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This review originally appeared in my blog The Guilded Earlobe
I have a bit of a reputation as a zombie enthusiast. Maybe it’s because I listen to and review a lot of zombie audiobooks. In 2012, so far, I have listened to or read over 35 zombie audiobooks and print books. I assume that most people don’t really read that many, while I am also sure there are many who eclipse me. Yet, my listening and reading of the undead is only a drip in the bucket of what’s available, and my wish list of filled with Zombie titles. Now, I would love to get to them all, and spend hours and hours dedicating myself to the best in zombie fiction, but, honestly, I often suffer from Zombie fatigue. When you read or listen to a lot of zombie novels, it all starts to bleed together. I love tales of the zombie apocalypse, where a ragtag band of survivors come together to try to find safety from the hordes, and these authors try to throw lots of twists, fast zombies, slow zombies, zombie perspectives and even sentient too using zombies, but really, the cores of most zombie apocalypse tales remains remarkably similar. How many different ways can you discuss gaining supplies, finding weapons, and creating a safe haven before it all begins to sound the some. That is, until something special comes along. Occasionally I find a Zombie title that rips me out of my fatigue and surprises me. Two years ago it was Alden Bell’s The Reapers are the Angels, and last year it was Daryl Gregory’s brilliant Raising Stony Mayhall. So far, in 2012 I have experienced a lot of great zombie novels, some quite unique, but none really gave me the reenergizing experience. Then I listened to The Reanimation of Edward Schuett.
I really went into The Reanimation of Edward Schuett pretty cold, only knowing it was about a man who wakes up after years living the life of one of the shambling hordes of undead. The premise itself seemed unique enough where I was initially intrigued. What I discovered is a novel that blends the unique zombie perspective of a novel like Zombie Ohio, with the recovered society motif of Mira Grant’s Newsflesh series, mixing in a liberal dose of the quirkiness of Raining Stony Mayhall, then adds it’s own secret blend of herbs and spices making it the most unique, and perhaps, rewarding zombie experience of the year. From the moments I pressed play, with Edward attempting to wake up and scream, I was enthralled with this story. Edward Schuett was simply an amazing character, no longer really a zombie, and not quite human, plagued with the knowledge of what he was, but not exactly sure what he was becoming. As a simple character study, Edward Schuett would be a brilliant piece of fiction, but add into it a bunch of quirky characters, some intrigue, and a fascinating action filled plot, and it was also a heck of a ripping good yarn. I really loved the world Goodman had created, a post apocalypse world that has moved from a terrorized populace attempting to survive the onslaught of flesh eating humans, to a society full of people either indifferent to, bitter against, or almost sickly amused by their zombiefied brethren. It was interesting to view this world through the eyes of a character who is a bridge between both the old world and new, as well as a bridge between zombies and humans. There is an almost loving tenderness in Edward Schuett’s actions towards zombies, something you rarely see in zombie fiction. Many books remind you often that zombies are your brothers, parents and friends, as a way to emotionally terrorize you, yet at times, Edward Schuett humanizes its zombies to create empathy for them. And don’t worry zombie lit fans, there is plenty of zombie gore, post apocalyptic action and mayhem to keep you moving through those troublesome touching moments. I have listened to a lot of great zombie novels this year, but I think, in the future, when I look back at this year, The Reanimation of Edward Schuett will be the one that sticks out the most to me.
Sometimes when a novel utterly enthralls you, a strong narration can actually enhance the experience. Yet, sometimes, a smart narrator knows that they just need to stay out of the way of the story, and let it do its own sort of magic. To be perfectly honest, nothing about David Letwin’s performance stands out to me. I can’t remember a particular characterization or moment of stylistic pacing and cadence that made this book better. Nor, can I think of a distracting voice, awkwardly paced action segment, or poor narrative decision. Letwin just did his job, read the story, and let the characters and situations pull the reader in. I think this is exactly what this novel needed. I’m sure there is another narrator out there that could have given a better reading, yet, I don’t think it was needed here. Letwin’s reading was solid and straightforward. He added no bells or whistles to the production and none where needed. It’s hard to evaluate a performance like this. This is my first time listening to a novel narrated by Letwin, and I know I will have no problem giving another one of his titles a go.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?
yes, it was an interesting story and a fresh take on the whole zombie apocylapse theme.
Any additional comments?
usually, it's hard for me to tell whether or not i'll like a book based on the sample provided, but this time the sample really piqued my curiosity.
as the story opens, edward's consciousness is waking up and his body is painfully coming back to life. he doesn't know where he is, and he can't remember who he is. all he knows is that he's got to throw up and throw up badly! with something awful boiling in his stomach, edward manages to roll over just in time as he violently expels a maggot-strewn stream of chunky, red liquid all over the floor. after which, he aptly passes out. when edward wakes up again, a little bit more of his consciousness comes drifting back as he struggles to move his body and find out what the heck is going on with him and around him.
throughout the story, edward is on 2 journeys, one to find out "what" he is and another to find out "who" he is. both journeys are fascinating and fraught with danger. to find out what he is, edward must place his trust others who fear and loathe what he is- a thinking zombie. to find out who he is, edward must delve into his jumbled, "red" memories to remember who he is without losing himself.
i really liked the insight into how the zombies communicate. i won't spoil it b/c it's pretty interesting. my only caveat with the story is that the last part is too short. the story is divided into like 5 parts. i wish the last part leading up to the ending had been longer and more detailed. i think it deserved more attention b/c it is a pivotal part of edward's development. in my humble opinion, that would've moved the needle on the story from "pretty good" to "great."
overall, a pretty good story! if you're an avid zombie fan, this is a good addition to your zombie library. it definitely expands the scope of the genre. if you're new to the zombie genre, then this is definitely a perspective that you'll be interested in.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
This was such a refreshing zombie story, I can't say I've ever read anything like it. I absolutely loved it. Some great unexpected and shocking turn of events throughout the book and I really connected with the characters. The narration was pretty good too. I felt that David Letwin really had a good understanding of Edward and how he felt as he progressed through the story. I highly recommend this book.
Fantastic story loved it recommend to all great story narration made the story interesting superb read with likeable characters 5 stars