I Fell in Love with a Zombie

Title: I Fell in Love with a Zombie
Author: Sean Kennedy
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: M/M sci-fi, horror romance
Length: Novella
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5 DIK

A guest review by Jenre

Summary Review
A fantastic horror novella set in a frightening future where mankind has been all but wiped out by a virus and zombies rule the streets, but which also contains a sweet romance filled with hope for the future.

THE BLURB

Jay didn’t expect to be one of the very few survivors of the virus that decimated the country, leaving shambling, ravenous zombies behind. Fighting for his life amongst the dead, he keeps moving until the day he’s surrounded and facing his bloody end—and shockingly, another zombie saves him. But not just any zombie… it’s Dave, the first man Jay ever loved, and there’s something special about him even now, in the midst of the horror around them.

THE REVIEW

I have to admit, I’m a bit of a sucker for post-apocalyptic sci-fi books, especially those which chart the disintegration of society. It gives me a shiver down the spine to read about just how close society is to total melt-down. When I was a teen I loved John Wyndam’s books, especially Death of Grass and Day of the Triffids. Why am I telling you all this, you may ask? Well, just that this novella by one of my favourite m/m authors fits exactly into that ‘recovery and survival in the face of disaster’ mould that can be found in those books by John Wyndam. Unsurprisingly, I loved this book.

I Fell in Love with a Zombie begins with our hero and first person narrator, Jay, coping with the aftermath of a swine flu virus which has wiped out most of the world, including his lover, Mike. Not only that, but some people who have supposedly died of the flu come back to life after a couple of days. These ‘zombies’ have limited speech and motor skills, but most horrifying of all, for no reason they attack humans with a lightening speed and superhuman strength. Jay battles with grief over Mike and the unknown fate of his family as well as surviving in a world littered with dead bodies and zombies who want to kill him. In desperation, Jay decides to leave the city in search of other humans. On the way he encounters many dangerous situations, not all due to zombies, and finds love in an unexpected place.

As I said earlier, I loved this book. It contains many classic elements which can be found in post-apocalyptic survival books and I was delighted every time I came across one of these well loved parts in the story. Firstly, there was the theme of survival with Jay having to do things that he would never have done otherwise. At the beginning of the book Jay recounts the first time he had to kill a zombie who was attacking him. At the end of the account he says:

Was this what my life was going to be from now on? It was enough to make me wish I had died with everybody else.

It’s not only rampaging zombies, Jay also has to cope with other survivors, never knowing who to trust, and yet desperate for some contact to ease his loneliness. In some ways these scenes were the hardest to read as Jay is treated badly by those with whom he hopes to find some companionship. It was heartbreaking. Jay’s loneliness is a constant presence throughout the first part of the book as he tries to come to terms with the fact that his life has been overturned in less than a month.

Another theme which I enjoyed is that of the journey that the hero has to take to find some semblance of peace. Jay travels from town to town by taking a discarded car and driving it until the petrol runs out. On the way he encounters different situations before finding someone with whom he can settle. Even then life isn’t easy for Jay and Dave, and it isn’t long before they have to continue their journey. This gave the book a pacey feel as the setting moves from place to place with our heroes. It also meant that there was a lot of action in the book which counterbalanced the slower parts as Jay muses on what has happened to him, and the section where he and Dave meet and begin to fall in love.

Given what I’ve written above you might think that this would be a maudlin and slightly depressing read. Whilst parts of it were undoubtedly sad, as Jay copes with his grief and life alone, Jay is actually quite an optimistic character, with a strong sense of purpose. This injected the story with a bright shaft of hopefulness as Jay moves on from each difficult situation in the hope that the next situation will have a more positive outcome. I liked Jay a great deal, liked his willingness to see the best in others, even when they treated him badly and his pragmatism that life must go on, so make the best of what you have. As narrators go, Jay is incredibly sympathetic and likeable and this went a long way towards my great enjoyment of the book.

