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Night of the Living Dead Christian: One Man's Ferociously Funny Quest to Discover What It Means to Be Truly Transformed

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What does a transformed life actually look like?
In his follow-up to the critically acclaimed Imaginary Jesus, Matt Mikalatos tackles this question in an entertaining and thought-provoking way--with MONSTERS!!! While Christians claim to experience Christ's resurrection power, we sometimes act like werewolves who can't control our base desires. Or zombies, experiencing a resurrection that is 90 percent shambling death and 10 percent life. Or vampires, satiating ourselves at the expense of others. But through it all we long to stop being monsters and become truly human--the way Christ intended. We just can't seem to figure out how.

Night of the Living Dead Christian is the story of Luther, a werewolf on the run, whose inner beast has driven him dangerously close to losing everything that matters. Desperate to conquer his dark side, Luther joins forces with Matt to find someone who can help. Yet their time is running out. A powerful and mysterious man is on their trail, determined to kill the wolf at all costs . . .

By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Night of the Living Dead Christian is a spiritual allegory that boldly explores the monstrous underpinnings of our nature and tackles head-on the question of how we can ever hope to become truly transformed.

288 pages, Paperback

First published September 16, 2011

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About the author

Matt Mikalatos

29 books204 followers
Matt Mikalatos writes in a variety of genres, and also writes for film and TV. He lives in the Portland, Oregon area with his wife, three daughters, and a gigantic rabbit named Bruce.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 111 reviews
Profile Image for JR. Forasteros.
Author 1 book65 followers
September 21, 2011
Every good monster-movie enthusiast knows that the Christian life is anathema to the undead, at least traditionally. Okay, at least for vampires. In the wake of his stellar breakout book, Imaginary Jesus, Matt Mikalatos decides to take the presence of the undead among us at face value. Christians claim to be the resurrected dead, but what if we've been raised only to a half-life? That sort of Christianity may be exactly what James described: "What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? ...Faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead." (2:14, 17, NRS) Those who follow Jesus want a living, vibrant, exciting faith. So why does Christianity seem to foster so many undead, half-living monsters?

Night of the Living Dead Christian takes the metaphor at face value and dives in head-first: bring on the Zombies! Well, not just zombies. In Night of the Living Dead Christian, Matt teams up with a mad scientist, an android, a vampire and a whole Church-full of zombies to help his neighbor, Luther Ann Martin, find a cure for his lycanthropy (which for you laypersons means that Luther is a werewolf). As in Imaginary Jesus, Matt's non sequitur, real-life-meets-the-fantastic humor keeps you laughing and rolling your eyes. And he handles the metaphor so deftly his point is always clear just below the surface, ready to engage you in some serious self-reflection.

Luther the Werewolf is any of those people who feel that they have a beast living inside them that they can't quite control. Those of us who can relate to Luther when he says, "There are many nights when I crave that sudden infusion of air, that falling away of the higher functions and the sharpness that comes with listening to my instincts, with doing what my body tells me to do." Luther's wrestling with his base nature is truly the core of the book. His voice frequently interrupts the narrative with deep theological musings on the nature of fallen humans crying for redemption.

That doesn't mean there aren't plenty of other monsters. The Zombies are those of us who find it easier to follow an intelligent, charismatic leader, to let his spirituality be ours. Those of us who have found it easier to surrender our brains than to engage our own faith.

The Vampires? The selfish, those who take and take and take from others, who can't stand even a moment of self-reflection, who never give back.

As Matt's team works to help Luther escape the beast within, Matt comes face to face with his own monstrous nature: he's a mad scientist. As the vampire tells him, "You think you’re smarter than other people. You have your little knot of henchmen. You’re trying to fix the world around you whatever the cost, never thinking of the damage you’re doing.” Ouch... that one hit a little closer to home than I like to admit.

Monsters have always been a safe way for humanity to explore our inner demons. In Night of the Living Dead Christian, Matt uses them as a mirror for our Christianity and asks how we can be truly, fully transformed. The old stories really are true: the Christian life – the full, true life lived in the freedom Jesus offers – is still anathema to the undead in all of us. A simple concept, but not easy. The how of transformation refuses all formulas and systems. As fun and witty as NotLDC is, it's not a book of neat and tidy answers. Matt allows the messiness of reality to ruin his story, so the resolution is at once less than we want and more honest. NotLDC refuses to offer us cop outs. The deus ex machina at the end of the story truly is the only ending any of us can honestly hope for. So while Matt doesn’t give us easy answers (that only work in books and never in real life), he does point the way towards true, transformed life.

Matt's books are love-letters to the Evangelical community in all our broken mess. New believers or those exploring Christianity won't get a lot of the subtle jokes and gags, but the story is sufficiently rich that anyone will enjoy and be challenged by what they find. For those who do pick up on the subtleties, Matt takes shots at everyone across the board, including an honest look at himself. It's a great book to read for fun or as part of a discussion club.

Bottom Line: This book is outstanding. We need more totally silly, totally serious theology like Matt gives us. Not everyone will enjoy the monster metaphor, but if that's your cup of tea, then you need this book. It'll make you take a hard look at the monstrous aspects of your own soul. And you'll ache for the same transformation Matt and his band of monsters discover.
Profile Image for Eric Thompson.
10 reviews4 followers
September 25, 2014

I've had the privilege of reading both of Matt Mikalatos' works. He has a unique gift for combining fictional and actual characters, placed in real-life settings, and using them to build hilarious episodes that provide holistic portrayal to profound problems. One might expect that using science fiction to speak to spiritual issues would produce a simplistic, superhero-esque type of story. This certainly is not the case, as Mikalatos spins a deep and thoughtful allegory on the deficient spirituality that fails to deliver on the promise of transformation that is supposed to come with a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Fans of Imaginary Jesus (now My Imaginary Jesus, reportedly thanks to the skiddishness of some vendors who fear that zombies...err...Christians won't buy a book with such a blasphemous title) will find Night of the Living Dead Christian to be darker than his first book and at times graphically violent, though not lacking the author's signature humor. Neither the comedic elements nor their contrasting villainous episodes, however, overwhelm the author's clear-sighted parable on Gospel-centric spirituality and it's unmistakeable call to die in order that one might truly and abundantly live. One of my favorite features of the book (carefully avoiding a spoiler here) is the way it demonstrates the cross of true discipleship in the resolution of its central conflict. After decades of counterfeits and substitutions embraced and propagated by the church, it is refreshing, if not somewhat daunting, to see regeneration and transformation pictured so truthfully.

