Zombies in Love by Nora Fleischer (Amazon)
Have you ever sat down at the dinner table filled with trepidation, having read the menu ahead of time and knowing what is about to be served? Every intellectual instinct tells you that you will not love what is on the literary plate, that something intrinsic to the combination of genres is going to make your stomach rebel. Yet, strangely, when you take that first small bite, you find out that it’s not as horrible as you think. You take another bite, then another, until you realize you just ate the whole darn thing. Well, sit back, literary foodies, and listen to my own experience with this and Zombies in Love!
Oh, let’s not forget the Starving Review creed before we dig in!
- I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre.
- I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible.
Zombies in Love is one of those rare things that is, at its core, exactly what it says on the tin. There are zombies and there is plenty of love to go around. I am quite the connoisseur of both the zombie genre and romantic tales in general so you would think that this fusion of genres would be a taste sensation but, on the surface, when this book came up in my menu selection, every fiber of my being said ‘DO NOT WANT’. Come on, do I need to spell it out for you? You are, most likely, adults. You can do the mental imagery. However, as a man on the verge of starvation regularly, even the most unappetizing meal cannot be shunned, so I dove right in.
Wow. Okay, let’s be clear: this is a popcorn kind of book. It makes no aspirations to high literature but, darn, this is a FUN book. Ms. Fleischer fully embraces the insanity of the genre fusion here and runs with it, without losing sight of the core importance of plot and characterization. Every over-the-top plot element, as crazy as some are (deliciously, delightfully nutty), is still fit in a proper, logical place in the plot. I started my meal nervously then picked up speed and, finally, before you knew it, I had devoured the whole book in one sitting.
The core romance is solid and well-developed. No love at first sight or anything so trite. There’s real chemistry between the male and female lead and, to my delight, the female lead is extremely competent. None of the lead characters loose agency, which is something that is far too common of an ingredient in romantic stories. To the surprise of this eater, it works, even with zombies.
If a genre purist could have any gripe, it’s on the zombie end of things. There are some deviations from the now-traditional George Romero Night of the Living Dead zombie and some zombie purists might not like it. However, let’s get this comparison buried: it’s nothing like what Twilight did to its vampires. Most core elements of the zombie mythos are intact and what changes are made follow internally consistent rules. It all works out. There are even some nice touches that are never explicitly stated but are consistent none the less that an astute reader can pick out.
My only other real complaint comes down to pacing. As I am starting to find as a commonality among many books (it’s something I certainly struggle with as an author myself), Zombies in Love has very irregular pacing in its first act. I will say, though, to Ms. Fleischer’s credit, it comes more from the fact that the initial few chapters hit the pacing and action hard before easing back significantly. This means that a reader is liable to be caught with the initial hook and likely to deal with the slow section afterward before the plot picks up in earnest in the second act. It’s still uneven, but it could be far worse.
Let’s wrap it up then! Zombies in Love is good, clean rotting romantic fun. If you like a dash of horror added to a romantic meal then this spicy ground human and cheese pizza may be what you want to munch on when you want to have a fun evening. It even has a bit more action and thrills than your average romance yarn, so you action-romantics out there might get a kick out of this too. However, if you’re looking for serious, grounded romance or something without fantasy elements, this is not your cup of tea.
FINAL VERDICT: **** (Your mind says it’s a disgusting genre combination, but your taste buds will find it yummy and delightful!)