Hey look what I’m finally getting done! Now that I’ve gotten through that final push for the novel, I’ve got plenty of time to catch up with this.
So I bring to you, Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues by Diana Rowland. This is a sequel to the kinetic My Life as a White Trash Zombie. The first was another Scalzi Big Idea find that I devoured when I got my hands on it. It follows Angel as she goes from a rock bottom not long for this world kind of existence and becomes a zombie, which greatly improves her life. Blues picks up right where the first left off. Now before I get ahead of myself….
Back of the book time!
Angel Crawford is finally starting to get used to life as a brain-eating zombie, but her problems are far from over. Her felony record is coming back to haunt her, more zombie hunters are popping up, and she’s beginning to wonder if her hunky cop-boyfriend is involved with the zombie mafia. Yeah, that’s right – the zombie mafia.
Throw in a secret lab and a lot of conspiracy, and Angel’s going to need all of her brainpower, and maybe a brain smoothie as well – in order to get through it without falling apart.
Ok back to “right where the first left off.” Blues does this quite literally. The time lapse from the first book to the second is only a few days. Angel and crew are actually still dealing with some of the aftermath of My Life, specifically some of the stuff revolving around one of the zombie hunters. Now, it was a good year and a half between reading My Life and Blues. That makes me hesitant to jump into sequels sometimes. This book pulled off the “remind you of all the stuff from the last book” bit the best I’ve ever read. I screamed through to chapter two before I realized I had been filled in again. Usually books will drop us out of the narrative in order to get all “Hey remember this?” It’s like a big coffee stain on the carpet. Yeah coffee is good but I was enjoying that carpet. Absolutely none of that here, it came out completely seamless.
So let’s talk about the plot where I can without spoiling it. Zombie mafia? Sort of saying Zombie Ninjas, you’re not going to be much cooler. Zombie mafias get the headlines on the back of the book, but in all honesty, I kind of thought they were slightly secondary to the the bigger conspiracy theory mystery aspects of the plot. At one point someone says (Please don’t get mad if I mess up the quote, just paraphrasing. One of these days I’ll remember to take notes) “No way, this isn’t some kind of X-Files thing.” But it is. The plot of Blues made me thing of the best parts of X-Files. A little bit creepy. A little bit conspiracy. And a whole lot of problem solving. That’s the real meat and potatoes of the plot. The zombie mafia plays its role but I got a sense that a lot of it would be dealt with in a future book. I hope so.
Speaking of things to deal with in the second book, I think bits of Angel’s relationship with Marcus got a bit shortchanged in Blues. This falls in line with the zombie mafia. There’s so much potential waiting to get written about that we’re not getting. I think it was probably inevitable that the zombie mafia would get their full due delayed. Not enough book to cover it all properly. Angel and Marcus, well I hope they can move forward in the next book. They didn’t ignore each other at all but I feel like they’re at a standstill.
Angel herself was by no means at a standstill. She’s the driving force behind this book. She’s got her life (or un-life) heading in the right direction and is determined to keep it that way no matter what crap gets thrown at her. I find her a breath of fresh air as a protagonist, like Chuck Wendig‘s Miriam Black. Angel is a ridiculously flawed character. Don’t mistake that for flawed writing, take that as a flawed person. A real person. One who screws up and makes bad decisions and has to fight her way out of them. That makes for much more interesting reading than someone who does everything right. And I think Angel has improved as a character this time around. I find she’s a much more active character now, she starts taking action in Blues rather than having things happen she has to react to. That’s part of the overall character arc we’ve got going on here and Angel’s evolution but by the end I couldn’t help thinking that Angel is a more powerful read.
So what we’ve got here is just a bunch of awesome. I love the continuation of this fresh take on something we all know in the zombies. The mythos was established in the first book and the conspiracy stuff going on here is attacking the established order in a most excellent way. I think you could probably get away with diving into Angel Crawford’s life with this book without having a greatly depreciated read, but you’d be missing out some since the first is so great too.
And of course, I’d be remiss if finished this up and I didn’t call out the awesome cover work. Daniel Dos Santos nails it right out of the park again with this one.