Night of the Living Dead Christians serves as mirror in which believers may examine their lives--with the guidance of the Holy Spirit--seeing whether attitudes and behaviors are consistent with life and love or indicative of death and decay. Like the vampires in the book we may not want to look, but failure to do so may propagate a fatal deception. We may think ourselves transformed while living comfortably and destructively with our rather monstrous traits.
Profile Image for Jessica Chen.
33 reviews
October 8, 2021
I'd give it 3.5 stars if I could. The monster guide at the end convinced me to make it 4 stars for Good reads. Ultimately, it was definitely a fun, interesting, clever and unique concept.
I think I was thrown off because it felt like it took awhile for the Christian allegory part to kick in so I didn't understand for awhile how the book was related to Christianity and then when I did, it sometimes felt a bit too unsubtle. But that also may have been due to my slow reading pace. At times it was unclear what perspectives on faith the narrator/author was writing with - if it was his own (because I've heard him speak, listened to his podcast, and followed him on FB) or a invented perspective for the sake of the story. Sometimes it seemed like he knew the answers but other times not. However, I think this may have been for the sake of the character's learning journey. I do appreciate that he didn't have all the answers and really it was Jesus who made the transformation happen in the end.

Also, Luther's bit about how God choosing to love us is like is choosing some ants to love will stick with me
Profile Image for Cassidy Hastings.
3 reviews4 followers
May 14, 2012
**Spoiler Alert**

Overall I really enjoyed this read. I'm not normally a reader, but I read this whole book in 2 days (more or less), which speaks a lot of how talented the author is.

The storyline moves very quickly and is very entertaining. Throughout the allegory, you are able to pick up on certain parallels, and the "Interludes" add a lot to seeing the process of transformation played out, specifically in the main character.

I enjoyed Matt's first book Imaginary Jesus a little more because honestly, I've never been a huge fan of zombies, vampires, werewolves, etc. so it was slightly harder for me to get really excited about the illustrations in this book.

I also felt like the story could have been shortened a bit to allow more time to delve into the conclusion a little deeper. As it was nearing the end of the book, I found myself wondering, "How is he going to wrap this up?" It was good because it kept me wondering, but I think I was slightly let down with the brevity of the end. I want to emphasize that I was not let down because things did not end "perfectly" with Luther & Clarissa getting back together (which I actually appreciated...not because I was hoping they would stay separated but because it was a realistic look that our sins have natural consequences that may not be automatically reversed because of an authentic relationship with Christ) but more with the abbreviated addressing of the parallels to the story. On the flip side, it leaves the opportunity for further discussion wide open and has discussion questions to help facilitate some of that with others who have read the book.

Overall, I really liked it and appreciated the imagination, creativity, & humor of the writer, which helps look at the often-times-frustrating & overwhelming process of transformation in the life of believers. In the introduction the reader is encouraged to use the book as a mirror & see "monsters" in our own lives, and I believe this book helped me do that a little more. Not only would I recommend this read to others, but we may use it as pre-trip reading on our youth group's annual summer trip.
Profile Image for Joseph R..
977 reviews12 followers
October 4, 2013
With a title like Night of the Living Dead Christian readers would think the main character is a zombie who believes (or maybe not) in Christ. The main character is actually a werewolf named Luther Martin who used to believe in Christ. He's the next door neighbor of Matt Mikalatos, a bumble-headed Christian who used to watch monster movies as a kid and is now a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain. He discovers not only Luther but also a mad scientist with his robot henchman, a monster hunter, and a high school friend who is now a vampire. And a horde of zombies, too. All these characters have varying levels of Christian faith.

Mikalatos narrates the story for the most part. It begins as very lighthearted comedy, almost frivolous. Mikalatos teams up with the scientist and his robot and initially they want to kill the werewolf. They can't find silver bullets so they get some pocket change and some sling shots and try to kill him with silver coins, which was very funny. They soon discover Luther wants to escape his bestial nature and begin to help him on the path back to Jesus, to a way of life not dominated by lower passions.

The book has a lot of serious bits as well. Occasional chapters are reflections by Luther on his problems and where he is in the story. He starts as a bitter ex-Christian who does want to change from being a beast but doesn't know how to do it. Another character has a history of serious domestic abuse from which she is recovering.

The comedy and the drama are fairly well-blended though the book is much more comedy. The look at Christianity is interesting but not super-deep. It seems like a good launching point for deeper discussions. The book has a discussion guide at the back, so maybe that was the plan all along.

There was one thing to which I had a negative visceral reaction: at one point, the scientist says he tried to clone Jesus from the Catholic Eucharist but was unsuccessful. Being Catholic, that made me shudder.
Profile Image for Janeen Ippolito.
Author 35 books135 followers
August 3, 2012
So I’ve found out I’m a gorgon.

Yes, a gorgon. The snake-haired ones with the scaly skin. Not very flattering, but I’m a teacher–I need to have thick skin and a death stare that can silence an unruly classroom. Yes, this stare occasionally gets used on my husband or on unsuspecting, friendly bystanders. I’m not perfect.

How did I come to this knowledge?

Night of the Living Dead Christian.

Silliness aside, Night of the Living Dead Christian is a highly worthwhile read. The use of monsters as Christian allegory is decently well-done, and like his earlier novel, this one has a strong potential connect to a non-traditional audience. Plus, Mikalatos is a very humble, often-insane narrator, which makes the experience fun, and tones down any potential preachy-ness. While I felt the last third of the book was a bit rushed, overall the book is a solid journey.

That’s enough for now. I need to feed the snakes…y’know, the ones my head…

For my three day review as part of the CSFF Blog Tour, please check out this: here.

Read the Extraordinary. Responsibly.
Profile Image for Diane Estrella.
306 reviews83 followers
June 15, 2012
Werewolves, and Vampires, and Zombies…. oh my!

When I selected this book to review, I didn’t know the author and I both had a love for B-grade monster movies, off-beat humor, and secretly wanting to be the main character in a monster movie or book. Matt manages to put all of these things together in a light hearted book with a serious message. What kind of Monster are you?

We all have a monstrous nature and tendencies, but is there any hope of being truly transformed from these evil ways? Vampires are selfish and steal from others for their own benefit. Werewolves wrestle with animalistic desires and are unable or unwilling to control these urges. Zombies are mindless minions who only want to follow and not think for themselves. The author puts himself into the Mad Scientist role of having all the answers and trying to fix everyone.

Do we recognize the monsters we’ve become? Do we even care?

An interesting allegory into the lives of facing and dealing with the dark side in all of our lives.
Profile Image for Brenda.
1,376 reviews36 followers
December 10, 2011
I'm not sure that this book knows quite what it wants to be. At times it was a fun, light romp, and then it would turn super preachy. I guess I would say the flow just wasn't very good.

For the most part, I enjoyed the story. The zombie parts were probably my favorite. The author got pretty creative with his zombies, and it was just fun. I think if he had just let the monsters be a metaphor, and not got quite as heavy-handed, the book would have been better. But then, that's just my personal preference, and of course everyone likes different things about books.

If you're looking for a Christian fiction story where the religion is subtle, this is definitely not the book for you. I felt like I was jarred right out of the story and was reading a different book, like a non-fiction Christian book, at times.

Overall, though, the story was quite fun and very silly, and if you don't mind some preaching in your stories, you'd probably like it a lot.
Grade: C+
Profile Image for Milana.
73 reviews
January 14, 2015
Matt Mikalatos managed to tell the thousands year old story about man's privilege to be transformed. It was funny, it was drawing, it was exciting. It made me think about my relationship with Jesus, about my inner monster which sometimes comes out and all of a sudden I become werewolf, vampire, mad scientist or a mummy.

