Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Book Review: The Living Dead 2 edited by John Joseph Adams

Ah, short story collections, how I love thee! Seriously, is there anything better than bite-sized horror tales? They are perfect for when you don’t have much time in your day but still want to sneak in 30 minutes of mayhem into your schedule. Being a busy bee myself, I love short horror stories for this very reason, and therefore was totally stoked upon receiving The Living Dead 2, a collection from varying authors edited by John Joseph Adams that is a follow up to his first volume of The Living Dead, called by Barnes and Noble “the best collection of zombie fiction ever”.

As the name suggests, the theme of this short story collection is…zombies!! They are another fave of mine, so I eagerly dug into the book’s 43 diverse zombie tales. At around 500 pages, this is one hefty tome, but it certainly packs the best of the best within its numerous pages! With contributions from horror authors Max Brooks, Cherie Priest, David Wellington, John Skipp, Brian Keene, Amelia Beamer, David Moody, Kim Paffenroth, Jonathan Maberry, Sarah Langan and many, many more, the book boasts quality along with its quantity!

All of the stories contained within The Living Dead 2 are sure to delight any horror and zombie fan, but personally I have a few favorites.

My personal favorite is “The Price of a Slice” by John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow, about the last functioning city in the world, San Francisco, after the zombie apocalypse. The organized and fortified city is now using remote controlled zombies to wipe out small pockets of resistance, and these zombots are controlled by video game jockeys. Except, some of the zombies are starting to think and act on their own…The tale focuses on a well-liked pizza delivery boy who finds himself at the wrong place at the wrong time facing down these zombots. The characters and setting are extremely well-developed in this story, and I just raced through it to find out what happened at the end! I loved its mix of social commentary, sci-fi, action and horror!

Coming in for a close second favorite is Brian Keene’s “Lost Canyon of the Dead”. This tale mixes a Western, zombies and dinosaurs to create an utterly unique, mesmerizing and bone-crunching tale!
Another unusual and original tale is “Twenty-Three Snapshots of San Francisco” by Seth Lindberg, a story told entirely by the lead character as he describes 23 photographs that occurred leading up to, during and after a zombie outbreak. Pure genius and wonderfully written!

Other favorites included steampunk/zombie hybrid “Reluctance” by Cherie Priest, the surprisingly unexpected tale of the “Last Stand” by Kelley Armstrong, the action-packed and surprisingly sweet “Dating in a Dead World” by Joe McKinney and Genevieve Valentine’s truly frightening “And the Next, And the Next”.

Like its predecessor, The Living Dead 2 truly is one of the great zombie short story collections out there and you are definitely getting a lot of bang for your buck here! Kudos to editor John Joseph Adams for putting together another memorable anthology sure to delight zombie and horror fans everywhere!

Order it on Amazon!

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