the story behind the original 1968 classic “Night of the Living Dead”.  I was a little disappointed as this book is set in modern time.

I quickly found out that this is not a disappointing book. It is well-written and intriguing, it pulls you in from the beginning. The premise of the book is that for some reason the dead won’t stay dead. Instead they are rising up with an apparent hunger for human flesh. Is it a disease? Man-made? Nature’s revenge? We don’t know. All we do know is that eventually it affects more than mankind.

Kraus took what Romero left behind and created an epic zombie tale that covers a zombie apocalypse from its beginning to what may be its end. The novel introduces a diverse cast of characters giving us a wide perspective on the entire apocalypse over a series of years.  

You have your truly despicable characters, your hero characters, and the ones just trying to survive. Even among the zombies, you have a few distinct characters that pull you along in the story.

The book starts out as what appears to be a series of short stories, each encompassing a different person from a different perspective. It is not unlike Max Brooks’ World War Z in that various survivor stories are collected. However, towards the end the stories are brought together.

There is a gap of several years between the individual stories and the point where they are all brought together. Unfortunately, I found I still had a lot of questions about what happened in the gap. How they survived and what they encountered. Some of those questions are briefly answered in little side notes, maybe one day those questions will be answered in another story.

Tor Books had originally planned on releasing The Living Dead zombie novel in June, the release date was moved to August 4th.  

PopCultHQ Rating - 4.5 Stars

Written by: George A. Romero and Daniel Kraus
Published by Tor

How we rate our Books:

1 = We finished the book with effort

2 = Readable, but more fluff than substance

3 = Good

4 = Pretty Good and worth passing on to your friends

5 = We couldn’t put the book down

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