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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Life As a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland


Angel Crawford is a loser.

Living with her alcoholic deadbeat dad in the swamps of southern Louisiana, she's a high school dropout with a pill habit and a criminal record who's been fired from more crap jobs than she can count. Now on probation for a felony, it seems that Angel will never pull herself out of the downward spiral her life has taken.

That is, until the day she wakes up in the ER after overdosing on painkillers. Angel remembers being in an horrible car crash, but she doesn't have a mark on her. To add to the weirdness, she receives an anonymous letter telling her there's a job waiting for her at the parish morgue—and that it's an offer she doesn't dare refuse.

Before she knows it she's dealing with a huge crush on a certain hunky deputy and a brand new addiction: an overpowering craving for brains. Plus, her morgue is filling up with the victims of a serial killer who decapitates his prey—just when she's hungriest!

Angel's going to have to grow up fast if she wants to keep this job and stay in one piece. Because if she doesn't, she's dead meat.

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A fun book that I enjoyed far more than I originally thought I would. Zombies aren't normally my thing, but this book made them relatable and normal-seeming. Right from the start Ms. Rowland has you sympathizing with Angel, and rooting for her to figure out how to survive and to thrive in her new life. While there are some scenes and descriptions that are more than a little gross, the ick factor is usually mitigated with humor to help make it less repugnant.



Angel is a poor gal from the backwoods of Louisiana, living in a ramshackle, filthy shack with her alcoholic, deadbeat father. Little wonder that she's developed a drinking and drugs problem of her own in her short life. That all changes one night when she goes out partying at a bar with her boyfriend, and next thing she knows she's waking up in the hospital. She's told that she overdosed and was found naked on the side of the road out in the middle of nowhere, but she remembers none of it. Soon after that she's given a case of strange drinks, with instructions on when to consume them, and also given a job that she's told she has to keep for at least a month or else she'll be turned in for various drug charges that are currently being overlooked. She does her best to comply with the instructions, smart enough not to look a gift horse in the mouth, and thus begins her new life. It isn't long before she starts to figure out she's changed in some fundamental ways...and that she suddenly has a weird craving for brains. Bit by bit she pieces things together and figures out what she is, and despite being seriously freaked out by it, she holds it together and starts to turn her life around on her own. She gradually starts to question why she's done things - or not done things - the way she has, and to question the various relationships in her life and whether or not she's doing herself any favors in maintaining them.

It's fascinating, and oddly heartwarming to watch Angel's gradual transformation from someone who's poor and downtrodden but doesn't care enough about herself or anything else to make any attempt to change, to someone who has learned self-respect and has found the motivation to start making positive changes in her life. True, she does receive an anonymous helping hand and a bit of a headstart, but really the help doesn't go much further than simply presenting her with an opportunity and enough basic initial motivation to not pass it up. All the rest she accomplishes on her own, and it's easy to feel as proud of her by the end of the book as she's learned to feel proud about herself. Along the way she solves a murder mystery, even if only for her own satisfaction, and discovers not only who turned her into a zombie, but also finds a new boyfriend and the beginnings of a new and real romance.

I listened to the audiobook version of this, and have to say that I really think it added to the experience, for the narrator, Allison McLemore, does a fabulous with Angel's voice, accent and infections as well as with the voices of the other characters in the book, including the male characters, of which most of the supporting cast are male. She doesn't attempt to sound male, but rather, she does their voices as though it were Angel trying to mimic their voices and speech patterns. Her performance makes the book truly entertaining to listen to, and draws you into the story a lot more by really setting the scene and bringing it to life.

It's probably a given that zombie fans will enjoy this, unless they're the hardcore horror movie type zombie fans that just want to see the zombies rampaging and killing to get brains. While there is some of that going on, it's not Angel doing it, and for the most part the zombies here are just ordinary people doing their best to survive and provide for their special needs without anyone getting wise to them. Urban fantasy fans will enjoy this one too I think, for it really belongs more in that genre than any, though it does cross over a bit into the PNR realm. Mostly I'd just say, if you're interested in any of the above, and even if you're not normally interested in reading about zombies, give this one a try, for you'll probably be pleasantly surprised.

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