I did enjoy the book and I was surprised by its ending. However, I shall recommend it to others, for it articulates simple truths in yet another, interesting and a bit scary way.
Profile Image for Julie Davis.
Author 4 books262 followers
October 20, 2011
... I had that sudden creepy feeling that something truly horrible stood drooling over my shoulder, and with a fear-fueled shout I spun around only to discover my neighbor Lara.

Lara and I had gone to high school together, so it was this weird thing that she lived across the street now. Weird in the sense that I couldn't help but feel a little bit less like an adult when she was around. She had her long, dark hair swept down, and a tight pair of dress slacks on, and a white collared shirt, and a black cape. Her skin looked pale, I assume because she was frightened of zombies.

"Oh, hey, Lara."

"What's all the racket?" she asked. "I heard this horrible noise in the neighborhood, and then when I looked outside I saw all those people dressed like zombies."

I laughed. "Nothing to worry about. I scared them away by pretending to be a vampire."

Now Lara was laughing too, and I noticed her thin, sharp canine teeth. It seemed a little sad to me that Lara had tried on her Halloween costume a week early, but she was single again and I knew she was lonely and bored sometimes. You going to be a vampire for Halloween?"

She grinned. "Nah. I'm going to be a pirate."

"What's with the teeth then?"

She blushed. "A vampire pirate."
Matt Mikalatos has a problem. His neighborhood is overrun with monsters and he's the captain of the neighborhood watch. He meets zombies, a mad scientist and his robot, vampires, werewolves, and more. Eventually he even befriends a few of them and discovers a secret. They were all human once. In fact, they are all human now. Underneath their monstrous forms, there are humans waiting to be transformed into their true selves.

More serious are the interludes where Luther the werewolf records his innermost thoughts. These are the sections where Mikalatos is challenging readers to dig deeper and take a good, hard look at their lives, their actions, and their faith.

The quest undertaken by Matt and his friends is an entertaining journey that leads to sacrifice, redemption, and ultimately the savior who transforms us all, Christ.

Monsters have long been the storyteller's device for examining the problems that we all face when, as St. Paul says in Romans 7:15, "What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate." Mikalatos uses this metaphor to good effect to show Christians new ways to look at their own behavior and where they are denying that they need Christ's help to die to self.

The author doesn't just look at how people live their lives. He also examines types of worship and churches as well. I admit that made me rather wary, knowing that Mikalatos was writing primarily for nondenominational Protestants. However, the two times that Catholics were briefly mentioned, Mikalatos made sure that they were properly understood, as far as he himself understands the Catholic faith (more on that below in the Comments for Catholics). He also took the stance which Catholics believe and affirm, that people are good underneath everything. As Peter Kreeft puts it, we are like masterpieces with big scratches on them.

The ground that is covered isn't necessarily new. Anyone who regularly practices self-examination of conscience will recognize many of the points made. However, trying to rid the neighborhood of monsters is a device that may make the most self-aware Christian realize there is something that is not reflecting properly in the mirror ... and take another look.

Mikalatos wrote a book that is laugh-out-loud funny and that had me pestering family members to read amusing passages. He also has an engaging way of shaking up readers to look at their own lives with fresh eyes. I enjoyed the book very much and feel it can offer a lot to Christians when used for personal discernment about their walk with the Lord.

There were a couple of things that Catholics would need to be open-minded about which I address below.

COMMENTS FOR CATHOLICS ... contains a couple of spoilers, but I don't think they'll spoil the book
1.
In one spot, the mad scientist is trying to clone Jesus using a chewed communion wafer and wine stolen from a Catholic Church. Mikalatos points out that this is a misunderstanding of transubstantiation to think that Jesus could be cloned from these. It is never stated whether the wafers and wine were consecrated before they were stolen, the theft of which would have constituted one of the gravest of mortal sins. In fact, it is a supreme desecration that gave me a nasty jolt when I read it because the host was somewhat chewed  ... so I couldn't assume that consecration hadn't taken place. However, it is clear from the way that the story is written that the author is not trying to upset anyone and it is actually a logical leap for a scientist to make. Especially a "mad" one.

2.
In the end, every church the group of friends tries winds up having a serious problem. There is no church that doesn't have some sort of doctrinal error, whether real or misunderstood by one character or another. Eventually, "church" seems to be a gathering of friends and family by a river for baptism.

Now, there isn't necessarily anything wrong with that scenario for a lot of Protestants, but for Catholics the Church can't be cast aside so easily. Even Catholics who regularly criticize the Church recognize that there is great good that comes from her ... or they would leave. The Catholic point of view is that your family isn't your church, your Church is your family.

Catholics' love for their Church and her teachings goes far beyond the book's "zombie" church where everyone blindly obeys what the founder/pastor has written in his study Bible. Again, it is made pretty clear that the author isn't taking shots at any one group, at least as far as I can tell. He is just addressing believers who turn off their brains at the church door and blindly follow whatever they are told. That's a definite no-no in the Catholic faith where we are called on to be sure we understand the Church's teachings. I'd bet that every Catholic priest and bishop would laugh at the idea of parishioners who blindly do what the Church teaches without questioning it, even as they obey.

Although the author seems to cast off any sort of organized religion, in the end this story is the quest of a group of friends for individual transformation and that is how I chose to read it. Your milage may vary.
Profile Image for Ginny B.
126 reviews1 follower
June 24, 2018
Honestly, the first 2 chapters of this book were hard to get through. They didn't make sense and seemed REALLY out there. But I kept with it, and I am glad I did!

Zombies, vampires, mad scientists, robots and werewolves in a story about coming to Christ? I never would have thought that such an odd combination would touch my heart and cause me to do some serious self-reflection, and yet it strangely did.

I highly recommend this to anyone struggling with the idea of what it means to be a "real" follower of Christ, you might find yourself to be one of the monsters. Fortunately, "when human beings became sinful, or depraved, or whatever happened there--they never lost, somehow, being in the image of God. Which means that even at our worst, there's some piece of us that still reflects his image...and that's not something we can ever completely eradicate."
8 reviews
January 4, 2018
I actually liked this even more than Imaginary Jesus, which I also really liked. This one felt stronger and not as drawn out overall. Not a book I would recommend for the younger crowd, necessarily, but still a really good read. I like Mikalatos' style of writing in that it is funny and light hearted at the same time as looking at really serious issues that can happen in our walk with God. Liked it so much I gave it to my non-believing brother who likes this style of writing to see what he thinks.
28 reviews
October 24, 2022
An absolute delight. For once I didn’t get the “ugh” feeling reading Christian Fiction, that sudden and jarring break in the story to fit an agenda inside a story (this story was the whole agenda haha and it was well done).
Humorous, engaging, and fun for those familiar with Christianity and the modern church. I am not sure how those not familiar would respond to the book as a whole but suspect a good portion of it is still accessible.

