Title: My Life as a White Trash Zombie
Author: Diana Rowland
Serie: White Trash Zombie
Published: First 2011 by DAW, 2012 by Audible Frontiers
Format: Audiobook, 8 hrs and 44 mins
Narrator: Allison McLemore
Read: September 10 to 11, 2013
Status: First reading
Genre: Horror, humor, urban fantasy
I just finished reading Diana Rowland other series the Kara Gillian series and am now waiting for the next book in the series to come out. While I wait for that, I thought – why not check out what else she has written. It turned out that what else she had written was crazy white trash zombie novels. I was rather septical at first. I don’t like zombie fiction, but the book kept turning up. Picking this book up was probably a case of the “you need to hear about a book 3 times to pick it up” rule. People on my podcasts had talked about it and Felicia Day, Veronica Belmont and Jim Hines had all given it positive reviews, since I respect their opinions and trust their taste in books I decided to finally pick it up. Plus have you seen that cover! Totally awesome – more urban fantasy should look like that.
Boy was I glad I picked this up. It is so unusual and it is really awesome. It is rather unusual to have a protagonist who is that low class in speculative fiction – especially a woman. She is unemployed, a pill head, a high school dropout, lives in a rundown house, is in a dead end relationship, a dead insane mother and has an abusive father. Moreover we are not meant to feel bad for her, she does not really feel bad for her self. She know her life is shit and she does not expect it to change. Of course it does throughout the novel, but she does not go from rag to riches. That is not what the novel is about. It is about Angel finding her own agency and figuring out that she does not have take crap. Also she eats brains smoothies (so icky -yeah)
This could sound really depressing, but it isn’t it is written rather humorous with a very clear and strong voice. I have a few quotes that I wrote down while listening to the book.
“I couldn’t figure out if I was a monster or insane, and I couldn’t figure out which was worse.”
“A brain a day, keeps the rotting away”
“I was a monster with a mussy heart”
I think they illustrate the tone of the novel and Angel’s voice. It is really unusual in a none-noir book to have a narrator who has this level of contempt for her own life, but starting out without the agency to change anything. I think Angel is a fantastic example of what we are talking about when we ask for strong female characters. The protagonist does not have to be kick ass to be a strong character, she can be flawed and damage, but she has to be well developed and she has to at some point in the story find her own agency. I really like Angel’s interactions with other people. She does not expect other people to be nice to her, but she is rarely mean or unpleasant her self – she is a great example of how to write a character with a low level of trust.
The worldbuilding is not amazing and the romance plot I could have done without – it isn’t interesting enough to be a great plot point. The zombie law feels kosher but of course plays a little bit with the tropes. And yes she does eat brains – so 80s – but it works. Again brain smoothies.
The narration of the audiobook is great! Allison McLemore has an accent speaking as Angel that really adds an extra dimension to the voice. I am not from the US so I have no idea of it is genuine for the area, but it seems very real to the outsider.
If you think zombies are becoming boring, read this one! It is unusual and makes you look at things a bit differently.