Book Review: I, Zombie

Book: I, Zombie

by Hugh Howey

295 pages



“…a hole in her cheek the size of an apple.”

My reviews tend to ramble on so I’m putting the point at the beginning this time.

If you like zombie novels, read I, Zombie by Hugh Howey.

If you like character-driven novels, and can handle serious gore, read I, Zombie by Hugh Howey.

If you like the kind of funny that you do not realize is funnier than funny until you think about it, read I, Zombie by Hugh Howey.

There. That’s it in less than one hundred words. Go. Now. Order your autographed copy, for Pete’s sake.


Okay, my turn:

I just finished the first draft of a novel and I’m trying to take a few days off before plunging back into revisions. However, the discipline of writing must be maintained so I’m turning to the works of others to keep me in line. Otherwise, I might sleep past 4am and not have an excuse for nodding off in meetings at work.

I could turn to this guy for a long time. He has a nice stack of completed works already on the table and now that he can write full-time (thanks to this little gem that is forever free) he is feeding his rabid fans on a regular basis.

His books are to readers as brains are to zombies.

Speaking of which…

Zombies are everywhere in today’s entertainment medias and the reason is a freaking mystery to me.

Zombies are not sexy.  Zombies do not seduce their victims nor do they offer up some dark and alluring power that is too tantalizing to resist. Zombies are nauseating. They smell like road-kill. Their sweet nothings are wheezed on incoherent grunts of fetid breath. They only want your for your brains (and your intestines and your spleen and your still beating heart).  Their interesting bits rot off at inopportune moments. Ew. Seriously? So gross.

To me, zombies are about civil war and that always makes me squirm: when sister has to turn against sister, mother against child, wife against husband, politically polarizing people who are looking at the heart of the same gem but through different facets. To make this work, the ‘other side’ has to be dehumanized in order to stomach what needs to be done to satisfy the new and intangible need. We can’t make the enemy ‘dangerous but sexy’, ‘wicked but honorable’, ‘misguided but heroic’.  We have to make them sub-human. Okay, sure, they look like us but they are inherently wrong and must be killed. We must make them mindless.

“He’s always hated me and now he wants to shoot my mum!”

But in reality the other side is never mindless, no matter what we’ve been told or choose to believe in order to survive.

This is what Hugh Howey tackles in I, Zombie.

Unable to look away or even close their eyes against the nightmare, the zombie characters in this novel shuffle towards the living with a relentless hunger. They can do nothing but move forward in search of sustenance. They have ample time to reflect upon their lives and how they ended up where they are now.

The most horrific part in my opinion is how the infected had to change in order to survive the experience emotionally intact.

How does one come to grips with eating one’s own mother? How does one find a playmate? How does one save a child? How does one shuffle ever onward?

There are some funny moments. More than you might realize. Howey does not set these moments up as comedy and you are about halfway through the scene before you get it – OMG –  this is freaking hilarious. FUBAR but funny.

The marvel of this novel is the story-telling. Read the author’s note at the end. This novel is a love letter to a city, a comment on the human condition, and a few words of advice to those of us still capable of being mindful.

Howey’s not the first author to write from the viewpoint of the Infected: Hater by David Moody did an amazing job (sorry about the ridiculous e-book price point… this marvelous self-published tome was picked up by a traditional publisher and they have overhead to cover…) and the movie Aaah! Zombies! serves it with melted cheese. There are more, of course, but like I said, I don’t usually read zombie stuff, so I don’t know them all.

What are zombies to you?

About Violet Graves

Writer of Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Sex with a Vengeance
This entry was posted in Book Review, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

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