I absolutely recommend. Fun book, fun story, and a fun way to pull it off.
Profile Image for Paul.
31 reviews1 follower
April 22, 2021
Really excellent. Quirky and profound. Not sure how to describe this one. It's very funny and yet insightful. This is the first Matt Mikalatos book I've read, but it won't be the last. I've never read a Christian comedic/monster story before. Very entertaining. Thanks, Matt!
19 reviews3 followers
March 22, 2021
Thought provoking, well written. I liked Imaginary Jesus better, but this was still good.
Profile Image for Fred Warren.
Author 14 books15 followers
May 7, 2012
Well, Matt Mikalatos is at it again. In Imaginary Jesus, he tore a swath across time, space, and Portland, Oregon, with Saint Peter, sifting through a bushel basket of ersatz Jesus-es in search of the genuine article.

After an adventure of that magnitude, you’d think Matt would have had enough. Au contraire, Pierre—this time, in Night of the Living Dead Christian, he’s on Neighborhood Watch, discovering there’s much, much more than rogue raccoons knocking over the trash cans on his street.

Matt’s little suburban paradise is crawling with monsters.

After a chance meeting with a mad scientist and his robot...sorry, android...companion, zombies start popping up everywhere, and that’s just the beginning. Matt finds himself on the run from undead monsters within and without, in the company of a werewolf named Luther.

If all of this sounds insane, you don’t know the half of it.

One part personal confession, one part satire of Christian culture, and one part (okay, maybe three parts) fun house ride through the amusement park of Matt Mikalato’s decidedly curvilinear imagination, Night of the Living Dead Christian is a fun read, and as Bill Cosby used to say, if you’re not careful, you might learn something before you’re done.

This book isn’t so much a sequel as a companion to Mr. Mikalito’s acclaimed first novel, Imaginary Jesus. This time, rather than taking us on a tour of the false images of Jesus we create for ourselves, he turns his attention to what it means to be a Christian, a follower of Jesus, and all the ways we manage to make a mess of that. It’s an unapologetic un-apologetic—slicing and dicing theology is one big way we confuse and distract ourselves, and the message here is that we need to spend less time over-intellectualizing the fine points of doctrine and more time listening to what Jesus actually said, and following his example. It’s also a call to a mature Christianity that doesn’t stall out at conversion but presses onward in a lifelong journey toward what St. Paul calls being “conformed to the image” of Jesus.

Matt narrates the story and serves as a secondary protagonist, but the focus this time is on his neighbor, Luther, whose slavery to human passion has derailed his faith and transformed him into a werewolf. After an early misunderstanding in which Matt tries and fails utterly to destroy this frightening monster that’s disturbed his suburban tranquility, the two of them dash hither and yon across Vancouver, Washington, seeking a remedy for Luther’s malady, and discovering a few other monsters in the process. That’s pretty much all you need to know about the story itself. Trying to summarize Matt’s and Luther’s multitudinous misadventures would be an exercise in futility. Read the book.

Matt uses the monsters as a metaphor for the ways we miss the mark and become conformed to something other than the image of Christ. We’re marred and twisted into a travesty of what we were meant to be. Luther’s soliloquies at key points in the story provide a touching insight into his wounded soul and a reminder of the very real stakes looming behind all the silliness. One of the most poignant scenes in this mostly funny story is the moment when Matt realizes he’s become a monster himself, and he hadn’t a clue it was happening.

Night of the Living Dead Christian carries a clear and unambiguous Christian message, and it’s also a witty, well-crafted, entertaining story that can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of their religious affiliation or lack thereof. Part of its success lies, I think, in the fact that Matt makes it crystal clear from the beginning what he’s up to here. There may be an agenda, but it’s not hidden, and the satirical index finger is supported by three others pointing firmly back at the author. It’s not so much about my problems, or Matt’s problems, or even Luther’s problems, as it is about our problems, collectively, as human beings. And Matt gives us one rollicking good time along the way. This book demonstrated to me that it’s not a contradiction in terms to tell a great story that talks frankly about the nuts and bolts of being a Christian.

Gripes? Not many. The writing early on felt a bit rough, like the author was still warming up, but that may have been part of him writing in character as...er...himself. Perhaps my reaction was my own inner monster emerging.

Aside from the striking cover design, the book offers an afterword from the author with acknowledgements that not all the events and characters in the story are complete fiction, a handy guide to monsters in your neighborhood, and a set of discussion questions useful for book clubs, families, Bible study groups, etc.

>>This review is based upon a copy of the book provided to me free of charge by the publisher, a courtesy I appreciate, but which does not guarantee my recommendation. I strive to evaluate every book I review purely on its intrinsic merits.<<

Profile Image for Kevin.
945 reviews45 followers
December 16, 2011
You can read this review at Collected Miscellany or below.

I said of Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos that “the book walks the fine line between slapstick comedy and insightful spiritual commentary – and in my opinion manages to pull it off for the most part.” Mikalatos follow up, Night of the Living Dead Christian, attempts to walk that same line – with less successful results. What starts out as a slapstick spoof on cheesy horror movies suddenly turns into a very serious story and spiritual commentary. The transition is abrupt and gives the book a very odd feel.

The challenge Matt faces is trying to use the unique fictional element (the story and his own role within it) to both entertain and offer insight; to make it a story that works while making the points he wants to make. In Imaginary Jesus I thought it largely came together without any one aspect dominating and toppling over the balance. This time the balance was off and it came out as the foundation of a good story (Luther Martin) surrounded by a lot of silly distractions and ending with mostly preaching. The hook of viewing Christian living through the lens of monsters is interesting but in the end it felt like too many ingredients forced into a style and structure that didn’t quite fit.

The strongest element of the story is Luther Martin, a werewolf struggling to hold his marriage together. Estranged from his father the pastor, and disillusioned by Christianity, Luther is desperately seeking answers to his condition before he loses everything. Luther’s anger and violence is pushing the people he loves most, his wife and daughter away, but he can’t seem to get control.

Luther’s voice and back-story are revealed in interludes in between chapters and are the most compelling parts of the book. It is a strong voice of cynicism and doubt; a forceful rejection of easy answers and cheap grace. And the events surrounding Luther’s confrontation with his father that is the climax and the highlight of the book. Some of the sections are moving and deeply sad.

The problem is that Mikalatos’s voice is silly, self-deprecating and self-referential. He sets up comedic situations and throw in jokes and word play. But instead of comic relief the first half of the book just seems like fluff and disconnected from the very serious issues of the second half which focus on abuse and real pain. The book then ends by throwing off all pretense of fiction and just has Matt preach the Gospel (and Luther relating his baptism reinforces this sermon like quality).

Don’t get me wrong, I agree with much of what Mikalatos “preaches” but why not just write a non-fiction book that uses the concept of monsters to explore the ideas of sin and transformation (perhaps the Luther interludes as illustrations)? I give him credit for trying to pull off a creative and challenging book but I don’t think he quite succeeded. Outside of Luther, and to some degree Lara, the characters are thin. The plot meanders and really struggles to develop. The spiritual side is far from subtle and mostly just preaching with the characters as obvious illustrations.

The other problem is that that the various monsters don’t work together thematically. The idea of Christians as zombies is barely developed and is very different from Christians who struggle with sin in such a serious way (vampires and werewolves).

