Kitty's Reviews > Zombie Island

Zombie Island by Lori Handeland
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Oct 11, 2012

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When thinking of a literary mash-up, often the thought is of a classic tale (such as PRIDE AND PREJUDICE) with the inclusion of a sort of monster (like ... say… zombies). In Lori Handeland’s SHAKESPEARE UNDEAD, she offers a fresh and welcomed approach to the mash-up genre. Instead of a classic tale retold, she delivers how that story came to be in a clever and humorous original telling.

Will, our darling playwright, seems to be in a bit of a funk. He is unable to get past his writers block until he is nearly beheaded by Kate (Shakespeare’s very own “Dark Lady”). With head still in tact, she quickly becomes his muse and words flow freely and effortlessly whenever she is near. Kate, although equally enamored, is already married to an uncaring man, currently settling a plantation in the new world. As if her unloving marriage of convenience wasn’t enough, Will is a vampiric necro-mancer, capable of raising an undead army to do his bidding and Kate is a chasseur (A zombie slayer) reared to strike the zombies down… WHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAT?????!!!!! Even though the zombies abound, Shakespeare is not responsible. The two must band together to save not only themselves but country and queen too, bringing the lovers closer than ever. But how can they ever be together while she is a married woman? Fake her death of course. The perfect plan for two lovers forbidden to be together… Sounds kinda familiar, doesn’t it?

ZOMBIE ISLAND picks up where the first tale ends. Except the plan was foiled by the recently widowed husband Reginald and the three eventually end on a deserted island with a sorcerer named Prospero and a fairy named Arial. Where SHAKESPEARE UNDEAD pulled influence from numerous plays and sonnets, ZOMBIE ISLAND tends to follow along the lines of The Tempest, even starting each chapter with a relevant line from the play. The story hops from character to character, sometimes relaying the same scene through different eyes... Including an uncomfortable love scene retold four times over.

You learn of Arial’s captivity and her confusion of human life, Prospero’s magic book and unfortunate childhood, Reginald’s beast within and the beast he has become, Kate’s battle with her own mortality and Shakespeare’s own immortality and the secrets he keeps with it.

What I liked: Zombie fans cannot argue the plausibility of the zombie infection. These walkers are a blend of your traditional Haitian zombie and modern day brain eater. Raised by a necromancer, these decaying corpses do what they are ordered to AND they eat “Brrrr…”
The heroine is a badass: dresses like a boy to sneak out and slice some undead bitches!
The references to Shakespeare’s original work and to pop culture phenomena’s of our day are brilliant and gave me a good chuckle.

What made me say ”meh”: I am not a fan of bouncing between Elizabethan and modern day English. I felt all too aware of every change, especially, if it happened with in a conversation. There were also a few instances where a word or two was so completely out of character I had to stop reading.
In comparison to the first story, this one felt rushed and the ending felt abrupt. My two theories: either this story was just build up to a third and exciting story or the author was rushing through. I lean to the first option.

Who is this book for: Shakespeare fans will love this story! This is also a good series for people who do not normally read horror or zombie books. It introduces you to the genre while keeping you a safe distance from the super dark and twisted. Lovers of love will also love the hell out of this! It is underneath all the zombie brain eating, vampire blood drinking and sorcerer sorcery-ing, a love story.

Who should wait this one out: Hardcore survivalist and horror lovers as well as the anti-mushy-mushy-sap-sap-crap people. Unless you happen to also be on the above list, you are gonna wanna wait.

Recommended: Yes BUT only on the condition that you read the first book. It has more action and is a vastly more original story. Shakespeare Undead gets you sucked into the characters and Zombie Island lets you know what happened next.

Overall: I give Handeland’s story of love, betrayal, zombies , vampires and magic (oh my!) 3 brains and of course, one grey non beating heart. This would be the equivalent of 3 out of 5 stars with an extra grey non beating heart thrown in there.

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