George A. Romero is known for inventing the modern zombie with his film, Night of the Living Dead, in 1968. He wrote and helmed several other zombie movies, but felt he couldn’t tell the zombie story he wanted on screen, so he began to write a novel.
Unfortunately, when Romero passed in 2017, the story remained unfinished.
Enter Daniel Kraus, co-author of the New York Times bestseller The Shape of Water (based on the Academy Award-winning movie) and Trollhunters (which became an Emmy Award-winning series) – both with with Guillermo del Toro, and author of The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch (an Entertainment Weekly Top 10 Book of the Year).
A lifelong Romero fan, Kraus was honored to be asked by Romero’s widow to complete this book, which was titled The Living Dead.
The Living Dead is that finished result, and it feels very true to Romero’s creations and spirit.
The story begins with two medical examiners and a dead body in the present day. As you can imagine in a Romero story, dead bodies don’t normally stay dead, and a mysterious virus is to blame.
The virus, documented by a lone autistic federal employee, spreads from a Midwestern trailer park to a U.S. air carrier in the ocean to a 24-hour news channel recording studio.
Tales from each overlap each other, building to a frenzied bloodbath across the nation. And we learn the undead are not the only monsters to fear.
The book then takes a massive time jump, and through flashbacks, we learn how some of the main characters have managed to make it to Toronto where they try to reestablish some sort of civilization…a second chance at a peaceful life.
But just as humans are learning to adapt to the post-zombie world, so, too, the virus is adapting and changing.
And unfortunately, some humans haven’t changed enough.
The Living Dead is a thrilling zombie epic, with really good character development (at least the lead characters). You grow to care about the lead characters and what happens to them.
There’s a lot going on with the multiple story lines, but it still feels long at some points. At over 650 pages (according to my Kindle app), it could’ve lost maybe 100 pages and still been a great read.
I found the ending a bit depressing, but it wouldn’t be a horror story if it had a happy ending, would it? And yes, there is plenty of gore, plus a bittersweet epilogue that ties up one loose end.
If you love Romero’s work, or just a really good zombie story, you’ll definitely want to add The Living Dead to your reading list. It’s one I’ll probably re-read at a later date.
I’d give The Living Dead by George A. Romero and Daniel Kraus 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Note: The Living Dead by George A. Romero and Daniel Kraus is available starting August 4, 2020. Pre-orders are being taken now.
Disclaimer: I received an advance e-book copy for review purposes from NetGalley. I was not compensated in any other way. My opinion is honest, and as always, my own.
Disclaimer: This post uses Amazon affiliate links. It doesn’t add anything to your cost, should you choose to purchase something. Thanks!
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