Mikalatos has a light and witty style and the book is an easy read; even the preaching isn’t particularly heavy. And as noted above, the Luther Martin element is well done and quite compelling in parts. But the rest of the story feels distracting and thrown together. The zombie aspect feels like a side joke rather than a real part of the story.

With this in mind, I think reader expectations will play a big role in reactions to this book. If you are expecting a strong story with allegorical aspects I think you will be disappointed. If you are expecting “fiction” more as sermon illustration then I think you will enjoy it; if you can appreciate the various pieces and parts without demanding them come together all that much.

For me, Night of the Living Dead Christian was an interesting experiment, with some promising elements, that just didn’t work as a whole.
Profile Image for Jim.
402 reviews3 followers
February 3, 2016
When the opportunity to review this book as part of a dedicated blog tour came from Tyndale House Publishers, I was somewhat at first skeptical about reading and reviewing it.

I have never been a fan of werewolves and vampires (though I liked Chewbacca (who isn't one) and was (and still am) a fan of the original Dark Shadows. (I cannot believe that Jonathan Frid is still alive! Wonderful! He is the original Barnabas Collins. What a name for a vampire, Barnabas. What would St Paul think?)

I watched the original Dracula in college as part of a film class as well as Frankenstein. Bela Lugosi was legendary in his performance. (And I will be leave the puns off this review, like "the critics were 'bitten' by his performance.")

When I think AMC I think Mad Men (and I am anxiously awaiting its return) and not The Walking Dead. And The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde scared me to death. (Though I think that Robert Louis Stevenson would enjoy Matt's book.)

And Zombies? No.thanks!

But I went ahead and requested the book and I am glad I did. At first, it was hard to follow the story line because I had trouble understanding the symbolism of the main characters, and characters they are, as the story unfolded.

But Matt Mikalatos has done us a big favor. He has depicted the brokenness of humanity in a refreshing way that younger generations who are enthralled with Twilight will understand...

...namely, that there is a monster within all of us that has, can, and does destroy people and their vital relationships.


As the hapless, okay, well almost hapless, side kick and neighbor to a werewolf, Luther Martin, Matt takes us on a journey both inward and nearby as we truly go behind close doors, secret doors, secret hideouts (a Toyota? My goodness Matt why not a Pacer?), and almost secret secret laboratories right next door, across the street, and downtown (if you live in a place that has a business district sometimes called Main Street) to look into the lives of people we are with, or nearby, nearly every day, our neighbors, fellow church goers, and family.

Seriously, it is not a pretty picture at times. For the werewolf gives into a base nature that causes his family much pain and the lonely vampire, who still struggles with her past, is always looking over her shoulder to see if someone is still after her. But in the midst of such pain and sadness, Matt, with candor and appropriate wit, develops the case for a faith in God that can, and does help Luther to start stopping his werewolf episodes. However Matt, again with candor and caring honesty, reminds us that it is not always a happy ending as Martin's marriage falls apart before he asks God into his life.

Written in 28 fast paced chapters that includes first person narrative accounts, (given by Matt), and several back story chapters of Luther and some others, the reader gains a glimpse of the inner lives of people that we often overlook quite frankly, in our own zombie state of being. And this is where I think that Matt does us a second big favor. He gives us a glimpse into the contemporary American evangelical church and challenges us to move beyond a heartless faith and embrace one in which we love Jesus not with just our brains but our heart and soul. And he shows us, in an imperfect and halting way, what a mere friendship with those who struggle can do, if we stick with them. We need to embrace a discipleship that is not a continuous soul 'numbing' "fill-in-the-blank and read Rev. So and So's books" discipleship. But a discipleship that requires us to tell safe others of our own 'monsters' that are threatening to destroy us.

On my very unscientific rating scale, I give this book my first ever 4.5 It is a 'good' (the 4.0 part) book with 'great' (the 5.0 part) elements. (And I encourage new readers to refer to the section "Are You a Monster?" at the back of the book as you read. It will be a helpful guide to navigating the rich allegory of this book that essential for understanding it.)

Thanks Matt for this book!

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of Night of the Living Dead Christian in exchange for a review of it. I was not required to write a positive review.
Profile Image for Rebecca LuElla.
Author 2 books18 followers
March 29, 2012
The Story. Unlike My Imaginary Jesus which was fairly episodic, Night of the Living Dead Christian has a basic plot.

Matt Mikalatos is once again a character in his own book. This one, however, is really his neighbor’s story. Luther is a werewolf. He doesn’t want to be one because his wife left him, taking their daughter with her. He is desperate to find a way to stop being a werewolf, so Matt and a couple other buddies determine to help him. The story, then, is Luther’s quest for change.

Strengths. This short description of the story, or the one on the back cover, or any of those I read from tour participants doesn’t really give an adequate representation of the book.

First, it is funny. Matt is a bit bumbling (which ends up playing a significant part in the story), and his humor, self-deprecating. As several commenters pointed out in my day one post about the use of spoof in the book, this technique is disarming, allowing readers to sit back and chuckle without feeling defensive.

But this isn’t simply a romp with vampires and mad scientists and zombies popping in and out for no rhyme or reason. It’s actually a very authentic, incredibly sad and serious story. It’s very “real life.” Luther’s werewolfishness, as it turns out, is no laughing matter. He has every right to want to be rid of it for good. Except he doesn’t want to be rid of it.

And therein lies more truth and reality. This book is full of such insight, but also of answers. Yes, answers — the very thing that so many Christians think we ought not be giving in our stories. But Matt is faithful to Scripture, so his answers aren’t easy, nor are they quick. They paint the picture of the seed dying in the ground in order that it might begin to grow.

What’s more, this book, so full of Biblical teaching, is not preachy. In all the fifty-some articles I’ve read about this book over these past three days, I don’t remember any saying the book was preachy. In fact just the opposite. How can a book be so overtly Christian and not be preachy? You’ll have to read it for yourself and see.

So what are the strengths of this book? It’s easy to break down: it is funny and truthful.

Weaknesses. I don’t really have anything I’d call a weakness. Because Matt is doing something so different from other novels, it’s hard to evaluate it on the same terms.

I did realize as I read various tour posts that some people might be expecting a different book simply because it’s about monsters. This is not horror, not even close to horror. The monsters are a device. Will that disappoint some? Perhaps, but I think it will relieve a good many more, and it makes the book accessible to a wider audience.

At the same time, the back cover announces that the book is an allegory. Will that drive away readers expecting a fairly standard, predictable story? I hope not. It is most definitely a twenty-first century allegory, so it’s not like anything you’ve read before.

So the only weaknesses I can think of are the things people might expect, leading them to think the book is something it is not.

Recommendation. My first instinct was to say this is a must read for everyone, but I realize that’s not the case. Instead, I’ll amend my recommendation and say it’s a must read for those who want to think about spiritual things and who are willing to take a look in the mirror. Along the way you should plan to laugh a bit.

