Title: Road Trip of the Living Dead
Author: Mark henry
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Zombies, Comedy
Publisher: Kensington Press
Publication Date: February 2009
Trade Paperback: 288 Pages
Stand Alone or Series: Book 2 in the Amanda Feral series
Why did I read the book: We had been saving Mark Henry’s books for our inevitable Zombie Appreciation Week. It was fate really. And I was charmed (ok, maybe charmed is not really the best word….) by Amanda Feral in Happy Hour of the Damned and wanted to read more of her adventures.
Summary: Celebrity party girl Amanda Feral is back from the dead, and hungrier than ever for a good time. With her zombie gal pal Wendy and vampy gay sidekick Gil, this stone cold fox is dressed to kill, on the prowl, and ready to take a big juicy bite out of Seattle’s supernatural nightlife. But what’s a zombie chick to do when her ‘Mommie Dearest’ gets sick? If you’re Amanda Feral, you can either ignore the wicked old witch – or bury the past by visiting Ethel before she kicks it. Amanda’s not thrilled about the idea of crossing three states just to be criticized. But Wendy, who’s always looking for fresh meat, is up for the adventure. And Gil, who just launched his ‘luxury’ resurrection business, needs to disappear because a pissed-off client is out for his blood. First, they pack their stiletto pumps and plasma into a skeevy rattrap on wheels that used to be a Winnebago. Then, with a little help from a Korean-ghost hood ornament, a masochist named Fishhook, and a slew of ‘moderately accurate’ psychics, they hit the highway – their way. Of course, they’ll have to navigate past some neo-Nazi skinheads, a horny dust devil, a hunky werewolf cop (who could pass for an underwear model) and an unsightly horde of supermarket shoppers. But for this glamorous gang of ghouls this trip is about to take a dangerous detour that could give road kill a brand new meaning.
I had such a great time reading Happy Hour of the Damned and I was really looking forward to reading Road Trip of the Living Dead. And it was an even better experience than initially estimated – because this time I was fully prepared for zombie Amanda Feral and her friends Wendy and Gil. So, instead of being completely scandalised and conflicted when there were moments when I did not know exactly how to react – I mean, some of the things said and done in these books are so politically incorrect most of the time I am torn between laughing my ass off or hanging my head in shame – I relaxed and just joined Wendy, Gil and Amanda for the ride. Pun intended.
The story opens with the three of them sitting at a cemetery chatting and having drinks. Amanda recently found out that her mother Ethel, is dying of cancer and her first instinct is to just ignore the information and move on. We also learn that Gil has set up a new business and is doing very well for himself: he sells deluxe packages to wannabe vampires complete with raising- from- the- grave experience and everything which is why they are where they are right now. Unfortunately things don’t go down very well and the new vampire, who was already some sort of psycho-human before turning supernatural, is now chasing them.
But this is after all, Amanda Feral’s memories and this is the perfect excuse for them to leave Seattle and go find some sort of closure with her mother – possibly kill her in the process. It is all open for discussion. After all, being an undead zombie with an unapologetic look at life has its perks. Anyways, the road trip turns even more dangerous when people start dying on their heels, they run in into some shady characters (ok, shadier – our guys are bad guys, but they are the good bad guys, as they like to say) , a ghost, a hot werewolf (love interest alert!) and one or two people that will become part of the group in a more permanent matter.
It’s all good. There is clearly a series pattern in which Amanda plays the detective – and the mystery on this one is not that bad – whilst dishing highly barbed comments about life and people around her – think Nancy Drew meets Sex in the City but with a bit of rotten condiment on top. There are sequences that are REALLY gross and crude but somehow and I can’t really pinpoint how he manages that, Mark Henry avoids being distasteful by being simply funny. Outrageously so, yes.
But the best of all is and will always be, Amanda. I love her, almost against my will. I mean, the woman is a bitch:
At that thought, I glanced his way, in what I hoped was an expression of empathy. (I’d seen that look on TV before, but mimicry isn’t my strong suit, so it’s hard to say I nailed it or not)
So yes, total, complete bitch: she is snarky, cruel even. A badass, with an ego of giant proportions but who knows her weakness (when she knows something is more she can take or understands she will acknowledge it) and strengths. And in Road Trip of the Living Dead Mark Henry takes her character into a new direction which at first, I was unsure of. But given second thought, I realise the brilliance of his decision: there are some snippets into her past that show how horrible of a childhood the woman had. At first, I cringed because I expected this to become an excuse for her bitchness. But not so. Her past somewhat humanises Amanda to the reader but she, as the narrator, never uses the information to apologise for who she is. That takes guts and makes the character even more sympathetic.
Road Trip of the Living Dead as its predecessor Happy Hour of the Damned is not for the faint of heart. It requires a certain laissez faire attitude from the reader who in turn will be recompensed with extravagant humour , scandalous behaviour and the certain promise of good times ahead.
Notable Quotes/ Parts: OK, so Thea in her review of Happy Hour of the Damned talked about poopy humor…I will add insult to the injury…..an inset from Amanda
One Word to Wendy and I’ll Kill Ya!
Yes. I have some tampons.
I know I get on Wendy for her Twix habit, but I can’t give up coffee. How is it even possible to do that? And really, it’s Wendy’s fault for getting me back into it. She’s the one that told me about using Depends to eat whatever we want.
I just took the idea to its next logical step.
Of course, there is the pain to deal with; undead diarrhea is a bitch. But for a quick caffeine fix, an OB Ultra does the trick quick nicely.
I’ll only deny it.
Additional Thoughts: COME BACK TOMORROW FOR AN INTERVIEW WITH MARK HENRY AND A CHANCE TO WIN SIGNED COPIES OF HIS BOOKS!
Verdict: I am a fan of this hilarious series and of Amanda Feral. I will keep coming back for more.
Rating: 8 Excellent
Reading Next: Angel’s Blood by Nalini Singh