Want to know more about the idea behind Serial Killers? This post is the place to start.
This month's book is Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues the 2nd book in the White Trash Zombie series by Diana Rowland. I'm the established reader and Odd is new to the series...
Angel Crawford is finally starting to get used to life as a brain-eating zombie, but her problems are far from over. Her felony record is coming back to haunt her, more zombie hunters are popping up, and she’s beginning to wonder if her hunky cop-boyfriend is involved with the zombie mafia. Yeah, that’s right—the zombie mafia.Odd's Thoughts: Right off the bat, I think you should know I hate zombie books. I mean hate-hate them. Like a rock in your shoe hate. Like staying overnight in the hospital hate. That kind.
Throw in a secret lab and a lot of conspiracy, and Angel’s going to need all of her brainpower—and maybe a brain smoothie as well—in order to get through it without falling apart.
And I fucking loved this book.
I loved it so much I have ordered the prequel and added the sequel to my secret Upcoming Releases list despite how much trouble I get in when an Amazon box arrives at the door. Y'all I just could not help myself. I am Team Angel, motherfuckers, and woe betide the person thinking to talk me down.
Because the thing is: I am old as dirt and twice as crotchety. And I love the hell out of Angel.
I love her foul mouth. I love her neurosis. But over every last thing in creation, I love her anger.
Angel's angry about being seen as white trash, as a felon, as a girl on probation, as not good enough for Marcus' uncle and the snooty-crazy lady scientists his circle holds. And I get that anger like whoa. I get the kind of anger that makes you keep going simply because someone tells you you can't. Because the only thing that can quell it is survival. It's going to your job and keeping going, getting decent performance reviews and doing things the naysayers would never believe you were capable of. The satisfaction that comes from pushing back on that voice keeps you going in the same, paradoxical way it feeds the self-same anger that fuels you in the first place.
And it's what makes this book so damn good.
I can sit here and talk about how to subvert the conventional zombie trope and gender politics and orality in fiction and socioeconomic class in the literary horror subgenre (not that I would do any of those foul things to you, babies, I love you all too much for that nonsense) but what I really want to talk about is how angry Angel is, and how that anger feeds this narrative, and how refreshing it is to find a book where we can talk about terrible horrible alternatives to rape and provide a venue for an angry female protagonist who takes control of her life and pushes the fuck back on people who want to control/manipulate her. Seriously, this is like the best Linda Hamilton fanfic ever except better. It's like Linda Hamilton had a daughter, who she then neglected due to PTSD, and who grew up expecting the world to kick her in the teeth.
And then she learns how to kick back.
Kelly's Thoughts: I *really* liked book 1 in this series and I went into this one with high hopes. While the overlying plot is somewhat predictable (a secret lab, shady authority figures, etc), Angel's growth absolutely kept me hooked. Where book 1 left her realizing that she can be more than the white trash junkie with a police record and a messed up home life, book 2 had her moving forward in taking control and keeping her life on the track she wants it on. YAY, ANGEL!
I LOVED that she called Marcus on how he manages her. That was my total *fist pump* moment. Angel's not stupid. She has good ideas and she has good instincts (although sometimes she lets her enthusiasm get her into trouble), so when Marcus doesn't tell her things because he thinks she'll be better off not knowing, it's not cool. I also liked that her co-workers rallied around her when her job was on the line. Having friends who aren't junkie losers comes in handy when you're in a pinch. They, you know, actually stand by you and offer their support.
As I said, while the overall arc isn't breaking any new ground (did you hear the part about secret labs and shady authority figures?), I was still thoroughly entertained. We were given more information on the zombies and how they do what they do, which was neat and different. Some lingering questions from the events in book 1 were cleared up and the groundwork for book 3 was laid out. Good stuff, man. Good stuff.
Odd: I think the very first question I have, the one that's burning in my gut is: WHY HAVE YOU BEEN HIDING THIS BOOK FROM ME FOR SO LONG?
Kelly: Weeeeelllllll, it's mostly because you're not usually a huge proponent of all things zombie. So, you know, I didn't think you'd actually like it. Plus, let's be honest here, I don't have the best track record with reccing you books that you end up loving. *gives you the side eye*
Odd: I know! That's what I'm saying! Why didn't you lead with this right off the bat?
Kelly: It hasn't been all that long since *I* read the first book. This is a fairly new find for me, too!
