The last thing Edward Schuett remembers is trying to defend his family as the zombie hordes descended on them. When he wakes up he finds his body dead and rotten yet healing quickly. Fifty years have passed and he's been a zombie that entire time, yet something has changed and he is coming back to something resembling life. His existence causes havoc among the rebuilt society of zombie holocaust survivors: some think he's an abomination and want to kill him while others think of him only as a scientific curiosity and want to dissect him. Plagued by nightmares of what he did as a zombie, Edward must run from everyone including himself. Only one man can tell Edward what is happening to him, but first Edward must cross half the country and risk what little life he has been able to put back together.
In the bloody, grimly tragic, and sometimes funny, zombie adventure tale The Reanimation of Edward Schuett, narrated in a clear and captivating baritone by David Letwin, Edward Schuett dies trying to defend his family from the great zombie uprising and becomes a zombie himself. Fifty years pass and slowly Edward begins to discover that, while still a zombie, he feels himself slowly turning more and more human again. Feeling unsafe from his own undead kind, Edward flees, looking for scientific and philosophical answers to his shifting sense of self.
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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.
- Robert "I am an audiobook enthusiast who reviews audiobooks for his blog, The Guilded Earlobe. You can find me on Twitter @guildedearlobe talking about zombies, robots, monkeys and audiobooks."
Not your typical zombie story
From the very start I was captivated, unable to stop listening unless my life or federal regulations relied upon it (I was on an airplane). Being a fan of the zombie genre I have to say that I have never come across such an original take on the genre. It never even crossed my mind that once someone was a zombie that there was any possibility of them turning back into a human, or maybe I should say human like. If all you like about zombie stories is the action, blood and guts, the horde coming down and trying to destroy everything living, you will be sorely disappointed with The Reanimation of Edward Schuett. As this is more of a story about how a society and individual learn about on another and discover that neither one is what they thought they were.
Absolutely nothing stood out to me about David Letwin's narration, neither great nor horrible and spoke clearly, I would say just right for The Reanimation of Edward Schuett. Letwin's telling of the story simply let the audiobook speak for its self and I think that no other way would have been better.