Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Book Review: The Z Club
4 Stars - Highly Recommended to fans of zombie lit with a sense of humor
Publisher: Self Pubbed
There is nothing better than picking up a book with the intention of reading just a few lines on that first page to test it out, when the next thing you know, it's four hours later and you've read the darn thing cover to cover.
That was me and JW Bouchard's The Z Club two weeks ago. By now I think you guys know that I'm a super-sucker for all things zombies. I've read and reviewed a bunch of zombie lit and I've watched more than my fair share of zombie flicks. Some of my absolute favorites are Warm Bodies (the book was better than the movie, ICYDK), The Autumn series, A Questionable Shape, Braineater Jones, Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, The Walking Dead (both the comics and the show, and helloooo, did you see? The companion series is coming out this summer!!)... smart, serious, satirical, cheesy, gory, choose your own adventure, give them to me. I love them all.
And now The Z Club sits right up there with all the rest. It's fantastically hyper-aware of itself and pokes fun at all of the very best things about the genre. Old school zombie aficionados will find a ton to love here. When you boil it down, it's basically about a group of grown up BFF guys with their girls, who have a more-than-disturbing knowledge of all things Zombie culture, suddenly find themselves in the midst of an actual zombie apocalypse. But it's so much more. It's like a kid walking into a candy store, only a billion times more deadly.
I loved how JW kicks the novel off by throwing us gut-deep into the initial zombie outbreak. Though for those first few pages, we don't know it yet. We're just as clueless as the dude who wakes up to a strange noise in the middle of the night. As he climbs out of bed to investigate and the realization that we're fucked dawns on us both, JW yanks us out of the moment and plants us firmly in the past - 48 hours earlier, in a comic book store with Kevin and his staff of two - Derek and Rhonda - as they watch the CNN report about a missing Chinese space shuttle and its mysterious cargo. Hmmm....
Meanwhile, part of the shuttle has crash landed right in Kevin's small town, and his buddy Ryan - a local cop - is one of the first on scene when a firefighter who gets too close the wreckage suddenly takes ill and is rushed to the hospital. So we've got our Patient Zero, and all the questions like wtf was that shuttle carrying, but uh-oh, it's too late for that now, because the virus starts to spread like nobody's business. And then there's their poor ole pal Fred, a reluctant, sex starved plumber, who is completely oblivious to what's happening as he hits up his morning's first appointment. Because you always have to have that one guy who wanders straight into the lion's mouth without realizing...
As you can imagine, shit starts rolling downhill pretty quickly from here and in a very cool but very we-totally-saw-it-coming Shaun-of-the-Dead way, our previously scattered group of friends all magically find their way to one another. Once they're bunkered down, they seem to make all the wrong B movie choices and the whole time you're like "no you idiot, don't do thaaaaat" and "now's not the time for nookie" and "stay inside! why in the world would you go out there?" but lo and behold, our little group of goofballs pull themselves together long enough to put together a ridiculously insane plan that could quite possibly save their shitty little town from getting their brains sucked out.
Complete with requisite groans of braaaaaiiiinsssss and a stupid-wicked stash of weaponry, our man JW does the zombie genre proud. We even get to watch our little band of small time heroes battle a big ass boss - as one does - because defeating swarm after swarm of brain eating, flesh slurping, rotbags isn't enough. Oh, and those deleted scenes at the end? Priceless! You can tell he had as much fun writing the novel as I had reading it.
A hugely entertaining read all zombie fans should add to their lists, and a superb example of self publishing done right.