Kelly: Lol! Well, I'm glad you're enjoying it.
Odd: You're right though about me and zombie books. I am not a fan of the shuffling and the groaning and the brain-eating, so I'm right with you in being surprised at how much I liked a book where the hero is herself a zombie. Even though I think, there's a certain amount of cheating that occurred with this particular form of zombieing, in that these particular zombies were basically exactly who they'd been in life with very little rotting or shambling. I mean, c'mon: brain smoothies?
It's like zombie lite -- but that was *exactly* my speed for the undead.
Kelly: Yes, they were who they were in life UNLESS they reached that "starved for brains" level and started gnawing on people indiscriminately. The moral of this story is... always keep a ready supply of brains on hand so you don't attack random people in the street for their juicy, gray matter. At least, that's what I took away from it.
Odd: Weird. I took away that if I have to get zombified I wanna do it in southern Louisiana. Can we talk about all the awesome diners and junk food Angel got into? Because my mouth was a-WATERING. And I thought the way those foods were interspersed with, for instance, brain stir-fry was so so so smart. And I do love a good smart.
Kelly: Ooh! YES! Man, now I'm hungry. Not for brain stir-fry, though. Just for food.
Odd: Not me, baby. I'm sated on the fury that propels Angel through this book. Mm-mm. Lip-smacking good.
Kelly: I am thrilled -- THRILLED -- to have found a zombie book you enjoyed!
Odd: There's a big Amazon box headed my way right now and it's all your fault. Now, I do have quibbles with your review, fiend. In your review, you mention that Angel's growth kept you hooked. And I'd like to unpack that statement because if anything, if any last mimbly pimbly thing going on here is something I didn't like, I was a little disappointed by the last 20 pages of the book, which I feel are all about Angel's growth.
So talk to me: what specifically were you seeing as Angel's growth?
Kelly: Compared to book one -- where she was just floating along as the same old Angel, making the same old mistakes -- she made HUGE strides in this book. She's choosing to be more than she was before. Honestly, in book one, she was the quintessential White Trash Zombie. She was all the cliches and now she's not. Well, she's still working on the 'not' part, but the potential is there.
Odd: Gotcha! OMG I NEED BOOK ONE LIKE NOW. Because for me, those last 20 pages, after she's fought her demons, after she's fought all the voices of people telling her she'll never amount to anything, after she's literally fought her way single-handedly out of that research facility, then the fact that she does not light Pietro on fire where he stands was honestly a little disappointing. So I'm glad to hear that you're not endorsing that.
Now can we talk about the covers for a moment?
Because I would never have picked up this book with its existing cover, but clearly this book needs to go on the Special Bookcase. I find the tension between these two statements problematic.
Kelly: Have you seen the cover for book 1? The Nieceling and I WANT her hair. The pink tips! *squeal*
Part of what makes her struggle so intriguing to me is that she's not only battling against herself (she sees herself as white trash and she doesn't see any way out of BEING white trash) but she's also battling the labels that people in her town have slapped her with. Yeah, she screwed up. She's a fount of bad choices, in fact. BUT... she doesn't have to be. And it wasn't until this book that she really started seeing that in herself.
Odd: I get the hair thing, and book cover #1 is okay, but it wouldn't necessarily make me want to read the book. But the cover for this book and the sequel? Nuh uh. Uh uh. Nope. Nope. Nopity nope nope nope.
Kelly: They give off a very white trash sort of vibe, yeah? Full circle!
Odd: Agreed! But.... I wouldn't choose the books based on those covers. And I get that's meta but ZOMG I COULD HAVE MISSED THESE.
Which leads us back to why you failed to bring this book to the table right away, like first thing in this serial-killing house.
Kelly: I apologize from the bottom of my black, little heart.
Odd: So help me, Kelly, you too are like 90 lbs soaking wet and wearing a heavy backpack; I will turn you upside-down and shake. WHAT ELSE HAVE YOU HIDDEN FROM ME?
Kelly: I don't know! You've rattled my brains by LIKING this one. I just... I DON'T KNOW!
Odd: *shake shake shake*
*shake shake shake*
Unequivocal Epic Win
Books in this series
1. My Life as a White Trash Zombie
2. Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues - Paperback | Kindle
3. White Trash Zombie Apocalypse
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