Author: Jesse Petersen
Genre: Post-Apocalypse/Dystopia, Horror, Comedy, Zombies, Romance, Speculative Fiction
Publication Date: January 2011
Paperback: 250 Pages
The Zombie Apocalypse has been good to Sarah and David. Their marriage is better than ever. They communicate well, share responsibilities, and now, they’re starting a business. ZombieBusters-for all your zombie extermination needs.
There are lots of zombies and that means lots of customers…Except one of them doesn’t want the zombies dead, he wants them alive and ready for experimentation. Mad scientists make for difficult clients and this time, Sarah and David might have bitten off more than they can chew.
Stand alone or series: Book two in the Living with the Dead series
How did I get this book: Bought
Why did I read this book: Even though it took me an obscenely long time to get around to reading, I loved Married with Zombies, the first book in this series. It completely took me by surprise with its sense of humor, so I immediately went out to get book 2.
The Zombie Apocalypse has meant the end of organized civilization, the loss of electricity, showers, and meals that don’t come out of a can or cardboard box. Oh yeah, and it has also rendered the majority of the world population as insatiable, flesh-hungry, shambling monsters. Despite the loss of creature comforts and the uptick in the undead population, however, life After Zombies has been pretty good for married couple Sarah and David. See, before the apocalypse, their marriage was on its last legs and destined for a bitter divorce. But zombies have a way of bringing even the most pissed off couples together – and Sarah and David discover that, hey, they’re at their best when they’re bludgeoning, shooting, and hacking the undead to pieces. Teamwork. They has it.
With their new company, Zombiebusters Exterminators, Inc., Sarah and David have been cleaning up the arid southwest with trademark snark, taking on jobs in exchange for food, beer, medical supplies, and anything else they can wrangle from the humans living together in the survivor camps across the nation. Sarah and David think they have seen it all – but then reports start rolling in about so-called bionic zombies (TM Sarah, naturally) that have higher thought processes and faster reflexes. Then, the Zombiebuster duo get a job from an honest-to-goodness mad scientist (camped out in a secret subterranean lab and everything) to start catching zombies and bring them back alive (err…or still animated, I should say), because the doc says he may have a cure that could save the planet. As enamored as Sarah is with the possibility of a future with civilization back intact, David’s cynicism means he cannot help but suspect that something more foul is afoot. And he’s right.
Something’s rotten in the state of Arizona, and it ain’t just the corpses. It’s up to Sarah and David to figure out the truth before it bites them in the ass.
As I’ve said before, I loved Married with Zombies – not so much because of any novelty in terms of zombie lore or the apocalypse, but because of the situational humor and characters involved. I finished Married with Zombies with an insatiable desire for more, and I am thrilled to report that Flip This Zombie delivers.1 Interestingly, Flip This Zombie runs opposite of its predecessor – the humor is toned down in this volume (although it is, of course, still present and still awesome), and the more interesting developments occur in terms of plotting and action. Although the mad scientist trope isn’t anything new, the schlock value and pure fun of this book more than make up for the lack of originality. Plus, what can I say, I love me a mad science lab. Especially when it’s a secret underground lab in the middle of the desert. Clearly, someone has been playing/watching Resident Evil and it totally shows in this lovely homage to Alice kicking souped-up zombie ass – and I love that the characters in the book address this, too. At one point, David makes the jibe that one character must have watched too much RE and found themselves rooting for the Umbrella Corporation instead of the hot chick. Yes. FUN. There are also a ton of other pop culture references, from Mad Max to even a Drago/Rocky IV “I must break you” drop which had me in giggles (who doesn’t love Rocky IV?!).
That’s not to say Flip This Zombie is merely a collection of glib pop-geekery, however, as there are a number of interesting and complicating plot developments. Despite Sarah’s sense of humor, it’s clear that the world has become a bleak and unforgiving place, and David’s jaded attitude – and fear for Sarah’s safety – speaks to this. When the couple run across an eleven year old boy that has somehow inexplicably survived the outbreak and subsequent months by himself in the desert, this danger is hammered home all the more. On that note I should say that I loved the addition of The Kid; swearing like there’s no tomorrow, feral and badass, he totally reminded me of Short Round from Temple of Doom, but minus the accent and wrapped in a Bart Simpson package. I digress.
The coolest thing about this book is the fact that the story is progressing. There is a degree of discontinuity from the first entry, however, as there’s no real exploration of the marital issues that had bothered the couple before, and their presence in Arizona of all places instead of heading east towards their families was initially jarring (although the rationale is explained). Yet these are minor flaws in a wholly entertaining novel. There’s a twist at the end that should prove interesting for book 3 (or at least is fodder for some new ground), and I am very excited to see where Sarah and David take us next on their road trip eastwards across a zombie-overrun America. I’ll be back for thirds.
Notable Quotes/Parts: From Chapter 1:
When the zombie plague struck, I was just an office schlub. You know the type. I was a coffee-fetching, doing-the-work-and-getting-no-credit, screamed-at-by-suits kind of girl who hated every damn second of her dead end job. Well, I still have a dead end job… undead end, I guess is more accurate. But instead of working for the man, I work for myself. So I guess the lesson is that if you find work that’s meaningful, that you love, you can start your own business and make it successful.
So what’s my job?
Zombiebusters Extermination, Inc at your service.
My husband David suggested we add the “Inc” to make it seem more professional. I guess in the old days we would have had a website and all that, too, but now none of that exists anymore, at least not in the badlands where the zombies still roam free.
I have to say, I liked being in business for myself and I liked working with my husband as my partner. The zombie apocalypse had been surprisingly good for our marriage (sounds weird, I know, but it’s true) and since we escaped Seattle a few months before, we’d been doing great.
But that isn’t to say the whole “not working for the man” thing didn’t have its disadvantages. Which is something we were discussing as we drove down a lonely stretch of dusty highway in Arizona. Why Arizona? Well, it was November and fucking freezing anywhere else. So we did what old people had been doing for generations and snowbirded our asses down south. I figured when the weather got better up North, we’d decide what to do next.
“Why did we take another job from Jimmy?” Dave asked with annoyance lacing his voice.
I looked up from the business book I was reading. We’d looted it and about twenty more from a bookstore a few weeks back. I was all about making this work, you see. Someday, I would be the Donald Trump or Bill Gates of zombie killing. Only with better hair, obviously.
“Um, we took a job from Jimmy because he pays,” I said.
Dave shot me a side glance that was filled with incredulity. “Not well. Last time I think he gave us a six-pack and we killed three zombies for his chicken-ass.”
I laughed. “Hey, that’s two brews per zombie. Anyway, he trades with everyone and brings us new business at least once a week. He may not pay us as well as… well… anyone else, but think of it as brand building.”
You can read the full excerpt online HERE.
Rating: 7 – Very Good. I was wavering between a 6 and a 7, but I finished this one happily enough so what the hell.
Reading Next: The Cellar by A.J. Whitten
Buy the Book:
- Although the title is something of a non sequitur. It’s funny, I love the cheesy high-five real estate FTW cover, but has absolutely nothing to do with the plot. ↩