Kate Lansky's Reviews > The Living Dead

The Living Dead by John Joseph Adams
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really liked it

There are some amazing stories in here, and a few that, to be honest, I didn't much care for.

First off, don't go in to this expecting every story to be a standard zombie tale. Don't go in expecting everything to be scary, either. Go in to this expecting a very, very wide spectrum of tales, and an equally wide definition of what it means to be living dead. In some stories you do see classic zombies (the very first is a good example), or are only mild departures from the classic, devastating undead (Calcutta, Lord of Nerves, strikes me as an example of this small deviation), and a few, well - they don't really have zombies in them at all, not really (one is on the set of Romero's movie... so technically there both are and aren't zombies, take your pick). Many stories deal with the human, emotional, psychological side of things - and one or two have a political bent to them. And let me reiterate, not all of them are creepy, not all of them are scary. That doesn't mean they aren't interesting.

By and large, this is a strong collection of short stories. I have one or two favorites that I'll read again, a few that I really wish had been longer (Followed - I would have read another 20 pages of this one... or possibly even a full novel), and a few I could have done without. But that's the way most collections of short stories run, and all in all, I think this was a great one.

I was, I admit, a bit disappointed by the big names in here - Stephen King's story was okay, but nothing truly great, and Neil Gaiman just left me going "meh" - George R. R. Martin's was probably the most interesting of the authors I knew going in, but it's a very dark and gritty (but not scary) story that may not be to everyone's liking. Some of my favorites in the book were by an author I wasn't familiar with at all - so don't skip a story just because you don't know the author! I particularly loved one story that posed the question "how far would you go to survive" - and by this they take the idea of losing your humanity in the opposite direction most zombie stories do. The focus of this story isn't whether you would give in to violence or baser instinct, but rather whether you would let it all go - would you become like them. It's a really interesting read, in large part because of the examination of what it is to be human.

I will say this - it's a thick book. It took me a while to work my way through this one, in part because I'd only read maybe a story or two a day. Don't expect to just sit down and plow through this thing - take your time, and let the stories really sink in.

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Reading Progress

September 29, 2009 – Shelved
Started Reading
July 23, 2010 – Finished Reading

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