As an example, look at the front matter. Before the title page, as is typical of Christian fiction, there are a number of pages with endorsements, first of this book and then of Matt’s debut novel, Imaginary Jesus. The list of endorsers is impressive: Chris Fabry, radio host and bestselling author of Almost Heaven; Mike Duran, author of The Resurrection; Publishers Weekly; Relevant Magazine, CBA Retailers; Josh McDowell; Pete Wilson pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, and on and on. Finally, at the end of five pages of endorsements is this: “Adam Sadados, just some guy.”

Stay alert. When you read Night of the Living Dead Christian, you’ll find chuckle-inducing moments when you least expect them.
Profile Image for Nikole Hahn.
265 reviews16 followers
December 15, 2011
“In his follow-up to the critically acclaimed Imaginary Jesus, Matt Mikalatos tackles this question in an entertaining and thought-provoking way—with MONSTERS!!! While Christians claim to experience Christ’s resurrection power, we sometimes act like werewolves who can’t control our base desires. Or zombies, experiencing a resurrection that is 90 percent shambling death and 10 percent life. Or vampires, satiating ourselves at the expense of others. But through it all we long to stop being monsters and become truly human—the way Christ intended. We just can’t seem to figure out how.” From Amazon.com

At first, I thought this would be a serious novel. Then, I saw the tag line beneath the title, “One man's ferociously funny quest to discover what it means to be truly transformed.” Transformation in a story that has werewolves, zombies and vampires? I snickered.

“'My house is just ahead.' But when we got to my house, there were three zombies milling around on the porch. They appeared to be stuffing flyers into the handle of my front door. These were very strange zombies. I punched my fist into my palm. 'I knew I should have put up a 'No Soliciting' sign.' I looked at the other zombies. Now that I noticed it, most of them had bright green flyers in their hands. I picked one off the ground and read it out loud: 'REVIVAL IS COMING....” Pg. 15-16

The book begins with a commentary from Luther, a neighbor in the story. We find out later he is not your typical neighbor. He beats his wife because he's a werewolf and his baser instincts get the better of him. Matt, the author, is the main character of the book. I found that very entertaining. Matt also uses his real friends as neighbors in the story. Even his acknowledgments are entertaining. However, unlike another comedic writer I have read, Matt brings in the truth of Christian life in a story about us. Yes, we are the monsters.

There are vampires who, “steal the life force of others to increase their own longevity, gladly using the lives and well-being of those around them to increase their own quality of life. As such, they are intensely selfish creatures with a strong sense of self-preservation. They are difficult to destroy and often capable to taking a variety of shapes to escape dangerous situations.” Or Werewolves who, “wrestles with animalistic instinctual urges that occasionally grow difficult or impossible to control. Once the urge grows to a certain point, the werewolf changes from human to wolf form and gives himself over to the desires of wolf self.” And many other monsters that we can identify with or see others in, too. What can I say? Christian churches are full of monsters.

Overall, I found nothing I disliked about this book. It's well-written with deep truths hidden in the bowels of the story that should hit our gut like a punch from a zombie. Complete with an interview in the rear of the book and a glossary of monsters (in case we have trouble identifying our own or someone else's monster). He even includes how to kill monsters. It was very convicting. A breath of fresh air in a Halloween-like setting.

If you would like to receive a free certificate to cash in at your local book store for a free copy, please leave a comment on today's post or tomorrow's to be put into a drawing. Deadline for comments is Sunday, December 18. Winner will be announced on Monday, December 19. The certificate will be mailed on Tuesday. www.thehahnhuntinglodge.com
7 reviews
December 15, 2011
Before You Go Monster Hunting; Look in the Mirror!
A Review of “The Night of the Living Dead”

Monsters are all around us. Everywhere you look you may see them and not even know. Some of them are your best friend from high school, your teacher or professor, the neighbor down the street, or maybe even that old lady you just helped across the street. The truth of the matter is monsters have learned how to live among us, and we have become so desensitized that we don’t even realize…, the monster may be ourselves.

In his newest book, “Night of the Living Dead Christian”, Matt Mikalatos takes us on a fictional journey as he comes into contact with a werewolf named Luther. In this book we see Matt take on the challenge of helping his newfound friend break free of the curse of the beast. Through many strange turns and events we see this journey take shape as Matt is joined with a Mad Scientist, an Android, a half zombie, and a vampire names Lara. The mission is to find out the cure for Luther’s lycanthrope transformation, if it is possible.

Relevant Magazine offers this praise for the book, “Think Monty Python meets C.S. Lewis.” While Relevant Magazine may well be right that Matt’s book is like C.S. Lewis in my opinion Matt’s writing style is completely different than C.S. Lewis. C.S. Lewis was more of a philosopher and had a more established reputation writing fiction and Christian literature than does Matt. With that said the praise offered by Relevant Magazine is well deserved in the sense that this book is a great spiritual allegory.

“Night of the Living Dead Christian” was a book I found myself immersed in. I, too, have always had a fascination with monsters and to see them used as representations of spiritual behavior not only hooked me, but kept me latched to every page. As I read through the chapters and was introduced to the various monsters I kept asking myself, “Which one am I?”

Amongst the chapters Matt weaved in interludes, which served as a brief distraction from the story. Each of the interludes was on a spiritual topic from the perspective of the werewolf. Some of these issues addressed were Fathers, Transformation, and Love. Although each raised some questions for me on the purpose of the author, especially transformation, these were all a good break from the story line, and allowed the reader to look at some important topics and how they are viewed by the world.

I give this book 5 monsters out of 5. In this world of post-Twilight I think this book serves as a great way of reaching friends who might not be so keen on Christian fiction, and especially Christian allegory. I have already recommended this book to some of my close friends, and I certainly recommend it for you. Matt Mikalatos is a name I now know, and I look forward to any additional books he may write.

To see more of what Matt has to offer check out his website at http://www.mattmikalatos.com

See the author’s video about this book at http://www.tyndale.com/video/296

Check out Tyndale Publishers at http://www.tyndale.com
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Profile Image for Jane.
Author 9 books7 followers
September 28, 2011
Psst… shhh, don’t tell anyone, but we’re surrounded by monsters.

No! Really! Monsters! Werewolves, zombies, vampires, even mad scientists and robots that look eerily like real people, are wandering around our towns and populating our neighborhoods and most of us don’t even know it.

At least, that’s what Matt Mikalatos asserts in his hysterical farce Night of the Living Dead Christian. On one dark night in mid-October, Matt was doing his rounds as the sole member of the neighborhood watch when he stumbles up on a strange scene, an apparently mad scientist and his Frankenstein’s Monster-like robot are preparing a machine that will call the werewolves out of hiding. This, in the middle of his quiet, middle-class subdivision where nothing more violent than the shouting match he overheard the previous week ever happens.

Imagine, then, his surprise when the machine not only works on werewolves, but also calls out a massive herd of zombies and reveals that an old friend is actually a vampire as well. But then, perhaps that’s to be expected when you live in Washington State.

This book made me laugh out loud. Repeatedly.

What raises this above the level of the spoof “Vampires Suck” that skewered the entire Twilight phenomenon is what Matt discovers when he tries to cure his neighbor of his werewolf affliction. Turns out rage-driven atheism will destroy more than just your good looks, as the lapsed son of a religiously abusive Lutheran minister testifies when he’s not sprouting fur and claws. But at least the werewolf is sincere in questioning all matters of faith and religion.

