This book is seriously sick – and I LOVED it!!! I made a trip to Barnes and Noble yesterday and was totally psyched to find this book out a few days early, since it’s not supposed to come out until Tuesday. I’m a huge fangirl of Diana Rowland’s Kara Gillian books, and My Life as a White Trash Zombie is a great start to a new series. This book rocked! I’ve never been a big fan of zombie fiction, but I love to read paranormal fiction set in the South, so this book seemed right up my alley, and it did not disappoint. The super cool cover by artist Daniel Dos Santos is just icing on the cake.
Angel Crawford is a self-described loser who finds herself in the emergency room after a drug overdose. When she’s released from the hospital, the nurses give her a sack of clothes and a small cooler, with an anonymous note that tells her to drink one bottle of what’s in the cooler every other day and informs her that she’s starting work as a van driver at the coroner’s office first thing in the morning. If she manages to keep the job, she’ll avoid jail time, which she’s eager to do since she’s currently on probation for possession of stolen property. It’s not until she’s at her new job the next day, assisting the pathologist in an autopsy, that she realizes that something is VERY wrong, because the smell of the cadaver’s brains make her stomach growl in hunger. Eventually she learns the truth – she’s a zombie and has to eat brains to survive. When headless corpses start showing up around town and the cops begin looking for a serial killer, Angel starts to wonder if she’s not the only zombie in town.
Diana Rowland’s experience as a cop and a morgue assistant give her a lot of material to draw on for her novels, and the yuck factor with the autopsies is high, which made this pretty appealing to my admittedly sophomoric sense of humor. “Ewww, gross!” was mentioned quite a few times while I was reading, that’s for sure. I love how Ms. Rowland describes the more tedious aspects of crime scene investigation and Angel’s surprise at how unlike crime scene investigation in real life is compared to shows on TV. She manages to make some seriously uncool realities interesting, and that’s because of her characters.
On the face of it, Angel Crawford should be an unappealing heroine. She’s a high school dropout, self-described white trash, a convicted felon, and a habitual drug user. But from the start she’s a character with whom you’ll empathize. The more we learn about her past, the more we realize that she’s had a rough time of it, and her growing pride in her new skills at her job have us rooting for her. She’s only 21, and it turns out that being made into a zombie is probably the best thing that’s ever happened to her. You get the sense that she hasn’t had many second chances up to this point, and you want to cheer for her as she starts to make some really mature decisions and gets her life turned around.
There are two important plot lines in the novel that’ll keep you turning the pages. The first has to do with Angel’s life as a zombie. We learn along with her all that entails while the secondary mystery about a serial killer who decapitates his victims unfolds. The growing number of murders has Angel worried since it could decrease her access to a ready food supply, but she also wonders if there’s a rogue zombie in town attacking people. Ms. Rowland seamlessly ties the two mysteries together and the ending resolves both in a way that I did not see coming.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough. The writing was tight without being sparse, the dialogue was funny and snarky, and the heroine was just the right mixture of vulnerability and toughness. The only downside to this book? Having to wait for the next in the series!