One word of warning for those of a slightly squeamish nature. There are several gruesome parts in the story, especially those involving Jay and the zombies. Personally, I felt this fit well with the genre of the book and I’m not particularly squeamish and so those bits didn’t bother me at all. I liked that the author hadn’t chosen to wash over some of the more unpleasant aspects of life within a time of chaos, such as the stench of rotting bodies or the sorrow that whole families lay unburied. I also liked the depiction of the zombies, that they were disgusting and brutal, but also that, for some at least, there was a trace of humanity.

Whilst reading this book I experienced a whole wealth of emotion. At some points I felt genuinely frightened, at other points angry. I felt joy and happiness for Jay and Dave, but also sadness for them – even crying at one point. I completed the book feeling overwhelmed, knowing that I’d read something extremely well written, that moved me. If you like sci-fi, horror and stories set in a post apocalyptic future, then this book is an absolute must. I thought it was brilliant!

18 comments

  • OMG! Frustrating!!!!!!!!

    I bought the Dreamspinner Press Daily Dose and this book is part of it…but they don’t let us read it until later this month! RELEASE it already *shakes fist in the air*

    This is the whole reason I bought into the daily dose month.

    Ugh! This looks so good!

    Reply
    • Hi Mikeil
      Oh dear, I feel your pain. I’ve bought the DSP daily doses in the past and then had to wait impatiently for the stories from my favourite authors. At least you have something to look forward to :).

      Reply
  • Jenre
    I completely agree with you on this book, I really enjoyed it. Often times I find myself disappointed with the way some post-apocaliptic books and movies play-out but I think Sean Kennedy did a really good job here. Plus it is in first person and I really love a good first person.

    Reply
  • Post-apocaliptic world? Zombi in a romantic relationship? A must read, I would say. Thank you for the review, I didn’t know Sean Kennedy published another book. ^^

    Reply
  • I love subtle ghost stories,but outright horror?… Not so much.
    Hmm…it`s a DIK rating.Should I read it ? I really don`t know.
    Thanks for the review,Jen.

    Reply
    • Hi Simsala

      Um, the horror in this is not subtle. If you’re not keen on gore then either don’t read this, or do read it and skip over the gory bits – they’re pretty strongly flagged up :).

      Reply
  • Okay, I am not one for creature features (and zombies would definitely fall into that category, I think) but I have to have this book after your review, Jen. Great job convincing me.

    Oh, and my only experience with zombies was knowing that Romero’s Dawn of the Dead was filmed in the late 70s in the town next to mine in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. I was too young to be an extra, but I knew plenty of older kids who were and was jealous…

    Reply
    • Thanks, Lynn :).

      The zombies were downright scary in places but Jay also had some compassion for them, even when they were trying to kill him :).

      Wow, that is a claim to fame – sort of :).

      Reply
  • Great review! The title had me in giggles because I was thinking of zombies ala resident evil and that made me think of other x-rated thoughts 😉

    Going to put it on the list and take it to Italy to read!

    Reply
  • Jen

    Now I have to read this book after this glowing review. I loved Day of the Triffids and if I Fell in Love with a Zombie is anything like it, it will be a wonderful read for me. Sean is an excellent writer, I just wish he could write faster. 🙂 I’m still waiting for Dash and Dingo 2.

    Wonderful job Jen.

    Reply
    • Hi Wave
      We’re all waiting for D&D2, so no pressure for Sean and Catt then ;).

      Seriously, if you liked Day of the Triffids, then you’ll love this book too.

      Reply
  • Great review Jen – thank you. I don’t know why, but I like post apocalyptic stories too. This sounds really good, and being Sean Kennedy, how can you go wrong? He books are always so well done. Looking forward to reading this.

    Reply
    • Hi TJ
      You are right, you can’t go wrong with a Sean Kennedy book and this was just super! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did :).

      Reply

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