The zombies, on the other hand, are completely worthless. These are the Christians who drive past a homeless man on their way to Sunday dinner immediately following a sermon on “whatever you do for the least of these.” When Matt first encounters the zombies they are stuffing revival fliers into mailboxes, but the church address has been torn off the bottom of every paper.

But it is Matt’s friend since high school, the vampire Lara, who is the most sympathetic character. She has been deeply damaged by past relationships and has turned her pain onto others in an attempt to soothe herself, but of course it doesn’t work that way.

“You don’t have to suck blood to be a vampire, Matt,” Lara explains. “It’s a question of selfishness, of putting yourself and your needs ahead of the people around you.”

Which, of course, broadens the definition of vampire almost infinitely to include everything from emotionally abusive spouses to international conglomerations generating wealth from the backs of child laborers. No challenge there.


In fact, it is that challenge that has stuck with me since closing this book. Night of the Living Dead Christian is either a grim fairy tale or a story of great hope – but that all depends on what you do with it.
Profile Image for Steve Trower.
Author 6 books4 followers
December 12, 2014
Matt Mikalatos is clearly an eccentric genius; his first book, Imaginary Jesus, remains The Book I Wish I Had Written, and based on that I opened this book expecting something like a paperback Shaun of The Dead with a little spiritual insight mixed in for good measure. And, apart from the fact that it's less about zombies than it is about a mad scientist, a spiritually interested werewolf, the worst robot of all time, and our Generic Christian hero, Matt Mikalatos himself, that’s almost what it is. There are zombies; they belong to a church that wants to remove the brains of its congregation. One of them is even adopted by story Matt – he’s called Robert, and the fact that author Matt has the nerve to just go with the obvious gags like that only makes me love this book more.

Culbetron snickered. "He just said 'at stake' to a vampire. Hee hee hee."

More Christian books should embrace childlike humour. Anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child and all that. Also the phrase ‘It’s clobbering time!’ That should be in more Christian books too.

So far, so Shaun of the Dead. But what of the spiritual insight? Well, drawing the parallels between the common stumbling blocks to a truly transformed life and B-movie monsters works so well that it had to be done sooner or later. It may well have been done before, but that doesn’t matter because Matt Mikalatos does it so well. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that he has a degree in Stealth Theology or something, because he just slips those little nuggets of truth in among the silliness.

Vampires, werewolves, zombies, mummies – they can all be cured. If they want it badly enough.

And that is one of the great things about this book. In amongst the monsters and the silly jokes and all the other mayhem, suddenly something will just jump off the page and you will be face to face with your own dark side. Take a quick glance at the amazon reviews for the book, and you’ll see words like ‘convicting’ come up almost as much as ones like ‘hilarious’. The book doesn’t pretend that there is an easy cure to any of our monstrosities – as Lara the vampire says, ‘It’s simple, but it’s not easy.’

For me personally, I think this book works because the author is talking my language. He understands my life, my sense of humour, my enjoyment of things geeky, my parental frustration…

So, all that being said, the big question is: had Matt Mikalatos managed to live up to the expectations set by his debut novel? Well, I was laughing out loud by the end of page two, but on the whole I didn’t do that quite as much as I did while reading Imaginary Jesus. What I did do a lot of though, was think. And I had a whole lot of fun while doing it. So, yes, definitely, Night of the Living Dead Christian is every bit as essential a read as Imaginary Jesus is.
Profile Image for Stephen Escalera.
66 reviews5 followers
December 15, 2011
I usually don’t go for books about zombies, vampires and werewolves or any other “sci-fi/fantasy” book for that matter. But having read Matt Mikalatos’ first book Imaginary Jesus and knowing how completely off the wall that one was, I knew I had to give Night of the Living Dead Christians a shot. We join Mikalatos on his one-man Neighborhood Watch tour and are soon up to our eyeballs in wacky encounters with the undead of various shapes and sizes. Chief among them are his one of neighbors, Luther Martin, who has the misfortune to be a werewolf. Determined to help Martin find a cure for this malady, Mikalatos and a few other sidekicks try various methods, including attending a church that ends up being full of brainless zombies. The journey is hilarious and, when you least expect it, thought-provoking. Interspersed between the off-kilter narrative are more heady chapters written by “Martin” as he contemplates his life as a werewolf and his journey through the various methods of losing his werewolfishness.

Although the narration is very quirky and often downright weird, the meaning of the book is surprisingly clear and well thought out. As the book’s subtitle indicates, Night of the Living Dead Christian is about being transformed or more clearly perhaps, what it doesn’t mean. The zombie Christians we meet along the way show the absurdities of those who blindly follow some Christian leader’s teachings without a second thought (giving a whole new meaning to “Brains! Brains! We want your brains!”) Then there are the vampires, those who “steal the life force of others to increase their own longevity…to increase their own quality of life.” And then there is the guy relentlessly hunting down these monsters, who is eventually revealed to be the embodiment of the law.

Through these characters, Mikalatos shows many of the follies bound up in the heart of a man and where true freedom is found. Perhaps the most poignant moment in the book comes toward the end. (SPOILER ALERT) Martin eventually finds freedom from being a werewolf, but not everything ends up perfectly in his life. One night, he is found out in the rain, with his old wolf skin tied on with string. “He thought that everything would be wonderful when he was born again, but he was wrong.” (p.234) There is pain and a recognition of the struggle against the old flesh. But as Mikalatos so beautifully points out, “It’s not all wonderful. It’s worth it, but it’s not wonderful.” (p.234)

Night of the Living Dead Christian is a fast read, but one that is chock full of thought-provoking situations. I would recommend it not so much because of the zombie genre, but for the insightful glance into a struggle for transformation that should be in every Christian.
Profile Image for Jason Joyner.
Author 8 books49 followers
April 2, 2012
Matt Mikalatos books are unique. They are fiction, but the main character is Matt himself, inserted into a wacky world where anything can happen. They preach more than any other novel you'll read this year, but they are so fun you won't really notice. Matt manages to poke fun and satirize the Church, our religious goofiness, and himself whle making the reader laugh. Then the reader will be asking what kind of monster they could be.

In Night Of The Living Dead Christian, intrepid Matt is the lone Neighborhood Watchman for his street. After happening upon a mad scientist, his android sidekick, and a horde of zombies, he finally ends up doing something interesting.

He meets a Lutheran werewolf. His name: Luther Anne Martin.

Luther seems like a perfectly decent fellow. Other than he's a Lutheran but not a Christian. He has a wife and daughter. But they've moved out because Luther has an itch he can't quite scratch. At least, not in his human form.

Lycanthropes have much sharper claws with which to itch.

Matt, being the helpful fellow he is, and being stuck in his own story, tries to help Luther make a transformation for good rather than evil. Along the way they dodge well-dressed zombies, a reluctant vampire, and Matt's pregnant wife in their quest.

Confused? Yeah, you're just going to have to read it.

Matt Mikalatos wrote a funny book to make the medicine go down better. He's a smiling Mary Poppins. But we need to see that as Christians, we often have a monster form that we take.

What is a monster? Generally it is anything outside of the norm for a creature. Whether it is a cross of types (like a werewolf or Sasquatch) or a perverted form (vampire, zombie), it is a recognition that something is not right. The person is not who they seem to be.

How many Christians can attest to the fact they don't live up to the transformed life that we are supposed to have in Christ? How many of us have tried to deny the animal desires, only to fail when we are tired, stressed, or challenged by a strong temptation?

Thus the monster motif is a perfect vehicle for challenging Church, Christians, and ultimately ourselves. This book is not for everyone. People need a certain sense of humor to really get into it. It fits me to a tee, but someone who has a different humor or are too serious may not appreciate it. It appeals to a younger demographic that is used to The Walking Dead and the Twilight phenomena, but that doesn't mean older people can't enjoy it. It is a novel, but not quite. It is a spoof-y (is that a word) Pilgrim's Progress.

To sum up: It is a book that has a powerful message in a tortilla wrap of fun (it is close to lunch, sorry).
Profile Image for Tim.
22 reviews4 followers
December 16, 2011
When I was young, I loved a good monster story. I watched the movies, read the books and even stayed up late to sneak in creeptacular viewings of Michael Jackson’s Thriller video on Friday Night Videos (ah, growing up in rural America with no cable). Somewhere along the (long) road through college, however, I began to find monster stories less interesting and more disturbing. I can now no longer make it through movies like Se7en or Scream, that I repeatedly watched and enjoyed those first few years of college.

But throughout my love/hate relationship with monster stories, the one type of monster whose story has never really interested me the zombie. I don’t know what it is about zombies, but they’ve never really done it for me, so it might not come as too much of a shocker that a book with the phrase “Living Dead” in the title wouldn’t be at the top of my reading list. But surprisingly, it was. From the moment I first heard about Night of the Living Dead Christian, I found myself excited to get my hands on copy. And I wasn’t disappointed.

The Twitter² Summary:
In author Matt Mikalatos’ second (not-quite-true) story, he takes us on a journey of overcoming the monstrous inclinations within us all. The comedic tale of Mikalatos and his neighbors features zombies, vampires, mad scientists and a next-door werewolf named Luther.

The Low-down:
Mikalatos crafts a clever narrative wherein believers of all stripes are portrayed as monsters straight of the cheesy B-movies of the past. What’s great about Night of the Living Dead Christian is that Mikalatos doesn’t sit on the sidelines lobbing cynical bombs of monster labels at his pet peeves in the church world. Rather, he inserts (and accuses) himself as a character in the narrative.

Although Mikalatos narrates the story, his werewolf neighbor, Luther, is truly the main character as the central plot of the book follows his struggle to tame the beast. Mikalatos even occasionally turns over narration duties to allow Luther to wax theological on the nature of sin, rescue, and redemption.

A story at times both sad and funny enough to elicit audible laughter, Night of the Living Dead Christian forces the reader to examine his or her own monstrous inclinations.

The Rating:
4 of 5 Stars (An interesting book that kept me turning the pages)

Disclosure of Material Connection:
I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC's “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Profile Image for Allizabeth Collins.
300 reviews42 followers
December 15, 2011
Description:

It's a dark October night, and you are patrolling the streets as a neighborhood watchman, when all of a sudden you come upon a startling scene - a mad scientist and his franken-robot messing with a strange machine attached to the streetlights! So what do you do? Well, that's the question Matt asks himself when he finds the pair tinkering with the neighborhood power supply. Unfortunately, he isn't able to stop the mad doctor before he turns on a device that will supposedly call all of the local "werewolves" out of hiding; but when he sees the onslaught of zombies, he knows they were somehow telling the truth, especially when a friend turns out to be a vampire. Now that Matt is in the middle of all this unbelievable chaos, what will he do, who will he trust, and will he survive the Night of the Living Dead Christian?

Review:

I don't think that I have ever read a Christian book that has made me laugh as much as Night of the Living Dead Christian. Matt Mikalatos' metaphor-laden spiritual allegory is a mix between classic Hollywood horror movies and Monty Python-like humor. Every chapter went deeper and deeper into the question of transformation - whether spiritual or supernatural - and described the monstrosity that levels of belief can become; (zombies surrender their minds, have no original thoughts, and are motivated by their own desires, vampires steal the life force of others and are notoriously selfish, werewolves are animalistic, carnal, and uncontrollable, etc...). I found the characters to be well-developed and very funny, especially the zombies and Luther the werewolf, and the plot was constructed nicely and well-executed. I think that the author did a wonderful job tackling the misconceptions about being a Christian, and what it means to be a true Christian. After reading the book, I have actually started relating some of the people in my life to the "monsters" I read about - particularly some of the people I see in church from time to time. I will definitely recommend this book to the teen confirmation class at my church, because there's actually a terrifying amount of truth behind all the metaphor. Overall, this book, although quite a laugh-out-loud riot, was surprisingly full of hope and optimism, and it is definitely a page-turner that readers will enjoy, especially teens and young adults.

Rating: On the Run (4/5)

*** I received this book from Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
Profile Image for Sara.
130 reviews5 followers
October 3, 2013
As someone who knows nothing about theology, the book lost me sometimes. I'm still really confused about how the author emphasized belief (as opposed to actions) as being the measure of a true Christian.

I'm going to rant a little bit about a certain popular saying because it serves as an illustration of my thinking on the subject.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

Which sounds all right until you start to think about it. Would a good man (by any definition) sit around while evil triumphs? No! At most you're maybe-sort-of good. If you are a good person your actions will reflect your nature. If you only think good thoughts but never fight against the evil and stupidity of the world, then what value does your goodness have?

It becomes even more clear if you turn it around. All that is necessary for the triumph of good is that evil men do nothing. If you spend all your time thinking evil thoughts but never acting on them then are you really evil? I guess some people might say yes, but I feel like actions are what spread good and evil in the world. If you think evil thoughts but never take action and spread evil in the world then you're indistinguishable from a person who thinks good thoughts but never spreads good in the world.

Ok. I guess I can reconcile myself to Mikalatos' definition of a Christian.

See, you're a Christian if you believe in the resurrection of Christ and that he died so that we might...not have to? Something like that.

If you're a good person you do good deeds no matter what god(s) you do or do not believe in.

I guess I would have expected an emphasis on the good deeds bit because, objectively, they make the world a better place. Your personal views in Jesus Christ, Savior...well, they have a less measurable effect.

(Crap, can I also just say that I was really disappointed by the dearth of female characters and the treatment of the ones who did get page time? There is no obvious reason, besides laziness, why the author had to make the werewolf, the mad scientist, the robot, the zombie, and the minister(?) all men--unless Lutherans don't allow female ministers and even if that is the case he still needs four more good excuses. Meanwhile, the women take care of the kids and get sublimated into soundwaves and stuff. TOTALLY NOT COOL. And the lady vampire? We get told that she's divorced twice and really hot. dkfjvnjkdf.)
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